Google Sandbox Defined

May 20, 2005 • 9:18 am | comments (29) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

I find it to be a real shame about the confusion around the Web as to what the term "sandbox" means. Google, of course, would not admit to it and I do not blame them. But there are so many different definitions of what defines a site to be sandboxed.

I believe we, at the Search Engine Roundtable, was the first information site (outside of a forum) to publicly acknowledge the existence of some form of issue with Google and new sites. The first post we had was named New Sites = Poor Results in Google, that was before it had a name. In a WebmasterWorld thread linked to from the "New Sites = Poor Results in Google" entry, the term "sandbox" came about. Later on, guest author SEO Guy posted an entry here using that title The Sandbox Effect, which helped make its name. Then Garrett French, who was writing at WebProNews wrote an excellent, early recap of all the coverage and named it Google "SandBox Effect" Revealed. Since then the word sandbox has been discussed here dozens of times. But it seems to me based on the forums I am reading, (see this thread and the confusion there), that people do not know that the true definition of a sandboxed site, so here it is.

A site is sandboxed when it is new and does not rank for keyword phrases that are not incredibly competitive (such as a unique company name) in Google after making the page "search engine friendly" and after being indexed.

Some are mistaken that a sandboxed site is a site that has not been indexed by Google. That is wrong. Sandboxed sites are very much so indexed by Google, but have a hard time ranking for keyword phrases, no matter how competitive they are.

How does Google do it? Well that is for an other entry. I have my theories but so does everyone else. :)

Help set the record straight about the definition of the Google Sandbox.

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02/27/2007 10:30 am

"How many days are sandbox?" Its Depends upon the industry for which you promoting your site as sandbox is applied as per the industry like real estate,travel and software etc.


05/12/2008 08:46 am

OHHH............ SO....... WHAT IS SANDBOX?


05/27/2008 02:41 pm

Great article! For evidence, take a look at the following: can see a graph of visitor numbers getting to a site from Google search from the inception of a site, through indexing of the first pages, through the google sandbox, and out the other side. No black hat SEO was used, and the sandbox effect lasted about 1 month. I hope you find this useful Nick


07/06/2008 09:37 pm

Well, I have just built a site for SEO purposes. This is my first site build, and my first go at SEO. I would like to invite you all to watch the site through Googles sandbox effect, and out the other side before the end of August 2008. The site went live online last week.

Brian Nettles

07/30/2008 12:32 am

I think that the sandbox is a myth. New websites rank but do not rank well for competetive searches because thier PR strength has not been established or is too weak. My finding is that they rank better than sites suffering from penalty filters. It takes time to build PR strength. Over optimization may result in tripping filters that appear as a sandbox. Create a great site with great unique content, bring in high quality links, and watch your site continually improve.


08/24/2008 08:04 am

I know what this means. It means that if Google does not like your website or you do too much editing to your website using <TAGS> you will be screwed! If you are a SEO as I. You know exactly what I mean. So please fellow SEO's no GHOST TAGS! If you would like to know what I mean by that please drop me a message and I will tell you exactly what I mean by GHOST TAGS.

San Nayak

08/29/2008 04:03 pm

I think it is well defined above, max of the algorithm in google works with the links but to make things simple: Sandbox effect means "indexed - not ranked". Great post.

Matt May

09/03/2008 11:51 am

I have noticed that my new sites initially do very well in Google for a few weeks. Then they seem to suddenly take a big nosedive when Google realsises they have no Page Rank.


09/15/2008 11:25 am

"SANDBOX EFFECT" occurs to the websites with newly registered domains. Regardless of interpretation, it is widely accepted that new Websites and Webpages do wait longer for ranking in Google than other search engines


09/21/2008 01:42 pm

I did my first site and use all seo ways , i also submit the site and the blogs that link to my site ans i am not listed in google . olease can someone help ? i am really sad . Thanks


09/27/2008 10:27 pm

I too was in the sandbox up to my ears in quick sand. My solution was to realize that google places it's importance on free human edited directory links as a reliable source for links. This is most apparent as far as google views DMOZ known as ODP - Open Directory Project. There's an editorial in google webmaster tools about this. I can't stress enough how important it is to get listed in such directories. I searched the net for these and listed my site in them. Twelve weeks later I'm out of the sand trap back to number one poison for my sites desired keyword.


