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How To Get Your Site Out Of Davy Jones’ Locker

Google Sandbox FixIf you are into SEO and have followed a number of link building strategies, chances are you have experienced the chilling and punitive effect of Google sending your site into the abyss of “Davy Jones’ Locker”.

This happens when all of your link building and site building efforts are instantly “up in smoke” – you are in Google’s permanent sandbox, and all your important pages (home page, money pages) have suddenly vanished into thin air in the search results, and what is even more irritating, you have no way to retrieve it…. Until now! πŸ™‚

When you have spent a lot of time and effort developing a website and you are suddenly thrown into Google’s abyss, it can be very disheartening. Time and money has been lost.

While everyone who is seriously into seo has experienced this, I am actually thankful that Google punishes webmasters who are “link building spammers,” people who try to artificially manipulate the search engines by blasting links anywhere and everywhere.

Are you a “Link Building Spammer?”

I have endorsed automation link building tools to spam the internet with links.Β  Here are a few of the more popular arsenal of automatic link building weaponry:

And then there are blogging networks which is just a form of link spamming cloaked with content, such as: SEO Link Vine, Article Underground, and Instant Article Wizard.

Which one of these tools is best is another topic. Send me a support email for recommendations. Another topic is how to use these tools responsibly, as “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.”

What do you when you have been too aggressive in your link building campaign and your website is in Davy Jones’ Locker?

Here is a 14 step strategy to get your website out of Google’s Sandbox and back into the SERP’S (search engine result pages)

While this list seems like a full days work, if you have a great domain name with good PR, and you are sandboxed, the effort is well worth it.

  1. Halt all link building efforts to your domain
  2. Change your Title tags. Example, instead of the title “Product Name Review,” rename it to “Product Name – Product Name Review”
  3. Change Meta Description tag.
  4. Change your Meta Keywords
  5. Change your Author or User Profile Name
  6. Change your Footer text keywords (Example, instead of “Copyright 2010 Keyword Here,” rename it to “Copyright 2010 A Related Keyword Here.”
  7. Change your <h1> and <h2> tags inside your content
  8. Change image alt and title tags
  9. If you have a videositemap, change your video file name (videoname.mp4)to another keyword.
  10. Important – change every slug url of your postings/pages (easily done with a wordpress blog using “Quick Edit” feature.
  11. When you have made changes 1-10, continue to add backlinks ‘naturally.’
  12. When you have made changes 1-10,Β  continue to add new content to your website – at least 2-3 new postings per week.
  13. Rebuild your Sitemap with new page/post url’s – if you have a wordpress blog, then this is easily done by going to Settings/XML Sitemap, and clicking on Rebuild Sitemap. If you have a static html site with a sitemap, then you can manually change the url’s in the sitemap.xml with your new url’s using a free editor like notepad plus.
  14. Resubmit site sitemap, video sitemap, and images sitemaps to Google Webmaster Tools.

After you rebuild your sitemap, and if your site is not jolted back into the search engines, then submit a request to Google to reconsider indexing your site. Tell them what happened, and steps you have taken to rectify the issues.

File a re-inclusion request with Google here:

If you are using a wordpress blog, then you will have to go into each page/post and make your changes, as well as change your SEO Pack settings.

While it is true that the Google knows your IP, this method will have a “shock and awe” to the substance of your website in Google’s eyes and your site can become favorable once again in Google’s eyes and can even reappear at the #1 position if that is where your site was before you were sent to the Davy Jones’ Locker.

About Mark Dulisse

Software Developer, Blogger, SEO Consultant, Internet Marketer

Check Also

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At the bottom of this article, you will receive a FREE SEO Google+ Authorship WP …


  1. GREAT post! Lots of people (including me) have to tell you a warm THANK YOU for it. Good luck!

  2. Radhakrishnan KG

    Thanks for the information, i have bookmarked this page for my reference in case i have to deal with a situation, i really hope i will not need this information. πŸ˜‰


  3. Dude, someone just released a product that consisted of these basic steps – I just read it yesterday. Hmmmm….

  4. SMART!! Nice Mark.

  5. Devin the Travel Writer

    Thanks Mark,

    Hopefully, I will never have to look at this page again.

  6. @mark – not really. Before yesterday, the only information I could find on “how to get out of the sandbox was”:
    1. Continue building links consistently.
    2. Wait 2-3 months.
    3. At some point you will bounce back.

    Looking at it like “this person is charging too much” doesn’t really make sense to me. All information has a price. Information that does what is promises has a higher price.

    But I guess since you went and posted this on your blog, the guy selling the information is charging too much now – sucks for him.

  7. While I hope to never have to use the list, I appreciate having it.

    What is the basis for the steps though? Put another way, how do you know this works and how do you know whether a given step is necessary? After all, nobody really knows how google works.

    Just looking for some context. It is assumed that this has happened to Mark and this is how he got out of the sandbox. But how are we to know that it wasn’t just a fluke?

