Playing in the Google Sandbox

| April 25, 2011
Sandbox

Playing in Google Sandbox

When I did usual stats check this morning, I was surprised to see that I had only received 15 page views on my new site yesterday and only 1 page view today. I know it’s Easter weekend and all, but 15 page views? Something was amiss.

I looked at my page views to see they were coming from Yahoo and a few backlinks from my interlinked sites. None of the traffic came from Google so I knew it was time to do some more investigating.

Into the Google search query box, I typed site: nameofsite.com to see if my site was still in the Google index. I was shocked when there were no results. That’s when I had a quick moment of panic. What? No results? How could that be? Was my site banned? I then happened upon a link to sitetrackr.com which provided quite a bit of info on my new site.

It shared the fact that it had no page ranking (which I knew), and that the site was indexed not only in Google, but in Yahoo and Bing too. So, I clicked on their links to see that my site had not been banned. Apparently, I had typed the query incorrectly. I should have typed site:nameofsite.com.  I inadvertently inserted a space between the colon and name of site.

After breathing a sigh of relief, I did a little more snooping to see exactly where my site landed in the Google search engine results. It previously landed either on the first or second page. Now I didn’t find a hint of my site until page # 15. As a matter of fact, it was the first entry on the 15th page. This is affectionately known as the Google Sandbox. Just to make sure, I used the Sandbox Checker tool and it confirmed my suspicions.

Gathering a Few Sandbox ToysSandbox Toys

While my new site is in the sandbox, I get a chance to accumulate a few sandbox toys. I’ll continue to add content to my sandboxed site because I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to content for the site. In addition to adding content, I’ll write a few articles and place them on some of my other income generating sites for backlinking (I know, folks say that you should write free articles for backlinking purposes, but I’m hard pressed at this point in the game to write free articles…been there done that and wasn’t too pleased with the results).

I fully believe and expect the site to come out of the sandbox. However, while it’s there I can work on site number 3. Originally I had set a goal of 4 new sites this month, but I forgot about spring break. I also didn’t think that I would truly enjoy the topic of site # 2 so I spent more time there than I had originally allocated.

Keep Busy – Avoid Dwelling

I’m not happy about my site being sandboxed, but as I read a nice piece written by Mark Doust called entitled Google’s Giant Sandbox, I felt a lot better. There are things I can control and things I can’t. I’ll continue to do the best I can with site number 2, but in order not to dwell on my sandboxed position, I’ve decided to start working on site number 3.

Recap of My Post-Panda Efforts

Site # 1: I think it can be classified as a full fledged bomb. I created site number 1 in the last week of March and in total it had 51 page views and earned $0. Not only that, I didn’t enjoy writing content for the site. I think my major problem with that site is that I attempted to sell a Moneyproduct. I obviously have a lot of work to do when it comes to affiliate marketing. I think I went about it all wrong.

Site #2: (pre-sandbox stats) was created on April 1, has a little over 1,600 page views and earned just shy of $70. I thoroughly enjoy writing content for it and will continue sandbox or not. This site is an informational site. I’m not selling a product, just doing the research and providing information to folks who otherwise would have a difficult time finding the information.

Site # 3: I’m not too thrilled with the subject matter for site #3, but the Money Matrix keyword game told me it should be a money maker so I’ll give it a shot. I loaded money onto my Textbroker account and have been threatening to hire writers for the content, but have yet to write the specs for what I want. Guess today is as good a day as any to write up those specs.

Your Turn

As you can see, my efforts are so-so. How are yours coming along?

Sandbox Update 5/9/2011: Every two days or so I would check for my site in Google.  It seems that it went to page infinity minus one and then started coming back.  It hovered around page 12 for a day or two then page 7 then page 3 then finally the site is now on page one of the search results.

While it was in never-never land I continued to add new and unique content once or twice a week.  I didn’t change my strategy and don’t intend to.  How long will it remain on page one?  Who knows.  All I know is that I’m going to continue doing what I do and Google will do what it does.

Tags: , ,

Category: Google, Internet, Page Rank, Search Engines

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites.

Comments (18)

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  1. Tiffany says:

    Maybe your site is not necessarily in the “sandbox” but has just finally settled into the place where it belongs. A lot of time a new site gets a new content bonus when it first gets indexed and then eventually will settle into it’s rightful place. A lot of people mistake this for the “sandbox” but as you mention your site didn’t receive a penalty. Keep backlinking the site and working on new content and you will see the site rise in the SERPS. This is just something you may want to take into consideration before you jump to conclusions that your site got put in the sandbox (if there really is one)
    Tiffany recently posted…Update on My Passive Income Earnings – You Have to Take the Bad With the GoodMy Profile

    • Felicia says:

      Tiffany, we all have our opinions. I was reading an article yesterday about the Google sandbox. It was pretty interesting.

