For almost a year now, webmasters have been complaining about what they call the "Google Sandbox".
Before then, webmasters with a good grasp of search engine optimization could launch a new site and expect it to show up in Google's results for certain keyphrases in a matter of weeks.
In early 2004, however, Google made a change to its algorithm to prevent such quick wins. Theories differ as to the specific nature of this change, but its outcome is clear: it is now extremely difficult to get a site with a new domain name listed prominently in Google’s results.
There are a couple of probable reasons for Google's alteration of its algorithm to produce this Sandbox effect:
a) Spammers profited from techniques that they knew would cause their sites to get banned. They didn’t care; when the sites got banned, they immediately launched new domains with the exact same content, and got high listings once again. The sandbox effect prevents this tactic from succeeding.
b) Age of a site is arguably an indication of quality. The longer established a particular domain name, the more likely it is to have been maintained, and to offer useful content. The sandbox effect prevents new sites from displacing more established competitors, even if the newer sites are otherwise better optimized.
The Google Sandbox causes new sites to go through a “probationary period” -- of indefinite duration -- before they can achieve good listings in Google. Worse, there is no guarantee that a site that's stuck in the sandbox will ever get out!
Google are, as ever, being coy about this change to its algorithm. At first, it denied outright the existence of the Sandbox. Whether it exists as a deliberate policy or not, the Sandbox effect cannot be denied. To find out, launch a new website, using a newly registered domain name. Then try finding it by searching Google.
Or just take read the accounts of those who have experienced the Sandbox first-hand:
For this reason, optimizers (and spammers) have resorted to purchasing existing sites and domain names, which in turn is pushing up the value of domain names. Expect them to continue rising; it seems that the Google Sandbox is here to stay.