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Bloggers Reporting Changes in Google Traffic Levels – Sandbox Updated?

I’ve had email from three separate bloggers today asking me to explain why they’ve seen increases in traffic over the last 24 hours from Google.

I’m not an SEO expert and wouldn’t claim to really understand the ins and outs of how Google updates but there seems to be movement in the way they are indexing some sites in the last day or two.

Some are claiming that the infamous ‘Google Sandbox’ might have been updated to allow some sites that have proved themselves out to be included in their results pages. This explanation seems reasonable to me as each person who has emailed me is talking about blogs that are relatively new and that have never been indexed particularly well in Google.

Others will probably say that this is just a routine tweak of the algorithm or a roll out of a new setting in some datacenters – the truth be told, I don’t really know anything except that something’s happening.

Have you noticed any changes in traffic levels that Google is sending your blog in the last couple of days?

Update: I’ve just checked the stats of a number of my own blogs and the stats of a few other blogs that I’ve had dealings with in the last month or so and see evidence of this movement there in many of them also. In those that have had changes there is increases in traffic from between 80 and 500%. That sounds pretty massive but none of them were getting much traffic before yesterday so it’s not quite as spectacular as it sounds.

Of course this is not happening in all of the blog stats that I checked – my more established blogs have had no real change and I suspect that this will be the case for most blogs.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • George

    I am not seeing any change with my blogs.

  • The sandbox is a big misnomer – take a look at this interview from Mike Grehan

  • whether there’s a sandbox or not officially – they obviously have some process for getting new sites into the index over time. There is generally a slow start and then at some point (usually months) later things seem to kick up a gear. It’s probably not a formal Sandbox or anything – but I guess the reality is that something happens and what I’m seeing today is a release of new sites into higher rankings….

    terminology aside – there was some change today I guess.

  • It took about six months for my main site to see appreciable traffic from Google and then all of a sudden — wham! — it took off. On our newer site (, which was just launched on January 1st, we are still waiting for Google to kick it into high gear. Yes, we get traffic from Google, but MSN is still kicking Google’s butt. No evidence of a Google uptick over the past 24 hours, but I remain hopeful.

  • I saw a big spike in activity from google for a couple of weeks but it has petered out. I’m going to attribute it to possibly some hot news item that made people search for a few things my site is about.

  • well my hits have considerably increased and yes most of my traffic comes from google

  • A few weeks ago a few of my sites got hit and were reduced to 10% traffic. There is a webmaster world thread that documents a web wide effect. My sites are just coming back, having been on the web since 1998 I see have seen so called updated come and go and that is all that this feels like. Although mediabot is being thrown into the mix and so adding another variable to figure out. So you have Googlebot and mediabot roaming the land like bouncers outside a vip area of an upmarket nightclub, letting in only those they approve of.

    The cynics would say these bounces are intended to inspire anxiety and send you running into the large arms of adwords, but no one knows.

    Things seem to be returning to normal, minus a few spam sites and probably adding a few more, lol.

    If there are a million comments about the sandbox below it’s all Darrens fault for mentioning it. It’s kinda like “don’t mention the war”, to Germans. The sandbox thing has had more words typed about than something else that gets typed about a lot.

  • In some of my blogs I’ve been seeing traffic coming from Google increased and they are also fairly new, so probably something is going on.

  • A.H

    Is there a chance i’ve got INTO the sandbox after a whole year? =\


  • Because of these effects it really pays to have a range of blog topics, on a range of different topics and on different servers. I am sure they would balance each other out somewhat over a period of time.

  • I have been doing quite a bit of experiementing with google sitemaps and it definitely does make a difference to getting your site thoroughly indexed if you are having problems.

  • I have noticed some changes in 2 of the 4 blogs that I write. Interestingly traffic has doubled in one( and gone down to around 70% in the other – The second blog has fallen many places for some keywords which used to drive the traffic, but at the same timegetting more traffic different keywords. My other 2 blogs don’t seem to have been affected!

  • My blog is just 2 months old and it got indexed by Google within 1 month. For my another blog it took 2 months to get indexed by Google. Now, I am seeing some hits from the search engine. What I feel is that Google searc tools now give more importance to original content than ever before.

  • For more than six month since I started my hardware blog most traffic came from MSN. However, the last week saw a huge boost for Google traffic. Seems you have to wait some time for this to happen if you’re not using google sitemaps…

  • Fricking insane hit these past few days. Our traffic’s dropped by about 600 unique visitors per day. I don’t know if our site was down for some extended period of time and was thus uncrawlable, or whether it’s a genuine change in the google algo. We’re still ranked very high on MSN and Yahoo.

