Domain Name Age and its Effects in SEO

There are lots of questions regarding the impact of the age of web sites in search engine rankings. This is because newer sites are often not seen on top of search engine results for related queries despite the relevance of the page content.

Since the results that appear on top are those established much longer than the recently launched sites, a hypothesis can be drawn to connect age of domain and the relative high rankings on search queries. This could be true but the hypothesis could also be flawed since other factors are probably weighed besides the age factor.

  • Content Quality. Search engines love pages with fresh content, but obviously these pages won’t get ranked until they are relevant to search phrases. Assuming they are, the amount of content also plays importance in determining the thought of the article. Pages that are long and explain an article very well will likely be merited with higher credited than less deeper ones.
  • Inbound Links. This is related to the first item. Sites that existed for a while may have attracted other sites that considered its contents as important and relevant. Search engines especially Google pay attention to inbound links and therefore see pages linked by many other pages as more important than pages with fewer quality inbound links. Older sites have more time to gather links, but newer ones that are worth linking could easily catch up too.
  • Duplicate Content. The newer sites could have contents that are repetitive, redundant and are therefore subject to getting ignored for display. Search engines want to ensure displayed pages are unique, unless not enough pages qualify for a particular keyword entry.

It is also thought that Google pays attention on the length of time (measured in number of years) a domain name is registered. While the apparent reason for this item is to ensure the site is not a “fly by night” spammy content scraping site made for Adsense and then disappear once the domain registration expires.

I don’t think this hypothesis is true simply because item number 1) above. Sites are weighed by quality and relevance and age is secondary. A new site with comprehensive information about a certain topic can top a search result over an old competitor with outdated content. But if ever I am wrong, the advantages of an older site hinges on the following:

  1. Older sites get indexed by search engines first.
  2. Older sites have been included in directories at no charge from search directories such as Yahoo!
  3. Older sites have been included in directories when they were inundated with less applications, therefore have more time to add site applying for inclusion.
  4. Older sites have older links pointing to them, which are less thought as artificial links.
  5. Older sites have the luxury to pick more suitable domain names, including the keyword-rich ones that are currently unavailable.

Let’s consider that age of domain name is just one of the factors in search engine rankings. But if given the opportunity to own one that has been registered long enough, it must also be considered instead of getting a new domain name if we believe the existence of Google sandbox effect.

Once again I would rather focus on content that’s relevant to what Internet are searching, update the site often and place links generously. Don’t be scared of PageRank dilution. If the sites look at their referrer URLs and see your pages, they’d look at your site and could consider a goodwill gesture of linking back especially if the contents in both sites are related.