So what is the Google "Sandbox"?
The Google Sandbox or the "Google Aging Delay" is a much debated restriction that Google places on new websites so that they can not rank "well" in its search results for a certain amount of time. This time is supposedly to allow Google to determine weather a site is trustworthy and legal or spam. While a website said to be in the sandbox may have many strong incoming links and lots of unique and useful content, it will fail to rank high for the search terms it is aiming to be ranked for.
Why do some sites not get "Sandboxed"?
Some sites are just plain lucky to avoid the "Sandbox" and some are trying to rank in an industry that Google will consider not extremely competitive. Let's say you have a site offering "Information On Local Badminton Clubs On The Aran Islands". Google's job is to help users find relevant results. This site would be relevant and would be far less subject to spam compared to a site geared towards "Making Money Online" which has many fly by night websites trying to spam their "latest get rich scheme" into the index. It should also be noted that even if a site is subject to the "Sandbox" effect, it can still rank pretty well for what is called Long Tail results. But that is a nice advanced topic for another day.
So I'm in, how do I get out?
Unfortunately, there is no sure fire way to get out of the Google "Sandbox". There are theories that suggest placing your site on a subdomain of an established site and then using a 301 redirect to your domain once established. This is less than desirable for a variety of reasons, among them being no proof really exists for this and what company wants to be a parasite on another company's website? All you can really do is wait.
So how long?
Now here is where it gets interesting. While there is no data freely available on the aging delay Google imposes on new sites, it does seem to vary from site to site. Sometimes it looks like it's based simply on the mood Google is in. However, one thing that is almost certain is that the time spent in the "Sandbox" is directly affected by a trust factor for your site / domain. This brings us to TrustRank. I will be covering this in more detail later, but for now, lets just say that Google gives a certain level of "trust" to your site based on many factors. One of them being the age of your domain. Let's just say a new sandboxed site on a 10 year old domain would almost certainly be out of the sandbox before a site in similar terms on a recently registered domain.
So I just have to wait?
Yes and no. Yes you have to wait, but no, you can get to work on your sites trust and authority in the meanime. Use the time in the "Sandbox" to create quality content and get relevant links from entities in your field. Use this time to make sure your sites on page SEO factors discussed in my previous post (10 SEO tips) are so unpredictable that when you do come out of the Sandbox, your ready.
What if I get in Google's good books?
Some people think that joining AdSense and using Google's products like AdWords and Google Checkout will help. This is simply just not true.
Is there a Yahoo or MSN Live "Sandbox"?
Currently there is nothing as extreme as the Google "Sandbox" effect applied to sites in the Yahoo! or MSN Live index, although recently it has become similar that Yahoo! is placing a "waiting" time on inbound links before it allows them to have any measurable effect. This time varies depending again on the authority and permanence of the inbound links.
OK, that's pretty much all the basic Google "Sandbox" questions that I get via email covered. Please be aware that this is still a theory based on educated observations and Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm with changes and sometimes crazy updates.