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Sandbox Myth

Reverse sandbox effect



3:34 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Still people are talking about the 'sandbox' till today! There is not such thing as sandbox any more. In the past, a search engine used to 'penalize' a site for it being new. This kind of 'descrimination' against new sites was the norm and only the older more established sites got the high recognition from Google and others. It has been a while now since Google realized this was hurting its searches and has introduced new tweaks to its ranking algo to counteract this 'descrimination'. Now, new sites actually get kind of a boost once they are first indexed. After an initial test, Google sees if that boost is well deserved or not. If, according to search patterns by searchers, Google finds that indeed the site deserves good ranking, it preserves the ranking and may even increase it with time. If however the site turned out to be a failure as determined by search patterns, then Google dumps it low in its search results after having given it its initial chance.

No more sandbox crap talk again please. New sites actually get a boost in the new ranking algo of Google, but if they are not up to it, they fall deep down in SERPs.


1:40 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

MHes, I agree -- it seems to me that Google were very happy with the state their index was in up to March.

Then, acting like an editor in chief for the entire world, they froze it to preserve its quality, and you now need the right type of links, acquired responsibly, to break in.

What's unfair about this (if I'm even roughly right), is that older sites continue to rank according to more classical Google methods. Old links in to a site continue to pass their gold easily; new links are put under an electron microscope.

Whether this is ethical is another discussion, but I think its fair to say that Google is ultra conservative these days.


2:53 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>Old links in to a site continue to pass their gold easily

Yup. Old sites have old links while new sites have none.


12:59 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I believe Google enjoys to the utmost such speculations heavily discussed all over the web about how it does its inner workings. They LOVE this, 'couse despite the fact that it does shed some light on how their engine works, it also diverts attention from actual details .. at least throws in an nice element of uncertinity about such method or the other .. something which they LOVE so much and intend to do and promote.

(Think Google's April's Fools and their function, beyond the fancy fun for sure. They keep people talking, perhaps divert some of their talking energy away from other stuff Google is doing, spread the buzz about Google, and at the same time send some messages to the smart ones who can get it.)


2:43 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I bet you it's really half a dozen monkeys just randomly thowing banana peels at a keyboard, and that is how page ranks and ranking are assigned.


3:45 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I am not sure how to say this diplomatically, but you have simply got it all WRONG about PageRank. "half a dozen monkeys just randomly thowing banana peels at a keyboard" to me sounds so funny! That can NEVER be how PageRank really works.

But as usual, I'm sure those hardliners will come popping up to me asking me for "hard" and "authoritative" proof for my claims. Well, to those I say there is no need to get any proof on that. It is abvirous, "monkeys" oh my! I never knew that hypothesizing could one day ever go to THAT extent!

No dear, there aient no monkeys in the Google PageRank algo, and my confirmation is backed by hard (and official) evidence this time, from Google themselves, no monkies involves, it's just a bunch of pigeons

(And they're pecking at the keyboard. The idea of throwing bananas is just out of question for it would have made the Googleplex too messy.)


5:57 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>I believe Google enjoys to the utmost such speculations....

Sometimes they do but overall this forum and others is a thorn in their side. Amoungst all the weird and wonderful speculation nuggets of information emerge which allow an advantage to those that see it. This opens the door to spamming their index which is not what they want. Over the last few years this forum has given very valuable information allowing a select few to dominate serps in many sectors, which is not always helpful to the quality of google results.

I would guess that on balance they would prefer that collective analysis of their methods did not happen, but their importance dictates it is an unavoidable consequence.


6:29 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

> "half a dozen monkeys just randomly thowing banana peels at a keyboard" to me sounds so funny!
> That can NEVER be how PageRank really works.

Hahahah! I doubt they use monkeys for anything (messy, smelly, full of mischief..)
If G wants to add a random factor to their SERPs or PR, there are cleaner ways. -Larry

stevenb 1959

12:42 pm on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My opinion from my testing on Google Sandbox is, think of your webpage as your house with a front door and backdoor, if you have a reason to go in the front door and a reason to go out the back door then turn around and have a reason to go in the back door and a reason to go out the front door then the sand box is over; and from my results this isnot easy with new pages leading in and out of new pages til these pages leading in and out rank for what they ARE SAID TO BE.


