Blog strategy: Google sandbox or trustbox?

Among one of the most important things a blogger with a new blog can do is to develop a blog strategy. Whether or not the Google sandbox is real has been debated over and over. Google has not clearly stated if the “sandbox” is a reality or just a myth  but the  SEOs  I know do believe it exists. Thus  my blogging tips include advising bloggers to determine whether or not their new blog or a blog they have moved from free hosting to their own domain is in the sandbox and to account for the same in their blog strategy.

Is your new blog in the Google sandbox?

The Google sandbox debate arises when Google does not assign PageRank to a new website until after six (6) months. This is presumably to serve the purpose of giving new websites time to develop or disappear altogether.

The situation we found ourselves in now is that the sandbox has become a normal everyday reality for ranking on Google, and most SEO’s now accept that. The result is that to rank on Google for any kind of competitive keyword, you need to be able to leverage some degree of “trust”.

In fact, as Michael Gray astutely put it – “The sandbox isn’t something you are trying to get out of, it’s the trustbox that you are trying to figure a way into.” — From an educational post for those seeking to determine if their blogs have been Google “sandboxed”.

These are the positive factors that Google’s algorithm takes into consideration when determining PageRank:

  1. Keyword use in title tag
  2. Global link popularity of the site
  3. Anchor text of incoming links
  4. Link popularity within the site
  5. *Age of  the site*

These are the negative factors that Google’s algorithm takes into consideration when determining PageRank:

  1. Server is often inaccessible to Googlebot
  2. Content which is very similar or duplicate to existing content on the web
  3. External links to low quality sites
  4. Participation in link schemes or actively selling links
  5. Duplicate meta tags on more pages

New blog “sandboxed”: What to do?

Develop a blog strategy that effectively addresses the positive and negative factors for determination of PageRank . Make it part of your blog strategy to focus your attention on the following:

  • writing high quality unique content;
  • creating clean code and ensuring  your site validates;
  • use keywords and tagging properly so the content can be found and indexed;
  • linking to exceptional content on authoritative sites with PageRank;
  • being careful not to link too link to frequently to sites with lower PageRank.

*You shouldn’t link to any content unless it’s exceptional and related –  this goes double when you’re in the sandbox! Earn Google’s trust by linking to authoritative sites with PageRank, and not to too many new sites.

Related posts found in this blog:
How to select and use anchor text effectively
The Importance of Keywords
Improving your Google Page Rank
Technorati: The Six Month Link Window

28 thoughts on “Blog strategy: Google sandbox or trustbox?

  1. @TiTi

    This article really helped. I’m trying to closely adhere to the positives, and stay away from the negatives you mentioned. To my own detriment patience is not one of my virtues, though I’m working on it. TiTi
    I don’t quite understand “creating clean code and ensuring your site validates” Could you clarify a bit for me? Thanks. Because of my own discouragement, perhaps I have my topic for a post later today :)

    Peace and love …

    1. TiTi

      I think I have a little understanding of what you mean by “clean code” I’ve been reading SEOmoz, and they mention where you place links within the pages code, I understand that to mean the HTML code, and how the position of that link in the code may or may not affect how that page ranks in search engines. Am I understanding correctly? Thanks.

      Best Wishes…

  2. Hey there from Palermo (Buenos Aires – Argentina)
    We love your blog and think you are right to raise this important issue.
    We have been thinking along similar lines here in BS. It is good to connect with other like minded thinkers on these issues. Keep up the good work and keep the debate going.

    Cheers

    Animation Dance Association

  3. Thanks for the articles, great information there. This makes lots of sense since sandbox or no sandbox don’t matter. What matter is how you get into the ranking area. Great content. Btw, how come your PR is N/A ? is it because it’s sandboxed?

  4. i have resubmitted the application form of ad sense google but, about 1 and a half months have passed no reply have came pls tell me what to do or any suggestions …….Amit Singh

    1. If you are a newbie Blogger or Webmaster and if you are a applying for adsense to monetize your site, then you might have faced the situation where Google asks you to wait for atleast six months to qualify for your adsense account and get approved to show ad slots in your site.

      Please post your question to the Google Adsense help forum http://adsense.google.com/support/?hl=en

  5. 6 Months? Crikey, I was rather hoping that my PR may increase with the frequency I am posting with unique content that Id saved up prior to starting my latest blog.

  6. Many SEO companies claim that the SEO process can generate profitable traffic. I do not agree to this statement because I think that the issue is far more comprehensive and needs expertise from other professionals, persons who known more than merely the IT business

  7. In my experience the sandbox is not necessarily about PR but more about keyword rankings.

    I have worked with many new sites and no matter how many links we have built or how optimised the content has been, we have not been able to get in the top 100. I believe the most competitive keywords are the ones that will attract the most sandbox attention.

    Why would google let a 3 month old site float to the top of rankings for high traffic keywords? That would be a spammers dream. No I am afraid site age does come into play and the however I think Google look at it from a backlink point of view.

