google sandbox: not a place for play!

27.6.2006
Google Sandbox: Not a place for play!

The world´s biggest search engine, Google, has recently been the subject of much speculation as to whether it actively prohibits some sites from ranking on their results pages.

This has New Media Managers pulling their hair out as they try to tweak their site to better their search engine performance, usually to no avail. Although Google have declined to comment on this speculation, industry analysts have suggested two possible explanations.

The first is that Google identify brand new web sites, or those which have artificially established multiple links with other sites in a very short period of time, and place an embargo on them. Referred to as “sandbox” theory, this suggests that even though the sites are added to the index, they will not be ranked for the most obvious search terms, although they may achieve results with more random or seemingly unrelated search terms.

The other theory is that Google place some sort of aging filter onto new sites. This means that new sites will not be ranked until they have become established. Either way, if Google blocks your site you can be waiting for a period of 6 - 8 months for the site to be approved and to start being featured on search results.

Stuart Mortimer, Internet Programmer at Arkom speculates as to why Google have adopted this strategy:-

“The abuse of the ‘link´ system has been prevalent for some time now. Site developers have been aware that the number of links they have on their site can elevate their ranking on search results. This has led to a growth in link-trading schemes, whereby sites swap links with each other. This goes against the authenticity of placed links within sites, included because the site owner believes they are a valuable further resource, or a relevant site of interest. It seems that Google have established some sort of a policy to prevent the continued abuse of the link system.

Several other techniques are also in use to increase search engine ranking, particularly with new sites where mini-networks are established and site data is replicated. The idea behind this is that these multiple sites add link popularity to the original site. By adopting this policy, Google are encouraging site owners to develop long-term strategies in developing their websites, building new pages daily and updating content on a regular basis.”

So what can be done to assist sites that are caught in the “sandbox” and consistently ignored by Google?

In essence, very little: “Patience is a virtue!”. Research seems to suggest that the only way to escape from the Sandbox is to sit it out. Although the patient approach may prove very frustrating to site owners, there are other things you can do to improve site popularity in the meantime.

Pay per click advertising is one solution to ensuring your site is promoted through Google. Google´s AdWords are relatively cost-effective and a method of ensuring your site is featured on relevant search results.

Although Google is the most widely used of all search engines it is important not to discount the other search engines, for example Ask Jeeves or Yahoo. Other search engines do not currently seem to have a similar policy in use and so are easier to be placed within. Sites that seem to have good “on the page” optimisation tend to perform very well in these search engines. By optimising various elements in your page you can fare very well in these sites. So take a look at your title tags, meta description tags and actual html to see if there is anything you can do to improve them.

One other thing which Arkom advocate is exploiting the opportunities presented by other, more established sites. Develop a unique profile page and place it on a credible site, for example recognised directories. However, it is important not to simply duplicate existing information from your site. In some cases this will lead to your site being highlighted via search engines under the umbrella of the directory or listing site.

These are just a few suggestions as to how to deal with a “Sandbox” situation, but there may be other solutions which could help meet your individual needs. Arkom´s popular Search Engine Optimisation course is giving individuals the tools they need to best promote their search engine, whatever their needs. If you feel you could benefit from some specialist training in this field why not book yourself a place on the next course? Contact 0114 282 3444 for more information or click here to contact us.

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