A few years ago, we used to talk a lot about the Google Sandbox. It was a place where many believed new sites were corralled by Google until they were old enough to be shown to the world at large.

While Google denied its existence, SEOs and site owners saw how their new sites and newly registered domains took months to show any real progression on Google SERPs (search engine results pages) – ‘it’s been Sandboxed’, was the cry.

In fact, we used to advise clients to budget for nine months where the main – perhaps only – significant source of traffic to their new site would be from paid search (primarily Google AdWords here in the UK).

It seemed to disappear

Somehow, this nine months of little return from Organic investment became less and less clear-cut. We told (flattered?) ourselves that Google had got better at sorting out good quality content from the rubbish, and we saw many instances of new sites ranking in a matter of weeks for key phrases with useful traffic levels.

Yet recently, as Google has tried harder and harder to filter out bad practices and spammy sites, some new non-spammy sites have been struggling to rank for high traffic key phrases for many months.

It feels as if Google is needing to understand the effects of its algorithm changes and tweak accordingly. Or maybe they’re not that bothered.

Where are we today?

Of course, as SEOs and site owners we’re always trying to understand what Google’s latest changes mean for our sites and our businesses. The options for Organic SEO when launching a site these days have narrowed. That is, we’re advised to create lots of good quality spam-free content and not to link artificially. Often, it takes time for Google to give us the thumbs-up, and for a site to see significant Organic search engine traffic.

So in many ways in 2014, it’s looking as if we’re back where we were a few years ago, where we need to allow several months of investment in both Organic SEO and PPC to get a site safely launched and performing the way we want it to.

Sand Castle

The returns from Organic SEO are worthwhile

Some people say that Google clearly is forcing us into PPC and directly contributing to its bottom line. Others say they’re just going to do PPC, while ignoring the inevitable consequence of more budget being put into AdWords – higher click prices and higher budget requirements for the same return.

Time after time I see how traffic from Organic rankings converts higher than traffic from paid clicks. I’ve said it many times here on Writing For SEO, and it remains true. Well-managed content marketing is incredibly powerful and usually gives better ROI in the longer run.

So do your Organic SEO really well. Better than your competitors. Keep to the rules. Don’t cut corners. Stay at it. And you’ll get the returns you’re looking for.

Maybe the Google Sandbox effect never went away. I wonder what you’re seeing with new sites?

Thank you to krossbow and Anthony Quintano for letting me use their images.