It wasn’t until I started blogging that I read about “Google’s Sandbox”.

Apparently, the terminology was given to some blogs that may be on a “probationary period” with Google. These are blogs that Google is “watching” to see how internet users react to them. Google may be looking to see if they are being visited, or linked to. Until they “see” these blogs are actually legitimate, Google may place them on what could be called a “time out” in cyberspace, or “placed in the sandbox”.

Today’s Lesson

On ThreadWatch.org, an article was posted that discusses the Google “sandbox” phenomenon.

Although some dispute the existence of a Google sandbox, I wouldn’t be surprised if this blog was in the infamous sandbox.

How did I come to that conclusion?

In the past, the majority of my traffic came from referrals.

Even though I tried to use keywords and keyword density, only a very small percentage of my traffic was coming from search engines.

However, recently, I have seen a surge of search engine traffic.

When reading about the Google sandbox “conditions”, it says that a blog may be placed in the sandbox for six months to a year. I began to see the search engine traffic increase around month nine.

When I think back to what I had done:

1) I think of my “blogging buddies” page (which is under re-construction). I had created the page and it was a list of links to websites or blogs that had commented on, or had linked to either of my two blogs. I still wonder if that could have been construed as a “link farm”, even though there was only 28 links.

2) WordPress is notorious for “duplicate content”. When you post and place your posts into your categories, archives, etc…the same post is located on many areas of your blog. To correct that, I began using excerpted posts. This may not make a difference, as I haven’t the same problems with my Observation Mountain,com (OM) WordPress blog.

3) The name of my blog – Blogging Without A Blog, and it’s subtitle, plus the meta tags, include the word “blog”, many times. Google may have seen that as me trying to “spam” the word “blog”.

4) Both of my blogs hit cyberspace within days of each other….coming from the same IP address. Ironically, my OM blog was the first to publish. From the beginning, I have had search engine traffic on the OM blog.

5) I am blogging in a field/niche that is saturated. With a beginning page rank of 0/10 (it’s now 1/10), I have been up against thousands of others competing for the same blogging keywords.

Although the “Google sandbox” theory is disputed, based on my experience, I believe it may exist.

Would it be so bad if there was a sandbox, of sorts? I don’t think so.

If hundreds of thousands of blogs are started each day, guaranteed, they are not all worth reading. A high percentage of them may be very spammy, and not provide good content. If a spammy blog is started and doesn’t get traffic, chances are, the blog will be abandoned or discontinued.

With that being said, who, in there right mind, would continue maintaining a blog for 6-12 months, if they get low traffic counts?

Only those who believe in themselves. Only those who can continue to provide quality content for their readers. And….,only those who have loyal readers and commenters who inspire them to go on.

Hey, that sounds like me 😀

Today’s Assignment

Have you ever heard of the Google sandbox phenomenon?

Do you think you have ever been in the sandbox?

If there is a sandbox, do you think it’s a good idea?

Related Posts with Thumbnails
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Look Who's Talking
  1. NicoleNo Gravatar says:

    I have not heard of the Sandbox, but I think, speaking out of wordpress experience, wordpress blogs take longer to kick in.
    It took quite a while for search engine hits to float in over at my old blog and only seconds for crawlers to find me on my new one.

    I don’t have much variety yet, that’s why search engine / search results are low, but the crawlers on b2evolution started on day 1 and google hits were there from day 1 as well.

    So, I don’t know if the sandbox theory works.

    A good idea? Nope.
    There’s still way too much crap popping up when I search for something that obviously belongs into a box and never has been there 😉
    Just let the users decide, gimme some voting 😛

  2. CatherineLNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I think I’ve been in the mythical sandbox before with another website, and I used to worry all the time about the reasons. Apparently, buying a domain name that has previously been banned can also get you in the sandbox. And if you can also be affected by other sites on your IP address.

    Well, I checked my IP address and bluehost have over 100 sites on it and looking at the names, there are some that i would hate to be associated with, so it may be time to look for a new host.

    I think Google’s methods of policing the internet so far are inadequate. And systems such as PR will always be manipulated by those SEO experts, which means that rubbish sites will still rank highly. And we’ll still be sitting here wondering what we have done wrong half the time.