5:32 pm on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

..However, if your site gets a cache date that is never more than 10 days old, (regularly crawled) and the title, snippet and url appears just as you intended when you search by your url, and you run a search using the commands; allinanchor:, allintext:, allintitle: and your site comes up within the first few pages, BUT when you search for the main keyword the site was designed for and your not within the first 1,000 places you could throw some sort of label on that.

OK, but how about this:
I've launched new site last january. It got spidered and indexed within a week. Then, the site indeed got that starting boost immediately (but remained its status in SERPS ever since with minor changes). Three months later and about hundred of backlinks, site gained PR6 from initial PR0. I've continually added fresh content and tweaked old pages furthermore. Google positively responded to the changes and those pages even improved their positions in the SERPS.

Now, as my site deals with beautiful widgets, ugly widgets and advices of how to make widgets more pretty, the strange thing was, while indeed my site was nowhere to be found in SERPS for my #1 main keyword (beautiful widgets), it instantly gained and remained great SERP positions for my #2 main keyword (ugly widgets) and the rest of my keywords.

I think it's important to note here that the search for beautiful widgets produces about 5 million results, which obviously indicates very competitive area, while my second main keyword, ugly widgets has only 1 million result pages.

Now, seven months after the launch, my site is very well positioned for some of my main keywords from the beginning, but only for my #1 keyword in pretty rather competitive area, the site can't be found even in the top 1000.

So my best guess on the sandbox phenomena would be, as discussed earlier here and around the net, that not all sites got sandboxed - at least, not filtered out for particular keywords and at the same time present in SERPS with the rest of the keywords. In my case, it seems that only more popular keyword got filtered while others from less competitive areas, had no problem with the SERPS from the very start.


2:52 am on Aug 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Now, as my site deals with beautiful widgets, ugly widgets and advices of how to make widgets more pretty,

I love restrictions, they make us more creative and produce more interesting things. (After all it's ages of time, enormous heat and massive pressure that turns coal into diamonds though both are made of the same chemical element: Carbon. It's all in how the molecultes are arranged next to each other.)


10:44 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The defining characteristics of the sandbox seem to be these:

(1) The sandbox is a binary switch. You're in or you're out. There's no gradually going into or coming out of the sandbox.

(2) The sandbox seems to trump all other ranking factors. It doesn't matter what your PR is, what the on-page factors are or how competitive the search phrase is. As long as you're in the sandbox, you don't rank anywhere near the first page, not even for your own company or site name.

(3) Being in the sandbox is an attribute of a domain--not a link, site, or page.

I had a site with a TBPR of 5 that ranked very well for some obscure phrases for years. I moved the content into another domain and set up 301 redirects to the new location. The PR transferred almost immediately and the content didn't change to any significant degree.

The site disappeared completely from the rankings. About two weeks after the domain hit the one year anniversary of its registration (about 5 months after the content moved), I checked the search results and found that the pages had magically reappeared at almost exactly the same positions they had originally held. New pages were ranking normally, and all signs of the sandbox effect had gone away simultaneously and completely. Three weeks before that, nothing had visibly changed since Google first noticed the site had changed domains. The inbound links, PR, and content of those pages experienced no significant change during that time, which would tend to explain the nearly identical rankings pre- and post-sandbox.

Any attempt to deny the existance of the sandbox is going to have a hard time fitting the facts here. Any attempt to explain it as an issue of link age or bad SEO in terms of links and on-page criteria will have a very hard time fitting the facts in this case as well. Denial is no substitute for data and reason.


5:53 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Good, clear post gmiller.

The characteristics you describe are exactly the same for sites that have been hit in the limited updates from Aug 16 onwards (including Bourbon). Sites have practically disappeared from the SERPS and then sometimes come back in their former glory.

Because of the similarity in effect, I am beginning to believe that the two phenomena are part of the same thing - in other words whatever site (not page) filter that gets applied and hits some long-established sites is the same as what causes the Sandbox. If this was true then there would be no easy explanation such as link aging.

Whether it is some application of a Hilltop-like algo or something based on pattern of links from other domains I don't have much evidence. But it maybe that the 'Sandbox' is a side effect of a serious anti-spam measure that has been applied.


