Sandbox, Ever-Flux, or the Google Yo-Yo Effect

[ page last updated: Oct. 21, 2005. ]

I think TechBlog has just been sandboxed. For those who are not already familiar with this term (and i wasn’t until recently), it refers to a theory that new sites will get indexed by google, ranking quite well at first and then disappear (for months) from the search engine entirely. Also referred to as the yo yo effect [SearchGuild.com], or ever-flux, these sites usually reappear after a while.. as long as they continue to produce fresh content and relevent links.

Since TechBlog has been online for less than a month, it would definitely be classified as a new site. The site validates as XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2.0, there is plenty of relevant content, and lots of anchored text. It ranked #116 in Google for the term: “techblog”. That’s not bad for just a few weeks online. Yesterday it dropped to #118, and today it is completely gone; only sites with inbound links remained. Very weird, and so i did some research.. and hence this post. I’d like to think that i followed all the (unwritten) rules – maybe too well – and so obviously google got suspicious. But now that i’ve got googlebot’s attention, i need to keep on posting, and try not to do anything that might get the site flagged (blacklisted).

Some changes made recently that may have contributed or caused this to happen are:

  1. Changed the description metatag
  2. Changed the keywords metatag
  3. Added WordPress Plugin: Rewrite-titles
  4. Added WordPress Plugin: Google SiteMaps
  5. Posted for 2 weeks then nothing for 3 days

Most advice seems to point at the need for continuing to develop the site despite being delisted, and keep updating it. Do not panic, that sort of thing. We’ll see how it goes.

Follow up: As of yesterday (July 26, 2005), this site started showing up on google results pages again. After 12 days in a box, it’s good to be indexed again. All i did was post regularly, and do my thing. i guess i passed the google test, because the site ranked #102 (yesterday) for the term “techblog”. although today it seems to have fallen to #105. still an improvement though..

Follow up #2: Great News! As of yesterday (July 30, 2005), this site ranked #44 for the term “techblog”. Then something remarkable happened. Today (July 31, 2005), the site turned up on page 1, ranking at #5. that’s quite a jump. no rank to #5 in 15 days.

Follow up #3: Not So Great News.. As of yesterday (Aug 09, 2005), this site ranked #8 for the term “techblog”. Then for some strange reason, today (Aug. 10, 2005), the site dropped to page 4, ranking at #33. bummer.

Follow up #4: Soon Afterwards – A few days later (Aug 12, 2005), this site fell a little further, ranking #43 for the term “techblog”. the only thing that i noticed since the drop, was that google was indexing the lite version (?style=lite) instead of the main homepage. Then, today (Aug. 16, 2005), the site climbed out of the fifth page and up to #40.

Follow up #5: A New Low – Only 4 days later (Aug 20, 2005), the site fell even lower, ranking #56 for the term “techblog”. Google is no longer indexing the lite version (?style=lite) of this site and is once again listing the main homepage. Not much else to report except that the google cache for TechBlog has finally been updated (after almost a week).

Follow up #6: How Low can you Go – 10 days later (Aug 30, 2005), the site fell much lower, ranking #96 for the term “techblog”. Google is indexing the site properly, and the drop is probably the result of my current obsession with redesigning this site. Hopefully, more posting will prop the site back up.

Follow up #7: The Yo-Yo Effect at it’s best – 8 days have passed (Sep 07, 2005), and the site hit an all time low, ranking at #112 for the term “techblog”. But then cut straight back to the top, landing on page 2 with a rank of #19. Not exactly sure why.

Follow up #8: Up and up – another 8 days since the last follow up (Sep 15, 2005), and the site is back on page 1, ranking at #9 for the term “techblog”. It fell slightly from the #6 spot two days earlier (thanks to a generous link from techcrunch.com)

Follow up #9: Smooth and steady – over a month has passed since the last follow up (Oct 21, 2005), and the site remain on page 1, ranking at #4 for the term “techblog”. Also, to my surprise, the site has been given a Google Page Rank of 3. Some pages, like the “Extended Live Archives” post even got a PR4. Finally, all that work has paid off.

Comments 5

  1. Shotgun Shells Enthusiast wrote:

    I’m glad you got out of the sandbox. I think that I’m currently in the sandbox. Interestingly, I’ve been aiming for best rankings on the term “shotgun shells”. I’m #1 on MSN for that term. But Yahoo and Google haven’t been so kind. But just today, I jumped from #89 to #9 on yahoo!

    Still, on Google, I’m #291 and haven’t moved in a while… but yet I’m #1 on Google for “shotgun shells” when doing an allinanchor search. Normally whoever is #1 on allinanchor is #1 in the regular results. Also, my pagerank is 0.

    All evidence points to the sandbox, even though I do show up suprisingly high in the regular Google results for some more specific type searches.

    The web site has been up for a month now and I’m wondering, WHEN am I going to get out of this sandbox?

    Forgive me for not knowing… but when did you start your web site? I’m curious so that I can gauge your progress points in terms of time since you started it.

    Posted 18 Nov 2005 at 5:06 pm
  2. Shotgun Shells Enthusiast wrote:

    oops. maybe I spoke too soon about Yahoo… Now I’m back at #88. They seem to do this fluxuating thing lately for me. Except it flips mere hours apart. (conflicting datacenter?)

    Posted 18 Nov 2005 at 5:57 pm
  3. elran wrote:

    hey there,

    i started this site in early June of this year. in the first month things were definitely unstable. up one day, down the next. i took a quick look at your site as well as some of the others who ranked above you and it doesn’t look like you are doing anything wrong. i would guess that it takes at least a month to get out of the sandbox. i would suggest adding even more content (text) and add inbound links (from other sites) to improve your chances of ending up on the first page for google searches. msn and yahoo searches seem to be more forgiving of “new” sites than google is. i think pageranks are only recalculated every 3 months so you got a while to go till then. but as you probably already know, ranking well on google is about more than just inbound links, keywords, allinanchor, etc. it’s a combination of all these factors (some say over 100). so don’t rely on any one factor, and be patient. try and cover as many of these factors without overdoing any particular one. study your competition’s sites and try to put yourself in your customers’ or visitors’ shoes. how would they go about finding you? how would you like to be found? anyway, good luck to you.

    also, maybe you could use one of these tools to help in your analysis:
    keyword tool and ultimate seo tool

    Posted 19 Nov 2005 at 1:47 am
  4. Stephen wrote:

    I started this site back in August and almost instantly hit page 1 to 2 on Google. I stayed there for 2 months then around 1st November just disappeared for 12 days then reappeared at 10 or 11 and stayed there for 4 to 5 days and again vanished.

    The only Google rule I may have broken is using Seoquake on my Firefox browser and Market Samurai for rank checking (automated checkers are not acceptable to Google). Would this bring the dreaded sandbox into affect? Will the “ban” be temporary. I am number 1 on Yahoo Canada and 11 on MSN for the keyword “Play Classical Guitar” I think around 25 on Yahoo worldwide, but all except MSN (Bing) have been fluctuating somewhat. My site is new and I am social networking writing articles and building back links pretty fast. Is it the speed of things that is hurting me or just Google/Yahoo and their algorithms?

    Posted 26 Nov 2009 at 10:28 pm
  5. Valentine Krolick wrote:

    Cord Blood banking

    Posted 21 Dec 2016 at 7:02 pm

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