  3. This is actually good to hear. The message I’m walking away with is “Your search engine traffic may be low for the first 6-12 months, but don’t worry, it will get better automatically.”

  4. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Nicole,

    Interesting that you have heard that WP blogs take longer to become popular, as Asako mentioned that in a previous post also. I like WP and have been on too long now to change, but it would be interesting to use a different platform for an additional blog, and experiment.

    I agree, some sites that get top “billing”, don’t belong there. Makes you wonder how that happens.

    Catherine,

    I’m not certain what happens if you switch hosting companies, and how that affects your blog stats, or if it even makes a difference. My contract with BlueHost comes up in March, but I haven’t checked to see what other sites are on the same IP address. I will have to do more research on that one.

    Google does need to update their policies, however, it seems like whatever they do, there are those who are ready to “beat the system” and mess it up for those of us who follow the rules-not much different than in real life.

    Hunter,

    The sandbox theory apparently does not apply to all blogs, so yours could actually become popular with the search engines very quickly.

    I like your attitude though…sounds like you are in it for the long haul. That’s great to hear, as you have the beginnings of a great blog. It will be fascinating to watch you grow.

  5. CatherineLNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara – thanks for introducing me to Hunters blog by the way. I am enjoying reading the posts.

    Here is a tool I found that you can put your IP in and find what other sites are hosted on there: http://tools.web-max.ca/websitesonip.php

    I am a bit disappointed in Bluehost, as I wasn’t aware that they would have other sites on my IP. But, I’m not sure how you go about finding hosts that don’t do this. I know you can have your own server – but for the technically nervous like me, it may not be the best option.

    By the way Barbara – I have had my email off for 3 days – just incase you’ve tried to contact me. Sometimes all the info and spam overwhelms me and i do this from time to time. But, there has been an interesting development re: the dangers to children on the internet. I can’t blog about it yet, but I told Ian I would share it with him, so I’ll copy both of you in on the email tomorrow.

  6. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Catherine,

    Don’t you agree, Hunter is doing great for being a new blogger? I really like his writing style, and views on personal development.

    I will check out that link for IP addresses.

    Having your own server is an option, but I don’t want to deal with the situation of “what happens if there’s a problem?”. Although I think I could eventually figure things out, my time is too valuable to try and learn that too (at this time). I’ve thought of talking to our broadband company also, as I am on cable.

    Other than the IP issue, I actually like BlueHost. I’ve gotten used to their cpanel and the options they offer, so I will think long and hard before I make a change.

    Can’t say I blame you for turning your email off. For me, it seems like I am spending more and more time managing that, and spam still comes through even though I use a spam blocker.

    I’ll be looking forward to your email.

  7. Ian DennyNo Gravatar says:

    Something seems to have changed with Google of late. I’m writing posts, and within a day, I’m getting hits from Google searches.

    I wish I knew what it was! I really do need to understand blogs more. I used a guy to design the WP blog for our business. And he’s really good with the back-end and general advice.

    We were so pleased, we used him on retainer.

    So I can’t claim any special insight or credit. I wrote one for example on Digital Dictation. The next day “Digital Dictation Liverpool” comes 4th in searches and I got a few hits.

    I heard something about Google merging the blog search and main engine together. Or something to do with giving blog posts more weighting.

    It does seem that blog posts are appearing pretty much straight away in searches.

    It would make sense to me that relevance is increased if it’s fresher. And as blog posts are dated, it is current and likely to be more relevant.

    Do agree that there’s tons of spammy sites and blogs out there. But I suspect that unless you do something really dangerous with your site design, then it’s less likely you’ll fall foul of a Google change.

  8. CatherineLNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara – if you hadn’t told me about Hunter, I would never have realised he was a relatively new blogger. His posts are excellent.

    I know what you mean about the server – it sounds like a great idea until things go wrong.

    Like Ian – I have noticed individual blog posts get ranked pretty quickly. But, when I search my actual blog name, I’m only getting a couple of the most recent posts. , so i’m really not sure how they work it.

    And I agree – it would be more useful if they would include the most relevant posts. There’s nothing worse than looking for up to date information on a topic, only to be taken to a page which is a decade old.

