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When Blogs Grow Too Quickly

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of June 2005 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

There is a great post over at The Return of Design that shows the danger in your site becoming too big to quickly in the eyes of Search Engines. James Archer reflects upon the rise massive popularity of Forty Media when it first launched and the consequences:

‘There’s a catch, though. We were a new site with a new domain name, and within weeks we had thousands of incoming links from keyword-rich sites. We initially thought that it would be great for our search engine rankings, but there was one critical point we had failed to consider:

Sudden movements make Google nervous.

The great success that our marketing effort, from the perspective of the objective mathematical formulas that run the Google search engine, probably looked a whole lot like search engine spam.’

The tips that James gives at the end of this article are well worth listening to. The message is to build a site slow and steady where you have some control over it. This is a lesson I’ve had to learn on a number of my blogs of late – including this one here at

I’ve been amazed by the amount of links that have been pointed at this blog since moving it to this domain in February this year – however the downside of this is as James says being seen as a suspicious site by Google for getting too popular too quickly.

Life goes on however and if you’ve been ‘sandboxed’ like this have patience – keep blogging and in time you’ll find things change (as they gradually are here).

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.
  • I guess I SHOULD be cautious with what i wish for…lol…


  • I still would like to see my blog’s traffic grow quickly, even if google does not like it. I think some people give Google too much power, and feel totally lost if google does not like their site.

    If you have millions of readers, are you really going to worry night and day over your PR and whatnot? Word of mouth, readers pointing back to you on their sites, and whatnot can work even better, in my opinion, than Google for getting new people to visit a site.

    So I say, let it grow :D

  • That’s an eye-opener for sure…while I’ve never had a ton of links coming into my site (I should be so lucky!) I didn’t know ANYTHING about how google ranks pages when I first started my blog, and I’m pretty sure I shot myself in the foot numerous times. The whole Google thing kinda’ bugs me though…I mean let’s face it, there are millions of web pages out there, and only a handful can be a the top for any given search. I certainly don’t blame the masses for choosing Google as their search engine of choice (I know I do,) but I do wish there was some way for more web pages to get into those first couple of pages…

  • I have been curious about this issue, since I was almost sure this is what happened to one of my sites. As the buzz around the topic grew, we gained a ton of links from larger blogs (gizmodo, engadget, etc.), all within a month or so, and Google traffic was great. Then, as if struck by lightning, all the Google traffic left. Unfortunately for us that reduced daily traffic by something like 20%, and we are just barely starting to recover from it. I can only hope that Google eventually realizes that this wasn’t spam and starts reflecting the real links we have gotten and SEO that we have done.

  • Ken

    I agree with the other posters, Google is given WAAAY too much credit. Lately, I’ve been finding Google bringing back too many garbage links for search items I’m looking for.

    Google was great back in the day, but they have to start thinking smarter in terms of how to bring the RIGHT content and not just LOTS of content to a user.

    No point in bringing back hundreds of links when they have nothing to do with what your are trying to do.

    Personally, I’d love to see a Google for blog posts ONLY. Now that would be interesting.

  • I’ve noticed the same “sandbox” effect with just about every new site, whether they garnered a large number of links in a short time or not, so I think the “suspicious site” scenario is unlikely.

    I do think forty media’s site would have probably done way better if they waited until they gradually emerged from the sandbox before the publicity blitz, but things like that are hard to manage.

  • I tried to make the launch of the new network I just started – – as slow as possible (delayed promoting/linking to it for at least a month). But, as soon as it launched, it started to do quite well by word-of-mouth and cross-linking. I believe we’re still “sandboxed” by Google, though.

    On the other hand, my video blog – – started to get promoted, etc. and rised in rank on Google (currently at “5”) within a month of launch. We don’t have that many pages here, though. Not a lot of outgoing links either.

    Lesson? There’s not much that we can do about these things. You do what you think is right for your site. And, if you get “sandboxed” in the process, then you just have to weather it out. You can’t possibly “slow down” your new site’s growth just because Google won’t like you.

    It’s like telling someone “Don’t do too well in school, or else the teachers/principal/classmates/etc. might not like you. Even if you’re a fast learner, just pretend that you’re not.”

    Thing is, they either like you or they don’t.

    Google will either “sandbox” you or it won’t.

    We should never give anything – or anyone – too much power over our actions.

    We may “suffer” a bit if we don’t do things ‘their’ way, but it WILL get better.