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Life in the Sandbox

Where is My Websinte?

Where Did My Site Go?

As a blogger or webmaster, one of the last things you want to hear is that your site is in the Google sandbox. To some it is a fate worst than death. Once in the sandbox site owners lament, question why and attempt to work feverishly to get out of it.

It is what it is

As mentioned previously, one of my new sites is in the Google sandbox. The other day I went looking for it and I found it on the 19th page of Google search results. It wasn’t even at the top of the 19th page it was near the bottom of the 19th page. As far as I’m concerned, it is firmly in the sandbox (as is confirmed by the Sandbox Checker tool).

To combat that, I wrote four articles submitted them to content sites on which I will receive residual income. The articles are doing a nice job of sending traffic my way.  Unless I am so inspired, I don’t think I’ll be creating any more articles in an attempt to back link to this site. I’m noticing the back links are beginning to take on a life of their own.

I’ve since received back links from a public library and another information site. Instead of spending time back linking I’m going to spend the remainder of my time writing content and building the site.

Snapshot of Traffic Sources

In addition to Google analytics, I use Statcounter to check my daily page views and traffic sources. Here’s a snapshot of my Search Engine Wars page from my Statcounter account. As you can see Google accidentally sent me a visitor. I believe that one Google click was because of an image and not so much for the content.

Search Engine Wars

Sharing Numbers

I created the site April 1, 2011. It went into the sandbox on or about April 21, 2011. As of May 31, 2011 I earned over $200 on my sandboxed site. Below is a listing of the earnings for the site


Why the high earnings?

I think the reason for the high return of earnings on my sandboxed site is because of the niche and targeted keywords. The niche is not unique and there are lots of sites on the topic. What makes my site different is that I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m not selling a product or a service. I guess you can say that compiling the site is the service.

In essence, I’m researching and consolidating information to make it easier for my readers to find the answers they want. The information I’m providing isn’t unique and is freely available on the internet. What makes my site different is that I’m taking all of the information digesting it and putting it all on one site.

Emerging from the sandbox

When and if the site ever emerges from the Google sandbox, I fully expect the site to take off and become a really nice moneymaker. However, if it never comes out of the Google sandbox, I fully expect this site to take off and become a moneymaker. It will take longer without Google but that’s fine. Either way, I look at this site as a success for several reasons:

  1. It taught me not to rely on Google for the major source of my traffic.
  2. It forces me to concentrate on what’s really important – the reader.
  3. It’s inspirational to me that a new site can earn money right out of the box with little or no help from Google.
  4. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to earn money online. My out of pocket expense included purchasing the domain name.

The Facilitator

In the past I’ve written about writing for love and writing for money. This one seems to be an odd mixture of both. The subject matter is not one that makes my heart skip a beat every time I think about it. But, the ability to research, locate the information, consolidated into a user-friendly fashion to help folks who otherwise would not find this information…now that makes my heart skip a beat.

Back when I worked in the insurance industry, I called myself a facilitator. I had to facilitate the meeting of the minds between the client and the insurance company. It wasn’t always easy, but we got it done. I think of this latest site as the facilitator between the reader and the information sought. It’s not always easy (the Google obstacle), but it will be done

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Alicia June 1, 2011, 12:31 pm

    This is very inspiring. I really enjoy this blog. Thank you so much for your tips. Like you said concentrating on the reader is very important. With so much competition, new sites need to be unique and offer something different that other sites do not. Thanks again for sharing your online experience.

  • ShelleyD June 1, 2011, 11:18 pm

    I must agree with Alicia. Since I’ve discovered you (yes, you have been discovered)about a month ago, I find myself wanting to respond to every post. Each one is filled with something I can use.

    I started a blog about a year ago, very similar in nature. It was my journal of the in’s and out’s of blogging, a learner’s path. I had done some freelance work in the past and had wanted to make it work, but became discouraged.

    Thank you!

    Because of you, I’m finding encouragement to try again.

  • Alexander Mark June 2, 2011, 6:03 am

    You’ve hit on my own unique talent – I suppose a talent shared by many good writers (don’t mean to be immodest), the ability to gather information and regurgitate in a readable one-stop format. You’ve really encouraged me today, although I am having a hard time understanding all the details of measuring site success with all those great tools. What really blows me away is that Google sends you one hit while Yahoo and Bing are much more helpful. There really IS a difference between search engines – I never thought that was the case.

    Thank you!

    • Felicia June 2, 2011, 6:33 am

      I’m with you guys. As I chronicle my online writing journey, I’m coming to the realization that anything is possible as long as you stick with it. This holds true with freelance writing and anything else we put our minds to.

      The step-by-step process and the day-by-day journey have given me the confidence to take on tasks that I previously thought were too hard to do. Now I know I can do it if I take it one step at a time.

      Alexander, don’t let the online tools overwhelm you. I started with one tool and then discovered another and then another. Over time I added tools to my arsenal. To give you an idea of my learning curve, I had two websites up and running online for quite some time before I “discovered” Google AdSense. I didn’t even realize I could earn money with my sites.

