No, Google Sitemaps enhance a site's crawlability, which is a good thing as part of a long-term SEO strategy, but even perfectly crawlable sites can get 'sandboxed'. To escape Google's probation period (a.k.a. 'sandbox') you must tweak other factors.

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First of all, the term Google Sandbox is pretty generic and often misleading, because it is used to name a bunch of different things. The most common understanding is that the sandbox effect hinders a new Web site to rank fair in Google's search results for at least six months, often longer. Most sandbox theories are pretty vague, because only a few search engine experts understand spam filtering and the process of indexing a new site. 99.9% out of everything you can read on the Web about Google sandboxig new Web sites is utterly nonsense, written by disappointed Webmasters who lost their Google traffic. It makes no sense to explain such an undefined catchword, so lets sandbox the sandbox for a while, and lets talk facts.

Before Google can crawl a new site, it must discover it. Google Sitemaps can alert Google to a new site, but as far as we know today the deep crawling doesn't start before Google has discovered external links pointing to the new site. That was the preferred method for ages, and it seems Google didn't change this preference.

Next the crawling engine must learn how to communicate with the new site. First it caches DNS information, and determines the canonical name. Then Googlebot tries a few HTTP 1.0 requests measuring download rates and such stuff. If that works fine for a while, Googlebot-Mozilla comes by doing HTTP 1.1 requests, testing in which frequency crawlers can hammer the server. If the new site is on a shared IP address, this process can take a few months, and probably the new site's pages will not get any (or at least not all the deserved) PageRank assigned for a while.

Parallel to the technical evaluation, Google tries to figure out what the new site is all about. As a matter of fact, nowadays a search engine cannot trust the on-the-page content (delivered to crawlers) and anchor text from internal linkage to determine a Web site's overall theme(s) and its sub-topics. On the other hand Google has a pretty good idea about the authorities on the Web, so they can use inbound links to double check the new content's quality. It makes no sense for Google to speculate about actual theming, before the new site has attracted a reasonable amount of links from authority pages on it's desired topic. Until a few pages got a trust bonus via inbound links from topical authorities, Google cannot and will not use untrusted and unchecked stuff in search results for quality reasons.

There are a lot of other signs of quality checked by Google, before a new Web site makes it on the SERPs. For example the uniqueness of its contents, since flooding the search results with duplicates, near duplicates or variants of well known stuff doesn't fit Google's mission of "organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful". Natural linkage is another very important criteria. Statistical anomalies in a new site's linkage data do elongate the probation period. Google can detect topical phenomenons producing spikes and should handle those huge amounts of fresh links earned in a short period of time accordingly in most cases. Google likes smoothly growing, user friendly Web sites providing unique content and linking to original content from within the content best.

Go ahead and create a time table from the above said. Look at your site and honestly date milestones like naturally earned authority links, reaching a 'critical mass' of unique content, and so on. Count the weeks or months to get the estimated time to index. If you've done a good job, that's the duration of your new site's probation period. If not, you've entered an extended probation period, also known as 'the sandbox', and nobody except Google can tell you how long you'll live without free traffic from Google.

Unfortunately, caused by hardcore spammers flooding search indexes with crap, this procedure comes with a lot of pitfalls. Even some experienced Webmasters still crank out new Web sites with thousands of pages, donate a few high PageRank links from within their network, submit the site to a few directories, send out a couple of press releases etc., and wonder why the new site ranks fine at Yahoo!, Ask and MSN, but stays invisible at Google, despite its increasing overall PageRank. It pays to hire an experienced consultant before the launch, because most of the old fashioned (respectively established) SEO tactics, repeated to death by each and every search engine marketing resource out there, simply don't work anymore, and the few experts in the field don't hand out free advice any more.

However, if a smart and experienced Webmaster, following Google's written and unwritten guidelines, does everything right, her or his new site can gain fair rankings at Google quite instantly. Not all new sites suffer from mysterious 'sandbox symptoms'. If a new site does not appear in searches, the Webmaster should look for homemade flaws and fix them, instead of whining about an unfair and oh so unavoidable sandbox penalty. Sitting back in resignation prolongates the probation period, since inactivity doesn't eleminate its causes.

Recap:

  • Get professional advice from the beginning.
  • Get a fast and reliable server and a dedicated IP address.
  • Get a search engine friendly content management system (CMS), e-shopping mall ...
  • Soft launch your site to shorten the technical evaluation period.
  • Provide a whole bunch of original content to attract natural inbound links, even with e-commerce sites.
  • Don't run wild, let your site's traffic (measured by inbound links) grow naturally, keeping a reasonable new links / fresh content ratio.
  • Link out to great original content from within your content, not from a links page.

Disclaimer: This article is not meant as a guide to escape Google's 'sandbox' or so, because it omits important details.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What is the best tool to create a Google Sitemap for my Web site?Next Page

Previous PageWill a Google Sitemap increase my PageRank?


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Author: Sebastian
Last Update: Friday, October 28, 2005 [DRAFT]   Web Feed

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