Ian Lurie // May 26 2005
I think I’ve seen real proof of the Google Sandbox, at long last. One of our clients launched a site at a new URL last October. They achieved a top-4 ranking on MSN and Yahoo! within a few weeks, but Google left them in the depths of the rankings — around page 20, in fact.
Their site is totally legit — clean CSS2, very good copy, with solid link popularity and such.
After tearing at what little hair I have left, and chatting with some other marketers, I realized that this web site was likely a Sandbox victim.
And it looks like I was right: This week, after eight months — the average estimated sandbox timeframe — they’ve started appearing in the top four on Google.
Here’s what I’ve learned, or at least taken from hypothesis to theorem:
So, what to do? There are ways to mitigate the sandbox:
Launch your site now. It’s tempting to wait until the last word of copy is reviewed, and every single person involved in the process has signed off. But you’re only hurting yourself — if you’re launching a brand-new site, at a brand-new URL, get something up on the web asap. Even a 5-10 page site is a good start. That’ll start the Sandbox clock ticking. When you launch your final, larger site, you may set yourself back a bit, but the head start is far larger.
Grow steadily, not suddenly. If possible, plan your content strategy around steady site growth. You can’t always do this, but the more you can, the better.
Always use 302s. If you have multiple web addresses pointing at your home page, use a 302 redirect. Also known as permanent redirects, these don’t have a negative impact on search engine rankings.
Think strategically. Search marketing is not a do-it-now-and-forget-it activity. You need to plan for the long term with solid architecture, a good content strategy and a fundamentally sound internet marketing plan.
You can read my first posting about the Sandbox here.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More