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20 September 2008

Google Sandbox: When? Why? And How to Dump it!

Google Sandbox, your website here

I got a question from Anthony Grace in the comments of my previous post Three Rules That ASP.NET Developers Should Know About SEO about Google Sandbox and thought of writing this short post to illustrate what is it and how to avoid it.

Google Sandbox is, in essence, the process of keeping your website outside Google search results for competitive keywords because your website has just been registered or changed owner.

When Google Sandbox

The sandbox usually starts when you register a new website and lasts from 6 months up to a year depending on factors that are only known to Google.

Google is also monitoring the domain registration information so this will also happen when the registered owner of the website changes i.e. you’ve bought a second hand domain.

Put simply, you are sandboxed when your website has valuable content and is SEO optimised and you are no where near the search engine top result pages.

Why Google Sandbox

Even though Google doesn’t admit the concept of Google Sandbox, however, it is crystal clear that it exists.

The reason behind this is obvious, Google is mimicking real life situation when you just start a business and don’t expect people to come running at you for your services. Also, if old sites and newly registered sites are treated the same, then this is unfair.

Another reason is to prevent spammers of starting a spammy website to market some products and do some black hat SEO methods to get visitors to their site.

How to Dump It

Now the bad news, you cannot avoid it! But you could follow some practices in reducing its effect:

  1. Register your domain name as soon as you think of a business and even before start implementing the website.
  2. Some people claim that going with AdSense or AdWords programs could take you out faster, but I didn’t validate this myself.
  3. Get external links to your website, aka backlinks, from a high profile websites such as governmental sites, reputable charities, etc…
  4. If you are buying a second hand domain name, try to seek ways to not changing the registered owner so that your domain age is not reset. There is not generic way to do it, every case has its own solution.
  5. Buy a domain that has recently expired and still appears in Google results, you might be lucky…
  6. Temporarily, use a subdomain of a non-sandboxed site. When your subdomain site is fully indexed then do 301 redirections to your sandboxed site. The rank for every page that has already been indexed shall be preserved.
  7. Following the movies popular phrase: “If I go down, I will take you all with me!”. There are some black hat SEO methods, that I won’t even mention as they are unethical, to take your competitors down since you cannot climb up…


I have experimented the effect myself on this site and on other sites as well. I have met some friends and businesses who were frustrated by this effect thinking that their website is not attracting visitors.

If you have encountered this effect, then drop me a comment line and let me know how you escaped it.

Best sandbox-free wishes.

leave your own
  • James White September 20th, 2008

    Very Clear and straight forward explanation, I totally agree that the sandbox effect does exist. I had the sandbox effect and only started to show on Google after a year from registering my domain name.

  • Anthony Grace September 27th, 2008

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for that really clear explanation of a pretty cloudy topic! SEO is such a specialized area, that not many developers give it the attention it deserves. With regard to Google, one area that concerns me most is that of being penalized for duplicate content as this seems to me to be something quite easy to fall into unawares. The question then arises of what type of penalty is imposed and how can we detect that this is the case…

    Great blog Adam!
    Anthony 🙂

  • youtube November 13th, 2008

    how can i control my it in sandbox?

  • Rudy November 20th, 2008

    youtube- you can test in controlling it. Sandboxing means a limbo zone. you should try allintext and allinurl to asses your situation further. I’m doing a test now on my site after changing a 5 years domain from yahoo registrar to godaddy and some other changes too. I’m trying to measure factors and time in small SEO changes to my site; the key phrase that I’m using is “baltimore seo” which I monitor in all the major search engines.

  • inventory management software January 19th, 2009

    i hate sandbox…
    I’ve been there before and it really in hell…

  • Mouse Cursors February 26th, 2009

    if you build a good quality site with natural and original content, you will hardly have to deal with this sandbox issue. I have never had a site sandboxed where I didn’t try to outsmart google.

    The key is to stay away from auto-generated and self replicating spam sites and you will not be targetted by the big G.

  • Ibiza March 10th, 2009

    Remove duplicated contents and get quality inbound links!

  • Short Jokes March 11th, 2009

    thanks for sharing your views about Google sandbox.

  • Google massacre March 30th, 2009

    Thanks for the interesting review, I still have a lot about Google features and there is always something new to show up and thus something new to experience on Google.

  • Contact Center April 22nd, 2009

    Isn’t it still 3 months?

  • Adam Tibi April 24th, 2009

    The last time I checked it was about 9.

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  • Paket Hantaran Elly Sukati March 26th, 2017

    Great post.

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