The “google sandbox” as it’s commonly known as, is a preliminary period of time that no matter how much search engine optimization (SEO) you employ, you receive no results and are nowhere to be found in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Who does this affect? This is typical of new websites with a domain age of less than 1 year & is essentially a “shadowban” of sorts. In this article we will cover how long this “sandbox” effect lasts & what to do about it to set yourself up for success.
A little backstory – As we’re writing this article now, it’s been approximately 3 months since we started our website. We’ve written 10 SEO optimized articles, completed a round of off-page link building, and set up all of our social media accounts. Yet none of our articles are ranking & we’re not receiving any organic traffic at all.
In comparison, our Iron Age Guitar Accessories brand with an 8 year old domain, has its blog posts indexed within days of being uploaded & begins to attract organic traffic almost immediately it seems. Many others have similar observations, so despite big G denying the existence of this trial period, something else is going on behind the scenes.
How Long Does It Last & Why
Since we were also experiencing a lack of results from our efforts, we decided to scour the internet looking for an answer. The consensus was that it can take 6-12 months for a NEW website to start showing up in the search rankings and being eligible for organic traffic.
If your website is older than a year & still not getting any search impressions, there might be other factors that you might need to attend to. We’ll go over these in the next section. But if you just bought a domain & are getting started, don’t feel disheartened if you’re not seeing the fruits of your labors.
This trial period of 6-12 months can be considered a filtering process that separates those who are serious about their venture & those who are half-hearted about it. If you continue to fan the flame with the following tips, you’ll eventually see your big payoff.
What To Do About It (5 Tips)
So instead of waiting to be selected as “worthy” by the google algorithm, here’s what to do to set yourself up for success & come out swinging! Essentially you want to build upon what is known as E-A-T which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, & Trustworthiness.
First, continue to build your niche-specific articles that are based on keyword research. This is an ongoing process for any online business but especially important at the start. Make sure your content contains relevant images, alt text, is keyword focuses (but not spammy) & generally follows SEO best practices. We recommend using a plugin like YOAST or other free SEO content checker & having at least 12 articles on site.
Next you want to start with on-page SEO tactics & link your articles together wherever it’s relevant. This helps to strengthen your whole domain so that when one particle catches traction, it helps to boost the rest of your website. Getting all of your meta titles & descriptions is also a must!
Next start to build what are called “pillow links” which will be the foundational backlinks to your site & considered off-page SEO. These include backlinks from business & niche directories, high authority profiles (google my business, quora, github, etc), links from your social media profiles, & blog comments. These won’t shoot you to the top of the search rankings but are essential for establishing your web presence & showing that your website is legit.
These pillow links do not have to all be “Do Follow” links, it’s good to have a good mixture of both “Do” & “No Follow”. If short on time, you can also go the paid route with a reputable SEO service provider such as SirLinksAlot. Check out their YouTube channel for the nitty gritty of both on & off page search engine optimization.
It’s also a good idea to open social media accounts from all sorts of platforms & start building out your preferred account as well. If you’re on Facebook for example, start to network with others & also share your helpful content through backlinks. While these social media backlinks don’t necessarily affect your search rankings, they signal trust & that people are liking your content. It’s also a great way to kickstart traffic to your website because traffic from SEO content takes time!
If your website content is in check & your social media profiles are catching some traction, consider reaching out to other businesses or influencers in your niche. Offer them a free product, service, or content piece in exchange for a backlink in some of their content. Facebook has likes, Instagram has hearts, Twitter has re-tweets – When it comes to SEO, it’s all about backlinks! The more relevant & higher quality backlinks you acquire on your journey, the higher you will rank with due time.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably serious about getting your new venture off the ground. And just like with any sort of goal setting, you need a way to track your progress. For this reason, we recommend installing Google Analytics onto your website. This is much more robust than what many websites are equipped with in terms of tracking website stats.
For SEO purposes, we also recommend signing up to the free services offered by SEMRush & Ahrefs. These two will show you things like your backlinks, keywords you’re currently ranking for, and other site metrics to maximize your SEO efforts.
Last but not least is a bit of patience. You really have to be all in on your decision & trust the process. Apply these tips into your strategy and you will be amazed at how quickly you rise to the top when it’s your time to shine!
We believe the Google sandbox effect is real. It’s essentially a trial period where you simply don’t rank or show up on the search engines. You could even consider it a sort of filter to weed out those who aren’t serious enough.
How long does this probationary period last? For a new website, it can last anywhere from 6 months to a year on average. So while you’re waiting, we suggest you make the most of your time by bolstering your website, building up socials, & creating backlinks. Another way to look at it, is to build up your website’s E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, & Trust).
We hope this helps by shining some light on the topic. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below, shoot us a DM on Instagram @Atlas.Vision, or contact us directly through email.