Google Sandbox is a commonly believed filter that’s
used by Google to prevent new websites from ranking high in
Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It’s believed
that Google uses this filter to put some restrictions on rankings
for new websites.
The main idea behind it is that new websites may not be as
relevant as the old ones. Moreover, some of them may even be
While Google has never confirmed the existence of such a system,
many SEOs believe that it exists. They claim so because they have
seen such effects on websites that they are trying to rank. This is
why it is extremely difficult to avoid being placed in the Google
Sandbox when your domain is new.
So, does Google Sandbox still exist in 2019? If it still does,
how do you avoid
getting affected by it? Let’s take a deeper look into it.
The history of Google Sandbox
In 2004, a lot of SEOs found that their new websites weren’t
ranking well on Google during their first few months. And this
happened in spite of the best of their efforts. While their
websites were easily indexed by Google, they weren’t able to rank
well for even low-competition keywords. On the flip side, they were
ranking well on other search engines such as
Yahoo and Bing.
This effect of Google Sandbox lasted for several weeks and
months and it varied for each website. The idea of such a system
made sense because Google aimed to provide only the most
authoritative and quality content to its users. Rand Fishkin from
Moz believed that SEOmoz was in
Google Sandbox for about nine months. This happened in spite of
having a good backlink profile.
“SEOmoz is finally Sandbox free for the first time since our
move to this domain nine months ago. We aren’t alone, either.
Many folks had sites escape, and I’m happy for all of them. It
looks like our 12,000+ all‐natural links (never link built for
this site, just link‐baited) finally paid off.”
Rand Fishkin, Co‐founder Moz
In 2014, yet again, Google Sandbox caught the interest of SEOs
and marketers when they saw that their new websites weren’t able
to rank easily. Now that we know a brief history of Google Sandbox
and what it can do, let’s look at how it is working in 2019.
What does Google say about Google Sandbox?
Google pretty much denies the existence of this Sandbox. In
fact, you can see it through many tweets by Google’s
Even a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google said the same thing
“With regards to sandbox, we don’t really have this
traditional sandbox that a lot of SEOs used to be talking about in
the years past. We have a number of algorithms that might look
similar, but these are essentially just algorithms trying to
understand how the website fits in with the rest of the websites
trying to rank for those queries. […] It’s always kind of
tricky in the beginning when we have a new website and we don’t
quite know where we should put it.”
– John Mueller
However, the former head of webspam at Google did end up giving
a few hints about it.
“My answer is not to worry that much. The difference between a
domain that’s six months old versus one-year-old is really not
that big at all. So as long as you’ve been around for a least a
couple months, a few months, you should be able to make sure that
you’re able to show up in the search results.”
– Matt Cutts
Why does a new website not rank high on Google?
Google’s experts have mentioned that they need enough data to
rank a site. A new website must show its expertise,
authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to Google. Additionally, it
should have a good backlink profile. However, it is very unlikely
that a new website can win Google’s trust within a very short
period of time.
Here are a few reasons why a new website may not rank high on
1. Less content
To understand your website’s relevance to a certain topic,
Google needs to
go through your website’s pages. If your website doesn’t
have enough content on it, Google may not be able to fully
understand what your website is meant for.
2. Low on backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most important factors for ranking a
website on Google. If your website has a weak backlink profile,
Google may not rank it higher up in searches. Moreover, your
website should have internal links that can allow link juice to
pass through them. You might succeed in building loads of backlinks
in a very short period of time but if they are not of high quality,
Google may just ignore them.
You must also be very careful as rapidly grown backlink profiles
may even give you penalties from Google.
3. Lesser user signals
Google may take time to analyze the behavioral data of your
website visitors. For this reason, it may postpone ranking your
website higher up in search results for popular keywords. It’ll
observe things like click-through rate, dwell time, and bounce rate
to see if your website is worthy of ranking higher up.
Now that you know why your website could be in the Google
Sandbox, let’s figure out how you can get out of it quickly.
Is Google Sandbox still affecting sites in 2019?
There are many SEOs out there who claim that their website ranks
high up in the search results within just a month of launching. On
the other hand, there are other SEOs who believe that there is
definitely some force that is stopping their websites from ranking
in the search results during their first few months.
However, through our study, we found that even a new website can
rank higher up in searches within a short time period. We launched our blog
website in June 2018 and within just four months we managed to
reach the first page of search results. As you can see in the
screenshot, there is a huge fluctuation in the average position
graph. This was the time when Google started collecting data about
our website. You can notice from the chart that after two months,
there was a consistent increase in the rankings. We got the 9.5
average position for the whole site in
Google Search Console.
We also ranked a few other sites with higher volume keywords in
less than six months. So, according to our research, Google Sandbox
is a myth. With consistent efforts, you can rank high up in SERPs
in a short duration.
What did we find during our study?