2:08 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have figured out this sandbox thing and everyone here needs to pay very close attention to what I have to say. I feel like I won the "who wants to be a millionaire" show. JACKPOT!

Although I have not figured a way out of this so called sandbox but I think I figured out why it appears we are in a sandbox.

Shafaki, you were correct the sandbox is a myth. Doesn't exist. Now Wait before all you sandbox believers jump down my throat, hear me out. You too are partially correct but its not a sandbox these new sites are in. The new name for this google filter is now called "PAGERANK TURTLE".

Why "PageRank Turtle" because slow and steady wins the race. Let me explain:

My site is about 4 months old. I have been exchanging links with as many quality/relevant links that I can find that pertain to my industry.

OK all that's normal, all of us do it, right? The interesting thing is that I have exchanged links with sites ranking anywhere from a PR 0's and as high as PR 8's.

Now here comes the interesting part. Google is only displaying PR 0's up to PR 4's indexed links that I've obtained and is holding back or filtering the PR 5's thru PR 8's that I also have obtained, which are not being displayed.

What this is telling us is yes indeed there is definitely a filter not a sandbox but a "PageRank Turtle" instead.

What that means is yes your keywords are there but they are so far buried that it can't even be register. Why can't your major keywords be found? Because you are a new site and according to "google" your indexed PR links are 4 or less. GET IT? Low PR exchanges, Low Keyword Rankings!

Now once the filter wears off and starts to allow your higher PR backlinks your keywords will slowly make its way to the top.

Then once you have done your time and you are completely unfiltered its off to the races for your kewyords and your PageRank.

"PageRank Turtle" Slow and Steady wins the race.


2:13 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I was at the Googleplex yesterday at 1 pm, and I wandered away from my host and I saw the monkeys. I saw them with my own eyes. People, it's monkeys and bananas.


2:20 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Will all doubters that there is a 'probationary period' in Google, please pay the relatively small amount to become a supporter and see this recent thread:


(Quote from Go60Guy citing a Google Engineer) He did, however, openly acknowledge that they place new sites, regardless of their merit, or lack thereof...

Enough of this thread.


He did not mention, or rule out the monkeys though, so they may very well be real.


2:47 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

JoeHouse, that would be an interesting observation if it were true, but gmiller has the physical behavior exactly right, there is no turtle affect, you're in, then overnight you're out. Happened to me a while ago, I knew where the site was supposed to rank, and as soon as the sandbox switch was turned off (and I don't really care what it is, it's enough to see it working) the site's keywords instantly jumped to where I thought they should be, as did traffic. My guess is and was that it's a flag attached to each page of a new domain, the presence of the flag causes the new site boost so many have seen, and the presence of the flag sandboxes your pages, and the removal, or alteration of the flag, returns your site to where it would be normally.

While people are fond of saying it's inbound links that are sandboxed, this doesn't do an adequate job explaining the above behavior, which I saw on a site with one link, 500 links, new links added, no links added. Despite the lack of any real evidence that particular theory still manages to convince some.

[edited by: 2by4 at 2:49 am (utc) on Aug. 11, 2005]


2:47 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Exactly 'probationary period'. Holding Back high PR backlinks is a 'probationary period'. Sandbox no. Its all there just not where you want them to be.


2:51 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you're basing anything on the returned links using google link: you're barking up the wrong tree, that tool is almost completely useless, sandboxed or not makes no difference.

As always with all link based theories, empirical facts disprove them, I have sites ranking with no inbound links of any particularly great pr at all, they didn't have them when in the sandbox, and they don't have them now. But they do rank. Sometimes for serps in the 30million + range.

However, it's totally irrevelevant going much further, it's adequate to note the presence of the phenomena, the sandbox, worrying about just what it is doesn't really help you get past it, so I don't bother anymore, though I'm fairly satisfied that my working theory is adequate to explain what I see.

However, you are exactly right, it is all there, just not where you want it to be, it's exactly where it is placed in the serps based on a flag, my guess, good enough for me. Flag is gone, back to normal. Nothing you can do that I know of to get rid of it, but I have read some people who claim to be able to, with no great reliability, avoid it in the first place.


3:11 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Out of all the post I have read on this subject, your opinions closely resemble my beliefs.

