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Old 09-30-2005   #1
Big Juice
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Does the sandbox effect hurt relevancy?

Recently I read an article on the quality of organic search results comparing the top 3 search engines. If memory serves it was by Danny Sullivan. The article spoke of the index war between Yahoo.com and Google.com. Again, if memory serves, the conclusion was not so much on who had the bigger index but the quality of the returns. Sound about right?

Anyway, the thought I want to bring up is this… If the search engines are all saying that their main goal is to return relevant results for search queries, how can Google’s alleged age delaying sandbox be considered helpful when the application of the filter may be keeping searchers from important information when that information is contained within a new site? Seems to me that this policy is defeating the potential quality of the results returned.

I suppose that I should be writing an article on this subject and flying it out to the various article feeder sites in an effort to try to bring more traffic to my site but frankly, I just don’t have the time. If one of you out there in the SEO land wants to champion this question please feel free, just let me know if you do so I can read the article.

Last edited by Big Juice : 09-30-2005 at 01:33 PM. Reason: I credited the wrong person.
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Old 09-30-2005   #2
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They believe that it improves the overall results that they can offer with their current tech. I tend to agree with them, I think they are a. harder to game than they were and b. the results are better across the board than their competitors.

What it does do though in leave a chink in their armour which another search company may exploit by solving the problem without having to ring fence new sites.
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Old 09-30-2005   #3
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Is that hole big enough for the competition to slip through?

I agree, so far for the most part the quality of returns is getting much better. My concern though is with this age delay. It doesn’t make sense to me to filter out quality, relevant sites just because they are new. I understand that there are less than scrupulous marketers out there who have taken advantage of the system but why automatically pain every new site with the same brush? It wouldn’t surprise me if the other search engines were to exploit this filter and create a slick marketing campaign to try to steal some of the market share. If that happens I wonder how long it would take the big “G” to find a better way to filter out the SE spammers?
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Old 09-30-2005   #4
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>If that happens I wonder how long it would take the big “G” to find a better way to filter out the SE spammers?

Mabe they will be uable to react?

Its a very subtle shift in thinking but the move from engineerers thinking "how do we present the best results possible" to "how do we prevent these people from appearing in our results" may not be reversable.

For me the "jumping the shark" point of any SE has always been when they come to care more about *how* the results got there rather than the quality of the results themselves.

Its a tough line to walk.
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Old 10-25-2005   #5
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Hi Guys, just my opinion btu what do you think....?

I have heard lots of theories regarding the Google sandbox including the popular aging filter, the following is my own experience and opinion surrounding this subject.

My opinion is that Google sandbox is indeed a separate database. And i believe I have a little evidence to support the argument. My own theory placed into simple terms is that when a new website is registered, or an existing website changes hands and the registration information is changed (most of us know that Google check the Who Is) the website is placed into a separate database, i.e. our friend sandbox. When a search query is submitted the default location for the search is towards the normal database, however if to few queries are returned the search is redirected to the sandbox database.

If it was the website that was penalised instead of the keywords then an aging filter would prevent all keywords on a site from being detected, as it would be the site that was sandboxed. However in all sites I have had that have been placed into sandbox within 4-6 weeks of registration I am achieving top 10 positions for low level uncompetitive keywords, and this method is true of every page.

As an experiment go to your sandboxed website and cut and paste 2 lines of body text into a browser (i.e. creating a uncompetitive keyword) or even your company name and you will find yourself within the top 2-3 pages, and in most cases number 1. If an aging filter was in place you would not achieve any positions at all.

You could argue that in some cases this is down to competitive terms being out of reach, however I have some sites that already have link popularity, saturation, stale content management and syndication of a level that would allow me to achieve top ten positions, and I have been around long enough to see these sites suddenly propelled into top positions when out of sandbox.

I look forward to your comments.
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Old 10-25-2005   #6
Jill Whalen
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Quote:
If the search engines are all saying that their main goal is to return relevant results for search queries, how can Google’s alleged age delaying sandbox be considered helpful when the application of the filter may be keeping searchers from important information when that information is contained within a new site? Seems to me that this policy is defeating the potential quality of the results returned.
Keeping new sites out doesn't necessarily hurt their relevancy. For the most part there are going to be tons of sites that are "just as relevant" as the next one. So not showing the newest of the relevant ones, isn't going to hurt anyone other than the owner of the new site.

Don't get me wrong, I dislike the aging delay as much as the next guy, but I don't believe it hurts relevancy. It certainly does mean that if you're looking for something and you want to find it on a new site, you won't if you're using the organic results at Google.

