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    The true stupidity of the sandbox


    A lot of us are very frustrated with the sandbox problem. Day in and day it seems that more and more people, novice and not so novice webmasters find there way here because they are looking for the magic bullet that explains why their newish site is not getting anything from Google. Those of us that have been watching this problem for the last 6-8 months have varied opinions on what the true cause of the problem is, those opinions range from that it is intentional to thwart PR and link selling to the opposite spectrum being that it is unintentional and that it is a technology problem. However we can all agree that it is frustrating for those caught in the quick of the sandbox.

    Rather than reharshing theories or discussing whether a specific person site is or is not in the sandbox, I thought it might be important to discuss why this problem is so bad, not for us (we all are well aware of that aspect) but rather why it is so bad for Google and why it should be their numero uno priority right now. So to that end I wil offer a few of my own bullet points. As many of you will have something to add, it would be nice to follow the same form.


    1.) The sandbox is not thwarting SEO it is breeding it.

    Some have theorized that Google imposed the sandbox to thwart SEO efforts and to drive a stake into the profession of "Professional SEO's". However, I don't see either of those two things happening. The sandbox has lasted so long that people are getting desperate. Most single site or amatuer webmasters have been spending so much time going in circles that they are find there way to place like here. They are desperately seeking a solution to why their new site, no matter how much effort they put into it, will not rank. They search around and find this place or one of the many like it. They start reading the articles and they start using the techniques they read about hoping that something will be the solution they are looking for. They do this jumping in with both feet because even if they do read a little about the sandbox, it just doesn't make sense to them that such a big well known company like Google, a publicly traded company with such a fantastic stock price could have such a real problem.

    When none of there effort pan out, they decide it's time to put some money behind a professional SEO, because they tried and got no where, but a professional can probably get them some results. I have been watching these boards for months and I have yet to hear a professional saying that the sandbox is absolutely killing there business. I have yet to hear any of them say that the sandbox has caused there client base to vanish. Sure there are some that have grumbled, but I haven't heard the professionals say that it's time to switch professions. Most are trying to figure out how to explain the sandbox to their clients in such a way that the client understands that it is a problem any SEO would have and that it's not just an excuse the SEO made up. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that there is more business out there right now then there was a year ago.


    2.) The sandbox is not slow PR or link selling, it is promoting it.

    Some people believe that the sandbox was created to damper the selling of text links and outright PR. Again, I don't see this happen. What I see is the novice looking to buy links and /or PR in a move of desperation. The average cost of buying a link on a high PR site has gone up dramatically. Heck I even thought about it at one time myself but decided against it because I didn't see how it would get me out of the sandbox any quicker and frankly I just could justify it. But without the sandbox, people wouldn't be trying all kinds of desperate things and thus the high cost would not be supported because people would find ways to get decent PR without buying the links. Also we all know that it isn't just high PR that gets you to the top of the serps. If most webmasters can get some quality ranking just by getting some good relevant links, they will do that instead of trying to buy PR. If you can do that and see some results for your efforts, you just would resort to it. Regardless, the sandbox has had the opposite effect on PR or link selling.

    3.) The sandbox is not really going to help Google revenues in the long run, it's going to kill them.

    Many people with sandboxed sites have succumbed to buying Adwords, however many that I have talked to are not seeing the type of returns they need to justify the money they are spending. The true problem is that adwords allows you to cover a term that you just are not ranking for, but when you aren't ranking for hardly anything and so your relying on Adword to bring you your main Google traffic, you must have something that converts easily. Unfortunately most of us do not have something that once a person sees our site, they can't live without doing whatever drives our revenue model. The end result is that we can use adwords as a band-aid, but we also need at least some free traffic to get our number high enough that our conversions rate provides enough revenue that we can continue to fund our Adwords campaigns. Eventually, without the revenue, we have to either give up or find an alternate way to get the traffic we need, if we can get the conversion we need with overture, well then we put our money into that program instead. We have had an Adwords campaign for over 15 months, we have also had an Overture campaign as well. In the last month, we have noticed that our conversion rate is doing much better with Overture. We are considering boosting our campaign, but we can't boost it without taking it from somewhere else, so what are we going to do. We are going to cut back our Adwords spending and allocate it to Overture. I doubt we are alone in this type of thinking and I think there are many others that have spent all they can afford on Google Adwords.

    I'll add more later as this post is quite long, but I think if we all think soundly and apply good logical thinking, we can all show by example why the sandbox if it continues much longer will go down as one of the largest business blunders whether it is intentional or not. I will end with this, if my company where facing such a huge problem, I wouldn't be have a nice retreat in Lake Tahoe, but how much money I have or what my company is worth does not drive my ego either.
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    Ledfish, I found this a very interesting read and quite an accurate description of my own feelings and the direction I have been forced to move. However......I will suggest if your site is sandboxed...as much as one loves the sound of "Google".... get over it, move on and focus on where you can generate traffic and business.

