Article Updated: Feb. 2015
You may have heard about the Google Sandbox, or sandbox effect, while surfing the web for Digital marketing, SEO, SEM, or other related terms. This term is a name given to the supposed Google penalty which effects newly created websites. Although it has never been confirmed, the Sandbox has been up for discussion since 2004.
The sandbox effect basically implies that Google filters webpages by the active age of a domain and by the competitiveness of the keywords used in links. These can sometimes be indicators of spammy or blackhat websites trying to get to the top of Google quickly for highly searched terms.
There is no exact rule about how long Google “punishes” a site for being new, but it is related to how quickly your site gains links and who these links are from. For instance, if you launched a new site last week and immediately received links from CNN.com and HowStuffWorks.com (very trusted sites) your website may completely by pass the “sandbox”. It has been observed that the “Google waiting period” for a new site without the boost of quality links could be around a month or so. However, even if you launched your site 5 years ago and still have no links to it, Google may still view it as untrustworthy, and you’ll be ranked lower than other competitors even if they’re newer.
So what are Google Supplemental Results?
Although there are still talks about the supplemental index, Google has removed the labeling of Supplemental Results in 2007. They claim that, “We do have different index tiers, depending on how we categorize your pages, how we need to crawl them, but it's not something you'd see specific changes in the search results."
Before, Google ran two indexes; one for trusted sites that have back links and/or have been around for a while, and one index for newer sites and/or ones that have very few links. It is also used for pages of your website that are deemed less important.
They normally tried to use the main index for results. If you searched for “Digital marketing firm” it is unlikely you will see any supplemental results, since there were many sites that are trusted and relevant for that search. However, if you searched for “Digital marketing firm in Orlando who manages pay-per-click accounts,” you may have seen supplemental results if there were not enough relevant results within the main index.
You would have known they were supplemental because under the listing in green it said Supplemental Result after the URL.
For now, we believe that there are different classifications of pages in Google’s results, although it’s hard to be certain which ones and how long Google watches new sites before giving them full power in the search results.