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How long is the Sandbox effect (months and days)
almenara




msg:4526266
 9:25 am on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hello, I've developed a website for a very competitive field. We've won 300 natural links from blogs (some of them very well known not exactly Techcrunch but similar relevance in my country) and from digital versions of very well known newspapers. I've never bought or exchanged a link, I'm building something honest and for the long run.

All the links are from articles or posts about our market, maybe 60% from relevant ones, and the rest from the typical blogs written with love by their authors. The anchor text is most of the times our brand, but all the text surrounding is on-topic. We had this link with natural rhythm, a good quantity the weeks of launch, and the rest spontaneously month by month.

Our market is some country in Europe. And our backlink profile is very much powerful than our competitors (who basically buy or exchange links through other webs they own as their corporate blogs in example).
I've write this long description because I want to explain what kind of work I've done.

Our website now has 50-90 visitors a day (almost nothing), half of them trough referral links, a quarter from searches with our brand and the last 25% from long phrases or not the most competitive keywords. This is a Sandbox.

I'm in this sandbox more than 18 months since first link or since first visit trough google (they're 3 days difference). Yes, our domain was a new one, and the link bait and seo work started the same day we launched the website. That's why we are sandboxed.

Now we are desperate, because we are now two weeks away from the day we passed the 18 months limit.
The sandbox effect over our website has evolved a lot from first days to this moment, month by month, but our traffic and our place in google listings are not natural. It's still very very strong. We see better rankings each month through webmaster tools, but now we are at 18th month and two weeks, and I don't know how much more I have to wait.

My question is, How long I'm gonna have to wait? We are a small start up and we are very stressed, running without incomes. We didn't think it would happen because we thought Google Sandbox wouldn't exist this days.

I'd like to receive some feedback from people working with new brands, new domains in insurance, hotel, cheap flight industries, because they are maybe more competitive than my niche.

[edited by: tedster at 5:50 pm (utc) on Dec 9, 2012]

 

crobb305




msg:4527617
 2:45 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)


I remember the days when domains would soar and then crash if they weren't 'super hot' too, but based on what you're reporting I wonder if there's a shift in weighting of user behavior signals and these domains, rather than ranking on 'spammy link weight', are actually ranking on the behavior of searchers? Interesting question at the least, in my opinion...

TheMadScientist,

I agree. Another interesting characteristic of a few of the sites I am talking about is that some lack useful site navigation. One of the sites has had the homepage ranking top 5 for an extremely competitive phrase for two months now and contains nothing more than 10 affiliate links above the fold, and a long scrollable article. There no links to internal pages (except for a "contact" link). The domain was registered 4 months ago. Furthermore, the internal pages contain no links to each other, only a link back to the homepage. I don't understand what it is about this particular site that makes it "useful" to a visitor (or what metric could define it as such), unless an immediate click to an affiliate link equals visitor satisfied (or if the visitor returns back from the affiliate site only to click on the next affiliate link in the list, and so on).

Very perplexing to say the least.

[edited by: crobb305 at 2:50 am (utc) on Dec 13, 2012]

TheMadScientist




msg:4527619
 2:49 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't understand what it is about the site that makes it "useful" to a visitor (or what metric could define it as such), unless an immediate click to an affiliate link equals visitor satisfied (or if the visitor returns back from the affiliate site only to click on the next affiliate link in the list, and so on).

But in the case you're talking about (immediate click to an affiliate link), to Google, the visitor 'disappeared' and did not return to the results, which would almost have to be interpreted as 'visitor satisfied' by an algo, even if it doesn't make complete sense to us WRT 'the site clicked' satisfying the searcher, because we know it really didn't ... They would have had to 'click again' to find what they were looking for, is what is sounds like to me ... Definitely fascinating and interesting ... Very glad you shared what you're seeing!

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 2:54 am (utc) on Dec 13, 2012]

crobb305




msg:4527620
 2:53 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

But in the case you're talking about, to Google, the visitor 'disappeared' and did not return to the results, which would almost have to be interpreted as 'visitor satisfied' by an algo, even if it doesn't make complete sense to us...

If this is the case, it argues for moving affiliate links to the homepage, and eliminate any funneling of traffic via site navigation. I've thought about testing this, but I sure don't want to destroy my Bing rankings in the process.

TheMadScientist




msg:4527621
 2:58 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah, there are a couple of really interesting discussion 'cropping up' along these lines and hopefully we can get them merged into one, because in the 404 thread [webmasterworld.com...] there were some really interesting findings by SEOSkunk and both of these threads seem to be going a bit off topic ... I'll sticky 'the big kahuna' and see if he can find a way to make one out of these two slightly OT discussions, because things are getting really interesting to me at least and we might be on to something...

TheMadScientist




msg:4527623
 3:09 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Funneling visitors is something I think is definitely important, but when it's not to your site, in my opinion, it boils down to 'time away from Google' === more important ... The thing about 'time away' is, it has to be 'not frustrating or annoying' to visitors with the 'block' link in play ... It also brings design into play quite a bit, in my opinion ... I've gotta think for a minute ... Thanks again Crobb

crobb305




msg:4527632
 3:30 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

The thing about 'time away' is, it has to be 'not frustrating or annoying' to visitors with the 'block' link in play ... It also brings design into play quite a bit, in my opinion


how might the algorithm might interpret affiliate links opening to target="blank" when it comes to visitor behavior?

TheMadScientist




msg:4527633
 3:33 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

It can't, because it doesn't know ... You might know, I might know, but the algo knows 'when the visitor returned to the results', 'what did the visitor search for upon returning' and 'did the visitor block the site upon returning', that's it, nothing else.

aakk9999




msg:4527948
 10:22 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

...unless an immediate click to an affiliate link equals visitor satisfied (or if the visitor returns back from the affiliate site only to click on the next affiliate link in the list, and so on).

I have the same observation. I am looking after a site that sells circle and diamond widgets only, in certain geographical area. The site has decided to create a page on square widgets, reviewing the square widgets in the same geographical area. The page contained 15 different square widgets with photo, main features and dofollow link to the square widget manufacturer (there is only one of these for each square widget). On the top of the page was intro saying the site does not sell square widgets, but provides info in order to have a complete widget offer in the target geo area.

After creating the page, it initially ranked at the bottom of the second page for the keyword square widgets geo-area. Then over the course of the next 6 months it started to climb, ending at #1 and holds this position for the last 2 years. The bounce rate of this page is 70%+

The site has GA as well as Statcounter and the Statcounter shows exactly what crob305 described: The visitor would land on the page, click on the first link to the square widget manufacturer, then clicked back to the page, then clicked to the second link of the second square widget manufacturer and so on.

So the perceived time on the page would be high, but so would also be a bounce rate.

No links were built to the page and there is only limited internal linking. Over the last 2-3 years the page gained some natural links from forums and similar, these are all with URL as anchor text.

So for a long time I have suspected that the visitor behaviour was the main factor on why the page climbed up and why it is still holding #1.

I have to add that the page has a good title and good meta description that invite clicks.

flatfile




msg:4528137
 5:21 pm on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

The bounce rate of this page is 70%+

The site has GA as well as Statcounter and the Statcounter shows exactly what crob305 described: The visitor would land on the page, click on the first link to the square widget manufacturer, then clicked back to the page, then clicked to the second link of the second square widget manufacturer and so on.

So the perceived time on the page would be high, but so would also be a bounce rate.


You should probably use the adjusted bounce rate on a page like that. I did it on one of my sites, I set the delay to 30 seconds.

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