    • @ Bill – Hi Bill, I have had a number of domains vanish, even though they still may have 1-2 pages listed. In one site, I even had the sitemap xml still listed. When this happens, and your site is a great domain name, or there is a lot of money at stake, or perhaps a huge product launch and your site is gone because of your exuberant linking campaign (and you know you pushed it too far), then you need a total rehaul to get it back. If your site is vanished for 1 week, and does not reappear, most likely it is not reappearing on its own. You have to do something drastic.

  8. Hi Mark

    I have always regarded you as one of the good guys mark, but i cannot agree with what you are saying, sandbox is part of my seo tactics, but i would never go to the effort of changing the whole page as sandbox its self just means google does not know what to do, when i go after a really really big keyword, i would expect to come in and out of sandbox at least 3 times before making any in roads, but after that i will turn up on page 1, depending on how quick you can go in and out of sandbox depends on how quick that first page happens ( like sailing a boat in a storm), now the one downside to this method is that for at least 2 months you have no traffic but at that stage you are on page one for a very competitive term but lately on a new project i have tried a different method that has worked very well, throw 50 PR 4 – 7 (the page not domain) and you will never be sandbox, i mean you can go for gold.

    Kind Regards


    • @ Jeremy – I’m am speaking of your domain sandboxed perpetually…not the normal google dance, or Houdini act of your site disappearing and reappearing a few days later.

  9. @ Jeremy – do you ever come up for air? That was the longest run-on sentence ever πŸ™‚

  10. Hey Mark

    I can easily go missing for 2 to 3 weeks at a time and how could it be possible to tell the difference between to two circumstances?

    Also if you are in the position that you are banning domains or Davey Jones Lockering them, then these people need to change there strategy not manage the symtoms.

    Bill i am sorry for my one breath rant but when you read something that goes against your core beliefs you just start typing LOL, also it is a little late in the UK.

    Kind Regards


  11. Good to know.

    Luck enough I didn’t had any of my sites Sandbox and I hope I will not need to put to action all the steps you provided here.

    But it is good to know.

  12. @ Mark – Thanks for the response. I really do appreciate the post you made and I will not hesitate to use it if I find myself in that particular pickle!

    Just wanted some background / more info on it. It was a great checklist, but it’s always good to hear the circumstances surrounding the genesis of the list in the first place.

    @ Jeremy – I can imagine! πŸ™‚ Go to sleep :0

  13. Catholic Rosary Beads


    Just wanted to thank you for the 13 tips to improving SEO and getting your site out of the DJ’s locker! Thank you also for recommending good link building site to assist with the SEO process.

  14. Orange County SEO

    Thanks for the great post Mark. I had a site disappear for 3 month, but then the rankings slowly showed back up. I didn’t do any link building during that time. This was a new site with not much traffic, so I could afford to wait it out. However I can see that this would come in handy if it hits one of your main money sites.

    Do you know how long it usually takes to get your site ranked again with this method?

  15. Hi Mark,

    That is the most comprehensive guide I have ever heard on how get yourself out of the sandbox. Thanks again for great content.

  16. Jeremy, hope you are well brother but can tell us how he you can just throw in 50 high page rank sites?

    All the best

    • @ Gary – Yes, I was going to include this as a “when all else fails, make your changes, and then make your plea with Google. Perhaps I’ll add this. Thanks Gary.

  17. Quick Cash Concept Bonus

    Great post Mark,

    I always have a concern about the duplicate content with auto blog and eventually sandboxed by Google. I’ll definitely give it a shot when I encounter this unfortunate situation!

    Ming Jong

  18. I have this situation after i moved hosting from shared plan to VPS and traffic drop almost 90%. My sites go nowhere for my main keyword.
    Is this also apply to my case?

    • @ YW – If your site is still in the search engine, then it is not sandboxed, but you’ve been penalized for sure. However, I changed my sites from shared to vps and saw an initial drop, but then after a couple of weeks everything was back to normal. Was this just a recent event?

  19. Hey Mark,

    How can I tell if I have been sandboxed to begin with? If you are No. 1 and all of a sudden you are gone – that is pretty obvious. But what if you are still trying to climb up and never got there? I have a site that is No. 1 in Google, and No. 1 in Yahoo but not even in to top 200 in Bing?

    • @ Adrian – You are certainly sanboxed permanently if you’re on the first page of Google, and you’ve been a bit too aggressive in your seo, and all of a sudden your site is gone, and it does not come back after a couple weeks. Sure, it can reappear magically, but in may not, and you can make drastic changes quickly to save your page rank and domain.

      Regarding having ranking in Google, but not in the top 2000 of Bing is a different topic

  20. I am exactly facing this problem for one of my sites now. Been totally out of google index for a couple of months now and I have no idea how to proceed. Let me try this simple 13 steps and hopefully, my site will be out of the sandbox.

  21. It was a great post! i never knew about this until today.. Thanks for sharing this information mr. dulisse that is why im a subscriber in your e-mail list coz i got to get a good report from you always:D

  22. Graham-the German Shepherd Guy

    Hi Mark
    Just goes to show if you try to manipulate Google you will get punished!
    Build a site with original unique content (not re-hashed junk that Google hates) get natural links and nothing ‘spammy’ and you will not get ‘sandboxed’.
    Some of my pages have high rankings in the search engines that have been there for months – give Google good content and stop trying to ‘game the system’ then you will have nothing to fear.
    Graham in UK

    • @ Graham – On page seo and good content alone will not get you high rankings on competitive keywords. 80% or more of seo is backlinks.