      I’ve been around the internet far too long to “jump to conclusions.” I’m more the long-term methodical type. My site is showing up on pages 1 and 2 on Yahoo and Bing. It was also recently indexed by Ask and I’m getting traffic from AOL.

      My Google traffic has dropped and I know it’s temporary. I have another site that was sandboxed quite some time ago for about 6 months or so. It’s currently enjoying a nice stream of traffic. I did not change the site, nor did I change my strategy. I believe quality stands the test of time.

      Whether or not the sandbox exists is a matter of debate. I’m not the debating kind because debates don’t usually resolve the issue. I believe it exists and my site is there temporarily there. Those who read this blog often know my strategy. As I said in the post, I’ll continue adding quality content to the site and keep busy working on a host of other things.

  2. Felicia says:

    A sandbox update:

    When I first discovered that my site appeared to be missing from the Google search results, I sent a Reconsideration Request to Google. Here’s the response I got as a result of the request.

    Dear site owner or webmaster of [Site URL]
    We received a request from a site owner to reconsider [Site URL] for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

    We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site’s ranking in Google. There’s no need to file a reconsideration request for your site, because any ranking issues you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the webspam team.

    Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site’s ranking. Google’s computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users.

    If you’ve experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site’s content, content management system, or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot, or if you’ve changed the URLs for a large portion of your site’s pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons your site may not be doing well in search.

    If you’re still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
    Sincerely,
    Google Search Quality Team

    Bottom line (although it doesn’t say so here), I’m in the sandbox and I had better use alternative methods for getting traffic to my brand new site.

    BTW, although the traffic to my site has diminished significantly in its short lifespan, it still manages to earn money daily. This is an interesting challenge to see how I can build a successful site without Google’s help.

    You gotta love this internet stuff. There’s always a brand new challenge to get the adrenaline going.

  3. Brendan says:

    Felicia-

    First, I would like to say thank you for maintaining this wonderful website and providing newbies like myself with lots of useful information and guidance. When I started getting into online freelancing a few months back, I found NJFM to be a very valuable resource.

    After the Panda business first got started, I had thought to recommended that you reconsider working for Bright Hub. I wrote for them for about two months, and it seemed like they were not really impacted by the change – if anything it seemed to help their rankings.

    About two weeks ago Google made another adjustment which Did hurt BH. This resulted in over 14,000 words from my 8 articles and 4 drafts about religion (rev-share only) being discarded with no hints at compensation.

    You can read about my reaction to this at “Freelancing for Education” – my first personal website (Google will return it.)

    While I was trying to figure out what to do next, your ideas about your new direction were bouncing around in my head (along with much else, as you might see.) And thus, I am posting to say thank you for offering us your continued inspiration and public creativity. It went a little ways toward helping me come up with the idea for “Antiquior Fuga” – my second internet project.

    I have not monetized AF yet for a few reasons, but within 6 days it surpassed the total pageviews that had been generated by Freelacing for Education in its (FFE) 1 1/2 months of existence. This was done with a single link hidden at the end of a very long post (the post itself only having one link to it on one private discussion forum). This is the second link.

    I wish you well with your new projects and look forward to finding further updates on my Google Reader.

    Best,
    Brendan

  4. Joni says:

    OMG….I felt like I just read an article written in Latin..(google sandbox?.. site:nameofsite.com.? sandbox toys)..LOL. Just when I think I’m beginning to understand the lingo…But I appreciate you so much Felicia. I know it’s probably a pain to come here and inform us, but it is helping so much, and we can listen to your rants and you can vent. It also helps to see even those of you that have been online for a while still have ups and downs. Right now, I’m slamming myself with mostly DS LIVESTRONG. I’m two months behind in my mortgage and I’m trying if I can write my 10 articles a week on DS for two months I can catch up my payments. Once I know I’m not going to lose my home then I can start to branch out. I hear about what ya’ll are doing and I want to do it, but right now I am working on keeping my home and buying meds and groceries.