    This alone will set the stage for success in search for any site, not bending to the whims of one search engine.

    If SEO as a community turns its focus on MSN and Yahoo, as more and more are doing, the traffic will follow. End of story.

    The signs on the wall already show this.

    Searchers are seeing a difference in serp quality and the affects of the SEO efforts designed for Google showing up not in Google, but MSN and Yahoo. Imagine that. These searchers are only the beginning trends of migration that I have no doubt is showing in every log for sites that rank well in MNS and Yahoo. ( It is definitely showing in mine big time ) The time to rank in MSN and Yahoo is now as that traffic gets larger...and larger....and larger.

    So, my advise is "get over Google". They have made the rules, as unfair as they may seem. As a new site, focus on where you can do to succeed doing the right things. Eventually Google will wake up after enough traffic and profits have left.

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    I could settle with the results MSN spits out. Problem is, I hate spammy, cluttered looking webpages. google is still king of clean.
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    I agree with ledfish!

    Google is not clean, Google is pushing people towards adwords.

    Most searches bring up old fasioned html pages with an ancient backlink history full of ads and searches now often bring up directory listings.

    I see better results in Yahoo and anyone that doesn't agree with me, are the people that are ranked well by Google.
    Last edited by Postmaster; Jan 30th, 2005 at 04:19 AM.
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    I absolutely agree, Ledfish - sandboxing means that SEO's have to take even more aggressive actions to get rankings - even if it means eventually overshooting their initial targets.
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    Originally Posted by Postmaster
    I see better results in Yahoo and anyone that doesn't agree with me, are the people that are ranked well by Google.
    I am not well in Google, all my sites, but still I can't agree with. Google has better results., may be MSN will take that soon..
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    Sandbox solution: buy an old domain.

    Since the sandbox has been solved, what is taking people so long to buy and old domain and move on?
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    Originally Posted by LilOptimizer
    Sandbox solution: buy an old domain.

    Since the sandbox has been solved, what is taking people so long to buy and old domain and move on?
    Assuming you buy into the theory the sandbox is affected by a domains age alone. Most now agree that it has as much to do with when a sites link building strategy begins with any noticebale effect. You can of course build links slowly but you are then merely creating your own sandbox. I don't think there is a *secret* formula to overcoming the sandbox, just patience.
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    I now just work at getting ranked for Yahoo and MSN - Google is just a waste of my time.

    Also, i am using Yahoo more and more for my own searches.

    If others are doing what i am doing and tell others about it, i bet Google will lose market share within a year or two.
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    Before I continue, I just wanted to say, that I have gotten over Google. In fact because it appears that Google has no interest in solving this problem of the sandbox, intentional or not, moving on is the best thing for everyone because I believe that the results of the sandbox on the quality of the serps is really starting to show. We have a couple of other sites that are not sandboxed and the traffic we are getting is from absolutely junk terms. Sandboxed site or not, it appears that yahoo's results are much better at least for our industry. We can't say the same for MSN, but many of you do, so I will take you at your word.

    Remember this thread was started to discuss the sandbox problem not from a webmaster/SEO perspective, but from a business analysis standpoint and why it lacks sound business judgement.

    4.) The sandbox doesn't matter, Google will still always be king of search.

    For the last few months, I wouldn't have disagreed with this statement, Google has had the majority of the search traffic, but I have heard more people, non industry types saying that they are shifting to other search engines because Google is not giving them what they want. The other day, I was at the vet with my dog and I overheard a couple say that they had found some information on the web about their dogs condition, the doc said, "on Google ?" and the dog's owner said "nope, on Yahoo, I couldn't find anything on Google about it, at least not in the first couple of pages". I had the chance to ask the couple what they did for a living, she was a hairdresser, her husband was a heavy equipment operator. The point is the average joe is noticing and I believe that the when they start to notice, the momentum will build. I also have noticed alot of people commenting on these boards that they are getting good traffic from MSN and Yahoo, many are even saying that it's converting better. So webmasters in the know have already started to moving on and if the average surf follows, the game is over for Google. Personally, I think don't think it will take as long as a year, I think that unless the sandbox is solved or abandoned with in the next month or two, that by mid to late summer, the momentum will have built to a point where it is unstoppable and it will take Google years to get their reputation back because once the momentum builds, you first have to stop it, only then can you start it going back the other way.

    5.) The sandbox is necessary to thwart spam and provide relevant, high quality serps.

