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How I’m Circumnavigating the Google Sandbox


Getting Around the Google Sandbox

I mentioned a little while ago that one of my blogs received the kibosh from Google and was tossed in the sandbox. I’m not concerned because it is a new blog and sometimes new blogs get sandboxed. I think what might have triggered my sandbox stint is that I added several posts in one day.

Although my blog seems to be bouncing around in the search results, occasionally landing on page one, the traffic from Google is nowhere near what it was pre-sandbox.

Backlinking for Survival

One of the remedies for being sandboxed is backlinking. When I think of back linking I think about folks who purchase back linking and spinning software. They meticulously spin (and sometimes not so meticulously) their articles and allow the backlinking software to auto submit the spun articles to article directories for backlinks. In addition there’s the Twittering, Facebooking, Digging and other social network backlinks to develop.

That type of backlinking makes me cringe. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. Apparently it’s very effective, but I choose not to do that type of backlinking. Instead, I strapped on my headset, turned on my voice recognition software and dictated 4 different articles on my blog’s topic. Each article approached the subject matter from a different angle. Actually, I used the four most popular search terms folks used to find my blog to decide how to approach each article.

Paid Backlinking

I took each article and placed them on different content sites. In addition to my own content site I used Associated Content, HubPages and Squidoo (AC and Squidoo were new experiences for me).Well-Placed Backlinks

What I liked about Associated Content is that I received an up front payment for the article plus I’m earning residuals. Even better than that, my Associated Content article has been driving a nice steady stream of traffic to my blog. HubPages sent a few readers and I’ve yet to receive any traffic from my Squidoo lens.

Early Results

Okay, being the stats junkie that I am, you knew eventually I’d get around to sharing my numbers. The blog was created on 4/1/2011 and received the Google sandbox smack down on 4/24/2011. The numbers reflect income earned between April 1 and May 14th 2011

Here are the numbers:

Earnings Pre Sandbox (24 days) $68.18
Earnings Post Sandbox (20 days) $86.55
Total Expenses -$10 Domain Registration
Net Profit $144.73


Within the first 44 days of the site’s existence it netted $144.73.  With 22 pages/posts, that comes to an average of $6.57 per post (or $3.28 per day).  This little experiment taught me that it is possible for the site to continue to earn even without Google’s help.

Finding Your Own Way

This method of backlinking works for me because I enjoyed every step of the process. I like writing, I like trying to infuse life into subjects that might otherwise be considered dry (it’s the tech writer in me). I like giving readers what they’re looking for. Oh, and of course, I like earning money.

Spinning articles and submitting them to article directories works for a lot of people. I guess my frugal nature prevents me from spending money on the spinning software and submission services. Additionally, I don’t think the spinning software would do my articles justice.

If spinning, submitting and social networking works for you, by all means do it. Find what works for you and, as Ken says, work it until the wheels fall off.

To use a phrase that caused much controversy here at NJFM: There’s more than one way of skinning a cat (No, I’m not a cat hater so please don’t sick PETA after me).

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Steve May 15, 2011, 10:03 am

    Felicia, I’m still a noob at writing online for a living, but I’ve been playing with both hubpages and squidoo. Hubpages is nice because they use the hub hopping feature for new hubs, so a new hub can generate hits quickly, but they usually are not quality hits. It all depends on the content and subject matter. Unfortunately, after about 3 days, it drops back to normal SEO rules, if the search engines have even found you yet. It would probably help to write a new articles every 3 days and link each of them together as well as your blog site.

    Squidoo I usually use only for backlinks. I still have articles which have no hits, but it mainly is used as backlinks for my hubpages or other blogs. I submit them to search engines and leave them be. I’ve heard you need to submit them to different subjects or something within Squidoo, but I haven’t paid much attention to getting more hits with my Squidoo articles.

    • Felicia May 15, 2011, 11:19 am

      Welcome, Steve. You must be new to NJFM. Read around the blog a bit and you’ll see why I use HubPages/Squidoo and AC as I do.

