Let’s say that you’ve spent a lot of time and energy building a really great website, or hopefully hired Secure Digital Technology Group to do so, only to find that no one can find it and Google doesn’t rank your site very high when you search by your search terms. You hear about a thing called “search engine optimization” and decide to give it a try. Before you go adding your keywords to every element of your pages and building links any way you can, take a step back and remind yourself of the old saying, “sometimes less is more”.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, has really taken off over the last decade as more and more fledgling businesses have created websites, only to find that no one comes to visit. To get an intro into SEO, read this blog posts. As small businesses search around for ways to get more visitors, most of them quickly find resources on how to optimize a website for search engines such as google and bing and go right to work sprinkling keywords everywhere and building links from any place they can get them.
This may causes problems for a search engine because, lets face it, you are trying to manipulate the search results and they are trying to avoid being manipulated. After all, just because YOU think your site is a great resource on a topic doesn’t mean that it is. Google has already adjusted for the small business that is over-optimizing their website, and its called the Google “sandbox”. The sandbox is a name that disgruntled web marketers have given to the situation where a newly created website that should rank well for a keyword is nowhere to be found in the rankings, only to suddenly appear one day several months down the road.
The “sandbox” is really just a place for google to determine the validity of the content and the site. Meaning that Google looks at many attributes of your site to determine if you are attempting to manipulate the search rankings. The most obvious traps that most beginner SEO companies fall into, I believe, is over-optimizing your on-page content and building too many low quality links too fast. To learn more about proper link building, click here.
The newer your domain is, the less tolerance Google has for over-optimization of pages, or suspiciously fast link building. Once you trip the filter, you’re placed in the “sandbox”, because Google suspects you of trying to manipulate the results.
Ask yourself these questions to avoid over-optimization penalties:
- Is your title a single target keyword phrase and nothing else?
- Is your keyword phrase found in several of the following locations: title, header, sub-headers, bold or italicized words?
- Does the page read differently that you would normally speak?
- Are you in a competitive industry that is frequented by spammers?
- Have you acquired a large number of low PageRank links quickly?
- Do you have very few high PageRank (6+) links pointing to your site?
In summary, the current theory about Googles “sandbox” is that it is actually more like a holding place where the Google investigates your website when it is suspected of possibly trying to manipulate the search results. As the domain ages, most sites eventually gain enough “trust” to escape the sandbox and immediately start ranking where they normally would.
Its important to understand that Google is not manually ranking every website – in the end it is simply a computer algorithm and those who are able to score well in Googles algorithm without tripping any filters will achieve top rankings. If you would like help with SEO, please contact us for a free website analysis and report on how your site is ranking for keywords that you’re interested in.