And I do agree that if I were Yahoo or MSN I'd be shouting that fact to the rooftops. I'm amazed they aren't capitalizing on it through TV ads. I'd want to have ads that said something like: "Do you look for stuff online using Google? Did you know that you won't find sites have been developed in the past year because Google purposely hides them? Google apparently believes that new sites don't provide useful information or products. Are you okay with that? Because here at Yahoo, we show all sites, even new ones because we don't want you to miss out on something potentially great!"
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Old 10-26-2005   #7
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MSN & Yahoo

Jill you are absolutely correct. Why the other search engines are not creating a slick marketing campaign to point out this failing is beyond me. If I worked for one of the other engines I would be all over that. In fact I had a discussion on this very topic last night with a couple of friends. Didn't MSN state a few weeks back that they were going to bring Google down?
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Old 10-26-2005   #8
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Playing in a sandbox

mFurber

I agree with you on the subject of sites being released from the dreaded sandbox effect for non-competitive keywords as I have experimented with this myself. I took a brand new domain and had it included in to the top 3 engines within a matter of days. I optimized the single page site for some keywords that were not popular at all. I ranked quite nicely in all 3 for the short keyphrase. After that I went back in and developed the site with proper, competitive keywords and watched as the site disappeared off of the Google radar. The site ranks exceptionally well in the other two major engines for my targeted keywords. Although the site is currently playing in the sandbox with all of the other sites, I am happy to say that we still managed to get over 500 new sign ups in a month for our newsletter. So really, who were the ones that were effected by the sandbox, my new site or the people who missed out on our services because they only use Google for their searches?
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Old 10-26-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill Whalen
...And I do agree that if I were Yahoo or MSN I'd be shouting that fact to the rooftops. I'm amazed they aren't capitalizing on it through TV ads....
I'm not happy about the ranking delays either. At the end of last year I predicted correctly that Google would have to produce some fresher results when MSN launched, and indeed that's what happened. The first big release of sandboxed sites happened in early Feb 2005, roughly on Superbowl Sunday, about a day or two before MSN search officially launched.

At the time, there were many rumblings about new hospital sites and such not ranking for their own names, and it was getting kind of scandalous. I don't believe that Google is happy about doing things this way, and they've got to be acutely aware that slowness to index is partially what brought down Inktomi, Excite, and AltaVista. Google indexes right away, but if they don't rank you, there isn't much practical difference.

That said, Yahoo in particular has got its own style of freshness problems, which I believe are driven by its own paid submission program, which is essentially pay for freshness.

Google wins hands down when it comes to freshness of pages on established sites. I made some revisions on a bunch of pages on 10/12... They were updated with fresh caches in Google within a day or two... updated in MSN by 10/15, and yet to be updated in Yahoo, two weeks later. On the same site, new pages (as opposed to updated pages) show up in Google about a week sooner than they do in MSN, and many weeks before they appear in Yahoo.

Agreed, though, that a new site can rank well in Yahoo faster than it can in Google, or at least that was the case before Yahoo rolled out its late July multi-levelled update. I don't know whether that there's now an aging component in the Yahoo algo too, but to some extent it appears that there is.
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Old 10-27-2005   #10
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The "aging" mechanism in Google is not universal (hence some people say the sandbox exists).

Take for example, newly released movies and their official websites - they managed to rank quite high, even for very very competitive keywords, in a very short time.

Specifically, let's talk about The Weather Man (the movie). A search on the keyword weather man brings about 92 million results in Google and the official movie site is no. 4. Not bad.

Caveat: many of these sites aren't "new" new - the domain names been registered for several years beforehand but not developed until probably a year or so before the movie launches. Still, a very short time to shoot up to the top of the rankings.
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Old 10-27-2005   #11
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At my company, we purchase domain names for the specific purpose of "aging" them. We put some generic content on these sites (which never rank well) and then link to them so they get indexed. When we get a new client, we use one of these aged domains which then (with some original quality content) usually have a much shorter trip to top 10 rankings.
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Old 10-27-2005   #12
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That's one way to do it DarkMatter, but I've gotten re-caught up in the sandbox upon a redesign of a website.
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Old 10-27-2005   #13
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I think the point is that they can get away with it by virtue of 1)their reputation among people who don't know they delay 2)the sheer volume. It is statistically and logically impossible that restricting the pool doesn't affect quality. If the web were 10 pages and they refused to show three of them then it wouldn't work. But the odds are in their favor - of eight (or whatever) billion pages only very rarely will the ommission be either noticeable or important. But I don't buy the idea that it doens't compromise or even impact quality; it has to, pretty much by definition. But if the delay results in lower spam than they evidently are willing to accept the costs - mostly because users are also willing - or unaware. I agree with the above. Is MSN marketing listening?
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Old 10-28-2005   #14
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Trusted Sites

They reason why the sandbox works is because google has a faster out for some sites and it makes perfect sense.

If you get linked off a "trusted" site you will be released faster. How the determine trusted sites? Well aged quality domains, .orgs, .edus, high PR sites such as news sites, etc. Well aged commerce sites are not going to work people .. so sorry.

