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Does Google Apply Sandbox Effect also on old domains?

     
11:17 am on Apr 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I have fixed so many things in the website like adding content on all pages including products, categories, their title meta, heading tags etc. Blocked search engines via robots meta tag for product variation pages.

The ranking have been improving well and got 6th position on first page for the competitive keyword "[removed keyword]" on 24th of March in Google.co.in.
Next day, the developer had added products reviews functionality on all product pages which had three H2 tags.
1. Write Your Own Review
2. You're reviewing: [product name]
3. How do you rate this product? *
Ranking got dropped to 4th page in one day. Even it got dropped for important keyword like "packaging materials" to 3rd page after 3 days which was on 5th position.

I asked developer to remove above headings from h2 tags and allowed them to keep only one heading in H3 tag. You're reviewing: [product name]
Still the rank did not recover.

After this, I have tried all the possible ethical ways to improve the website in terms of content but nothing seems working. So I doubt if Google use Sandbox Effect on old domains as well. However website still have 1st position for other 5-6 low competitive keywords.

History:
Website was running on domain example.com. It was redirected on new domain.

Possible Issues of website:
    Product variations are still in XML sitemap but blocked for search engines via robots meta tag. (The developer said, he cannot remove product variations from xml sitemap; it is dynamic)
    That reviews functionality heading in H3 on all product pages. You're reviewing: [product name]
    There is a condition in the website that if a category have only 1 product then redirect (302 redirect) it to the product page.
    Category pages are linked in main menu even if the category have single product.
    Website is linking to long product URLs which include category/sub category names. A single product is placed in multiple category for users. So to avoid duplicate content/page issue, I asked to have canonical tag on all product pages and call base URL of the products (without category/subcategory name

So many blogs are published but not a single blog is performing in search engines. Should I try WordPress platform instead of using Magento blog extension?

This may be a good case study for webmasters. Any help/feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Sandeep

[edited by: engine at 4:38 pm (utc) on Apr 23, 2015]

[edited by: brotherhood_of_LAN at 4:46 pm (utc) on Apr 23, 2015]
[edit reason] Please see WebmasterWorld TOS [/edit]

12:12 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Sandbox does not really apply to old domains. Google's sandbox is more about new sites lacking ranking signals that Google wants to see before it trusts the new site.

There are many different penalties and filters that could be impacting your website. I would worry less about what specifically Google wants today and worry more about the general concepts that Google wants to see because Google is constantly changing their ranking algo but their goals tends to stay the same. They want to provide to their users relevant results that their users will value so they keep coming back to Google for their search needs and thus making Google very rich from the advertising revenue.

Ask yourself "If a user came to my website what value do I offer that isn't found on 100 other websites?"

Don't try to build a website to the minimum criteria, develop a website that surpasses expectations so other people will want to seek you out.
12:25 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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There isn't a Google sandbox. There never has been and there will never be one. Even Matt Cutts has mentioned this in the past.

What there is is a filter/s applied to sites that reek of spam or manipulative SEO techniques. To put it in blunt terms, your site could be as old as the earth itself, but if Google thinks that your site is using black hat techniques, you will never reach your ranking potential unless that filter is removed. This is what many people equivocally call the Google sandbox and which is so commonly used (erroneously) to explain why sites suddenly drop in SERPs after a massive backlink campaign -- just to give you an example, there are many other silly uses of the Google sandbox word.

An example of a filter would be the Penguin filter. However there are many more quality and spam filters that Google uses and that can be applied to any one site and any one time. Hence the reason (partially) for many webmasters getting their sites nuked and not knowing the reason for it.
1:36 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Don't believe everything you read and everything a PR talking head tells you. Investigate US Patent # 7,346,839 (featuring Cutts as one of the inventors).
They DO have is a patent on content delta. It may not be called a sandbox, but it's effects are the same whatever you call it. [seo-theory.com...]
The explanation given in the previous post is for something completely different. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of other algorithms at work beside Panda and Penguin. IMHO, those two are just smoke screens for a gullible public.
3:45 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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LOL do you realize that just because Google has created a patent that does NOT mean that they're using it?

OP is referring to a domain suddenly being placed in a sandbox after making changes. Well, how about we call any negative SERPs movement the sandbox effect? What about the honeymoon period of new domains? Or the ranking benefit of sites that post breaking news?

