Since the site in my Project Cloudburst case study is having some serious ranking issues, I’ve been doing loads of research trying to uncover all the things that might be at play here.
One of the more interesting things that I’ve come across is the possibility of an aged domain sandbox.
And let me tell you, it is really difficult to find any real information on this.
You certainly won’t find anyone who promotes aged domain marketplaces talking about it since it hurts the chance of affiliate monies there.
But I don’t make most of my income from this site, so I’m sharing everything I’ve learned thus far.
I’ve done quite a bit of testing with aged domains, and oddly enough I don’t think that I’ve ever experienced an aged domain sandbox until just recently.
And that’s with me assuming that the Project Cloudburst site is dead due to an aged domain sandbox and not something else (I still don’t know the problem with it).
Of course, there is actually a chance that I HAVE previously experienced the aged domain sandbox and just didn’t know it.
Typically I give an aged domain three months to see if it works.
But there have been aged domains in my previous testing that did nothing during the three months they were live as new sites, but that DID perform better after 301ing everything to an existing site.
Was that me experiencing the aged domain sandbox? I honestly do not know.
I can’t help but think that the whole purpose of an aged domain is to skip the sandbox and start out with all this power and authority, so if there is an aged domain sandbox to worry about….I dunno. Definitely lots to think about.
Is It A Sandbox Or A Repurposing Period?
The first person that I heard use the term aged domain sandbox was Charles Floate when he was on the Niche Pursuits podcast (it’s a great episode, you should listen).
He talks about aged domains starting at around 27 minutes.
Looking on Twitter, I found that Charles was talking about this some back in January.
I’m predominantly using fresh domains right now too.
Aged (With Links) is the secondary, but the repurposing sandbox is a real pain in the ass a lot of the time… https://t.co/K1PW9oddwp
— Charles Floate 📈 (@Charles_SEO) January 10, 2022
Note that he’s calling in a repurposing sandbox here.
I actually was able to find him talking about this aged domain repurposing sandbox back in July 2021.
You’re talking about your scenarios – New sites & niche changes don’t affect client work.
The repurposing sandbox when you change niche of an aged/expired domain is a real thing – It’s not an issue with the site, it’s the total change of niche that causes a temporary sandbox.
— Charles Floate 📈 (@Charles_SEO) July 21, 2021
Based on what he’s shared, it seems like the aged domain sandbox is when you change the niche of an aged domain.
That is something that should be expected, right?
But what about aged domains with fresh site builds that are still in the same niche?
Is that also a sandbox?
What If You Keep The Aged Domain In The Same Niche?
I asked on Twitter to see if I could gain some new data points on the possibility of an aged domain sandbox.
Based on what I’ve heard from people, this does seem to be a very real thing.
So, how long of a sandbox with aged domains are people experiencing?
How does six to eight months sound?
Took quite a while to get things ranking. Almost no traction for the first 3 months. Then 1 article got picked up.
Things ramped up 6-8months in.
I’ll caveat that my content strategy from day one could have been better. Built around 50 links over this time period. pic.twitter.com/cloHxitpIM
— Rich (@Rich_GCVentures) March 7, 2022
It sounds terrible, right?
What’s interesting about this data point from Rich is that I had a private Twitter conversion with someone who has way more experienced with aged domains than me, and he told me that he’s never seen an aged domain sandbox last more than 3 months.
So, that’s interesting, right?
But the worst part about this is that when an aged domain experiences a sandbox effect, this whole thing seems kind of random.
Yep…there is definitely a longer sandbox now for aged domains…also it has become more of a hit or miss too..some domains would just never work and you won’t figure out a reason why.. ☹️
— Sarvesh Shrivastava (@sraveshmotihari) March 9, 2022
Pay attention to that last part in the quoted tweet above – some domains just never work.
Based on the people that I’ve talked to and the research that I’ve done, there is definitely both a repurposing sandbox and an aged domain sandbox.
But, it seems like the aged domain sandbox, where you stay in the same niche, is more of a recent development.
And the repurposing sandbox has been around a while.
At the end of the day, aged domains have always been a gamble and you never really know how they’re going to perform.
I have really recent sites built on aged domains that are a success.
But now it seems like that aged domain sandbox has a greater chance of showing up than it used to be when building in the same niche on an aged domain.
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.