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Google Sandbox Explained

I hadn’t noticed this post over at Wayne’s on the Google Sandbox which I’m linking to here not only because I think many of you will find it valuable but because I am always getting asked about the Sandbox and this will be a great article to send people to in future to explain it.

‘What is the Google Sandbox?

The Google Sandbox is an alleged filter placed on new websites. The result is a site does not receive good rankings for its most important keywords and keyword phrases. Even with good content, abundant incoming links and strong Google PageRank, a site is still adversely affected by the Sandbox effect. The Sandbox acts as a de facto probation for sites, possibly to discourage spam sites from rising quickly, getting banned, and repeating the process.

How would you describe the Google Sandbox in one sentence?

The Google Sandbox is very similar to a new website being placed on probation, and kept lower than expected in searches, prior to being given full value for its incoming links and content.’

Read more at Google sandbox theory validated by search engine giant

Important Google SEO Information

A couple of days ago I mentioned the new Google patent that reveals a lot about the ways Google is now indexing sites. The patent is long and if you don’t know the ins and outs of the technical stuff can be a bit overwhelming – so I’ve been checking out what it all means from a few bloggers and webmasters who have the gift of translating it for dummies like me.

What they are saying is fascinating stuff (I’m shocked more people are not talking about it in the blogging community) – let me give you a few snippets.

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Is Google Page Rank Still Relevant?

Paul at Work Boxers asks Is PR Still Relevant?

‘However, it definitely isn’t as important as it used to be, since so many people have learned to game the system. PR is good for long term success in the search engines, but is not something that can be measured very well short term.’

I agree with Paul – Google’s Page Rank isn’t anywhere near as important as it has been previously – however I don’t completely write it off. I suspect that it still plays a part in how Google ranks sites in its results – but another important factor is that page rank can still be an important factor in working out how much to sell ads on your blog for.

I am regularly asked by people to sell them text links on my blogs and Page Rank remains one of the main factors that they ask about. The higher my page rank the higher amounts I’m able to charge for a link – so I’d answer Paul’s question by saying – in terms of Search Engine Rankings I’m not sure Page Rank is as relevant as it previously has but in terms of grading the value of a blog for other purposes it remains one of the few tools people use and therefore is helpful.

Google’s Sandbox Documented?

If you’re into Search Engine Optimization you might be interested in checking out this article and the comments at this Threadwatch post titled Google’s War on SEO. It refers to a recent patent by Google that could shed some light on where they’re going with their algorithm.

It is pretty heavy stuff – but sheds a bit of light on the legendary and often speculated about Google Sandbox. I’m yet to go right through it all – but one of the initial take home comments seems to be that if you want to grow in Google you need to work on ‘natural’ growth and not the sudden appearance of a large site with loads of backlinks to it (which has been an approach of many SEO experts perviously.

This makes sense and is probably good news to bloggers who in most cases grow their blogs pretty slowly over time with a steady growth in backlinks. Anyway – if you’re into this stuff have a read and let us know what it all means to you in comments below.

There is also a good discussion on the same topic at Search Engine Watch.

Google SEO Tips

If you want to spend some time this week optimizing your blog for Google then you might want to check out some of these articles on SEO for Google that came up in my RSS feeds this morning. They are good solid tips for people wanting to learn some SEO basics:

- Google Optimization Secrets From The Trenches
- How to get top placement on Google
- How Image Links Can Help Build a Better User and Search Experience

What does Google display under your page title?

Antone over at SEO SEO Secrets of the PageRank Masters has finally updated his blog with a post on determining what Google displays under your page title in search results which a few people have asked me about recently. I hope it helps.

‘So how do you control what text appears in Google’s search results? Make sure the search terms you are optimizing for appear close together early in your meta description tag or close together early in your page. If your site navigation appears above your content, put it at the end of the document, and use CSS to position in higher in the page instead of putting it at the beginning of the document. Then, hope that people use the search terms you’re optimizing for!’

Frequently Asked Questions on ‘Links’

Wayne over at SEO Chat has a good article on Links – Links: Frequently Asked Questions. It might be of some use to those of you interested in optimizing your blogs for Search Engines. Don’t be put off by the basics at the start (ie first question is – ‘what are links?’) – it gets deeper than that (I guess you’ve got to take account for all stages of knowledge when writing these pieces). Here’s a snippet:

‘While quantity of links is important, quality is even more important. Some inbound links are simply given more value than others by the search engine algorithms. Links from pages deemed to be more relevant, in terms of topic and theme, are given more weight. Also given more value are links that are labeled with more keyword rich anchor text, links from pages with higher Google PageRank, and links that originate within content pages rather than from the ubiquitous “links pages.” There is even some evidence that linking out to other Web pages provides some benefit to the link sending page.’

Read more at Links: Frequently Asked Questions

Formatting images for SEO

One of the most commonly known Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips that go around has to do with the way you name and tag the images that you use on your site. Its fairly commonly accepted by most SEO experts that Google not only looks at the text on your blog in order to measure its worth but that Google’s spidering bots also take a look at the code you use in your image files.

Over the years SEO techniques have been developed to abuse this fact and webmasters have ‘stuffed’ their ‘alt tags’ with all kinds of keywords – however Google has found ways to combat this and treats such strategies as spamming their bots now – however it is still legitimate to put keywords in you image tags and I would recommend that you do (within reason).

If I’m writing on one of my technical blogs about a product and want to post a picture – I always make sure that the file name of the picture includes the name of the product (with-hyphens-between-words). The system I use (ecto) to publish my blog uploads photos automatically to set the file name as the ‘alt tags’ (which are the words that come up as your picture loads) and uploads the picture to its own URL with the file name in the actual URL. This ensures that when Google’s bot spiders through your site it sees your keywords an additional few times per picture.

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Increase Traffic to Your Blog from Search Engines – The Top 5 Tips

Tinu Abayomi-Paul post an article over at Search Engine Guide on how to Increase Traffic to Your Blog from Search Engines – The Top 5 Tips. Might be useful for some – although nothing really new here – you’ll find it all in my SEO archives too.