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ProBlogger – Out of Google’s Sandbox

A little new trend started these past few weeks at this blog that gave me a little cause for celebration.

I started getting traffic from Google.

Yes I’ve had the odd hit from Google over the past 8 months since moving ProBlogger to this domain – but the reality has been that since that time 99% of my traffic was from loyal repeat readers or from referrals coming from other blogs.

Why did it take so long?


Well despite my best intentions and thousands of incoming links from other blogs to this site Google seemed to have me on probation. They had me in what some refer to as the sandbox – a place that they seem to keep new sites that they are watching to see if they are spamming the system.

I suspect the reason ProBlogger.net found its way to the sandbox was that it got too many links pointing to it too quickly – and perhaps because it just suddenly appeared on this domain with 100 or so ready made pages which I had transferred across from my previous version of the site. The theory is that spam sites quite often appear on new domains with loads of inbound links and lots of pages over night – and so if any site does so it might just trigger some alarm bells in the Google algorithm.

It’s a theory – one to keep in mind – but one I’m happy to be on the other side on (I hope).

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

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Comments

  1. Dan says:

    Whoa! And you were doing this well WITHOUT google hits… I am predicting a sizable jump in traffic… you might get in the top 10.000 on alexa soon (not that you weren’t always gonna get there just its gonna come quicker)

    you must be pretty robust to get this many hits with no google.

  2. duncan says:

    Amazing, didnt realise you werent getting Google traffic.

  3. Miha says:

    I can’t believe that you were in Google Sandbox?!?! A site like yours deserves much more attention from Google.

  4. ME Strauss says:

    Using the language of the Sandbox, “That’s really stinky.” Glad to hear you’re out of the penalty box.

  5. Arun says:

    8 months seem to be long.

    Interestingly, my website too got out of the sandbox a few days ago and now I am getting lot of traffic from Google. I wonder if they have made any changes in their filters again.

    But getting into sand box gave me its lessons – that Google need not be your primary source of traffic. Even in the 4 months when I was sandboxed, traffic to my site only kept increasing. But it was a hard work to ensure a steady flow of traffic. :)

  6. LcF says:

    could the sandbox caused by duplicate content? If I remember correctly, you copied some articles from another blog to problogger.net.

    Well, one of my blog site is also trapped in Google sandbox. I copied some articles from the new blog to my old blog. Maybe this caused the sandbox?

    By the way, my another new blog site get indexed by Google very fast (few days). *shrug*

  7. It’s a mean machine that shoves a site like this into a “sandbox”. I’ve noticed the very limited Google traffic at all of my blogs. In fact, Yahoo jumps right in, especially if you have a Creative Commons licence on the site. Technorati soon sends traffic, especially if you’re a niche blog and you ping them.

    You’d think they’d employ a staff member to check the top 1000 or 10,000 blogs to see if they’re in the sandbox and why. It would save them a lot of criticism from influential people. A bit of PR wouldn’t go amiss. I’d even voluteer to do the job myself :-)

  8. HostingDiary says:

    I made the mistake of buying an expired domain for another site and it took over 6 months to get re-indexed with Google. Always check the waybackmachine when registering expired names!

    Andrew

  9. Darren Rowse says:

    In actual fact – not getting much traffic from Google for the first 8 months of this blog hasn’t stressed me in the least – quite the opposite actually.

    It has enabled me to build a site that is of merit in its own accord through building a community of readers who come here because they want to rather than because I happen to be at the top of the SE results for any given term.

    Of course I’m not going to knock back SE traffic – but this blog was never about that.

  10. Ben Helps says:

    Hmm, my blog is hosted on a mate’s Apache box and it recently occurred to me to crunch Apache’s server logs to see what they had to say.

    I’d previously been using an embedded site counter (Extreme Tracker) and found the difference surprising.

    1. The embedded tracker didn’t register search engine crawling at all (not surprisingly)

    2. My blog engine is Blogger, in Google’s camp, yet by far I’m most spidered by MSN. Even ask.com might currently check my blog more than Google. Hmm, go figure.

  11. How do you know that you are out of the sandbox? Have you just received an increased % of traffic from them? If so, by how many % has it grown?

    p.s. Congrats.

  12. Darren Rowse says:

    Joel – its not been a massive upswing – but what I’ve noticed is that while in the past I barely ranked at all in Google for cetain terms – not I rank pretty highly in their results pages.

