Is Domain Age An Important Google Ranking Factor in SEO?

(K9) More seo musings…..

A few things to consider. Are we talking about rankings improvement, or traffic?

For traffic, on it’s own at least, in my experience,I don’t think so. Having a ten year old domain that Google knows nothing about is the same as having a brand new domain.

Rankings in Google come down to opportunity and TRUST.

It’s akin to saying you trust an older person over a younger person just because they are older. Is this really a measurement you can trust – ON IT’S OWN?

I also hear if you have no credit history AT ALL, you’ll find it hard to get credit, because of a lack of, well, trust built up over the years, that you can actually pay back.

Likewise, do you trust someone implicitly you met in primary school and haven’t heard of in 35 years?

People judge each other by their actions over time, so would it be reasonable to think Google going into 2010 is the same?

In a better situation, you trust a friend you’ve known consistently for 10 years. Other folks cite them as trustworthy. As you get to know them better, you believe in them more.

A 10 year old site that’s constantly cited by, year on year, the actions of other, more authorative, and trusted sites? That’s valuable.

But that’s not the age of your website address ON IT”S OWN in play as a ranking factor. A one year old domain cited by authority sites is just as valuable if not more valuable.

Perhaps Domain age may come into play when other factors are considered – but I think Google works very much like this on all levels, with all ‘ranking factors’, and all ranking ‘conditions’. I don’t think you can consider discovering ‘ranking factors’ without ‘ranking conditions’.

Some rankings may improve over time if a site is highly relevant (I’ve seen this) and has done nothing to break Google’s ‘trust’ but perhpas this is just because Google is getting better at finding relevent content?

It’s worth noting that this slight ranking improvement probably gets beat down anyway as competitors concentrate on geting more weighty benefits to their site (ie links from other trusted sites).

I work with a lot of domains over 10 years old, and this age metric doesn’t stand up wel, on it’s own, to more likely rewarding Google ranking factors. For instance – I’ve got an exact match domain I made 3 months ago on page two of Google for it’s main term with one link.

I think you’ve really got to be thinking like a Google engineer when considering ranking factors and under what conditions they may be of benefit to your seo, or to its detriment, while it can be fun to surmise about these factors.

I prefer to theorise about the actual psychology of rankings from the engineers point of view, rather than just simple building blocks that form part of a jigsaw.

Domain: 13 factors from SEJ

  1. Domain age; (NOT ON IT”S OWN)
  2. Length of domain registration; (I don’t see much benefit ON IT”S OWN even knowing “Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year.”) – paying for a domain in advance just tells others you don’t want anyone else using this domain name, it is no indication you’re going to do something Google will reward you for iMO).
  3. Domain registration information hidden/anonymous; (possibly, under human review if OTHER CONDITIONS are met like looking like a spam site)
  4. Site top level domain (geographical focus, e.g. com versus; (YES)
  5. Site top level domain (e.g. .com versus .info); (DEPENDS)
  6. Sub domain or root domain? (DEPENDS)
  7. Domain past records (how often it changed IP); (DEPENDS)
  8. Domain past owners (how often the owner was changed) (DEPENDS)
  10. Domain IP; (DEPENDS – for most, no)
  11. Domain IP neighbors; (DEPENDS – for most, no)
  12. Domain external mentions (non-linked) (I Don’t think so)
  13. Geo-targeting settings in Google Webmaster Tools (YES – of course)

I considered doing something similar in 2010 as the above, but you’ll get more benefit from Google sticking to the simple stuff than trying to identify for sure if anything but the very obvious is at play in Google rankings:

Perhaps what I am saying is I focus on other more obvious ways to improve rankings. I try and do what others have done only better. None of these signals on it’s own regarding domain age or registration is a sign of trust Google would take on it’s own merit.

I don’t think it’s where your at, it’s what you do next, what you flag as your intent (! don’t ask !) that is more important to improve rankings in 2010, with a new site especially, using traditional seo methods – not that real time crap.

Do check out Anne’s great post at SEJ, and let me know what you think? I have tweetbacks turned on for this post so you can DISAGREE or AGREE just by tweeting also if you can’t be bothered to comment :)

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13 Responses

  1. Terry Van Horne says:

    Shaun, domain age and link age are where most get mixed up and link age IMO, is a more important factor than domain age. I have domains I’ve owned for over a decade that have never been used. A new link on an old domain is likely trusted less than an old link on a new site. There was never a “sandbox”… that was actually IMO, an age of content factor. I think content/domains can become too old if they aren’t generating new IBLs content starts to drop in rankings. I quit promoting SeoPros about 8 months ago… now it has fallen for it’s main terms from 1 or 2 spot to second page. I will be re-launching a new design and “re-purposing” of the site in the coming months it will be interesting to see what happens to the rankings on this 10 yr. old domain.

  2. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    Hi Terry Sites that

    “aren’t generating new IBLs content starts to drop in rankings”

    I think this in itself is an important point too very much over looked.

  3. RisingPhoenix says:

    Domain age when taken alone might act as positive factor(if old) but certainly not as negative factor(if new). When you meet an old man then just out of coursey you give him some respect but judging is all together a different ball game. I do not think Domain Age is any remarkable indicator just by its own. Only when mixed with past history it will indicate something measurable.

  4. Mike Stewart says:

    Great topic and discussion. Do u mind if I share your findings Shaun?

  5. David says:

    I just started a fans forum for my local Championship football club Plymouth Argyle – brand new dom name – brand new bog dom name and so on. I note that when a new forum post gets posted GoogleBot is all over it within seconds. The forum, WP blog, flickr and smugmug sites are all driving the project and it is very niche (1 million people catchment) – Word Press and vBulletin rock – but don’t. ever give up! Gained a lot of fans from well know methods and my site is now third and poised to overtake the local newspaper and official club site Nuff said? Happy New Year Everyone David

  6. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    I need a new Tweetbacks plugin – bugger!

  7. Steve Morris says:

    Domain age means nothing unless the domain has had some sort of presence within the search engines for the entirety of it’s life. I have a clients site that is ten years old but for the whole of that time until now it has been used with an 100% iframe linking to some free isp hosting. the site now has it’s own hosting and it is just as hard if not harder to get any decent rankings then a new domain.

  8. John Alden says:

    Great post Shaun! I heard in somewhere that the length of the domain registration affecting SERPs proved to be a myth. I remember that news making me pretty happy as a newb seo when i was thinking “should i urge clients to buy more than a year of registration?” :D Oh and happy new year everyone!

  9. Power Kites says:

    Good post – it does make more sense that AGE + TRUST FACTORS trump age alone. One question though – can you explain how this is set up? “Geo-targeting settings in Google Webmaster Tools”

  10. Kok Siong Chen says:

    Thanks for your information in this post! Before that, many people ask me to extend the registration period for my blog to optimize SEO. I still blur on this. However, i got the answer from this post!

  11. Tim Johnson says:

    I think google gives a 30 day boost to new sites and then your rankings drop immediately. Can anyone backup my statement I’m not completely sure…

  12. NickD - High Impact says:

    I dont think that domain age on its own is really a factor, although I do believe that the length of time that that a domain is registered for is a factor that carries a small influence with the overall trust of a domain. When you consider that new pages are sometimes sandboxed for a short period untill they prove they are there to stay, it just makes sense that the opposite would have some positive influence.

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