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Out Of The Google Sandbox

  • February 11, 2006

I am finally out of the much talked about “google sandbox” and what an exit it was. I landed straight on the first page of Google search results for the coveted search term Stock Investment Newsletter. If you are not a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert who spends most of his or her time trying to improve the rankings of client websites on various search engines, then I owe you an explanation. Many websites depend on the traffic they get from search engines to generate a large part of their business. Obviously Google is the 800-pound gorilla in the search engine market and usually sends the most amount of traffic to websites that rank high in its search results. Yahoo and MSN also seem to be gaining traction these days from what I have noticed in my logs. As for the term “google sandbox”, it is used to describe google’s behavior of originally ranking new websites high for competitive search terms such as “stock investment newsletter” and then altogether dropping them from search results for many months. The general consensus is that your website gets dropped for about 6 months.

There are many theories as to why this happens and some people do not even believe that such a sandbox exists and attribute it to SEO folklore. After having my website show up on page 1 (and sometimes page 2) on both Yahoo and MSN while being conspicuously absent from Google, I can tell you that it is very much real. My banishment lasted exactly 4 months and 11 days. Some people claim that the google sandbox was created to keep spam websites from showing up high on search engine results as they often employ aggressive linking strategies through the creation of multiple websites that link to each other. However during this sandbox period, I still continued to receive the maximum amount of traffic from google through search terms that were not highly competitive. For example I did show up on page 1 and often as the first result for the terms Chipotle Investment, Wipro Stock Split 2005 and InsideArbitrage.

Search engines constantly tweak their algorithms to foil SEO consultants that use unethical methods to bump up the rankings of client websites. It is entirely possible that I am out of the sandbox because of big changes at google that were supposed to go into effect in February or March of 2006. Whatever the reason might be, I certainly do not want to see the inside of a sandbox again.

Update April 13, 2006: After a brief stint outside the Google Sandbox, I am back in it again thanks to a phenomenon called Google Bowling. Some of my content is published by the Seeking Alpha network of financial blogs and in late February they updated my profile with a link pointing back to InsideArbitrage. The keywords used for the link were “investment newsletter”. However I did not realize that they published my profile simultaneously on multiple websites that form a part of their network, creating multiple incoming links to InsideArbitrage.com at the same time. Within a day of this happening, I disappeared from Google search results for competitive search terms like “investment newsletter” and have not seen the light of day since. This second banishment into the Google Sandbox has already lasted over six weeks and I can’t wait to exit the sandbox once again.