This thread is sort of a rant/truths about a google sandbox and penalty. I, like many out there, am getting sick of the constant threads of "my site has been sandboxed/penalized after I made 3 links to it". Then more people come in and spew more misinformation about what's happening like they know what they're talking about because of what they read somewhere. Probably more misinformation spewed by some other noob who knows nothing about SEO. So what is the truth? Well, let's see what Matt Cutts says: Interview November 16, 2005 Code: http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/002809.html Q: Does the sandbox exist? A: Matt said here comes the audience part? How many feel there is a sandbox? How many feel there is no such thing as a sandbox? SEOs normally split down the line. There are some things in the algorithm that may be perceived as a sandbox that doesn't apply to all industries. He knows it works to keep some spam out. My Interpretation: Were trying to scare you by passing around misinformation. There is a sandbox like effect for some industries but not all. Question about penalties: Q: Do you guys ever do hand tweaks of the results? A: For the most part, we let the algorithm do all the work. However, Google News uses editor trust. PageRank uses hyperlinks by humans. Google does not have the ability to hand boost any site, or hand boost any pagerank. They can penalize sites if they are spam, manually. Legal reasons and spam reasons for penalizing sites (also viruses). They try not to differentiate large sites versus small sites, they remove both. Our goal is to return the most relevant results. My Interpretation: If you're running a spam or illegal site (most likely trademark or copyright infringements) or infecting computers than they will manually penalize you. What does wikipedia say? According to the sandbox effect, Google temporarily reduces the page rank of new domains, placing them into what is referred to as its "sandbox", in an effort to counter the ways that search engine optimizers attempt to manipulate Google's page ranking by creating lots of inbound links to a new web site from other web sites that they own. Some SEO experts also claim that the sandbox only applies to highly competitive or broad keyword phrases, and can be counteracted by targeting narrow, or so-called long-tail phrases. Interpretation: Nobody knows for sure and only speculates. Another interview with Matt Cutts: Code: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/1714909/googles-matt-cutts-the-big-interview What's a sandbox, Matt? "Some people have asked, "does this apply to newer sites?" Essentially, the way to think about it is, around 2003 Google switched to a new method of updating its index. Before that we had monthly Google dances. So as a result, new data is always being folded into the index. It's not like there was one pivotal moment when anyone cans say, "Hah! This is the change!" In fact, even at different data centers we have different binaries, different algorithms, different types of data always being tested. "I think a lot of what's perceived as the sandbox is artifacts where, in our indexing, some data may take longer to be computed than other data." Interpretation: What people think is a sandbox is really a google dance due to indexing. Do you really want to wait 9 months at Google for good, relevant data to become available. Or would you like to produce fresh new stuff as soon as it's available? "Well we do want it there as soon as it's available. In fact, some things like our news crawl and blog search can find stuff within minutes of it being live. So there's always a tradeoff between how much do you trust certain pages how much do you rank certain pages. And the best advice I can give is don't worry or over think or try to strategize too hard over is -- or isn't -- there a sandbox. Just make a great site, with great content and a normal reason why people would want to link to you and visit your site. A compelling reason why people would want to link to your site. And that's going to help you capture the mind of the blogosphere and that's really the best way to let search engines find out about you too." Interpretation: Stop with the sandbox obsessions What's the final word? People like to promote hysteria and this works to Google's benefit. It freaks people out into becoming more compliant so they are extremely paranoid to break any "rules". And you know what? It works. I come here day after day seeing thread after thread about penalties and sandboxes. I see so many sandboxes and penalties here that I feel like were playing soccer on the beach. Give it a rest people and learn how to improve your rankings instead of freaking out about this mysterious sandbox that may or may not exist. Instead of asking people if your site is sandboxed start spending some time reading about SEO. Now go make some money!