Google often seems to ignore new websites for the first 6 months or so and it can take up to a year to get a new site the search engine rankings it deserves. Google’s complex and secret algorithms are designed to prevent new entrants to the web from surging straight to the top of the engine rankings. This is commonly referred to as “sandboxing”. So what can new site owners do to minimise this problem?
So what is going on with this google sandbox effect?
It is unclear as to what Google actually does with new websites but it is commonly observed that a new website:
- will get little or no showing in the search engine listings for 6 months to a year
- will get higher than deserved rankings for a short period
- will appear and disappear from the listings intermittently
By new website I mean a website using a brand new domain – it is the domain being new that is relevant – so a new design or the re-launch of a site on an existing domain is not subject to this problem.
Google do not explain what is going on but it seems likely that there are a number of things being considered:
- new websites come and go all the time – so new sites are subject to a probationary period – it is logical to assume that new sites that might not last very long, or prove to be a “flash in the pan” should not be ranked above established sites until they prove themselves
- new sites are being “market tested” by Google by making them more prominent than they otherwise warrant temporarily or intermittently to see if visitors like them
- existing websites are not standing still – they are being actively marketed and as they are already established their new activity carries more weight
- some business areas (and therefore keywords) are much more competitive than others and it is likely to be much harder to break into an area already flooded and aggressively fought over
- often the launch of a new website is supported by a storm of SEO activity (much of it being dubious artificial linking campaigns) – so it is logical to hold a new site back to see how it fares in the longer term
Whatever the rules actually are it is clear than new sites experience mixed and generally unpredictable results in the search engine listings and are at a significant disadvantage generally compared to established sites. Clearly sites that have been around for years and have established a strong position for themselves with good content and regular updates are in a privileged position.
So what can I do to help my new site succeed?
- Get your website up and running as soon as possible. Sadly this does not mean throw up anything or a simple holding page – it needs to be good, appropriate and substantial content otherwise you are giving the wrong message to Google.
- Your text content should be unique – copying content from an existing site isn’t going to give Google any reason to rank you highly (or rank you at all).
- Your content should be useful and informative to your target audience.
- Learn the basics of search engine optimisation and how to target keywords, make sure your website design is search engine friendly and your content is coded semantically.
- Target less popular keywords – I have seen websites go to the top of Google within a few weeks and stay there when there isn’t stiff competition.
- Target a broad range of keywords (that are not very popular) to increase your chances. (Noting that a web page can only practically target a couple of keyword phrases most effectively – the more a single page tries to target the more it gets watered down.)
- Add Google Analytics (monitors site visitors etc) and Google Search Console (checks your site for problems etc) to your site
- Make regular changes to your content, preferably adding more content – you are trying to indicate to Google you have a dynamic site that is worth watching.
- Build up good relevant links to your website but be careful – bad links, inappropriate link networks, links bought on mass can all do more harm than good. Stay clear of dubious SEO linking schemes (and other SEO practices you cannot understand).
- Get involved with Social Media and use this to promote your business and engage your target market.
- Use all normal marketing channels you can to get your site known.
Be patient and keep at it – there are no short cuts. As long as you are adding decent content regularly and getting quality links, your site is most likely to succeed. If you need immediate results you should look at Pay Per Click advertising like Google Adwords or Facebook ads to fill the gap.
We aim to be friendly and informative, providing all the support and guidance you need to steer you clearly and effectively through the web design process and ensure that you end up with a great website.
If you need help with your website please feel free to give me a ring. Regards
Michael Spencer, Web Designer and WordPress Specialist.
email@example.com – 01263 722058
Epsilis Website Designers – Mundesley, Norwich, Norfolk and Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire