For well over a year, there's been massive debate and speculation that Google puts all new sites into a "sandbox," preventing them from ranking well for anything until a set period of time has passed. Now we get more confirmation from Google that if there's not a sandbox, there's at least part of its algorithm that may make it seem that way for some sites -- plus thoughts on how trusted links may help sites escape those filters.
Our Confirmation From Google That The Sandbox Does Exist post from September covers how it seemed Google itself was finally acknowledging this. Then last month, Google's Matt Cutts denied there was a sandbox but confirmed that algorithm filters -- especially spam fighting ones -- might product a sandbox-like effect for some site. FYI, that's exactly what Dave Naylor was suggesting in the postscript I added to the Confirmation From Google That The Sandbox Does Exist post.
Matt's comments sparked a wave of new discussion about the sandbox or sandbox-like effects and how to escape them. Below is a rundown on some reading:
Coffee Talk with Senior Google Engineer: Matt Cutts from Search Engine Roundtable covers Matt's comments on the sandbox idea.
Matt Cutts on the Google Sandbox is a WebmasterWorld discussion sparked by Matt's comments. Aaron Wall from SEO Book points and summarizes part of that discussion where Dave Naylor (DaveN) talks about the idea of getting trusted, "non-SEO" links.
Google TrustBox from SEO Book has Aaron Wall suggesting that it's not a sandbox you want to get out of but rather a "trustbox" you want to enter.
The Trustbox Revisited from Stuntdubl looks at Aaron's suggestion in more depth with some thoughts on how you get into it -- the top way being "quality references," meaning good, trusted links from others.
Guest Post on the "Trustbox" from Stuntdubl covers thoughts on what the sandbox is and isn't, based off of what Matt talked about and along with supposition. Thoughts are that filters hit new sites harder and competitive terms more, as well.
My *definitive* guide to what exactly the sandbox is, how it works, and how to beat it at the Link Building Blog offers up a short and to the point rundown on the sandbox and getting out of it -- new sites need to gain trusted links.
Moving To Trusted Links & Change The Link Election Model from me covers my thought on how we've evolved to having a trusted links situation.
As I've written before, I've find clarity over a sandbox or sandbox-like effect gets lost by the fact that "sandbox" has now become a synonym for "I don't rank well in Google."
In other words, say someone was ranking well and there was an algorithm shift that made them move from the first to second page or further back. That happens all the time and for completely non-sandboxish reasons. Nevertheless, people will assume they've been "sandboxed" when it happens, leading to mistaken speculation on how a real sandbox or sandbox-like filters may be working.
For some further information, Sandbox - IN or OUT? at our SEW Forums has lots of background info on the Google sandbox concept and also see New Google Patent May Give Sandbox & Inner Workings Info and Breaking Down Google's New Search Patent Application.