New websites have a hard time getting to the first page of search results. Some SEO specialists (search engine optimization) claims that new websites cannot be ranked until they reach a certain age. This phenomenon is called sandbox effect.

What is Google Sandbox?

The concept of the sandbox effect has existed for at least 15 years. SEO specialists have noticed that it is easier to rank a new website on Bing or Yahoo browsers than on Google. This observation marked the beginning of Google's sandbox theory.

Sandbox probably works as a filter for new websites. It captures them and prevents them from being at the forefront of search results until they reach a certain age. What exactly is age is questionable. Some say it's at least a month, others say it can reach up to a year.

Is Google sandbox real?

Google has denied its existence on several occasions:

@JohnMu @methode can you confirm that there is such a thing as a sandbox? Will you answer the questions?

Sandbox does not exist. You don't have to worry.

The company acknowledged that the new site may be affected by an effect similar to the sandbox effect. However, this is not about the age of the site, but about the lack of trusted signals. New websites may have poor content or insufficient authority, making it difficult for Google to rank them correctly in search results. John Mueller said in a video from a series called SEO office hours on YouTube:

"The sandbox effect, which has been talked about by many SEO specialists in recent years, does not occur in our country. We have several algorithms that may look similar, but basically they are just algorithms that try to find out how a particular website fits in with other sites that try to rank similarly.

John Mueller

It is true that new websites may be at a disadvantage, but Google has not set a pre-determined trial period for them. Your site can only be at the top of the search when it has trusted and good quality signals.

How to avoid the sandbox effect?

If you want to get rid of the sandbox effect as quickly as possible, you must be prepared in advance. Once you publish your site, try to double the content and link your website to the rest of the internet with links. These steps should be a priority for you when optimizing your new website:

  1. Perform a startup audit

Before you build a relationship with Google, make sure that there are no technical barriers to your site's ranking. Do it SEO audit after launch and make sure the website is accessible for search and for the user.

Check for indexing errors

First, make sure that search engines have access to all the important pages on your site. Launch the software WebSite Auditor and create a project with your domain name. The website audit will start immediately and you will be provided with a complete report on technical issues:

There is a lot of useful information in the report, but now we will focus only on the section called Resources Disabled for Indexing. Scroll down the list to see if there are any pages you want to appear in the search.

Check for UX issues (user satisfaction)

In addition to content quality, Google is also interested in user satisfaction. Google will hesitate to rate your site until users have quick access to the content and is easy to manipulate.

To verify that all of your sites meet Google's user satisfaction standards, go to your Google Search Console account. On the Advanced tab, you will find two UX messages: Core Web Vitals and Mobile Usability.

Messages on the Advanced tab in the Google Search Console

The Core Web Vitals report is a set of three measurements, all of which focus more or less on page speed, that is, how fast it loads and how quickly the page becomes interactive. Mobile usability tracks page layout when viewed on a mobile device, font and icon size, content width, etc.

If Google finds any problems with your site, it will create a list of faulty pages and specific problems and advise you on how to fix them.

  1. Become a part of business directories

You can significantly increase your chances of improving your rankings by linking your website to the rest of the internet. The best way to get links for a new site is to go to the relevant business directories.

Create a Google My Business profile

To prove that you really do exist for Google, you need to create a listing in Google’s directory - in My Business on Google. Just go to their page where you can describe your business and also verify ownership.

Once you have completed the verification, a control panel will appear where you can fill in your profile in detail. We encourage you to take full advantage of Google My Business, because the more information you add, the more visible you will be to Google.

In addition to increasing overall credibility, your profile will also be included in search results by location. This includes a local standard search package and a label on Google Maps.

Find popular local directories

Other local directories will help you with online visibility (a little less than Google My Business). You don't have to use old SEO techniques and create thousands of listings in every possible business directory. If someone advises you, ignore them. Instead, we encourage you to find new business directories that your potential customers are likely to use. These include Yelp, Foursquare, and the Yellow Pages, or try to find something more local, limited to your city or state. Choose the option that will be most beneficial for you.

