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The Google “Sandbox Effect”

Many search engine optimization experts hypothesize that there is a virtual “purgatory” that all newly launched sites must pass through in order to rank well in Google. In fact, many new sites seem to pass through this stage, and many find that the period is remarkably close to six months. Matt Cutts states in an interview with Barry Schwartz that there may be “things in the algorithm that may be perceived as a sandbox that doesn’t apply to all industries”.

We believe that while Google may not explicitly have a “sandbox,” the effect itself is real. For this reason it is termed an “effect,” and not a “penalty.” It may be the collective side effect of several algorithms — not an explicit “sandbox algorithm.” Some sites seem to be exceptions to the rule, especially those that acquire links from several authority sites early on. A few links from and other prominent web sites, for example, may exempt a web site from the sandbox effect. Some hypothesize that Yahoo! has a similar algorithmic factor, but that it is less severe and pronounced. MSN Search does not appear to have anything similar implemented.

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