      ShelleyD, I’m glad you’ve decided to give it a try again. You’ve got nothing to lose and much to gain.

  • Elizabeth June 2, 2011, 10:10 am

    Hey Felicia,

    All of these changes have really shifted my focus. I just changed my blog to focus more on self-employment instead of just freelance writing. I still am the Ceramics feature writer for Suite, and I will continue to do that as long as I can. I’ve always diversified my income though, and now I am very glad that I have. All of these changes are such a shock to the system for writing folks. Thanks so much though for staying positive and providing such valuable information, as always.


  • Alina Bradford June 2, 2011, 2:54 pm

    Ooo! I had no idea about the Sandbox Checker! Thanks for the great link!

  • Amanda June 4, 2011, 12:10 am

    I think it will take me way more time that I thought to understand what this Google sandbox is. Lately, I have moved my blogger site to a self-hosted. The sandbox tool says my blog is in sandbox, but when I check the analytics, I find the majority of the visits is from Google, either organic or referral. Isn’t it weird?

    I love the step-by-step process as you explained in the comment above. It makes me think that everything is possible, no matter how difficult it may seem. Thanks.

    • Felicia June 4, 2011, 8:49 am

      Amanda, the sandbox basically means that your site isn’t getting as much Google love as it possibly could. The site I refer to above shows drastic numbers because it is so new and gets little traffic as a new site. However, I have a more established site that paid a visit to the Google sandbox.

      That site used to receive about 1,000 hits a day. Then I noticed the traffic dwindled to about 500 to 600 hits a day. I was still getting a large number of organic hits from Google, but the pages that used to show up on page one of the search results were no longer on page one, they were buried deep within the bowels of the search results. The percentage of hits from Google went from about 95% to about 60 or 65%. The site eventually came out of the sandbox and traffic returned.

      I’m quickly learning that the sandbox isn’t such a bad place to be.

      As far as everything being possible, I believe it is. As the old joke goes:

      Q: How do you eat an elephant?
      A: One bite at a time.

      That’s my philosophy when faced with a situation that seems impossible. I take it one bite at a time.

  • William Tha Great June 4, 2011, 12:53 pm

    Hey Felicia,

    I believe my site is in the sandbox also. Somedays I can recieved tons of visits from Google, and then others I barely recieve any. It’s wierd, but I think I might need to focus more on building links to my site through my writing. That is a steady way to get traffic, but it takes a long time. Well, atleast for me it takes a long time. ( :

    I thinking about getting back into my guest writing rhythm.

    God bless,
    William Veasley

  • Kristine June 5, 2011, 3:58 am

    Your post made me curious. I just checked all of my sites, and found one in the sandbox. It’s something that’s take off through social media, and I haven’t even done any SEO with it, so it’s not a huge deal, but interesting.

  • Anna June 13, 2011, 12:18 pm

    I thought one of my sites was in the sandbox last week. It went for two days receiving absolutely no traffic at all, but then it suddenly bounced back. Not that I’m complaining — I just have no idea what was going on! This website/SEO stuff is so incredibly unpredictable, and for now Google makes all the rules!

  • Gisela July 29, 2011, 10:43 pm

    I am so grateful to have found your blog, I’ve spent the last few days reading over it (and loving it) and reading your free ebook as well.

    Back in 2009 I used to write for Helium & Associated Content and made decent money but then they changed and it wasn’t worth it anymore so I stopped altogether. Recently I came across my old Helium articles and have contacted them to restore my account. The job market being what it is today, along with my poor health have lead me back working from home as a virtual assistant and has reawakened my love of writing. So much has changed, I’m so glad there are resources like your blog to help those of us who are in essence new to freelance writing today.

    I do have a question about blogging, over the last few days I have set up a few blogger blogs to test the field with. How do you drive traffic to blogs?

    • Felicia July 30, 2011, 8:06 am

      Gisela, welcome to NJFM. Your comment and a few others inspired today’s post. Hopefully it (and a few of the links therein) will provide some info on how to get started. The one thing you’ll have to have is an abundance of is patience. 🙂

      • Gisela July 30, 2011, 3:40 pm

        Thanks Felicia! I can’t wait to read it. I have always been extremely patient (for most things that is, lol). I’m hoping to apply and get accepted to Demand Studios and a few other content sites as well that I’ve been researching. Thanks for all the inspiration 🙂

  • D. Heath August 7, 2011, 8:50 pm

    Thank you so much for showing me this website. I had some suspicions about one of my sites, I was just paranoid, lol.

  • Michael August 23, 2011, 7:08 pm

    Funny, I seem to have the opposite problem. I rank well in Google but am nowhere to be found for most keyword phrases in Yahoo or Bing. I wonder how you get noticed by them.

    • Felicia August 24, 2011, 7:30 am

      It takes a while for Bing and Yahoo to notice new sites.

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