Moreton Bay Websites

Does Google Trust Your New Website?

When starting a new website, whether it is for an established business or a new business, it is natural to want the website to be found on search engines. And when I say search engines, I mostly mean Google. I’m often asked “how long will it take to reach number one on the search results?”.

Number one on search is a loaded topic in itself. While reaching number one is great, getting seen in search results and visitors clicking through to your website is really what you want. It also needs to be the right visitors, those who will then engage with you.

Search position isn’t what I want to talk about in this article. It is how long it takes after launching your website to then appear in search results and attract visitors. The experience with most websites is that it takes weeks or even months before your website starts ranking well on Google.

Google Sandbox Theory

There is no official Google sandbox, where a website is held off from search results as probationary period. The reality is that many SEO professionals notice this effect, whether it is intentional or not doesn’t change this.

Google ranking algorithms change all the time. March 2024 is the latest significant update at the time of writing this article and some have seen drops of up to 40% in search results. The main focus was on reducing low-quality, unoriginal content in search results.

Other measures in the update look at the exploitation of expired domains and use of high-ranking websites to feed you back-links. Google generally knows the same techniques to rank higher on search results. If those techniques are for the purpose of getting better search results, you may find successful ranking is lost down the track.

An example is publishing a guest post on financial management services on a high-reputation travel website, which then links to your financial management website. The post is likely to be seen by Google as spam for ranking purposes, or site reputation abuse.

Content For People, Not Search Engines

Laptop screen displaying SEO Search Engine Optimisation, surrounded with post-it-notes with onpage offpage, traffic, content, indexing keywords, ranking, site architecture, backlinks

Generally, if the content in a website is useful, it will improve in search results. If the content proves to be uninteresting to visitors, it will worsen in search results. Using tricks to get more visitors may result in better search results for a while but you may attract the wrong people who are not actually interested in what you have.

Visitors that view your page and are interested to stay longer, and better still, read further content on the website, will find search engine performance will improve. This is not achieved if the content is focused on capturing search results.

Having said that, there is a balance. A search engine needs to be aware of the content on the page. The content also needs to use the same or similar words and phrases that people are searching for. If the language, words and phrases is naturally used in the content, it will serve both visitors and search engines well.

Does The Sandbox Exist?

Officially, no, there is no Google Sandbox. Ask SEO professionals and you will get a mix of answers – some believe it exists, some believe it doesn’t, and others believe it is somewhere in between.

Our observation is the “Sandbox Effect” exists. It is the result of Google needing time to determine the value, quality, and reputation of a website and its content before it ranks higher than other similar websites that you may compete with.

Your competitors also want to be at the top of search results. Why should your website rank above theirs? Google essentially wants to know the same thing. It takes time to understand if your website is a better fit compared to your competitor.

If your competitor is 100 kilometres away, you may very well rank better fairly quickly for visitors who are local. If your competitor is down the street, locality will have less of an influence. Visitor engagement may be a better indicator, but it takes longer for search engines to learn how to treat your website appropriately.

The level of competition in your industry or topic of content, across multiple factors including locality, will influence the during of the Sandbox Effect.

Built Trust and Search Results Follow

Person handshake with an arm coming out of a computer, symbolising computing trust

The level of trust visitors have when visiting your website will influence whether or not they engage with you. Like visitors, Google will build up a level of trust over time. A phenomenon

One way to get to the top of search results is to by the results. Paying for search ads will help you get there faster. Although, you don’t avoid competing for position with your competitors, as you will need to out-bid them (not taking into account finding unique keywords to bid for). Some value from traffic aside, ads will only work while you keep pouring money in. Once you stop, so do the results.

In the end, organic search growth will come when trust with your website improves. Quality content with information visitors need will improve trust over time. Encouraging visitors to your website will help build traffic, and in turn trust.

Traffic can be improved by ensuring your business is shown on Google Maps, listed in quality directories such as Yellow Pages, True Local, and community directories like Redcliffe Guide Business Directory. Make sure you don’t use low-quality directories as these may hurt your website trust.

Social media can add traffic but using posts with links to your website. Links on social media don’t directory help your website (Google learnt this trick a long time ago and ignore it) but the traffic itself is seen and helps.

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