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The Google Sandbox : Now Applies to Domainers

The “Google Sandbox” is a time delay imposed on new domains, preventing them from ranking in search results unless they exceed some set of criteria known only to Google. It was named by search marketers who have since debated its character as well as its existence. Many new domains show no signs of “sandboxing”, while publishers who have had to struggle to “break out of the sandbox” know that such traffic embargos are a serious business consideration. Now, Google is reportedly preparing a 5 day sandbox for newly-registered domains.

According to Jay Westerdal of Domain Roundtable, insider sources (unnamed) revealed Google is planning to impose a sandbox delay on the monetization of new domains. Domains less than 5 day sold will not be able to monetize with AdSense. Jay suggests that this will “kill” the practice of Domain Tasting, something many in the Internet industry have been wishing for, since there is really no upper limit to the scaling of domain tasting.

Domain “tasting” is the practice of registering domain names to test them for a few days, with an option to release them for a refund if you decide (for whatever reason) you don’t want to keep them. The “tasting period” is 5 days. This option is actually available to everyone, although it is not made available to everyone because many registrars choose not to offer it or simply don’t make it readily accessible. Tasting domains would be a reasonable strategy for many web publishers. Unfortunately however, it scales very well. With Google’s AdSense a large scale domain tasting effort can be very profitable. Jay reports that one active domain taster earned $3 million per month from AdSense on tasted (and never registered) domains.

By blocking AdSense revenues for domains less than 5 days post registration, Google would effectively eliminate the profitability of large-scale domain tasting. Tasting would still serve its primary purpose for domain registrants — they can still test traffic levels or re-think their commitment to a domain, and benefit from the refund option.

What is the impact on web publishers and SEOs? If other monetization platforms followed Google’s lead to effectively embargo domain tasting as a for-profit activity, large numbers of domains that are currently registered every day would remain available for registration. That increases the pool of names available to those actually needing domain names. In addition, if activity levels decreased, this would have an impact on ad inventory levels and Quality Scores (publisher payouts) across the remaining Google ad network.


  1. Todd Mintz wrote:

    OK…but does that apply to parked pages where Google / Yahoo ads are displayed through an intermediary? And it would be kinda easy to 301 the domains elsewhere to earn ad revenue. So, if true, it seems pretty easy to get around this restriction.

    Friday, January 25, 2008 at 6:38 am | Permalink
  2. Ben Wilks wrote:

    Very true Todd, lot’s of ways around and I really doubt they will be shutting down 3rd party feeds for parking companies and coops etc. But that said it’s a step in the right direction irrespective of whether it will do anything – more PR for Google doing sweet f’all. I cannot wait to see the outcome of what REALLY happens.

    Friday, January 25, 2008 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  3. Dan wrote:


    Heres a thought…what about a new search engine that does not allow websites (any) to be indexed in it….if they have Google adsense or Yahoo contextual ads or MSN contextual ads anywhere on their website(s).

    Domain parking landing pages are becoming so good now…most are not a bad experience for visitors and in fact are becoming very good experiences for visitors.

    Plus…Domains are being developed with ‘real content’ on them at a rate never seen before in the past 2 years.

    Do any search on Google right now and take a ‘real good’ look at any results page…all I see is a PPC landing page with ads….with a few organic listings (other than wikipedia taking 2 of the top 5 positions on most searches)

    Google has and is destroying ‘pure Internet search’…Just going to take a couple guys with a little vision and some balls…to unchain the world from all of Google’s BS…and take back Internet search and make it a lot better for everyone.


    Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  4. Dan wrote:

    It really is a shame….

    you should have over 50 responses to every post you make.

    What are you going to do….


    Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 3:38 am | Permalink