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Matt Cutts on the Google Sandbox

Secrets of the sandbox revealed at Pubcon?

   
10:45 pm on Nov 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



The existence of a new-site "sandbox" (which delays the site being ranked well for months) has been a topic of debate among SEOs.

In reply to a question from Brett Tabke, Matt said that there wasn't a sandbox, but the algorithm might affect some sites, under some circumstances, in a way that a webmaster would perceive as being sandboxed.

So, for some sites, in effect there IS a sandbox.

8:43 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



We know from experience that many sites come out of the box after a quarantine period when nothing changes apart from their age.

And if Google representative says AGAIN there is no Sandbox, don't you think you should start looking into the other direction?
That quote above could be an excellent starting point.

So, if you (just for the fun, of course) begin with the "No Sandbox" theorem, what could be the possible answer(s) for the effect observed?

- Something on the page started getting its points, due to age or some other value

- Something off page started getting its points, due to age or some other value

- New addition of some off page elements

- ...Anything else you can think of in that direction

9:24 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



<<< One thing you perhaps haven't considered is whether Google used whois data to apply the filter to all your sites? Could they have attributed them all back to you / your company and applied the sandbox that way? >>>

Nope the sites I'm talking about are not ours but clients and that was already a consideration, we only ever register domains in the clients name (it would be wrong to anything else anyway). And the hosting has varied, on different IP ranges and with different hosting companies, we use three different companies for hosting and some were hosted elsewhere with the clients own hosting, so I don't see how Google could find a connection.

The overriding common factor is that all sites were in extremely commercial areas, however they were legitimate sites for legitimate businesses, not scrapers, affiliate sites or any junk of that nature.

The idea that non optimised sites will avoid the sandbox is a joke! If you don't optimise a new site you'll get little in way of rank in most cases, if you do optimise you'll get sandboxed, that's the noise I'm hearing coming from some people here, that would suggest this is a catch 22 for many sites and the only solution is waiting for however months Google deems is necessary before the site will rank properly.

9:37 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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<<< And if Google representative says AGAIN there is no Sandbox, don't you think you should start looking into the other direction? >>

If you look at past quotes from Google I'd suggest that they are playing with us a little, it doesn't help that name 'sandbox' isn't entirely accurate and I think this is where a lot of the confusion starts.. In truth I suppose it is:

1) A penalty that new sites (especially commercial ones) seem to trip easily, pushing your site way down the SERPS

2) The same harsh penalty clearly isn't being applied to older, established sites given all other things are equal.

3) After a certain amount of time (several months) the penalty is removed.

4) What other factors may be causing the penalty I'm unsure of but commercial site + new site are the first two factors for sure.

So something exists that is treating new sites in a different way to existing sites, call it what you like.

Maybe someone should ask Matt something like 'is there a penalty applied to new sites that isn't applied to established sites in the same way' rather than 'does the sandbox exists' less room manoeuvring then I guess...

9:40 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



"And if Google representative says AGAIN there is no Sandbox..."

He said the "sandbox effect" exists.

[edited by: tedster at 5:52 am (utc) on Nov. 25, 2005]
[edit reason] remove off topic [/edit]

10:00 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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energylevel

are you truly saying NO new site gets into the main serps?

10:06 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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brand new site launch 6 weeks ago . last weeks logs

1 No Referrer 5,296
2 [google.co.uk...] 3,103
3 [google.com...] 1,580
4 #*$!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 901
5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 714
6 [search.msn.co.uk...] 336
7 [google.com.au...] 120
8 [google.ca...] 83
9 [aolsearch.aol.co.uk...] 79
10 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx78
11 [google.nl...] 76
12 [google.fr...] 66
13 [google.se...] 57
14 [google.de...] 53
15 [google.it...] 44
16 [search.msn.com...] 40

brand new domain ... xxxxxxxxx are sites that you will need to find imo

DaveN

10:07 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



'In reply to a question from Brett Tabke, Matt said that there wasn't a sandbox, but the algorithm might affect some sites, under some circumstances, in a way that a webmaster would perceive as being sandboxed.'

This was on the first post, I don't know if it's an accurate quote from Matt, I assume it is....

[edited by: tedster at 5:51 am (utc) on Nov. 25, 2005]
[edit reason] remove off topic [/edit]

10:16 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



<<<are you truly saying NO new site gets into the main serps? >>>

No ... just ones in very commercial areas, there are some SEOs here with experience that seem to know how to avoid it but I have to hold my hands up and say don't know what steps to take in order to achieve this to date ....

10:20 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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energylevel ... one tip ... don't think like an SEO ..

DaveN

10:20 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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DaveN .. few questions:

1) Can you divilge type/subject matter of site

2) Is it entirely by accident or do you know exactly how to avoid being 'sandboxed' and can repeat anytime with any site?

3) Can you reveal some of the terms you are ranking well for?

10:29 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



1) Can you divilge type/subject matter of site

it's ecommerce site selling the market leading products for this christmas

2) Is it entirely by accident or do you know exactly how to avoid being 'sandboxed' and can repeat anytime with any site?

