Search Engine Optimization – The Google Sandbox
It is pretty clear that Google has shifted its weight away from the page rank algorithm that has made it famous, and is now relying on some combination of other elements to determine where your site will come up on SERPs or search engine results placement. There are the standard methods of gaining higher SERPs, like getting rid of the question mark in the URL string, not using the id URL attribute, and making sure your pages have no HTML errors. Some of what I have been reading has indicated that internal linking is important as well. All of this effort to rank higher on the SERPs makes me think… Why isn't everyone working to make sure their site has good content to place higher.
It is suprising to me that it is easier to game the search engines than it is to fill your website with good content. For example, there are many sites that simply syndicate a more popular site's RSS feed on their web site in order to get more pages and therfore more text for which to be found. This is extremely annoying to me as I have often searched for a term only to find the first two pages of results full of the exact same content. To try to curb the intense gaming that has been going on, Google has seemingly admitted to employing a sandbox which penalizes sites whose SERPs, or rankings get too high too fast. While it seems like a fairly extreme measure, it is the only way to stop people from buying links from PR 7 sites in order to get higher rankings immediately. It is hard to tell what the duration of time a site has to spend in the sandbox is because it appears to vary. My guess is that if you gain to quickly, or get links from several highly ranked sites in a short interval, Google will place you in the sandbox and evaluate your site. If it is found that your site is full of good content, they will probably release you from the sandbox fairly sumarily, however if you are gaming them by copying someone else's feed, or have bought a bunch of links they will probably keep you in the sandbox indefinately. Of course the best way to achieve high rankings on Google is to get a single good link and keep updating your site with good content.