    I don’t really know what the exact increase is in traffic as its been a pretty erratic ride over the past 8 months with ups and downs coming as different people have linked up and the resulting traffic has come. For example August has been my biggest month because of 30,000 visitors that came from Slashdot in a 24 hour period.

    Overall I’d say my traffic is up by about 700 visitors per day on this time last month.

  13. That’s very wired for me because I find you on Google a few months ago.

    I believe that sandbox is a mean thing and wished it would not exists. I’m still waiting for traffic from Google to my blog but …
    There are some visitors from MSN, Yahoo, blogsearch.google, but none from the king himself – Google.

  14. Scrivs says:

    Did you ever run any tests seeing how many pages were being indexed by Google in the previous months? I have never heard of the sandbox lasting 8 months for anyone so I am guessing that this has a bit more to do than just sandbox theory.

  15. Patrick says:

    Wow. Congrats.

  16. Indiblog says:

    Could this be the reason why after purchasing a domain name my blog has virtually disappeared from Google? My blog came first for most of the relevant searches on Google just 4 days back – I bought this domain name and now it is not even listed!

    Can anything be done at all?

    Sorry, Darren – but Congrats on getting out of the Sandbox!

  17. Andy says:

    Darren,

    I have just set up my first blog, nearing one month old. I have read a lot about the importance of Google and was at first concerned hoe long it might take to get indexed and build page rank. Even though I am concentrating on building content and fine tuning format, and haven’t yet started promoting the site with much gusto(only two links on other sites at the moment, I am getting some decent hits. 81 visitors since I started, 72 of those in the past week and 13 subscribers. Small pickings by your standards I know, but this is a very niche blog, and I am happy (for now…)

  18. Andy Merrett says:

    I don’t quite understand this because I have found pages from your site on Google, and I am sure it was over 3 weeks ago.

    Were you sandboxed or just ranked very poorly? Maybe I’m misinterpreting sandboxing.

  19. Andy Merrett says:

    Ahh sorry I just read your link to an explanation of the sandbox. Yes, that would explain some of it at least.

  20. Ed says:

    Google makes a difference to just about every blogger one way or another.

    Having thrown in a search for Chitika eMiniMalls which you’d written about earlier it was noticable that ProBlogger came out top, ahead of Chitika’s actual site!

  21. I’ve often wondered about how the different search engines stack up in terms of providing traffic to blogs. Since I launched my site five months ago, 39.5% of my SE traffic has been from MSN, 33.5% from Yahoo! and 22.9% from Google. The remaining 4.1% comes from a hodge-podge of other minor sites. It has always seemed strange to me that Google is bringing up the rear in terms of the big three — I’ve always assumed that Google dominates the search market, and that I would receive more traffic from Google because of this. Perhaps the sandbox explains this, but I would love to hear from others how their search engine traffic breaks down to see if my experience is atypical.

  22. Darren Rowse says:

    Yeah Ed – thats interesting.

    The interesting thing is that with increased ranking on Google comes some amazing benefits but also some responsibility.

    When you start ranking higher than official sites for products you have to really think about how/what you say.

  23. Matt says:

    I believe that I am in the evil sandbox. It is rather frustrating.

  24. Kevin Burton says:

    Congrats. My blog is still in the sandbox.

    It’s an evil creation. Unamerican. There’s no way to be removed from the sandbox even out of meritocracy.

    I was under the impression that all new domains went into the sandbox. I’m pretty sure feedblog.org is in there and I didn’t have the bursty initial link problem that you’ve had.

    Kevin

  25. Congrats. I hope I can escape it soon, too.

  26. Dan says:

    Ok, this sandbox issue is of concern to me.

    If you quote other blogs sites, like you do at your DigitalPhotographyBlog.com, does that mean that you can get put in the sandbox. Will google pick that up as plagarism and “content spam”?

  27. Even I am getting more traffic from Google lately. Could it be because they recently expanded their index?

  28. wilson ng says:

    I don’t know if this is valuable, but but wat its worth, I read somewhere that one of the things google is looking at whether your site is a spamming site or not is what is the expiry of your domain name.

    If you register your domain only for 1 year, you tend to get fewer points from google because most spam sites register only 1 year.