70% of the time I can get straight out , pharm and casino you can only spam to get out, so it's a shotgun approach 100 sites to get one in

3) Can you reveal some of the terms you are ranking well for?

dude.. i will say i'm playing in the 2,000,000 area serps

DaveN

10:30 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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




4 #*$!#*$!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 901
5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 714

imho that's a clue.

Why do people continue to refer to it as a penalty? A penalty is something imposed for doing something wrong.

10:34 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



? Your reading comprehension is poor. He said the "sandbox effect" exists.

Your logical comprehension is poor.

Any religious perception of god exists, when an observer has no other explanation of some strange phenomenon.

10:35 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Marcia your right ... I should have just removed them all together lol... not feeling well today, My gran died so I feel like sharing.. tommorrow will be another day :)
10:51 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



>>Marcia your right ... I should have just removed them all together lol...

It's OK Dave - people don't listen or pay attention, no matter what. BTW, I've read that particular patent through several times and posted my heart out about it. So what - same ole penalty song plays anyway. But thanks for letting me know, now I know I'm not a total kook imagining things. :)

>>My gran died so I feel like sharing.. tommorrow will be another day

Sorry about that Dave, thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

10:52 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Marcia .. it's just a word 'penalty' you're probably right but it means other things to people too and it may have been the wrong word to use....

My impression was when talking about Google and rank, you can correct me if I'm wrong that a penalty is applied for being naughty as you say... and is applied manually. Any other extreme negative impact on a sites rank is caused by automated filtering triggered by any number of things, it's built into the ALGO to conclude? Matt seems to be saying that the sandbox effect is built into the ALGO, I wonder if once applied the 'sentence' is permamnent and can't be reversed, in other words the only other thing left to do is wait..

11:12 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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DaveN

If we go for guesses as to the missing referrers how about you answer yes or no?

Yahoo Search?
Yahoo Directory?

11:14 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Marcia, it's because people are referring to that "s" word...

The thinking goes: my site has been put in a "sandbox" therefore I must have committed an "infraction" because I have been given a "penalty" so therefore I must change whatever "wrong thing" I may have done. (e.g. "over-optimisation" discussions)

energylevel, words and the way that you use them are important. If you think of sandboxes and penalties you think in a certain way.

If you think in terms of algorithms, you think of your site not having enough of whatever may be attractive to a search engine at that time. Do you refer to your site being in the "linkbox" if you have no links to it or in the "titlebox" if you are using "Untitled Document"?

11:16 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Yahoo Search?
Yahoo Directory?

nope and nope.. yahoo is banned on this one for the time being..

Daven

11:47 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



stever .. where does it say this is the official word to describe this and that is the official word for that, who decides and how are people to know that given the varying levels of knowledge. It's perfectly understandable that the 'sanbox' effect provokes opinions and use of various descriptions, accurate or not. I already conceding 'penalty' was the wrong word to use anyway...

Don't forget these forums are for all, of all levels of knowledge, people come her learn and to discuss and express opinions right or wrong! One of the most annoying things I see time and time again is people assuming they know more and peple who do know more than others, often retorting with condescending, mocking remarks, people are looking for answers here not insults...

11:52 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



DaveN .. I need to think hard .. couple of wild guesses:

DMOZ
MSN Business Directory

Bet you are having a right good chuckle to yourself?

11:53 am on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



DMOZ
MSN Business Directory

read my tip to you ... stop thinking like an SEO!

DaveN

12:00 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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energylevel, I guess Dave is hinting at listing site for sake of traffic, not for SERP benefit. IMO.
12:03 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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what i'm hinting at is stop thinking like a seo ...

build site go get links from ...... <- seo

12:08 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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McMohan .. That was a nice summary .. I think you're on the money with that ....
12:27 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Dave, you didn't hint at stop thinking like an SEO, but actually spelt it in words ;-)

Anyway, that is interesting. I read somewhere Steveb wrote in the supporters forum - Signals of quality will get you into the sandbox and it actually has to be Signals of Volume. Hope I haven't mis-interpreted you Steve. Thinking of it, these two trains of thought are at cross roads.

Anyway, I will desist from drawing inferences. I for one haven't been successful in beating the sandbox, atleast in Commercial area.

1:59 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>>>I guess Dave is hinting at listing site for sake of traffic, not for SERP benefit

I'm not Dave, but I'd say IME it is more accurate to go *after* traffic and not links. Getting links is an SEO thought. Getting traffic is a marketing thought. My two cents...

2:10 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



a good 2cents to rae
2:12 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"2) The same harsh penalty clearly isn't being applied to older, established sites given all other things are equal."

Is this saying the good ole boys are being taken care of and most new folk trying to get established are
not allowed into the game? If so, Google has restricted participation by favoring
certain types/age of web sites and shunting others to their graveyard. However, there is nothing that can be done about Google's practices. We are all servants.

2:31 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Congrats, DaveN and thank you!

Sorry about your grandma.

But I thank you and Marcia for the hints.

If you knew nothing about SEO, where would you get your traffic?

AdWords!

What a happy accident for Google--you can pay them to beat the box.*

*Assuming that my guess is correct.

This 318 message thread spans 11 pages: 318