I’ve been doing a lot of research recently on the mythical beast that is the Google Sandbox Effect. This Loch Ness Monster of the technical age is a phenomenon I had until recently been unaware of, yet in just 6 short months I have learned to shudder at its name.

For those uninitiated in the intricacies of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Sandboxing is reputed to be a process by which Google “quarantines” new websites – particularly those on newly-registered URLs, or those competing for popular keywords – preventing them from achieving any significant ranking in their search listings. Thus, the new website receives little organic search engine traffic, rendering it (and its unhappy proprietor) lonely, impotent and useless. The idea is to let the baby website play safely in its sandbox, until the mighty Google considers it mature enough to join the bigger kids in the global marketplace.

Lest I should sound overly bitter without cause, I ought to explain that our new baby Kiss Chase (www.kisschasegifts.com) has been languishing in said sandbox since its launch last November. Any hopes we had of emerging after 6 months were dashed on the 11th April by the feeble number of visits we achieved – down two thirds on our previous year consumer site traffic.

In mild panic, I’ve been trawling the internet for information on what we might do to extricate ourselves from this predicament. Sadly, beyond building quality links with reputable existing websites, there seems to be very little we can do except wait – with the obvious exception of travelling back in time to November 2007 and actually listening to our SEO friends at Occupancy Marketing when they advised us not to change our site domain name!

So in true SK Chase fashion, I’m busy looking for the positives in our sorry situation. Okay, so Kiss Chase probably sees about as many visitors as Victoria Beckham sees fish suppers, but at least we’re getting time to add and grow the content of the site and make tweaks, nips and tucks to improve usability and develop our brand personality. And in the spirit of learning from our mistakes, we’re listening very closely to the experts at Occupancy Marketing as we come to refresh our business to business website www.skchase.com this month.

Incidentally, I feel it’s important to mention that Google has officially and repeatedly denied the existence of their sandbox. Sandbox theory has been developed by SEO experts through analysis of the performance of new websites since 2004/2005, so nobody really knows for sure if it actually exists, or if there’s something else going on.

Myself, I prefer to remain a believer – our Kiss Chase sandbox suckfest at least allows us some level of influence over its outcome. The alternative is probably best described as “fate” for the internet – and that’s an e-commercial can of worms that we can do very well without, thank you very much.

So it’s not all bad, even if the tedious process of updating a website that nobody ever sees is starting to chip away at little pieces of my soul! I just keep myself busy, imagining the wonderful day that we’ll finally toss aside the bucket and spade, as Google beckons us out of our sandbox to bask in the warm rays of their glorious page rankings.