  • I’m not sure if I “trust” the sandbox idea. I’ve added a few new sites (completely new domain names) and have done almost zero promotion and the sites get indexed by Google very quickly (less than 2 weeks). One of my sites has NEVER had an inbound link at all except for one blog comment I made on a blog with no traffic at all, and it is starting to get traffic (only about 6-10 visitors a day during the build-out period) and I was very surprised to see it is already gaining ground. Odd.

    One of my best income generating sites has existed for less than 30 days and it is already getting traffic with absolutely zero promotion, zero link trade, zero directory listings and zero spamming. I’m completely surprised that it is receiving traffic because I know I never put it out there. I can’t find any inbound links to it either, other than the google referrer. Odd.

  • Two of my newer blogs which were started in February and April respectively have shown a significant increase in traffic yesterday.

    One has recorded its highest level ever, up to 150% increase from the normal level. The other one received 100% more traffic.

    I’ve noticed several of the newer posts that use popular keywords were recently just indexed by Google. In addition, the blog that gets 100% more traffic have been getting quite a significant amount of traffic from Technorati for the past few days,

    In regard to the sandbox effect, I doubt that it exists. But I agree that something might have happened today/yesterday.

  • The Sandbox Effect is real and Google has confirmed it (especially through Matt Cutts) on more than one occasion, including in the interview with Mike Grehan linked to above.

    One very probable cause for the increase in blog traffic from Google is Matt’s long post on his personal blog yesterday where he basically told people to start looking to the blog community for natural links. He also indicated that Google may now be trusting links embedded in blog articles more than they used to be.

  • I’ve seen an increase in the last week or so – nothing major though. I just attributed it to a natural increase in traffic.


  • My blog, which launched last August, saw pageviews pick up in the last week. I first noticed that some very old posts were suddenly appearing in my top 10 most viewed pages of the week. They were posts that did well back then or perhaps used some good keywords (one linked to Kevin Costner’s yearbook picture, for example). My blog’s sort of unusual in that it’s housed at a MSM website. I am one of the most popular blogs on our site, but my traffic is not huge. I don’t know the ins and outs of Google like you all do, but even before reading this post I suspected I had gotten some sort of bump in Goodle search results.

  • I’ve been seeing a slight boost in traffic from google searches @ my blog

    My guess is that google has implimented some sort of splog (spam blog) filter so that the universe of legit blogs is being given more weight.

    In the long run, the issue of splogs ruining blog credibility and causing advertisers to sour on Adwords will be a big problem for GOOG. By funneling more traffic to legit sites, google is indirectly increasing the quality of Adwords traffic.

  • For my newest blog, which is a week old, we were on Google within a few days, on the first page for some keywords, and we get okay traffic from it.

    For another, older, blog, suddenly we’re getting GREAT traffic from it (and images and blog search)! It’s our only blog to do so well with Google.

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  • One thing I have noticed is that my posts have been getting page rank more quickly. It used to be almost three months before a new page would have rank, and now it’s about two. It also seems that the pages are being ranked higher: where I used to get many PR3 and 4 pages, most of the new ones seem to automatically be PR5

  • I’m still waiting at the 2 month mark to be indexed at while my domain before that took almost 7 months from registration to be indexed. Here’s hoping for a quicker inclusion this time.

  • I don’t know how well they’ve done this filtering. One of my blogs, has just been banned by Google and MSN – I don’t know why. I only found out when I tried to ping at and got a message to say it had been banned. I checked Google and MSN, and I was no longer listed.

    The annoying thing is, it barely had any ads in it at all, as I was using it to drive traffic to one of my sites. It wasn’t one bit spammy. If anyone would be kind enough to look at it and tell me where I went wrong, I would be greatful – it is at

    Blogger haven’t banned it – just the search engines. I have bought the diznology domain, but I don’t want to move it until I know where I have gone wrong. Thank you.

  • L

    I think one of my blogs got into the sandbox, too.

    Although, I’m not sure about the sandbox thing, either, because one of my blogs just started and is doing really well in Google.

    Hey Mike, when I tried Google Sitemaps, most of my pages couldn’t be indexed due to some error. I think this was before I branched onto separate domains, so I might try again.

  • L

    I checked the “site:” feature on Google search, and Google only has 5 of my (Pursed pages listed.