My own theory is almost the same as Google says. Google Sandbox
doesn’t exist according to me. It could be possible that Google
doesn’t prefer to rank new sites but it doesn’t mean that a new
site can’t rank higher. Google wants to rank trusted and useful
content. But for a new site, Google doesn’t have the required
information to rank it. As soon as you are able to show to Google
that you are genuine and trustworthy, you will start ranking
I found that the ranking of a new site depends on its niche,
competition, and your SEO
strategy. These are the most important factors, according to
me. For example, one of our sites started ranking with only social
signals. It was a modeling niche site. We didn’t focus on link
building for that site. We were just sharing its content on social
media. In just a few weeks, keywords started ranking on the first
page. Some higher competitive keywords were not ranking.
Rest of it depends upon your SEO strategy. Are you focusing on
branding or rankings?
Let me explain, if you’re focusing on acquiring more links, it
means you want rankings. But if you want links from top-tier high
authority sites, means you are trying to build a brand. And Google
loves brands. These days, Google is working for the future.
SEO-friendly content and more backlinks are not enough to rank your
website. You should focus on branding if you want to rank in a
short time and for the long term. Try to get exposure, create
online buzz, brand searches, and user satisfaction.
How to rank higher quickly?
While Google Sandbox can be annoying for new websites, there are
methods you can use to get out of it quickly.
Here are a few things you can do:
1. Get your website indexed quickly
Your website may have already gone live, however, it doesn’t
start aging in the eyes of Google unless it is actually indexed by
it. To check if your website has been indexed by Google, you simply
need to do a Google search. Just type “site:yourdomain.com” to
check how many pages of your website have been indexed by
If it has not been indexed yet, you need to get it done as soon
as possible. To speed up the process, you can register the domain
on Google Search Console and submit your XML sitemap.
Getting traffic to your website is very important, especially in
its early days. It is one factor that can help your website rank
higher up and get out of Google Sandbox quickly. To get more
visitors to your website, you should consider posting regularly in
forums and groups on Facebook.
You can even try guest posting on other popular websites to
drive traffic to your website and at the same time build a stronger
backlink profile. You may also run ads on Facebook and other social
media platforms to drive traffic.
3. Social signals
Social signals are important to gain the trust of Google because
they indicate that your website is gaining popularity on social
media platforms. A great way of using social signals to your
advantage is that of running Facebook ads. You can publish an
article on your blog and then run Facebook ads to drive traffic to
4. Choose long tail keywords
Google may not give you much traction for popular keywords
earlier on when you are in the perceived Sandbox. However, you may
be able to rank well for long tail keywords. To do this, you will
first need to do keyword research and check the competition for
every long tail keyword that you intend to target. You can use
tools such as Ubersuggest and SEMrush to do this.
It is also a good idea to conduct competitor research and go
after the keywords that they are ranking for. Using tools such as
SEMrush, you can conduct competitor research by simply entering the
URL of your
5. Build authority
“Google Shows Popular, Google doesn’t make you popular”
Google wants authoritative, trustworthy, and user-friendly
content to rank on top. As a new site, Google doesn’t know much
about you because they don’t have enough data about your
So you should build authority and trust in the eyes of Google
and users. Google will trust you if your site has good
user-metrics, links, mentions from high-authority and relevant
sites, and brand queries for your site. You should build more
authority for your site.
6. Don’t be too aggressive
Focus on quality than quantity.
You may want to see your website high up in the SERPs. However,
if you become too aggressive in promoting your website and link
building, Google may see it as spam. You should try to acquire
premium links for your new site. Only a few but premium links can
change the picture.
Ideally, you shouldn’t build a huge number of links in a short
period of time. Moreover, you should drip-feed the foundational
links that you’ve built. Don’t optimize your anchor text too
much, it’s preferable to keep it under-optimized. Lastly, make
sure that you get good enough social signals.
It’s a good idea to give your website a slow and steady start.
This will help it grow and prosper in the long run and will help in
building more trust with Google. Once Google trusts you more, you
can become slightly more aggressive in your link building
7. Purchase an active website
One of the easiest ways of avoiding Google Sandbox is that of
purchasing a website that is already active. You can do so by
spending a decent sum of money on a website that has decent traffic
and has been online for quite some time but has hardly any
Using tools such as Flippa, you can find websites which are
already active and then can purchase and repurpose them to fit your
requirements. Moreover, purchasing an already active website can
help you figure out the power that the domain has by checking which
keywords the website already ranks for.
Maybe Google has some specific algorithms for new sites but it
is still possible to rank a new site on Google. Don’t be
aggressive from day one. Start slowly and then increase your SEO
efforts over time. You should try to get links and mentions from
high-authority sites, increase your brand searches, and
user-satisfaction. I’m sure you will see that your newly launched
ranking on Google.
What do you think about Google Sandbox and what is the best way
of getting out of the Google Sandbox? Let us know in the
Harpreet Munjal is the founder of the digital marketing company,
LoudGrowth. He can be found on Twitter @munjalharpreet.
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