How to Play in the Sandbox

We have all heard and discussed the issue of Google’s sandbox or “aging filter”, whether or not it exists, and how to avoid it.  As far as most Internet marketing experts know, Google has some kind of aging filter and it was originally designed to combat spammers trying to launch new websites to the top of the search results pages (SERPs).  Some of these tactics include the basic black hat SEO practices like link farming and duplicate content – basically short cuts that will only end up hurting you in the long run.  Regardless, Google decided to put a stop to this and one way was to implement the aging filter, the idea being that new sites should be given time to naturally mature in content and relevance.

And NO, it does not matter how well optimized a site is.  Many businesses will drive themselves (and their Internet marketing company) crazy trying to understand why they do not rank well for their main search terms despite well planned comprehensive organic SEO strategies.  The bottom line is that the aging filter affects different sites in different ways.  You could launch three brand new sites the same day and use similar SEO practices and their time in the aging filter could differ dramatically.

Here is how to play in the sandbox without losing your mind:

  • Admit that your webiste might be in the aging filter and that you might have 6 to 12 months before you will see decent rankings.  Admitting it is half the battle!
  • Stay positive and stop checking for your results every half hour.  Focus on building relevant and meaningful content, and continue to develop your site and improve functionality and user experience.
  • Focus on other Internet marketing efforts to drive traffic to your site:  PPC, social media optimization, PR, and other online media buying can be good alternatives.  If done correctly, these can all provide a good ROI.
  • DO NOT forget about optimizing for Yahoo and MSN!  These sites will drive great traffic and show great results much faster than Google.  Google isn’t the only game in town!

Now some of you might be asking how to avoid the sandbox all together.  Well, you can’t.  However, there are ways to minimize the effects if Google chooses to place you on “probation”:

  • Buy older or expired domain names.  The age of your domain can have an amazing impact when proper organic SEO practices are used to optimize the site.  Usually, the older the better.
  • When developing a new site, launch a landing page and start adding content!  Your new website might take 6 months to finish but in the meantime you have started the clock and Google will be caching your pages and fresh content.

We can’t avoid this unfortunate reality so we have to focus on strategies that will suffice for the time being.  Once your site comes out of the aging filter you want to be ready for the new and exciting traffic you will experience.  All of the hard work you did to optimize the site and continually add content will pay off. You just might have to wait a bit.

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