Can we all agree with this point. At some point this flag....sandbox....PageRank Turtle or what ever you want to call it will come to an end for new sites and the world will be right again?


6:19 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The flag lifts, the sandbox goes away, whatever, the site gets traffic, serp position normalizes... and it happens, again, overnight basically. Be ready, one guy reported getting kicked off his server because traffic went up so fast so quickly, he didn't have the capacity in place to support the desandboxing.

As for the condition of the rest of the world after this happens... no comment.


7:11 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member caveman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

mb did you really see monkeys? Whoa, that is soooo cool. Were they at computers? Or having coffee? What!


9:06 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I was at the Googleplex yesterday at 1 pm, and I wandered away from my host and I saw the monkeys. I saw them with my own eyes. People, it's monkeys and bananas.

martinibuster, I cannot refute that! After all, seeing is believing. (Unless of course a strong doze of martini has impared your vision, mental interpretation of your vision or both.)

So, you're sure you did not notice any pigeons fluttering around? (... or at least any traces of feathers floating about?)

(Hey, by the way, what's the difference between dry martini and martini dry? Was an interview question for a barman.)


10:42 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I got a domain with live pages which has been online for maybe 7-8 month, still in the google sandbox filter, then I bought a old domain which was sometimes 404, it was dead, I then added 2 pages, it does not rank good, but its on page 10 on google out of 7 million results, so maybe we have something clear, that it is the domain that is filtered and not the pages.


12:44 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Regarding Domains. If I registed for a domain in Jan 2005 but didn't submit to all the engines until mid April 2005, what's my prison term served in regards to sandbox time?

Is it 8 months or 4 months.

I have been hearing conflicting responses to this. Anybody have any facts to bring to the table on this subject?


6:08 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

as for facts, check the latest Google patent, you'll find that they use several methods to determine the inception date of a document:
1- the date the document was first crawled.
2- the date their crawler first found a link to the document.
4- the date the server says the document has been created
or a combination of the above.

That's what the patent says. So, probably there is no simple means of determining it, but it's a relief to think that they indeed use a combination of the above (and perhaps other methods too) to determine date of inception, or else a domain registered for 8 months without being 'discovered' yet by Google will suffer from having an incorrect inception date.


6:13 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Martini dry is how you feel when you haven't yet sipped your first dry martini of the day.



6:47 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've launched a number of new sites recently and the sandbox lives, without a doubt. Google will index the pages, but they won't rank well for many months. Age continues to be a major factor in Google.


9:08 pm on Aug 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, my site is living (or not so living) proof of the sandbox. It was launched a year and two months ago. For an entire year, I received ZERO G. search hits. Then suddenly, the log started showing www.google.com/search hits. Since then, the site has received about maybe 2-3 G. searches a day only. The site is a PR3 with NO black hat. I know how to do all the black hat stuff, but there is none on this site. I learned my leeson, the site I put the tricks on got banned. So, the new site is well over 1,000 pages with traditional SEO. Oh, I am grateful for the 2-3 G. searches a day, but waiting for more. This site is still in the purgatory index, which means it is not found in the index I use to duplicate the G. searches in the log. G. has a purgatory index (the first rung up from the sandbox) which is almost NEVER seen by visitors. They probably only flash this particular index containint us newly released from sandbox effect maybe only once or max twice a day. When I search for the keywords of the G. search in the log, my site is NOT in the index no matter if I go all the way to the last entry. So therefore, it is in ANOTHER index. For almost a year, the sandbox index holds new sites. Then we go into the purgatory index. This site is now about 2 months or 3 months into the purgatory index. I swore I would not make any more sites, but of course, I am making sites for clients. As to when they might make any money, well, that remains to be seen. My job as designer ends and Google takes over the fate of the sites. Yes, Yahoo and MSN are fine, but Google traffic is the key for EVERYONE. I forgot to mention, the site is an Affiliate Marketing site. I know...another filter...Yes, there is life after the sandbox, BUT NOT MUCH for a long time...


4:58 am on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One says it's monkeys...the other says pigeons...I was just wondering what was crapping all over my site...


9:19 pm on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I must have both monkeys and pigeons... anybody know how long the purgatory index confinement lasts? I hope it is not another year... If I did not have AdSense on, I would have died financially...
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