How TIME is Changing The Way We Rank

Today I was browsing through my keyword tracking tool, serpfox and came across some data that backed up a theory of mine (and pretty much every other SEO) about a Google ranking phenomenon we’re all experiencing.

If you haven’t noticed this phenomenon yet it’s most likely because you focus on local ranking and from what I have seen, local rankings are not hit as hard as bigger national searches with this.

The phenomenon I’m speaking of, is TIME.

Many people are calling it the Google “sandbox.” Basically, SEOs noticed a couple things over the past several months:

1.) High power PBN links seem to take longer to get a reaction from Google (movement)
2.) There appears to be a “sandbox” period where no matter what you do, your site gets stuck on pages 2-3 for a couple months
*Again, both these things seem to be avoidable for local searches and extremely non-competitive niches*
1.) High power PBN links seem to take longer to get a reaction from Google.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. It has been widely reported through the SEO community and I would think that by this time people have just accepted it. I have been experiencing and seeing this for several months now, and have just come to accept it as part of the game. Here is an example:
On Nov 1st- I made 2 PBN links for a particular KW of mine. It’s probably also worth noting that the PBN content was unique and the anchor text I used was a raw URL of the post page (not just the domain root).
I didn’t even start to track this KW until 4-5 days after the made the links but the picture below perfectly shows this phenom happening:

Links Made Nov 1st……..Boost Came 19 Days Later

Link Delay

When you’re beginning your IM career, letting some time go by between moves is probably the most annoying thing in the world. If you’re anything like me you’re probably checking your ranks by hand on your phone as soon as you wake up in the morning, every morning. Then cursing the world when nothing has changed.
However, these days patience is a big part of the online game. Especially in the affiliate marketing world. Gone are the days of tiny little sniper sites making $1,000/day with 3 pages and no real content.

These days, in Google’s eyes…Time = Trust.
Let me show you what I mean.
Below are two examples from two completely different sites.
One site was brand new (new domain) and within about 2 weeks I had 8 beefy articles on it and began link building. This site, was targeting 1 or 2 main keywords all revolving around the same topic. Let’s call this site 1.
The other site had been up and ranking for about 5-6 months for a particular keyword. It was pretty thin, just 3 articles. It ranked for its main KW in about 3 months. So I began to build this site out a little. I added one article targeting a completely different keyword. Optimized the on-page as best as I saw fit and then forgot about it. As in it slipped my mind, other projects came up and I let it marinate for about 2 months. Let’s call this site, site 2.

Site 1 Linking Strategy
So far a total of 6-7 PBN links



You can see from the graph, the effectiveness of the PBN linking. But that’s not my point today.

Site 2 Linking Strategy

site 2 linking

These two pictures really spoke to me. In one, I can see a smooth ascension in the ranks. I see the value of time building trust in Google and a natural climb to the top pages without force. Almost like Google was taking this site by the hand and walking it up to the top pages. Remember, I did absolutely no link building to this page or the site during this time. This is merely the result of proper onpage SEO and giving the page some time to gain trust in Google.
In the other, I see my fight with Google. I see a picture that depicts perfectly the manipulation of Google’s algorithm and the constant battle between big G and myself. It almost looks like Google is saying, “someone is making me do this,” as it struggles to push the site up the ranks.

Now, this was in no way a perfectly controlled experiment.  In fact it wasn’t an experiment at all, just an observation. There are a million different factors that could have lead to these results ( I guess) but there are a couple things to take away.
1.) Over time, with proper on page SEO google will begin to trust your site and naturally move it up the ranks. When starting a new site, don’t hammer it with high power links (under 10 is fine, but no more) unless you don’t really care about possibly losing it or getting it stuck in the sandbox.  If you want to hammer it with links be sure it has the other proper signals (like social signals) that warrant the links coming in.

2.) Build as many sites as possible, some will be clear winners and others clear losers
3.) React to your data. Which one of these sites do you think I am going to concentrate on now 😛
4.) Let your site’s marinate, that might be all that’s holding them back (time).




Now don’t get me wrong. Not every search is going to take forever to rank and I always have my ear to the ground trying to find that next hack that can give you overnight rankings…..


But until then, keep building, keep linking, and don’t forget to practice patience.

  • Mario Cimmino

    Awesome post Alex, I notice this a lot too. Usually more in the 20-24 day range for me.. I remember when I was ranking a health niche site I would wake up every morning and check for the little green numbers on my phone to see a rank increase and be shot down lol

    • Alex5220

      I still wake up and check my rankings first thing in the morning lol

  • Bill Maser

    Great Post Alex! I see that your fixing anxiety site is on page 17 for KW nocturnal panic attacks. Based on your post do you think it’s in the sandbox? Will you be doing anything either on or off page to help it climb or just let it marinate for a while & see what happens?

  • IMSource

    Good observation. Yeah, I know in one of Becker’s videos with the guitar niche site he built, I believe he said he created it, maybe juiced it up with Giza Pyramid from with branded anchor text links, and then just let it marinate for about 3 months before sending any PBN links. This has been a solid approach in my experience.