The Google Sandbox Explained

Written by David

Do you have a new website that’s struggling to rank? If so, you’re probably stuck in the Google sandbox.

What exactly is it?

Does it affect all new websites?

How long does it last?

These are questions I hear a lot among marketers. In this article, I'll try to answer each one in detail. 

The Google Sandbox – Overview

When a new website is built, it’s automatically placed in the Google sandbox.

It's basically a form of probation for new websites, and lasts anywhere from 3-6 months.

During this time, a new site won’t rank for important keywords and phrases. It affects all new websites, regardless of niche.

Why does Google do this? Nobody, except for those at Google, know for sure.

Many believe they do it to discourage spam. Personally, I think that makes a lot of sense.

Summary: All new websites, regardless of niche, experience the sandbox effect. It lasts 3-6 months and is designed to discourage spam. 

How Can You Tell If You're In The Sandbox?

Is your website less than 3 months old and hardly ranking? If so, you're probably stuck in the sandbox. 

Don't worry- it doesn't mean you've done anything wrong. This happens to all new websites. 

When in the sandbox, your site won't appear in the Google search results

Actually, I take that back. You can rank for smaller, less-competitive keywords during this time. 

However, it's very unlikely that you'll rank for larger, more-competitive keywords.

Penalty vs. Sandbox: If you're stuck in the sandbox, it's possible to rank for smaller keywords. However, if you've been penalized, you probably won't show up in the SERPs at all. 

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Another sign that you're stuck in the sandbox is that you rank in Bing and Yahoo but not Google. 

You might be stuck on the 2nd or 3rd page of Google, and no matter what you do, you can't rank higher. 

​This is a complaint I often hear among new site owners. Again, it's very common and you shouldn't panic. 

Summary: If your website is less than 3 months old, and you're not ranking for competitive keywords, it's probably because of the sandbox effect. 

Brief History of the Google Sandbox

When did marketers first notice the Google sandbox? The earliest reports date back to March of 2004. 

During this time, new sites were taking unusually long to rank in Google. 

It didn’t matter whether you were building links or following good on-page SEO. Ranking took a long time.

Today, the existence of the Google sandbox is debated among SEOs

What do I think? I think it's a real phenomenon that all new sites go through. 

Bottom Line: The effects of the Google sandbox were originally felt in March of 2004.

How Long Does The Google Sandbox Last?

Not all websites spend the same amount of time in the sandbox. It largely depends on your niche

For example, the payday loan niche is considered a high-risk niche by Google. 

If you started a site in this niche, you would probably spend a lot of time in the sandbox. 

That's because the payday loan niche is loaded with spam. I highly recommend staying away from it.

Remember: Niches that Google considers "high risk" include payday loans, credit cards, pills, torrents, insurance, and many others. 

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Low competition niches are better off. Their sandbox effect won't be nearly as strong.

How many days does it last? Most sites spend 3-6 months in the sandbox. That's just an average

If you're doing shady stuff, like building low-quality links, then it could take even longer to get out.

Summary: Not all sites spend the same amount of time in the sandbox. For example, if you're in a spammy niche, it's going to take longer to rank. 

How to Get Out of The Google Sandbox Faster

The rule of thumb is this: the more Google trusts your site, the faster you'll get out of the sandbox.

So, how can you get Google to trust you? 

Here are some tips: 

  • Get High-Quality Backlinks: Focus on backlinks from authoritative sites. This will show Google that your a site that can be trusted. 
  • Get Talked About on Social Media: Getting your site shared on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites will help validate your backlink profile. 
  • Don't Do Anything Stupid: The worst thing you can do is try to "game the system" by building low-quality links in an attempt to rank higher. This will only get you penalized. 

My best tip? Be patient and don't rush things. Otherwise, you'll be tempted to take shortcuts. 

And trust me...Google hates shortcuts. ​

About the author


Hi, my name's David. I'm the founder of Profit Hero. If you have any questions about making money online, just ask!