I keep hearing about Google “sandboxing” websites that seem to be overtly/incorrectly optimizing for SEO. Can you please explain what this is, and how to avoid falling victim?
Well, the term "sandboxing" really applies to newer sites that don't really have a lot of content, or authority (links and mentions across the internet). Those green sites are indexed , but they just don't show up for the keyword searches you want them to yet. I haven't seen this too much lately though, and in fact the opposite can sometimes happen now. I've seen newer sites come up on the front page for terms, usually though, they will fall down a bit until they can build up some links and prove that they're a valuable site. Now for the sites that are overly optimized, they tend to get de-indexed or fall heavily in the rankings of the keyword searches you want to rank for. It depends on how overly optimized you are. The key is to cut back the amount of keywords-as-anchortext (that is when the links you're building on the internet say "Ottawa Wedding Photographer," etc). you have floating around the internet. A little bit here and there is OK, but you don't want it everywhere. It's not very natural.