Google Patent Defines The Sandbox

    May 7, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

If there were any doubt new sites may be spending some time alone on part of the playground, a recent Google patent application seems to define a place where new documents go in their index.

Google Patent Defines The Sandbox
Google Patent Defines The Sandbox

The existence of a sandbox at Google has been a debated topic among webmasters and SEOs. Some arguments have taken place over whether or not content gets sandboxed for a period of time before they can be ranked in Google.

Arguments over the sandbox abated after last year’s PubCon. Google search evangelist Adam Lasnik dismissed the notion that the sandbox exists:

He went on to say that the search engine results page depends on the niche and if it is content rich, and that sites that maintain this are not placed in a “sandbox” in which they are unable to rank.

However, SEO News Blog has been looking at a Google patent application that was recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Matt Cutts picked an opportune time to take a vacation, as his name leads the inventors of it.

SEO News Blog picked out a couple of pieces of the patent as they relate to Document Inception Date. Those pieces indicate Google is giving new content a time out to play with the buckets and shovels in the sandbox before letting that content play with others in the index. We looked at this and have added emphasis to a couple of points:

[0040] Search engine 125 may use the inception date of a document for scoring of the document. For example, it may be assumed that a document with a fairly recent inception date will not have a significant number of links from other documents (i.e., back links). For existing link-based scoring techniques that score based on the number of links to/from a document, this recent document may be scored lower than an older document that has a larger number of links (e.g., back links). When the inception date of the documents are considered, however, the scores of the documents may be modified (either positively or negatively) based on the documents’ inception dates.

[0041] Consider the example of a document with an inception date of yesterday that is referenced by 10 back links. This document may be scored higher by search engine 125 than a document with an inception date of 10 years ago that is referenced by 100 back links because the rate of link growth for the former is relatively higher than the latter. While a spiky rate of growth in the number of back links may be a factor used by search engine 125 to score documents, it may also signal an attempt to spam search engine 125. Accordingly, in this situation, search engine 125 may actually lower the score of a document(s) to reduce the effect of spamming.

If a new document shows up in Google’s index, and arrives with a lot of backlinks in place, it means one of two things: the document reflects some topical event and has attracted links based on this, or it is the result of someone’s attempt to spam the index.

Google can likely tell the difference, which would spur someone like Lasnik to say there is no sandbox, becuase functionally there isn’t one. But SEOs who only see the effect, especially if it persists for a site over time, are going to claim otherwise.