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I have a site that is over 2 years old and is ranking okay. Mainly on the first two pages for many of our major and minor terms.
But recently, well since the New Year, it has been going up and down like a yoyo. Even completely disappearing but coming back to the first page for many terms and then sliding down. And repeating the pattern a couple of times.
The Theory is that sandbox is several filters, within the Google algorithm, that takes into account several factors age, the links, content etc. But each time you make a content change it looks at it temporarily as a 'new' page and if you are constantly making changes to various pages a 'new' site. UNTIL that is it calls on all its filters and recognises it as an 'existing' site.
Therefore you fall back into the sandbox and then reappear. Make lots of changes and the process starts all over again.
This would of course fly in the face of the belief that G likes fresh content.
As I said, just a theory.
Those filters likely comprise of the sorts of things that you describe to revalidate it.
Sites like Yahoo Answers , Gumtree etc have a high trust ranking with Google and refresh very quickly, probably not just because they are well known, but a whole host of other factors which validate the trust.
I'm noticing Yahoo Answers at the top of the SERP's and there is no visible PR.
My blog seems to come and go for various terms.
Interesting enough the terms in the domain name also come and go.
I chose the domain name to represent some terms that were interesting to me, and now those terms only seem to rank on google.fr
Dunno, back to the drawingboard I guess..
Exactly the same thing i am seeing here. websites that i lost interest in updating them are ranking where they should be now but for those that i work hard on them, tends to swing around the top pages to no where.
Previously i thought it was related to supplementary results but yesterday, my site just disappeared from the Google SERP (after i add in some new contents and new links on the homepage)...
Wonder does it means doing less is more to Google? definately not an idea appreciate by my site visitors.
One question for those who experience the same thing: Does your website remains top ranking for certain keyphrase? Mine does. for a few keyphrases, the said website remain #1 no matter how it performs in other search phrase...