Bloggers: Google 'sandboxing' sites

Two recent blogs seem to put rumors to rest about whether Google uses a "sandbox" on some new Web sites in an attempt to filter out sites that might be fake or spam. In a Threadwatch.org blog, DougS wrote on Sunday that a Google engineer acknowledged at the Search Engine Strategies conference last week in San Jose, Calif., that Google places some new Web sites, "regardless of their merit, or lack thereof, in a sort of probationary category" for six months to a year to "allow time to determine how users react to a new site, who links to it, etc."

He wasn't the only one to get such information from the show. In his SEOMoz.org blog from Friday, Rand Fishkin writes of two instances in which Google engineers discussed the matter at the conference. Fishkin notes that he and others told Google engineers that ranking new Web sites at Google is a "pain" since the inception of Google's use of the sandbox. Apparently, Google's spam team calls the process something else, he wrote. "They felt it was having a remarkable effect on the quality of the index" and indicated "that a 'filter must be tripped' for a site to be 'boxed,'" Fishkin writes.

Google did not return an e-mail seeking comment. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)

Regardless of what it is called, not everyone is happy with the outcome. "From my perspective, not only does the sandbox exist, it was designed to do exactly what we see it doing--dampening the ability of Web sites in Google's index to rank for anything at all, based on the triggering of a filter that tags a site as 'over-optimized' or 'unnatural,'" Fishkin wrote.

 

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