    However, if you are playing for keeps, and register your site for 2 or 3 years in advance, you will be tended to be viewed as a legitimate site, and will rank higher.

  29. Dan says:

    that might be it. darren did you reg your blog domain name a year ago and only for one year?

  30. Darren Rowse says:

    i think i did it for one year this time because I didn’t know of the length of domain thing until the last month or so.

  31. Andy Merrett says:

    You can extend domain names early (ie you shouldn’t have to wait until they’re up for renewal). Might be worth it – I am guessing you have the funds ;)

  32. Interesting

    I also ended up finding you via google, Darren, but iirc you were a lucky click on a result way down the list for whatever I was searching for ;-)

  33. yunasville says:

    Google has some hidden odd ways to deal with new sites, new domains, etc..
    I setup my domain name about 3 months ago. I didn’t get anything until I registered with Yahoo directory. Yes, paid dearly $299. Then, my site was indexed right away by almost all major SEs.
    I’ve got quite a lot incoming links, but Google still hasn’t updated my PageRank yet.
    Another interesting fact: I have about 200 pages of contents and 400 photos are my site, but I am getting 8 times more Google (Image) hits than Google.
    Total search engine hits only contribute 10% – 15% of my total hits. So, I don’t even know if I am in a sandbox or not.

  34. Kurt says:

    I’ve been noticing a Google search result or two trickling in this past week as well; not enough to seriously impact my traffic (less than one percent, so far), but enough to make me hope I’ll be out of the sandbox soon myself.

  35. I put up my site at about the same time It is a real estate site in Steamboat Springs which is competitive. the site is a PR6 and has been for a while. I have only recently stated getting any Google results and the ones I do are often obscure or urelated to anything on my page.

    Google is a lot like women, just when you think you understand it…

  36. Interesting discussion, after reading lots of posts about getting out of google I’ve found a few practical ways to do so although I haven’t tried them on blogging software, on other websites those principles are working well. On my blog I’ve posted article of 2 parts. I hope you like it.
    Cheers.

  37. Daymon says:

    I personally don’t worry about Google anymore. If i get traffic from them kudo’s, if not, no loss. My site has been in the “sandbox” for almost a year now. Though I find it very strange that my blog, of the same domain is not being penalized. Anyone else experiencing this?

  38. Bob Parker says:

    That explains a lot for me. I have a few months old shop. 80% of the traffic comes from MSN. I was very surprised, but now I understand what’s wrong.

    Thanks for the article.

  39. Forgot to say that I’ve purchased an expired domain. I hope I will not have to wait all 8 months.

  40. Hey Darren, I’m wondering if you could answer a quick question. I’m working on a website/project about the Sandbox (it helps me feel better about being in it with another site).

    One page is about recorded lengths in the sandbox, so could you confirm some dates – when did you put up ProBlogger on this domain and did you get IN the box in 02/05? You said 8 months.

    Thanks so much!

  41. Nilesh says:

    And among those few happy news, I have a sad news for me …I realise my site is Sandboxed….

    @arun…

    Would you guide me despite being in Sandbox, how did you keep yourself fetching consistent traffic for your website

Trackbacks

  1. Google Sandbox

    Problogger.net пишет, что блог начал получать траффик с Google спустя 8 месяцев после переезда на новый домен.

    Даррен считает, что причины побудивш…

  2. [...] Amazing article about the Google Sandbox. Saw it mentioned in ProBlogger. I guess you learn something new every day… [...]

  3. [...] When you’re doing monthly visitor summary, you’ll know how fast time flies by. One thing i fear everytime i do monthly summary is that the fear of having decreasing visitor stats, i don’t deny that there will be such possibility but im very grateful that it doesn’t happend and since my site being release from the Google Sandbox this month, the same time as Darren’s site. I’m seeing more traffic coming from Google at last! Below is the stats for this month. [...]

  4. [...] There are several stories which demonstrate how Google Sandbox has been affecting websites. Search Engine Journal has a story of how SEOmoz escaped the Google Sandbox after 9 months since moving to a new domain name despite over 12,000 natural links from other sites, SEOmoz was only getting 10 or so referrals from Google a day. Recently Problogger exited Google Sandbox and got increased site traffic after getting litle Google traffic for 8 months inspite of many incomming links and after changing their domain name. [...]