    This type of thinking has proven to be nothing but hogwash. First, one man's spam is anothers treasure. Most SEO professionals and those webmasters that involve themselves in trying to improve their sites rankings can be classified as very competitive by nature, but they are not true spammers really. Heck we all like to win, so we trash talk our competitors alot, but if you really look at the amount of spam in the serp 8 months ago, it's nothing compared to now, now we have a whole lot more. Have you noticed all the webmaster discussing their hijacked page woes ? The true spammers have resorted to some of the most insidous methods to continue their efforts and even with the sandbox, it is working for them and it looks like it is working with great success. Google has to be aware of the hijacking problem and yet with Google latest algo change, the problem has gotten worse, not better. The point is, with Google it's not just the sandbox that is the major problem, it's the hijacked page problem, the 1969 cache problem. Face it, unless you are willing to put on your black fadora, Google has dunked the ethical webmaster and has been rewarding the unethical spammer. The sandbox hasn't thwarted spam, it has boosted it and rewarded it.

    6.) Google is waiting for Microsoft to turn the key on it's new search before it let's everyone out of the sandbox.

    The basics behind this theory are that if Google waits till Microsoft launches it's new search and then dramatically improves it's quality by letting those sandboxed out, they will be hurling something like the A-bomb at Microsoft and they will stop them dead in their tracks before they even get a chance to become a threat to Google. First, this is a nice thought, but it's flawed and I expalin that in a minute, Second, I don't think I'm alone when I ask, has Microsoft ever sunk it's teeth into such a major playing field without a quality war plan ? You lob an A-bomb at them and throw five of their own back at you.......your dead !

    Lets say I own a hot dog stand, I'm selling cheap, bad hot dogs. But I've got a good area and no serious competition on my block, because everyone else that has tried to compete with me has always had something wrong. Either their prices were too high or the mustard and ketchup were rank or something. I'm making a killing at this, my profit majors are high, in fact good enough that I have bought a nice big caddy to drive to my location and park right next to my hotdog stand. I even made enough to take the whole family on vacation to Lake Tahoe and I just put a sign up at my hotdog stand telling my customers that I'm in Lake Tahoe for a week. A competitor announces that he is going to soon set up shop in my area, he is going to offer great quality ball park frank hot dogs, heinz ketchup and relishes and even grilled onions and a great chill made by his mother. Best of all, it's not going to cost customers anymore than they are already paying to buy a hotdog at my place. Do you think it would be a good busienss move for me to just wait until he shows up to improve my quality? Do you think that since I'm the dominate force now, that my customers will automatically remain loyal to my hotdog stand if I just improve things when the competition opens up?


    That's all I have for now, more later.

    Comments on this post

    • Gr8ted3s agrees : Nice
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    Bingo. No reason for people to remain loyal to google. They provide nothing but search and if they aren't always bringing the best results people will try somewhere else. I still use google to search sometimes, but Yahoo will always be my homepage. It shows my stocks, weather, local news, etc. I can't fathom that google's mrket share is higher than Yahoo's. Yahoo has one million times the revenue streams of google.

    Google better get its act together or the only money theyll continue to see is the IPO money they're going to have to burn through.
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    It may not be the solution. We are almost 3 years old and even though the sandbox effects are not as obvious as if it was new, we still suffer from it. After we acquired a substantial amount of links it dropped us to page 7. Now itís slowly moving up again though. So IMO sandbox is not completely about the age of the domain, but the age of the links. For obvious reasons G is trying to combat methods of achieveing artificial link popularity.

    Regarding those G-haters, you should never put all of your efforts in one SE. That is an extremely poor business model. In addition to G there is Y, M and plenty of other places to advertise your website and get traffic and sales. Patience is a king in anything related to SE optimization. Just my 2 cents

    Originally Posted by LilOptimizer
    Sandbox solution: buy an old domain.


    Since the sandbox has been solved, what is taking people so long to buy and old domain and move on?
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    Here is a good example of why people will stay loyal to G - http://forums.seochat.com/t21624/s.html. General user is very, i repeat VERY, happy with G results, especially with non-commercial searches. That is why they come back to G when they need to search for a commercial term. So who cares that commerical search does not bring relevant results, they will use AdWords and be happy with it. If they would allow others to manipulate their SE too easy (Yahoo is a good example) and allow low grade SPAM and affiliate sites to dominate the top positions it would mean a certain death in the very near future.

    Originally Posted by hdpt00
    Bingo. No reason for people to remain loyal to google. They provide nothing but search and if they aren't always bringing the best results people will try somewhere else. I still use google to search sometimes, but Yahoo will always be my homepage. It shows my stocks, weather, local news, etc. I can't fathom that google's mrket share is higher than Yahoo's. Yahoo has one million times the revenue streams of google.


    Google better get its act together or the only money theyll continue to see is the IPO money they're going to have to burn through.
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    Very nice post in general... I don't think that everything is right but hey... nobody's perfect ;)
    jk

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