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Were we in the Google Sandbox?

Found a really interesting article today describing the current best understanding of the infamous Google 'Sandbox' effect.

While we have mainly stuck to 'trustworthy' directories we have succumbed to a couple of reciprocal link proposals that looked pretty innocuous but we also added large numbers of pages with the MP3 ringtones launch.

But looking at the chronology - we were doing less well on competitive keywords such as [composer MP3] on Google than we were on MSN and particularly Yahoo during most of this year. But our escape from the sandbox if that is what it was came during Jagger when we put some effort in to making our product pages more distinctive from each other and emailed Google about them.

So case not proven but strong hints to avoid confusing Google in future. I think that means continuing to avoid irrelevant back links and care over any reciprocal linking and making any sudden moves. Hopefully the article publication route with it's content emphasis will not get us into trouble. What is more puzzling is this blog and the editorial policy implications of the sandbox effect. We have run with two interwoven themes from the out set - development of the site and the business and discussion about the musical content of our site. While there is no problem with the latter you can see that Google might think the latter is off topic. On the other hand this blog is not attracting back links so it may be ignored by the sandbox trip wire.

It would be reassuring to think that it was the sandbox because it implies that if we are careful we can expect to maintain our current positions and make further progress in the remaining competitive areas based on our article publication strategy.

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