In other words is you have a good enough site to get a link from a quality trusted site then you deserve to be ranked, but if not then you are no more important then the other 100s of same relevant sites out there and they dont need 1 more right now. To them this means we have enough good sites, so why not get rid of the bad with little effort.
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Old 10-28-2005   #15
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Off Topic

Relevancy
I am afraid that you are off topic. When I wrote the original posting for this thread I wasn’t talking about how to get in or out of the Google sandbox. I was talking about how the alleged age delaying algorithm was a form of selective censorship based solely on how new a website was.

Let’s say for argument sake that you had a new product and you wanted to let the world know about it so you built a website. Now this new website uses some popular keywords to promote the website and those keywords are totally relevant to the product. Taking proper care you optimize the site for these popular keywords and before you know it, Google has placed you in their age delay sandbox. How can this be a good thing for your site, the people who use Google to search out products and services Google’s reputation on relevancy?

Seeing as your product is new and you are the only one that carries this product and Google is preventing your site from showing up in a search for that popular search phrase, wouldn’t that omission only serve to dilute the search? Keep in mind that seeing as you are the only one with this new product your site would have to be considered the absolute authority on that product, in terms of relevancy, the search that doesn’t include your site isn’t as relevant as it could be.

I also might add that seeing as the other engines don’t discriminate based upon the age of the domain; the new product website produces good SERP for that popular search term. I would consider the other engines to be producing a more relevant search result.
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Old 10-28-2005   #16
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Disagree here as well. The point is a good one and from a purely practical standpoint makes good sense. But practicality and good sense aren't the goal or issue. Authority sites, I would argue, are largely a misnomer (I can't even start listing the lousy "authority sites" in several niches whose authority is a product of little more than SEO savvy and conjecture) and typically trend toward the status quo - and the status quo is not what the Web is about. Authority is significantly dependent upon age and those two factors have no logical relationship if for no other reason that because the idea of authority can always be improved. Show me the authoritativeness of about.com for the gazillions of searches for which they rank in the five and I will show you dozens of sites that offer better information. Equating authority with age stifles innovation - and the evidence is mounting that rankings are to some degree dependent upon age. The aging delay is a game of "good enough and nobody will notice" and that's fine. I agree with your assessment, but I don't think it fulfills the mission of a search engine. It makes Google, and indeed authority sites (if we accept the idea that the right links can break the sandbox) the arbitors of information - should I really need (or could I get) a link from the current authority when my site is better? Sure, I will get other links in due time because the site and content and information is better. But Google is acting as gatekeeper - it's their index, their results, their users. They can do that if they want. But to suggest it doesn't compromise quality doesn't make sense. That they can get away with it makes perfect sense; but there is a cost. It's just that the price is paid by a relative minority rather than the overwhelming numbers of searchers (as far as those searchers know). I am not particularly complaining, but I entirely object to the idea that the system is a meritocracy - after all, how would we know: the best sites might still be sandboxed.
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Old 10-28-2005   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Juice
...I was talking about how the alleged age delaying algorithm was a form of selective censorship based solely on how new a website was.
Big Juice - My emphasis in the above.... While I think that age is a major factor in the "sandbox" ranking delay, I don't think that it is the only one.

Your hypothetical example also seems to have some internal contradictions. I'll highlight the concepts that don't gel with me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Juice
Seeing as your product is new and you are the only one that carries this product and Google is preventing your site from showing up in a search for that popular search phrase...
How popular can a search phrase describing your product be if your product is new and unique to you?

One of the factors apparently affecting "sandboxing" is how popular a phrase is. New sites seem to rank OK on rarely searched phrases (usually those which are longer and more specific).

Additionally, Matt Cutts cited as proof the the sandbox does not exist the example of a site that had a unique idea, then got a rush of publicity and many inbounds, and suddenly was #1 for whatever. I don't remember the specifics... maybe someone else does. While Matt's example seems a little like saying, say, that "anyone born in the US can grow up to be President" to deny the existence of poverty, it nevertheless does indicate that a new product has a shot if there's sufficient buzz.

I'm not disagreeing with your unhappiness that new domains appear to be severely handicapped... but I do think you're oversimplifying the situation.
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Old 10-29-2005   #18
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Seeing as your product is new and you are the only one that carries this product and Google is preventing your site from showing up in a search for that popular search phrase, wouldn’t that omission only serve to dilute the search? Keep in mind that seeing as you are the only one with this new product your site would have to be considered the absolute authority on that product, in terms of relevancy, the search that doesn’t include your site isn’t as relevant as it could be.
It doesn't work that way. Like Robert C said, the new product, would rank fine for its unique keyword phrase because no other site would be using them since it's new.

Only a new site for an old product would be stuck in the aging delay.
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Old 10-29-2005   #19
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Sandbox - Supplemental Database

If your site is new, for any money keyword you will have no rankings, for any low-level searched key phrases, you can have fairly decent rankings. The way out of the sandox with a new domain is to get LOTS of links from LOTS of trusted sites.
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Old 10-29-2005   #20
Jill Whalen
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The way out of the sandox with a new domain is to get LOTS of links from LOTS of trusted sites.
The way out is a function of time, regardless of the links you get.
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