    However, I will NOT give up. That’s why this site and Ken’s site is so important. You two share info; before I found you two I would join a site that offers to help people with online writing but at some point the info that would REALLY HELP us got expensive. I totally understand helping by clicking on ads, etc. In addition, as soon as I can afford Grandma’s book and a few other items on both sites I plan to buy them. However, the sites “click” with me. You will be blessed for your giving Felicia. But you already know that because you seem like you have been a giver for a long time.
    Chin Up…and thank you.
    Joni

    • Felicia says:

      Hang in there, Joni. I could tell you some stories about our financial status when I first started online writing, but that’s the subject of another post. 🙂 Don’t worry about the lingo. If I use too much of it, tap me on the shoulder…I’ll slow down and explain.

      As long as you stick with it and continue plugging away, things will work for you.

      BTW, site:nameofwebsite.com is the way to find out if your website is still indexed by Google. For example, if I were checking on No Job for Mom, I’d type site:nojobformom.com in the Google search box. It will then let me know how many pages are indexed. If I don’t get any results, that means my site isn’t indexed.

      • Joni says:

        Thanks Felicia. What I usually do it take the words I do not understand and look for them on your site. I’ve heard many website owners and bloggers say if people would READ THE SITE FIRST before asking questions they would find the answer. So I’ve learned to do that. That’s why I try not to make you repeat yourself.

        Boy seems like google is king of the internet….they have so much power don’t they?

        Have a good evening,
        Joni

        • Felicia says:

          Joni, I truly appreciate your “read the site first” method of reviewing and commenting on blogs. I find it frustrating, as do other bloggers, when a new person to the blog either asks a question that is answered just one post over or, brings “new ideas” and “new methods” that have been the blog’s backbone and really aren’t new at all.

          And you’re right about Google. Robert, in another comment, hit the nail on the head. We’ve got to find venues which are not Google based.

  5. Amy Young says:

    Oh and also don’t under estimate the value of a mobile version of all of your sites. My sites that have mobile versions are ranked higher in mobile search. Overall 25% of my best niche site is mobile only traffic!

    This is interesting because reportedly 25% of internet users are “mobile only”.

    The number of Smartphones are now 1 in 3 and it’s projected to become 1 in 2 by the end of this year. Also, 70% of people in Egypt already only use Mobile internet.

  6. kidgas says:

    Felicia,
    I have no doubt that you won’t be in the sandbox too long. This site is great and I am sure that you have done a fine job developing your new one. Just from the pre-box stats, it seems like the site should do rather well.
    kidgas recently posted…April Worst Month for 2010 and 2011My Profile

    • Felicia says:

      If and when it gets out of the sandbox, it should be a nice money maker. Even with very little traffic today, it still managed to earn money.

      We’ll see how long it takes to find its way out of the sandbox.

      • Amy Young says:

        A really cool tool that I found is a free plugin for your wordpress sites. It’s called “traffic getting plugin” by Jeff Johnson this could really help you out. This plug in is great because it gathers all of the plugins you need and shows you how well your site is optimized. You could have a problem with broken links, or just the internal structure since I’m sure you are writing unique content for the site. I think this is why all of my niche sites have actually improved with the panda update.

        Also one of the best tools out there is Market Samurai. However, I still use Adam Short’s Money Word Matrix for determining competition and traffic. Adam’s system is ridiculously easy to understand and use without a tool. I’ve used it and been ranked first page for every keyword I’ve tried for. Evaluate search volume. A keyword is considered excellent if you have greater than 1000 searches and less than 10,000 competing pages. To evaluate competing pages search for that keyword in quotes. It works every time!

  7. Crystal says:

    I love learning along with you, Felicia! There is no way I’m ever going to be able to figure out all this online earning stuff and I sure appreciate you taking the time to document your experiences. I also love how you consistently make lemonade from your lemons. Instead of crying about the sandbox, you’re off accumulating sandbox toys – how productive is that? I can just see you with your little plastic shovel working to fill in the moat that is keeping traffic from your sandcastle:)
    Crystal recently posted…Valuable Lessons We Can All Learn from KidsMy Profile

  8. Deanna says:

    Hi Felicia,

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve been up to. I was wondering, do you only have Google Ads on Site #2 or did the $70 income come from a variety of sources? I am currently building a new site that is focused on one topic and only have Google Ads, Amazon links and Infolinks on it. Would be interested in hearing if you are using anything other than those. Thanks. 🙂
    Deanna recently posted…Examiner Changes Its Payment ModelMy Profile

    • Felicia says:

      Deanna, I’m using Google, Infolinks and Chitika. Although most of the income comes from Google AdSense, I find Infolinks to be a good match for this particular website. As usual, Chitika adds a few pennies here and there.