While Google won’t admit that the so-called “sandbox” actually exists, we Internet marketers know different. Rather than thinking of it as a physical place where your website resides, like some sort of virtual penal colony, it’s more like a filter that is applied to new sites. When a new website enters Googles radar, filters are applied checking for things like back-linking and so on. If the site does not appear to grow naturally, it can trip those filters and end up getting kicked out of the top 100 in an instant.
It doesn’t matter how good your content is, and how well you’ve configured your on-page optimization, your site can end up in the sandbox. While you may think that you’ve done everything right, and you’ve only added a few links a day from reputable enough sources, Google may think otherwise. You can’t take it personally, and your only option is to wait, and continue to build a few links and expand your site by adding pages. Continue a if it was business as usual, and give it some time.
How long you ask? On average, you can expect to be held down for anywhere from a month to up to 8 months. What I have experienced lately is that some of my newer test sites will bounce in and out of the top 100. I have a number of sites that were ranking in the top 5, and still got banished to page 100+. They tend to reappear for a few days here and there, many times at a higher position that before they were “sandboxed”. Before I can pop a bottle of cheap champagne to celebrate, they’re back out.
The best strategy is to take it easy in the first couple months with link-building, and just let your site age a bit. If you get sent to the sandbox, simply wait it out and continue to build your site normally, adding some good quality backlinks, and a new page or two every week. You can focus on building links to some of your secondary keywords and leave the main ones until your stay in the sandbox is over.
Getting sandboxed really shouldn’t happen if you follow the best SEO practices.