Did Google Admit To Having A Sandbox At SES?

    August 15, 2005

Apparently they did, or at least they didn’t deny it when asked about it. For those who may not know, the Google sandbox has been the subject of many discussions.

In fact, there’s one brewing in WebProWorld right now. According to legend, the sandbox is where new sites are placed before they are added to the Google index, or at least that’s the way the thinking goes. Think of it like a temporary holding pen, which stores your site until it meets the “approval” of the Google engineers.

However, despite what many consider a mountain of evidence suggesting the sandbox exists, no one from Google admitted its existence… that is, until the San Jose SES took place.

According to a blog entry on SEOmoz.org, there were a couple of happenings last week that could be inferred as a quasi-admission that the sandbox may in fact be real. The first event involved Matt Cutts, an esteemed engineer at Google, as well as a number of SEM-types. When the SEMs stated it was harder to get quality rankings for new sites because of the sandbox, Matt apparently responded “OK, so it’s really working. Even on you (guys).” Sounds like an admission to me.

The second event took place at the Meet the Engineers event, which was attended by 2 Google engineers. Rand Fishkin’s post goes on to reveal:

One young man (around my age – 25-28) spoke specifically with myself, DaveN, Jen & some others for a good while. I asked him what Google internally called the sandbox. He dodged my question fastidiously until saying that he would try to get the spam team to adopt our term, “sandbox”, so we could all call it the same thing.

I asked him if they would continue using it and he said “definitely” or possibly “almost certainly” – I’m having trouble remembering which of those two. He noted in words I cannot remember exactly that they felt it was having a remarkable effect on the quality of the index. We moved on to other subjects after this, but not before he was vehement in explaining to me specifically that they did not design it to affect “all new websites,” but that a “filter must be tripped” for a site to be “boxed”.

This also sounds suspiciously like an admission of a Google sandbox as well. Although, because they didn’t come out an actually use the word (although one did say “boxed”), this can still be denied: “We called anything a sandbox.” However, it is nice to see Google acknowledge the fact that sites can be “boxed” if they meet certain criteria.

This admission did not deter the WPW conversation, however. The topic of whether a sandbox exists or not is still being discussed, even after the SEOmoz post.

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.