  9. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Ian,

    Those “instant hits” is something I have seen for several months on my OM blog…but I do try to use keyword density on that. Today, I noticed I was in first position on a post…..only because I had spelled a person’s name wrong (not on purpose), but I had four hits based on that spelling of his name. Who knew?

    I think with your post on Digital Dictation, you are in a smaller keyword niche, and the wording of your post helped to get those hits. So whatever you are doing, keep doing it. BTW: I read that great post. I hesitate, at times, to leave comments on that blog of yours, as it is your business blog. Plus, if I do, I want to make my comments sound somewhat intelligent…and not make a typo like I did on that one…did you change that, or are you letting everyone have a good laugh?

    Catherine,

    When you type in your blog name, are you using your complete address? If I type in bloggingwithoutablog, I get hundreds of results. I don’t use the www or http or the .com. That will also show you other sites where your name appears. Let me know if that works.

    I, too, am hoping that Google starts evaluating sites based on dates. I waste so much time trying to figure out how current the information is…nothing worse than writing a post and finding out the information is obsolete.

  10. Ian DennyNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,

    No, I didn’t change it! Hope you don’t mind. I’m not really that worried about the comments. I’d rather it was informal and pretty open.

    The site has generated our biggest ever contract, and they openly said that because we poked fun at ourselves in the about us section, they instantly preferred us to others.

    It’s interesting to consider the difference between a formal and topic-specific site and just having a conversation. I loved it when someone commented that they would NOT do business with a company that had the director’s taking frivolous punishments on video.

    That was a great debate. And I must admit the swearing issue interested me too. Should we allow? Shouldn’t we?

    Another blogger I know who uses profanities argued it’s a good filtration system. He argued about a blog allows you to be yourself and if it alienates some clients, then he’d rather not have them.

    He talked about being true to yourself and attracting clients you can get on with and open.

    I agree that the profanity issue should at least be bleeped. And I suspect children will not even dig beyond the front page to a comments section to see even any bleeped profanities on a blog topic or web-site that doesn’t interest them.

    So I suspect that moderation or a regularly diluted tone, bowing down to a corporate sound, is probably not the way to go.

    I to would much rather deal with clients who do not insist on a false and stuffy “image” of unecessarily professional language and pretence.

    We are all people. We switch on formality at the right times, and speak frankly and openly with those suppliers we trust.

    One confided cash-flow challenges. And because I’d been open with him about our failure, he was able to ask some advice. I was able to introduce him to help.

    Sorry, just realised I’m waffling again! But I feel as though comments on a business blog should be as free-flowing as on a more personal one.

    I do try and keep to the topic a bit more on the company one, but humour and letting typos go if relevant doesn’t take away the real-people feel of a comment. Hence few edits if any.

    I did bleep a word recently – purely because I don’t know how browsers currently filter or could potentially filter a visitor. If the natural filtration of them leaving due to offence happens, then so be it. I would probably not have got on well with them as a client!.

  11. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Ian,

    Well you have eased my mind on whether I should “have my say” on your business blog…but know, I am of old school, and will still respect the fact it is a business blog…and will try to keep my typos to a minimum 🙂

    I understand what you are saying about us being ourselves on our blogs, and if some are alienated by profanities, it is their choice not to frequent particular blogs. As mentioned in my earlier post, it’s more of a children’s issue, than an adult one. We, adults, know what offends us and are free to click off.

    With this blog being about blogging, I realize it may be read by any age group. I normally do not use curse words in my daily life, and don’t feel they have a place in my blogs either. Anyone who follows my writings, will realize that’s just me. Others can express their individuality in their own way, and I respect that. I guess that’s what I like about blogging…we can learn about each other and their personalities, through their writings.

    I think it is great how you picked up the big client, due to your openness. You know who you are, and the type of clients that made for a good “fit”.

    It’s so great to see you make such a good come back. I know last year was tough for you, but it sounds like you came out of it, a wiser person.

  12. Elene ParkerNo Gravatar says:

    You can count me in the ranks of those who do not believe that Google places you into a sanbox “filter”.

    While much of your information is accurate, I believe you have a fundmental misunderstanding of why the Sandbox Effect occurs. It is simply the result of the competing effects between the “freshness factor” and “TrustRank” as these two play out over time.

    These competing factors have a much more pronounce effect on a brand new site, hence the “sandbox effect”.