      • Steve May 16, 2011, 8:50 am

        Thanks, Felicia, I’ve actually been reading for a few months, learning. I know hubpages and squidoo are high PR pages, which makes their backlinks more valuable. I don’t have any experience with AC, but I assume it’s the same. I’ll read some more of your posts on them.

        I enjoy writing, but my heart is more in the fiction area, compared to article writing. I’m trying to get myself into blogging.

        • Felicia May 16, 2011, 10:00 am

          I see where you’re coming from, Steve. It’s just that my goal wasn’t to develop a base of articles on HubPages and Squidoo. I’m using them strictly for backlinks. Associated Content, on the other hand, is surprising me a bit. Actually, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by HubPages too.

  • Loretta May 15, 2011, 1:39 pm

    Felicia, you are my virtual “On-Line Writing for Dummies” guidebook. Although I write frequently, I have yet to explore the resources like those you mention in the current post – Associated Content, HubPages, Squidoo – and other sites referenced previously.

    I once heard someone say that if you sit a bowl of peas in front of a hungry toddler, even if vegetables are not the child’s favorite meal, he will eventually eat them. So, while I am fulfilling my passion for writing (and have been paid for writing in print publications), I am still transitioning from paper to posts, so to speak.

    I am embarrassed to say that I am either confused by the processes or must not be hungry enough to make feeding my bank account – via on-line writing – a priority. You so generously provide your readers with priceless information and I know that by familiarizing myself with some of the sites that you reference, I could get paid. I guess as soon as I figure out which is stronger – my passion for writing or the desire to increase my income with on-line posts (I call it my tortoise and hare syndrome – LOL), I will get my act together and hope to turn my passion into profit. I look forward to your every post and cannot say thank you enough for continuing to provide useful information.

    • Felicia May 15, 2011, 3:35 pm

      Glad to be of help, Loretta. I’m sure you already know how much of a financial difference it is writing for printed media vs. online. There is money to be made if you’re willing to eat your peas (I like that phrase) and be patient.

      Take your time to explore a few of the online writing options. I didn’t realize how many there were until I started taking it seriously. I still haven’t hit my full stride as yet because every time I think I have things figured out, the rules change. 🙂

  • kidgas May 15, 2011, 3:05 pm

    Impressive that your new blog has earned that much in such a short period of time. It seems like the backlinking is helping.

    • Felicia May 15, 2011, 3:37 pm

      I think the backlinking is definitely helping. I’ve also found that the other search engines are now indexing the site so things seem to be picking up.

  • Tom May 16, 2011, 9:29 am

    $144.73 in profit in six weeks for a brand new blog is very impressive. What’s the revenue source here? AdSense? You don’t have to reveal the subject matter but I’m very impressed (and encouraged) that one can earn revenue from a new blog so quickly!

    • Felicia May 16, 2011, 10:02 am

      Tom, I use AdSense, Infolinks, Chitika, Amazon and I have links to related affiliate products.

      The earnings are trending as follows:

      AdSense: 60%
      Infolinks: 20% (I am increasingly impressed with Infolinks…not just on this blog, but on my others too)
      Affiliate: 19%
      Chitika: 1%
      Amazon: 0

      I think I’m going to focus a bit more on the affiliate products as soon as I’m finished writing the core information. I don’t want AdSense to be the major contributor to this blog’s income.

  • Maria (WriterGig) May 16, 2011, 10:12 am

    Felicia, I stay away from backlink software and services too and have never used spun content or PLR articles. For the niches I care most about, I’m writing my own backlink articles, and have seen great results from Ezine Articles.
    I’ve also used eHow, HubPages and Squidoo for backlinks, among others.

    Have you thought about creating a Facebook page for your niche blog? I do get traffic from my Facebook fan pages to my niche sites.

