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Mueller Touches on Google Sandbox and Honeymoon Ranking Effects

Google’s Sandbox and Honeymoon Rankings explained
Google’s Sandbox and Honeymoon Rankings explained

Google’s John Mueller explained why new content can sometimes rank highly, then drop off this is all due to the Sandbox and Honeymoon phenomenon.

The search engine community has discussed these phenomena for decades all because of what Google does with new content.

Early in the 2000s, some publishers noticed that new content sometimes took months or even years to rank.

There was a sense that new content was not being trusted and not allowed to rank.

Matt Cutts requested some URLs, investigated them and reported back to the webmaster community that Google wasn’t blocking the content from ranking, but that its algorithm was working as it was supposed to.

The explanation seemed cryptic to some. Google Sandbox theory began when publishers promoted new sites with directory links and reciprocal linking campaigns.

As hindsight shows, it was obviously a bad idea. People tend to believe that if everyone does it then it must be okay because everyone was doing it back then.

So to them if they are doing everything “right,” it is Google that is unfairly blocking their new website from ranking.

Google Honeymoon Effect:

According to the Google Honeymoon theory, Google Sandbox will rank new content at the top of its search results to test how users react to it.

Google will reduce traffic if click-through rates and bounce-back rates indicate that users don’t like the new content optimization.

Google Honeymoon theory is the subject of this question. As the questioner refers to user behavior, it seems to be a reference to the idea that Google tests how users respond and de-ranks the page if the users don’t like it.

New Web Pages are the Subject of the Question.

Although the person doesn’t mention the Google Honeymoon theory, the nature of their question implies they are asking about it, and Mueller explicitly mentions it later on.

Mueller says:

“We see a spike in traffic shortly after introducing new types of pages followed by tapering off.

Though we don’t expect our users to behave any differently based on how long the content has been live, our content isn’t very time based nor at all newsy.

Do you have any thoughts on why we might see this sort of release spike?” The answer from John Mueller seems to confirm that there is a Honeymoon Period with new content.

Mueller claims that part of the judgment is based on what the rest of the site looks like. “I think probably what is happening in this particular case is that we’re seeing new content for a website and especially when it comes to new content on a website or new websites overall… there’s kind of this period where we recognize the new content, we can crawl and index the new content but we don’t have a lot of signals for that new content yet.

And then we have to make assumptions. And our systems try to make assumptions where they think this is probably in line with the rest of the website.”

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