    How old are the backlinks pointing to your page? The older and more trusted the better.

    Nice post, the sandbox is one of those subjects no one can really be an authority on as Google keep their cards close to their chest.:)

  8. I think Google does not consider the age of your site! My new blog is just 2 months old and It has got a PR of one now! I think the main thing that will improve your PR is the back links.

    1. @mukund
      Google does look at the age of sites. The fact that you received backlinks moved your blog along more quickly. See Tim’s comment below for more information.

    1. @Hannah
      Your blog is definitely in the sandbox and you need to develop a basic blog strategy as well as some basic blogging skills. Everything you need to do that is found in this blogging so happy hunting.

  9. Timethief, thank you for your encouraging comments about my blog. I am really trying to get it organized to make it as viewer friendly as possible. I have dozens of questions. So many that I become overwhelmed. I live in a university town so a lot of knowledgeable young people are in the community who can help. I just need to get off my butt and start searching around.

    Thanks to the kind promotion of Wagerwitch on blogcatalog I am getting several viewers and “shouts” in the shoutbox. But I get few few comments on individual posts. A couple have said they had problems when trying to leave a direct comment. It’s one of many questions I need to seek out answers for.

    I see your title says “wordpress” blogging. Does you site also apply to blogger/blogspot? I have looked at other blog hosts but the struggle of learning new setups, clicks, etc. (groan) intimidate me.

    Also, I need to figure out how to organize my many images I’m posting. People don’t look at previous posts evidently, so there is frustration on how to maybe get viewers to connect. Like I say, lots to figure out.

    I’ll also be looking at your “dealing with time” blog. I am definitely doing so. I am 70 – a fact I mention often – and very conscious of the value of NOW – just today.

    Again, thank you.

    Ralph

    1. @Ralph
      At BC my blog listing says “wordpress blogging”/ In fact most of the posts in this blog do apply to all bloggers regardless of the blogging software they use. Also when posts apply only to wordpress I make that clear. Therefore there is a wealth of information in this blog that you can access to build a better blog and to become a better blogger. Best wishes.

  10. thanks for these info. I belief my blog was in the sandbox to. i have been blogging for 10 months now. i didnt have any pr until a few months back (it was pr 3 all of a sudden).

    i guess i am out of sandbox now.

    peace
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

    1. @iritza
      Now your blog is out of the sandbox you need to focus on creating high quality content and being very cautious about linking. You can find Tim’s SEO guest posts here and read them and you can visit his site where he has free tutorials that are excellent. Best wishes for effective blogging.

  11. Hi TT,
    Can you please explain what a meta tag is as opposed to a tag or a category, and why “duplicate meta tags on more pages” are not good? What do you mean by, “on more pages?” Several pages within the same blog? Several posts within the same blog? I have the same categories – Germany, humour, travel, expat – for example, on dozens and dozens of posts. Is that a negative thing?

    thanks,
    ian in hamburg

    1. @ Ian

      Your meta tags are completely different to your category tags, you don’t need to worry about duplicate category tags.

      Meta tags are in the header of your site, right click on your web page and select view source, look for meta description and meta keywords. These are the tags TT is talking about and if you have duplicate meta tags on multiple pages it can cause the pages to get dropped from the index.

      Your meta description is what shows up under your title tag, when you view your site in the google index.

      The new thesis theme let’s you tackle this problem head on, by giving you the ability to customise your meta data on each page.

      1. @Tim
        Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate it.

        @Ian
        Here at wordpress.com where we blog on a multiuser blogging platform wpMU we cannot access our underlying templates and edit them so changes to meta data is something we cannot affect.

        Keywords / Metatags – Every page has a unique page description and a unique set of key words. While many pages use the same key word, no two pages have the same set. The key word list contains a long list of words related to information provided on our site. Also make a point to use the keywords in our post as this increases our keywords density. According to Google, the greater your keyword density, the more relevant you are.

  12. Great Post! I believe in the Sandbox, I also believe that my blog is in it!

    I agree with Google here – a site that hasn’t raised too many red flags and been on the internet for 6+ months without getting marked as spam has a better chance of being a legit site.

    I believe that “age of a site” isn’t really considered but it’s more like “is this site older than 6 months?” so a site that is 6 years old vs a site that is 3 years old would get the same amount of positive points for site age. That’s just my opinion – there is no way to validate it.

    Pay special attention to the “New blog “sandboxed”: What to do?” section – These tips are very important, it’s not easy getting out of the sandbox, you should be writing your posts with properly anchored tags and pretty much spoon feeding the content to the search engines like TT is saying. You can get lazy later, right now – get to work.

  13. thanks for these info. I belief my blog was in the sandbox to. i have been blogging for 10 months now. i didnt have any pr until a few months back (it was pr 3 all of a sudden).

    i guess i am out of sandbox now.

    peace

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