There is no sandbox. Google doesn't just put you in a sandbox because hey, whatever. What they do is they filter your site's rankings, indexing or crawling according to their own estimations. The word sandbox is being used carelessly to simply label any negative SERP movement. It's laughable, especially when the head of webspam at Google has said that there is no sandbox and especially when there are so many crawling, indexing and ranking factors that we don't know of.

Head to any of the amateur spammer forums like black hat world or warrior forum and see how they use the word Google sandbox to diagnose any drop in rankings. It's become one of those hard to die myths that get repeated on and on on forums. If you want to blieve that there's a magical sandbox that your site gets sent to whenever -- well, again, whenever "whatever" -- then by all means continue doing so.

So according to you, who should we trust since apparently Matt Cutts is so evil and he wants only Amazon and Ebay to rank and not thin sites like yours? (this should be fun)
4:53 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google does have many patents and it doesn't use them all nor does Google inform us webmasters when they start or stop using any patent. Webmasters do not always properly understand or use the most accurate terminology when trying to unravel the confusing world of search engine rankings.

When you hear a webmaster talk about sandbox they are often referring to when it was very hard for a new website to rank in Google. Google has talked about this but they have never fully revealed everything. It seems that Google added a combination of penalties and filters that had the side effect of creating a sandbox waiting period for newer websites. Google has since modified the ranking algorithm many, many times and it is very possible for a new website to avoid experiencing the conditions that many webmasters termed "sandbox". Some webmasters still talk about sandbox but most of them are misusing the term to describe any general ranking issue for newer websites.

If you are trying to figure out the ranking troubles for an older site, you probably want to spend less time learning about the history of sandbox and more time about panda, penguin and the other relatively newer penalties & filters. Don't chase after the minimum quality standards but seek to exceed and your site can thrive.

If you have a newer website and have trouble ranking, you also probably don't want to spend too much time on the history of sandbox and instead familiarize yourself with the newer ranking and authority signals that Google now seeks. For example you might want to explore how usage signals can impact Google rankings and then ask yourself how can you develop positive usage signals for your new site. Stay positive and get creative. I've been launching new websites every year for over the last 15 years and I know from my own first hand experiences you can still launch new websites that rank and convert very well.
9:26 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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While the presence of the Google Sandbox has been long debated, Google has made no direct disclosure on the matter. However, as the sandbox effect almost certainly refers to a set of filters in play for anti-spam purposes, it is unlikely Google would ever provide details on the matter. In one instance though, Google's John Mueller, has mentioned that "it can take a bit of time for search engines to catch up with your content, and to learn to treat it appropriately. It's one thing to have a fantastic website, but search engines generally need a bit more to be able to confirm that, and to rank your site - your content - appropriately".[5] This could be understood as the cause for the sandbox effect.

The entire industry a has referred to this as a sandbox for years - there are countless articles by "experts" OTHER than yourself that describe the filter. Just because you don't like the name or Cutts says it doesn't exist doesn't mean jack.
There isn't a Google sandbox. There never has been and there will never be one.

then
What they do is they filter your site's rankings, indexing or crawling

<snip>

[edited by: goodroi at 2:32 pm (utc) on May 5, 2015]
[edit reason] Off topic [/edit]

10:22 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Can we please stay on topic and discuss OP's question and avoid off topic and/or personal comments :)
12:43 am on May 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Magento platform can be a bit tricky to seo

    I would switch on the canonical url handling for products in magento admin
    Product variations should not be displayed on in the XML sitemap, if your using configurable products or grouped products all sub products should be set to "Not Visible Individually" then they will drop off the sitemap and not be visible to search engines or user
    Reviews although embedded in a product page often link out to own review page for each product. You probably want to to disable this, check for links in "Be the first to review this Product" and the reviews themselves
    I would personally remove the 302 redirect for the categories with only one product
    You can set the product to go to base url in admin
    Blog is most likely Aheadworks yes you could change to Wordpress see Fishpig site for details


As for the sandbox yes this can be a factor but it sounds like your site has configuration issues especially regarding products
10:55 am on May 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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<snip>

Cheers to all and no bad taken or intended.

[edited by: goodroi at 2:32 pm (utc) on May 5, 2015]
[edit reason] Let's stay focused on the topic :) [/edit]