10/04/2008 07:43 am

That graph was pretty impressive, but who ever owned that particular site was pretty luck to get back in the index that fast! I also seem to have trouble with new sites too! I do allot of niche based mini sites (1-5pages) sometimes they do well for a couple weeks then vanish of the face of the planet, some come back and some never doo! I think google is just testing you,it, whoever to see what move you make next, if you'll abandon the project or if it means something to you, you'll keep on building links and content around it, and thats what I think there checking into, because any old spammer is just going to move onto the next project if there sites vanishes, right? Google wants to make sure it's not a bogus junk site, wouldn't you want to check things out like that too if you owned Google, I mean people could sue you, you would get a bad name, all kinds of problems if your search engine was full of garbage....

Tom Summner

10/13/2008 10:23 am

I'm not sure today which search engine is the most reliable one and how to nake my SEO most effective.


12/06/2008 08:30 pm

How long it will take a game site in sandbox? and if the keyword is "car games"?


01/04/2009 08:57 pm

Just an update on my post in July about the sandbox. I know tis a little late as I said August, however my site was not sandboxed, and by august the site had a google pr2. less than 60 days from registering. It still has a pr2, and is starting to rank well for competative keywords already. Now about 6 months old.


02/15/2009 06:57 pm

sandbox always hits me why ? when i start building links for my website my website disappears for a week or two and then returns back.

Jason Love

02/17/2009 07:30 am

Thank God i never caught in such a situation, Never be in SandBox, but tell you people one thing that id Google doesn't show the catche results of your pages then it doesn't mean that you are in sand box, sometimes people misinterpret this term.

Josh Tam

02/27/2009 12:22 am

I believe the sandbox thing does not just apply to new sites. I have a friend who has an old site about 3 years old and his site is ranking well, but recently it dropped, much like it got tossed back into the sandbox. Probably because of the google dance.


02/27/2009 01:43 pm

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Andrej Volčanšek

03/17/2009 07:02 pm

an older page wil in all probabillity rank higher in SERPs, all other factors neglected. Thats the "sandbox". It must be fun for Googles engineers to read this kinfa stuff :D


06/19/2009 09:29 pm

I believe that when a website is lifted from sandbox, it starts ranking well again.


12/17/2009 09:50 am

what's google bombing.


03/04/2010 11:34 am

There has been debate and speculation that Google puts all new sites into a “sandbox,” preventing them from ranking well for anything until a set period of time has passed. The existence or exact behavior of the sandbox is not universally accepted among SEOs.


03/22/2010 05:02 pm

when any site lost it's indexing on search engine and it's not confirm that next time when it will index this is the send box effect i am trying my one sites which is in send box under 2 years


10/21/2010 05:46 am

How can you find out if you are in the sandbox or getting a penalty? I had a page that was on page 14, and then it suddenly disappeared- COMPLETELY- as if it were never indexed! How can I find out what happened and correct it?

Suresh Kumawat

02/03/2011 11:18 am

Hello Bryan, I am a SEO and want to know about sandbox and ghost tags so please leave me reply with the means. Looking for your positive response Suresh

keyword master

05/23/2011 11:15 am

 I think you are right because whenever I changed my tags, Google completely removed my page from their list. We could not afford to make such mistake

Ken Ashe

03/15/2012 06:52 pm

The Sandbox still exists! My new site is stuck in it, but I'm not worried. It takes a little time to get out, but as long as I continue to build my site the right way I'll be fine in the long run.

Akeil Russell

05/21/2012 05:38 pm

There is now a reverse sandbox effect So it works both ways.

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