Sandbox Rules - Google Playground penalties

Dec 16, 2005 at 10:43 PM
About the google sandbox - I have something to say:

First, let me promise you that I've got good common sense advice below about what you can do about it below. Now I'm gonna hit you with it.

There is no such thing as the Google sandbox.

And for those of you who think you're sitting in the sandbox, the likelihood is that your butt is just sitting down in the road.

So what is the sandbox? It wasn't made up by SEOs to make people buy our services. Instead, it is a common misperception of an aging delay that Google applies to your site, but ONLY in terms of valuing your relevance to search terms. It was put in place because of all those nasty spammers out there.

But the aging delay is only one of a googol (pun intended) of equally important factors, at least according to my sources.

So, what about the sandbox. Should it be considered important to try to beat it? No. Why? Well, there is no such thing, really. It is not as though all websites are waiting to go through the metal detector at the airport. And once you pass through it, you will magically be the person who gets first place. If you want to improve your relevance in Google's eyes, make sure you don't resemble in any way the spammy sites. There are a million other things you can look at, and the aging delay is one small factor. It only gets focused on because you can't fake your age as a website very easily, and certainly not once you're already up and running.


If you do not come up in a direct search for your page, you are not sandboxed. You are just NOT in Google.

Again, not being listed in Google DOES NOT MEAN you are sandboxed.

Instead, you are either making it impossible for Google to crawl you or you are being penalized by Google.

Here is how to get started fixing it. Once you know which one of the below is what's happening, then you can start fixing it.

You are penalized when the googlebot has already come to your site, and:

  • You have no listings in Google, even in a direct search for your URL, and/or

  • You have no page rank at all.

You are doing it to yourself, by making it impossible for Google to crawl you when you have links to your site that google knows about, but:

  • You have excluded robots somehow or

  • You have decided to place massive plugins, cookies, and flash animations on your home page or

  • Your home page takes a long time to load.

If Googlebot doesn't easily get into your site, it skips you. Period. It is a VERY busy little creature. Cut it some slack, and make it easy for the bot to crawl you. Check every now and again if the bot has crawled you. It is way more likely to be something wrong with your sever setup or load time than that Google has it out for you and has penalized you. At least if you've been trying to just follow good practices, as a business and as a website. If you're doing something really wacky (like doorway pages, blocking all robots, using duplicate content across lots of your pages, hidden text, buying into a link farm or what have you) then you probably know you're doing it, and shouldn't blame a sand box.

That's not as complex as you thought it'd be, now is it?

It is easy to fix these problems, if you know where to start.

If you've been penalized, get a good web designer with lots of experience building reputable websites to consult with you in fixing your problems. You'll need their help to get back in good graces with Google.

If you're just a bit too disorganized for the googlebot to access your site, work on cleaning up and simplifying. Make sure your home page code is clean and includes only what needs to be there to get the job done. Make sure you're not excluding robots or that you haven't forgotten to include navigation in your HTML. If your site allows it to, the googlebot will crawl you.

p.s. if you're just complaining about LOW RANKINGS, you're in completely the wrong place. The sandbox has nothing to do with you. You're just not as well-known (linked), well organized (good site design) and relevant (good content) as your competitors yet. And you could have basic coding problems. See my prior post abvout checking your HTML for validity.

Do anything except sitting on your butt complaining about the imaginary sand.