The Google Sandbox is real!

We already know that the Google sandbox exists - Google has confirmed that it does exist. While looking through some ranking graphs the other day, I found some graphs which I think explain the sandbox concept very well.

I forget where Google confirmed this, but probably via Matt Cutts.

A sandbox (but not the google sandbox)

What is the sandbox?

First, some explanation of what the sandbox concept means.
In the ongoing effort to reduce web spam, Google has decided that brand new websites aren't trustworthy. With domain names selling for less than $10, it's real easy to get a website online these days. Spammers can easily create a new site, spam Google, get themselves banned, and move on to another new site with relatively little cost.
Google is sick of having to deal with spammy new websites in their index. As a result, they introduced the sandbox, which means new websites must go through a waiting period before they will rank properly.

So, most new websites will find it very hard to rank well for competetive phrases for the first 6 months or so - no matter how well optimised the site is. This is called the sandbox effect, and it's a deliberate move by Google to penalise brand new domain names. After a site has "done it's time" in the sandbox (often around 6 months), the site can start ranking for some competetive terms.

Some examples

I noticed one of my sites has just come out of the sandbox. Here's what this looks like visually. The numbers and lines represent the search engine positions as at the date on the x axis. These graphs show about 8 months worth of rankings. The red and orange lines are Google.

Auckland search engine optimisation

Auckland search engine optimisation
Auckland search engine optimization

Auckland search engine optimization
Auckland SEO

Auckland seo

The 4 lines represent Google, Goole (NZ sites only), Yahoo and MSN. This domain was launched around March 2006, and you will notice the Yahoo and MSN rankings have been reasonably consistent since I started monitoring (actually not that consistent, but at least they are on the chart). But the red and orange lines represent Google, and show the site not ranking in the top 50 at all. But approx 6 months after launching the site, the Google rankings go straight to the top, on these and many other phrases I'm targeting.

Keep in mind there has been no specific "burst of activity" to justify this spike in rankings, I just woke up one morning and saw the site was out of the sandbox.

Non-competetive phrases and the sandbox

There is no sandbox for non-competetive phrases. You can rank number one with a brand new site very easily for phrases that aren't competetive. The graph below shows the rankings for "optimise website for google" over the same period - apparently much less competetion than "auckland seo". I found the site has ranked on page one since we launched the site, but nobody else is optimised for this phrase, and it brings in very little traffic.
Optimise website for Google

Optimise website for Google
The traffic for non-competetive phrases can add up if you target enough of them - at least it's something to keep you busy while you are in the sandbox.

This is not new

I'm not claiming that this is "hot new info", but rather showing some real world examples of the sandbox concept, as it applies to a site I manage.

Where do these cool graphs come from?

These are a standard feature of my CMS product - I like to know if my SEO work is paying off or not, so it's great to be able to visually see what is happening with your rankings.
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Tags: nzsandboxseonz sandbox seo