    • Felicia May 16, 2011, 10:40 am

      That’s an idea, but I’m not a Facebooker. I pretty much stay away from all of the social networking platforms. I know I may be forfeiting potential traffic, but I find all the social networking scene a bit too noisy for me. 🙂

  • ken May 16, 2011, 12:57 pm

    Felicia, I love your stats. Glad to know there are other “stat junkies”. Maybe we need a support group..lol
    With regards to the spinning….I would recommend spinning your own articles yourself and making them as unique as possible. The spinning software I have seen is just not worth the investment. One other thing I would add Felicia, “content syndication”. Ezine articles is great for syndication without having to “spin” at all. Place a great informational article on your blog or site first and allow time for it to get indexed. Take the exact article and place it on Ezine with a killer Resource box pointing back to your site or blog, preferable a different page than the article. The article on Ezine will bring you more traffic, but it also might get picked up by someone else in your niche who has a large subscriber base. They republish your article in its entirety along with your resource box. The opportunity for even more traffic is fantastic.

  • Allison May 16, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Although I don’t use spun content on my blogs and have never used it to create backlinks before, I’ve found that using PLR articles is sometimes helpful for newsletter content. Newsletters are a great way to promote return readership on your blog, and PLR articles are like free bonus content for your readers. Just my two cents.

    • Felicia May 16, 2011, 1:33 pm

      Thanks Ken and Allison for the suggestions. Something else for me to consider.

  • Robert May 16, 2011, 5:18 pm

    Hello, Felicia! Did your site’s time out in the sandbox happen to coincide with putting links to other advertising services?

    • Felicia May 17, 2011, 6:38 am

      No, Robert. I had the site up and running for 3 1/2 weeks (ads and all) prior to being put in the sandbox.

      Here’s my theory on why it’s in the sandbox. I think it went into the sandbox because I’ve been actively adding a lot of new content in a short period of time. I have other new blogs where I only add one new post each month and they were never put in the sandbox. I know because they received traffic and continued to rank well for certain keywords.

      I think (and again, this is my theory) that since Google is attempting to weed out spammy blogs, it saw that I was adding a lot of content in a short period of time they placed me in the sandbox to make sure I wasn’t spam.

      The day after I added three posts in one day was the day that I ended up in the sandbox. This is fine because the blog is doing well in the sandbox. I believe that when it finally comes completely out of the sandbox it will be a real money maker.

  • Bill Swan May 16, 2011, 6:27 pm

    Is this the only blog that got “sandboxed”? You do know that occurrence gives you yet another topic to form a blog over. Heck, people looking to deal with “sandboxing” could use it to guide themselves using advice from an experienced writer.

    • Felicia May 17, 2011, 7:03 am

      Unfortunately, this isn’t the first and only time I’ve got a chance to play in the sandbox. I have a few old posts here on NJFM about my time in the sand.

      Somewhere on my “To Do” list I’m supposed to organize NJFM in a fashion to make it easier to find posts on certain topics. Your comment reminded me of that buried item. Hopefully I’ll get around to it over the summer.

  • Alexander Mark May 18, 2011, 3:01 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote this. Recently I checked out a few articles on Hubpages from writers I respect that explained what backlinking is and why it’s not really a good method. One of them doesn’t make a living writing and the other one who does, has mixed views on backlinking. After reading this, I think I’ll take advice from the woman who makes money. Thank you again.

    • Felicia May 19, 2011, 6:54 am

      Alexander, I would suggest that you experiment for yourself. If you have several blogs or articles, try back linking a few and not backlinking the others. I’m not saying that back linking doesn’t work, what I am saying is the process of using social media and sending a host of articles to directories and other sites for back linking purposes is not something that I’m willing to do.

      I am willing to write a few articles and strategically place them on a couple of sites but nothing more than that. I believe that if you write quality, the back linking will take care of itself. Backlinking will build the traffic faster, but I’d rather spend my time doing other things. 🙂

  • Tashana July 5, 2011, 5:41 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    Question for you and/or anyone on the forum – is article spinning software something freelancers should have in their writing arsenal? Or, is it kind of like doing keyword stuffing for the Google search engines?

    I don’t know anything about this software, save what I just looked up on the ole internet. So, any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks everyone

    • Felicia July 6, 2011, 6:20 am

      Tashana, I don’t use it, but some folks do. As a writer, I write…I don’t spin.

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