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What Should I Be Doing While I am in Google’s Sandbox?
Donald Nelson, copyright 2005
It is now well known that
Google has an ageing delay in its algorithm. What this means
is that a new site will not, during an initial period, show up
in queries made for that site’s main keywords or key phrases,
even if the site is well-optimized. Some people have referred
to this as the “Google Sandbox.” If you have a new site the
big questions are: 1. How long does this period last? and 2.
What should I do during the time when I will not get good
results from Google searches?
Search engines do not the publish the details of their ranking
systems, so the answer to the question “How long?” can only be
a guess. Based on my experience I believe that the period is
around one year. One year! That is a long time to wait for
traffic from the Internet’s most important search engine. But
who says that you have to sit around, wait and do nothing.
Here is what you should be doing.
1. Optimize, Tweak and Test Your Website.
The other major search engines such as Yahoo and MSN do not
have such a long ageing delay, and if you optimize your site
properly it should appear in the listings of these search
engines within a few weeks. Now, if you can’t get a good
ranking in Yahoo you will probably not get a good ranking in
Google even after your site gets out of the Sandbox. So, while
you are waiting to show up in Google, fine tune your site and
aim for good positioning in Yahoo. This will bring you some
traffic from Yahoo and MSN, and eventually, when the time is
right, from Google itself.
2. Conduct a Campaign to Secure Links to Your Site
In addition to actual on-page optimization, ranking in Google
is highly dependent on how many sites link to yours. Each link
is counted as a “vote” for your site, and the quality and
quantity of these links weighs heavily in Google’s ranking
system. While you are waiting to see your site in Google, it
would be a good idea to get links from complementary sites,
either by a reciprocal linking campaign or by getting your
content placed on other sites, with a link back to yours.
3. Buy Traffic with a Reputable Pay-Per-Click System
While it is nice to get “free” traffic by being well placed in
natural searches for your keywords, you can get traffic
immediately if you are willing to pay for it. If your site has
convincing copy and a strong call to action, then the ratio of
paid customers to total visitors (known as the conversion
ratio) should be high enough to pay for the costs of an
Adwords campaign with Google or a search marketing campaign
with Yahoo. One word of caution, if you opt for paid traffic,
stick with the well known pay-per-click systems and do not try
out unknown companies who sometimes provides tons of useless
traffic at a high price.
So, don’t despair if you don’t see your site at the top of
Google’s rankings during the first few months. Take some
constructive steps now and the day will come when your site’s
natural search engine positioning starts bringing you a steady
stream of traffic.
Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has
been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the
director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com),
a firm providing low cost search engine optimization,
submission and web promotion services.