  1. Create content in clusters

Google better rates sites targeted to a specific group of customers. And the best way to show that you are an expert in a certain field is to create one quality content with one specific topic. Therefore, it is necessary to create content in clusters, especially at the beginning.

This means that you will not jump from one topic to another, but you will focus on only one topic and try to describe it from every possible angle. Let's say you're a bike dealer, for example. A good strategy would be to choose one aspect of cycling and create a lot of content about it, and only then move on to the next aspect.

If you want to write about gravel bikes, you should first create a home page with a list of the best bikes of this type. Then you would add a cluster of secondary pages to this primary site - how to choose a gravel bike, the best accessories for gravel bikes, a comparison of gravel bikes with mountain bikes, gravel bikes under € 1000, etc.

  1. Show user satisfaction

Although Google rejects the use of user behavior logs to rank sites, there is ample evidence to the contrary. We believe that positive user behavior (traffic, interactions, long presence, comments, reviews, and social sharing) can help you get Google to rate your site.

Get your first visitors

Of course, you need some site visitors to see the positive behavior of users. Getting visitors for a new site is not easy. One option is to take advantage of launching a site or launching a business and posting the announcement through local media, forums, interest groups, and through your own social media accounts.

Engage your visitors

Design your site to engage users and force them to stay. The usual user satisfaction features will help you: split content, easy orientation, high-quality appearance and no annoying pop-ups. The goal is to make a good first impression and engage users enough to explore your site.

You can also add elements that force visitors to click on other parts of the website. Simply recommend posts or products to visitors based on what they are currently viewing. Exactly in this case, it pays to publish posts in clusters - you will offer several perspectives on the same topic and thus make it easier for them to find their way around the page.

If you want to do even more, you can offer rewards for positive user behavior. For example, you can create a loyalty program where you can reward those who write reviews and comments on your website, invite friends, or share your content on social networks.

  1. Build a quality line profile

The best way to prove your authority is to have your website supported by another, more well-known site. The more such sites link to your site, and the better those pages are, the more Google will trust you.

The challenge is to find quality sites that would be willing to accept links to yours. In the world of SEO, everyone is fighting for each other best backlinks, and these scraps made the whole process uncomfortable for all parties.

Fortunately, there is another relatively effective approach. It's best to find websites that are already linked to at least a few of your competitors' sites. Being connected to competing sites means that they are interested in your specialization, which naturally increases your chances of success. Even better, these sites are linked to more of your competitors. This means that they do not have an exclusive relationship with any company and are open to new cooperation.

To find potential sites for your line profile, you need to run the SEO SpyGlass program, click on Domain Comparison and then on Link Intersection and add your closest competitors here. The tool analyzes your link profile and generates a list of sites you can link to. You can sort and filter the list differently to show gaps and overlays in backlinks, or you can sort domains by quality (InLink Rank) and properties (dofolllow / nofollow).

Once you start build a line profile, SEO SpyGlass will help you track your progress. The tool records acquired and lost backlinks, analyzes them as well as their properties. It will come in handy if you suddenly lose one of the good links and get bad links that can have an immediate bad impact on your search position.

  1. Refer to quality resources

Another way to connect your website to the web is to link your content to high quality resources. This procedure doesn't affect your rankings as dominantly as backlinks, but it also weighs down the details when you build a new page.

In addition, you can perform this procedure at no cost and with little effort. All you have to do is create opportunities to link the content of the site with quality external resources. So whenever you create content, try to quote a reputable expert, refer to the work of a respected organization, or create a link to a Wikipedia article.

This process may not be limited to blog posts. For example, you can add links to popular reviews, promotional videos, or vendor and manufacturer sites to product pages. You can add experiences of your clients or partners to the main page.

Conclusion

If you get hit by the sandbox effect, Google needs to be "bombed" in countless numbers trusted signals. There are many options for this, but I would say that a strategy of targeted content and building a linking profile should be your priorities.

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