Google Sandbox, Stop the Insanity

For those of you in the industry you’ve now doubt heard of the infamous “sandbox”. For those of you not in the trade, here’s the cliff notes version:

The sandbox is an alleged penalty or filter that is applied to new websites to prevent them from ranking for “money” or other popular search terms.

If you want to read more check out any of the search engine or webmaster forums, or search for it.

Depending on who you ask the sandbox phenomenon has been going on for about a year now. Many people, including myself have theories about what it is, why it’s happening and how to get out. It seems every week someone will start a sandbox thread on one of the forums. While it may be with the best of intentions and may include some actual data or valid observations, what inevitably winds up happening is it declines into an ethics debate or a whine session. Sometimes the ethics threads split off and are longer and have more postings that the thread that spawned them. However the whining threads are the ones that really tick me off.

In the last year to to year and half, in case you didn’t notice Google started to grow up. They became a public traded company that has household brand recognition. Now here’s the part many people missed, Google is not your friend. They are a business, who’s purpose is to provide a service. They provide that service as a means to make money, period. They are not your local library. They are not a charity organization that exists as an outlet for you to make money. They are not some 60’s hippie free love fest designed to give you traffic. Most importantly is not a third party welfare system designed to give you a handout. Google is a business, plain and simple, and the interests they serve are thier own.

Now I’ll admit I started to post this on one of the forums I belong to more than once. I never hit the submit button because, this is just about the time some where whiner would start in about how it’s not fair, or Google’s providing old results, or somebody should tell the media, or some other self serving asinine statement. Well lets look at those arguments:

It’s not fair! Where was is written that life was fair? Let’s look at your website Mr or Ms it’s not fair. Is your low-carb/get get out of debt/ satellite TV affiliate website really that much better than the 5000 other affiliate websites out there already? Does it have original content or did you go and paraphrase a bunch of other websites? Do you have some new or insightful opinions or ideas that you offer up? Did you your research? Want to see content that is, check out Tags & Folksonomies – What are they, and why should you care? So Mr. or Ms. It’s not Fair, other than build a massive amount of backlinks, what have you done to deserve to rank!

Google is providing old results! What makes you think so? Are you that much of an expert that your new work is cream of the crop, and deserves to be noticed? Does anyone else other than you share in this delusion? Here’s a clue, if it is people will read it and link to you, WITHOUT YOU ASKING! It may take a little while, but if your work is really that much better people will notice it, and you will rise above the chaff. Another thing, just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s better. Doesn’t mean it’s worse, either but it doesn’t mean it’s better. “New and improved” may sell laundry detergent, but it sell much else.

Somebody should tell the media! Does the media or John Q. Public really give a damn that your new dating or ringtone website isn’t ranking? If you read some of the reports about searchers, most of them have a hard time telling what’s an advertisement from what isn’t. Those same people are also confident in their ability to search accurately (see searchers, fat, dumb and happy). Here’s the thing, most people don’t care how search engines work, and certainly don’t want to learn. They just want to find what they are looking for quickly and easily, and get on with thier lives.

Google is killing my new business! So your business plan was based on the premise Google was going to send you free traffic? I’m sorry the welfare line is downtown, not at the Googleplex. If you want traffic, go to adwords and buy some advertising. Remember Google is a business not a charity.

The whining will go on and on sometimes for hundreds of postings. Here’s the thing, if after 8 months to a year, your website hasn’t gotten noticed by any of the other engines like Yahoo, or MSN, your website is broken. Can you live like a king off of those results, maybe. However if you are ranking you should at least be able to keep your project on life support for a little while longer, if not sell it, or dump it.

Am I telling you to admit defeat, give up and throw in the towel? No, but I am asking you to get real. If you want to keep banging your head against the same impenetrable wall you’ve been banging it against for the past 8 months, go ahead, just stop whining how much it hurts and how it’s not fair or how the wall doesn’t work correctly, remember you chose to keep banging your head against it. If you really want to beat the sandbox, go find a website that not affected by it and purchase it. Sure you may have to pony up some cash, but would you rather buy a website for 5k and start working on your business, or would you rather stand around with all the other dweebs in the circle K parking lot, wondering why none of the pretty girls asked you to the dance?

Here it is boys and girls, if you can’t adapt to the changes in the marketplace, you don’t deserve to be in it. You want to keep trying yesterdays old tricks and hope they work, that’s your choice. However I suggest you act like a marine … adapt and overcome.

’nuff said.

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