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My friends launched a wholesale website -- no ecommerce yet, brochure-like. The site went live this week, I believe Tue. I made a link to them on Wed from my old personal homepage -- the kind of informal link that says "my friends launched a website about blue widgets". This is the ONLY link they have. Positive.
Googlebot hit them the same day 10 minutes after visiting my homepage. Today, just one day later, they rank on the first page of serps for related two-word keywords and in top position for a related 3-word keywords -- not the keywords I linked them with.
So. First -- no sandbox apparently. Secondly -- the META description is used for both searching on and for displaying a short snippet in serps.
News to me at least.
And that is the problem with a new site. Most will rank for non competitive phrases, but not for the targeted ones. Its easy to get a new site number1 for related topics and obscure searches, but rarely for the big money terms. I suspect you will find in the next few months you will have good pr, good quality links and well optimised pages but are still being beaten by low pr/low quality/off theme pages that just happen to be old and established.
Brett thinks 200 people per day is awesome for a new site..... I reckon its sandboxed. He will be getting that traffic from obscure searches and be missing 2000 people per day on the good searches. Hardly a case for questioning the sandbox theory.