Hopefully there is none, but…

My initial response is there is no difference between doing SEO for a brand new site vs an older site, but upon a short reflection I realize that is not necessarily true.

The two “possible” differences that jump out at me are:

  1. The older website is probably past the Google Sandbox Effect already, so once you start publishing daily you should see your website traffic start to slowly climb every month right away.
  2. On the other hand if someone did SEO for the older website and violated some of Google quality guidelines your website may rank low due to Google penalties.

Google Sandbox Effect

The Google Sandbox Effect affect is when brand new websites attract very few visitors via organic search due to them being very new.

The Google Analytics chart below shows a very dramatic example of the Google Sandbox effect. This was a website that for the first few months published 3 short posts a day (short being 200 to 250 words).

Double click the image below to see an enlarged view.

This Google Analytics chart shows a very dramatic example of the Google Sandbox Effect. After a few months the levels of traffic arriving via Organic Search increased dramatically in the course of a week or so.
The Google Sandbox Effect

As you can see, for the first few months very few visitors arrived at all, then suddenly in the course of about a week significant numbers of visitors started arriving.

Penalized by Black Hat or Grey Hat SEO?

This one is much tougher. How can you know if your site has or has not been penalized? First ensure your site is configured with Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmasters Tools) and see if Google sends you any messages about your site.

Second install the Moz toolbar for Chrome and use it to look at your site.

If you see any indicates this is the case, you have two choices:

  1. Start the laborious process of slowly fixing what’s broken and wait for Google to remove the penalties, or
  2. Scrap the domain name and website completely and start a new one.

Both those options are bad, but if your site is being penalized you have no choice. You must go through one or the other.

SEO Needs Link Building

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