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Location: Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom

On a quest for knowledge

February 10, 2005

Is the sandbox no more?

Something big happened to Google's SERp's

Just as I was complaining that little has happened in the SEO forum world, a massive change has happened in the Google SERP’s.

A big debate is still continuing on the Webworkshop SEO Forum - Is the sandbox no more?

What’s actually happened no one can really say for sure just yet but a few days ago a huge chunk of results have been updated with the end result of many webmasters sites seeing drastic changes in their rankings, some good and some bad. What at first sight seems to be a mass sandbox drop e.g. Google removed the sandbox filter from a huge quantity of websites all in one go. But is that really what happened, what are your thoughts?

Some have said it may be the start of a semantic ranking algorithm, while others are saying it may be Google trying to play us with a bit of good old fashioned confusion. A few more people have even said that the only sites that have dropped into the rankings are all either SEO websites or related to SEO in some shape or form e.g. an SEO clients website.

Personally I have seen a few sites that I have been working on affected, all dropping straight onto the first pages for the search phrases optimised. Quite a relief as some of them I have been working on for the last eight months (You can imagine how the clients felt after eight months of SEO with few results). I do not know what happened but I have a strong gut feeling that what we have just witnessed is something to do with the sandbox. If I’m right and it was Google experimenting with the sandbox it begs a few questions.

Is this the end of the sandbox?

Hopefully yes but it may be the start of an even greater type of sandbox. My own thoughts on the sandbox are quite well known and I fail to see how it benefits the webmaster and more importantly the end user. The internet is the fastest moving form of communication we have ever seen and search engines need to reflect that. What use is it if a new trend becomes popular and by the time a webmasters site has come out of the sandbox, the trend has ended. If Google continues using a sandbox type filter, the likes of MSN and Yahoo will defeat them by showing fresh content. The new MSN search already has a search builder that enables you display sites with recently updated content.

Is this the start of something new, a new way the sandbox works?

This could be the one and I just hope it isn’t. Google has made it clear that they do not want people to be able to interfere with their ranking algorithm. What we have seen may be a taste of things to come, a “mass sandbox” type effect where sites are held for a longer period of time and then all released in one go. This could enable Google to test the new SERP’s to spot trouble areas and address them before the new SERP is public.

The above is pure speculation and the truth of what actually happened is probably something completely different. One thing for sure though is something has happened and it is likely to be something big!