Many site owners and SEOs are worried because their new sites that rank well in Yahoo and MSN, aren't doing well in Google, and they're blaming it on the "sandbox." The current theory is that new sites are somehow being penalized for obtaining too many links, too quickly.Is There a Sandbox?
Is there some sort of link analysis going on; some sort of threshold that will get links to new sites discounted? It sounds like a logical possibility. However, many of us who don't buy volume links or participate in linking networks are seeing the same ranking delays. New resource sites with a few good relevant links are taking just as long to climb Google's ranks as the instant link pop sites. I think a lot of people are confusing the sandbox, with an "aging filter" that appeared earlier this year.6 Months For Results in Google
I haven't seen any brand new sites with new domains appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERP) since early in 2004. There seems to be a delay of about 6-8 months. I've checked with many site owners and SEOs and I haven't found anyone who's gotten a brand new domain ranked well in Google. If there's a magic bullet, no one's spilling the beans.
What happens is new sites get indexed, they appear for some obscure queries and they may appear at the top for a week or so, but then they drop to the bottom of the SERP for several months. The page shows a PageRank in the Google toolbar, as well as backlinks. Everything else works fine but it just doesn't rank well for any terms in Google. Many times, not even the company name.
If you have a brand new site, stop driving yourself nuts wondering what you are doing wrong! Stop tweaking and changing things, trying to influence your rankings; until the site has been in the index a while, it doesn't seem to matter what you do to it.Why an Aging Delay?
My own theory is that the age factor for new sites is Google's answer to mini-networks and other multi-site strategies intended to artificially inflate link popularity. Many people divide what should be a single site into multiple sites in order to capitalize on the links that are exchanged between them. Others build a series of small sites that are only designed to add link popularity to the main site.
By delaying the ranking of brand new sites, the mini-network strategy becomes more of a long-term strategy than a quick jump to the top. Site owners who might have started new sites are going to be more inclined to build new pages on existing sites in order to avoid that delay.Plan Ahead for New Sites
If you are launching new sites for clients, make sure you set the expectation that it is likely to be 7-8 months before the site achieves any real results in Google.
We used to keep a site under wraps and launch it once it was "perfect." Now it makes sense to get a few pages up for your new site as soon as you complete them. The sooner Google is aware of the domain, the better.
As soon as you have a domain name, get the hosting set up, put up a temporary page and link to it from another site in Google's index to start that clock ticking.Subdomains May Avoid the Aging Delay
Pages on subdomains are generally treated as part of the main domain, making them a possible workaround. If your client has the option of building their site on a subdomain instead of a new top-level domain name, let them know that this may avoid the time delay.MSN, Yahoo, and AdWords
When launching a new site, if traffic from Google is critical to your plan for success you need to plan ahead. Get the site out there and linked to as early as possible and plan to run an AdWords and/or Overture campaign for a few months until the site can be established in the editorial results. Yahoo and MSN do not have this delay built in, so focus your early efforts on these engines.
Don't worry, Google will eventually give your new site the respect it deserves -- just give it time.
Scottie Claiborne is the facilitator of the Successful Sites Newsletter. She is a speaker at the Search Engine Strategies conferences and the High Rankings Seminars as well as the administrator of the High Rankings Forum.
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