The SEO industry uses a lot of different terms as reference points, but this can be confusing when you’re new to the industry. When it comes to things that could actually harm your site, it’s important to know what people are talking about.
It’s difficult to look too deeply into search engine optimisation without coming across mentions of search engine penalties. These are rarely talked of in solid terms, mostly because even seasoned SEO professionals can’t define what a penalty is, or what exactly causes them. There’s no doubt that sites sometimes find themselves removed from the index or with a sudden drop in ranking that seems to be connected with their SEO efforts. The search engines do find ways to hold back sites that break the unwritten rules of SEO, but the punishment is often hard to put your finger on.
Sandboxing: Like many search engine penalties, there is some debate as to whether sandboxing even exists. Most experts believe that Google ‘sandboxes’ a site while its references are being sorted out. The site doesn’t receive a ranking at this time. This most often happens with brand new sites, who are left wondering why their site isn’t on Google. Sometimes, existing sites are sandboxed for serious rule breaking. The only way out is to be patient.
Ranking drop: Having your rankings take a dive is a common penalty. It can be hard to spot why this has happened. It’s a good idea to examine your site for defects and use Google’s Webmaster Tools. From here you can even communicate with Google for a resolution.
Reinclusion: This is something you need to be aware of if you want to fix problems when they come up. If your site has been dropped from the index, you need to fix whatever the problem may be and communicate with the search engines for reinclusion.
This can be both time consuming and frustrating.