  23. Hi Mark

    I am going to have to agree with Graham on this one, i work in the UK and companies that already have SEO infrastructure hire me to really push there projects forward and the one point your missing is that if you have 500 – 700 pages of unique optimised content it will take far less time to rank highly for competitive terms.

    Also on the point of sandboxed domians Graham is also right, as just building quality power links to start with rather than volume you will be on the right path and also open the possibilties of driving your rankings up quicker.



  24. Mark I have never had to deal with this situation but the solution you provide is very clever and just more proof of how well you know google.

    I just got a copy of dominating google not to long ago looking forward to more tips from the google guru.

    Take Care


  25. I didnt know this could be done (ie once you are done, you are done).
    You know how we sometimes buy used domains, let’s say a used domain has 0 indexed pages with google… maybe this is a way to bring those domains back to life (for a cheaper price)

  26. very nice information , i agree that it’s better to start off building power links but for those of us who succumbed to volume first off it’s great to know we can climb back out of the sandbox.

  27. After 3 weeks of no rankings, frustration and lost sales, I’m out of the sandbox within 24 hours of implementing the stuff in this article!
    Thanks Mark, I owe you a beer mate! πŸ˜›

  28. Ryan - Scalar Pendant

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the blog post this was really informative. What I’m most curious is at what point is it TOO much? I have a feeling what I think is too much is probably far less than what it really is. For instance I’m still in this mentality that if I build 10 anchor links/day to a specific KW I need to be careful. Even when I’m diversifying my links. Am I playing it too safe?

    I have yet to enter the Google Sandbox and am terrified of the prospect of it. However at the same time I wonder if I can get sandboxed then what stops anyone from spamming the hell out of their competition to clear the way to the top? I understand for new sites they need to play it safe but can the sandbox impact older sites in the same way? That’s what I don’t get regarding the sandbox, if it really does exist to this degree then why can’t people spam their competition into it?

    From my understanding if you’re a new site and you aggressively backlink right away you can get slapped for it, however at the same time I’ve heard of and seen first hand many sites rank up right immediately with massive link campaigns and not a peep from Google. I’m not talking hundreds of thousands of links but hundreds to a couple thousand in a few weeks. It can get frustrating to see, because these guys will occasionally bypass some of my rankings and I’m certain they’ll get sandboxed for their rapid linking but they never do.

    I do agree with the other poster who said get higher PR backlinks. I experimented with a new electronic cigarette site I made last year and within a few days of creating it I backlinked aggressively with ONLY high PR do follow links. I got a PR 3 label in just over 2 weeks of its creation and was on the Top 10 rankings in under 2 weeks… Of course I dropped off the ranks when I stopped backlinking like this but this site was brand new and climbed right up on a moderate to high comp term! I got scared I was pushing it too hard so I stopped with that strategy but it seemed to do the trick at the time.

  29. Hi Mark,

    First came across you on a webinar you gave with Rob Hannley back in April. I really started to understand and become more proficient with SEO since then.

    What effect would this have on how Google views your site, in terms of the number of broken links that would be created as a result of changing the url of every post & page?

    I was of the understanding that broken links had a negative effect on PR.

    Thanks a lot,


    • @ Ed Hodgson –

      What broken links? You don’t have any anymore in the SERPs. Your site’s URL’s are perpetually sandboxed and nowhere to be found.

  30. Re: Gotcha Mark (penny drops). Of course.


  31. sc online marketing

    I haven’t had this problem with Google yet, but I thank you for this post, because now I know where to come if it ever happens. Thanks

  32. hard to understand what google think and do automate ban/sandbox website. I found some should and some not and something look similar, one is banned and one not…

    Building link and too much growth of traffic might be the cause but I still don’t know it exactly…

  33. Very nice tip about getting site back, I never read about it before. Can anyone confirm what is too much in Google’s eyes (10 links a day, 1000 links a da) or does it not have a strict set of rules….

  34. Some great info here on dealing with the sandbox. I haven’t had to many problems with it, but I have noticed that there is definitely more of a “sandbox effect” for high money keywords. Those keywords that Google has a lot of ad-words money flowing into. They want to protect those from spammers the most, which makes sense.

    Those keywords I believe content is starting to be a much larger focus than back-links and will continue to flip that direction.

  35. Now that is a great guide. The sad part is that I seen an e-book for sell with these guide-lines(spamers can’t help it). Anyway, cheers man and great article.

    Smuze: you can build more than 10, 1000 links, as long as it looks naturaly to google. Go with diffrent types of backlinks and you could start building a few dozens a day, and every day/week add more and more for each day.


  36. Basically what your saying is that I have to start over from scratch with link building to my site that was sandboxed. If I change the slug url, then all the links I’ve already built will no longer be pointing to those posts and any visitor following those links will land on a 404 not found page. Is there any way to get around that? Possibly by using a redirect of some kind? Anyway, its worth a try I guess. At least getting back into the serps would be better than being in the sandbox.

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