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Is Domain Age a Significant Factor in Website Rankings? – A SPN Exclusive Article

spn_exclusiveThe debate is over – well, at least in my mind it is. What debate am I referring to? The debate over whether or not the age of a domain plays a significant factor in website rankings. Some SEO experts say it does, while others say it doesn’t. Count me on the side of those who say it does matter.

Frankly, I don’t see why there’s a debate about this at all. I mean it’s hardly a secret that Google gives preferential treatment in the search engine results pages (SERP’s) to long-established businesses because of the trust factor. Meaning, the longer a domain has been registered and active, the more trust it will be given by Google – provided, of course, the domain has a good reputation and quality inbound links.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about a domain that has been registered for 10 years, but has not actually been indexed by Google. Because in Google’s mind, a domain that’s been registered for 10 years, but has no actual website, is exactly the same as a domain that was purchased yesterday. It has no juice. No, I’m referring to domains that are both registered and indexed – active domains.

Does Domain Age Really Matter?

Two years ago I wrote an article titled Domain Age: Does It Really Matter When It Comes to Rankings? In the article, I talked about how I conducted an experiment with hundreds and hundreds of domains in dozens of different categories… cakes, candy, balloons, fruit, cars, books, auctions, insurance, pets, stuffed animals, restaurants, seo, beaches, real estate, marketing, etc., etc., etc.

My conclusion at that time: The age of the domain is a significant factor in the ranking of websites.

Well, Google has had quite a few algorithm updates since I conducted my experiment two years ago. So I decided to conduct a more recent experiment to see if my theory still holds water.

This time, I decided to test the keywords of twenty common marketing terms, analyzing the top 10 results of each keyword term. So as not to skew the results in favor of older domains, Wikipedia.com was excluded from all search results. I also excluded other domains from the results that are part of the American lexicon, such as Google.com, Facebook.com and YouTube.com. Following are the results of my experiment listed alphabetically:

1. Article Marketing – The age of the oldest domain listed was 6 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 4 years old.

2. Blogging – After excluding “Blogger.com” and “WordPress.com” from the search results, the age of the oldest domain was 12 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 4 years old.

3. Copywriting – The age of the oldest domain was 12 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 2 years old.

4. Direct Mail – After excluding the “United States Postal Service” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 18 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 2 years old.

5. Ecommerce – After excluding “WordPress.com” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 13 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 5 years old.

6. Email List – The age of the oldest domain was 14 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 3 years old.

7. Free Publicity – After excluding “Amazon.com” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 13 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 2 years old.

8. Internet Marketing – The age of the oldest domain was 15 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 6 years old.

9. Keywords – After excluding “Adwords” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 12 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 8 years old.

10. Linking Strategies – The age of the oldest domain was 16 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 5 years old.

11. Marketing – After excluding “Entrepreneur.com” and “About.com” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 11 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 9 years old.

12. Page Rank – The age of the oldest domain was 13 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 5 years old.

13. Pay Per Click – After excluding “Adwords” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 13 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 1 year old.

14. RSS – After excluding “CNN.com” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 15 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 8 years old.

15. Search Engine Optimization – The age of the oldest domain was 16 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 7 years old.

16. Social Media – After excluding “About.com” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 12 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 1 year old.

17. Spam Protection – The age of the oldest domain was 19 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 6 years old.

18. Video Marketing – The age of the oldest domain was 6 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 2 years old.

19. Website Design – The age of the oldest domain was 15 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 6 years old.

20. Website Traffic – After excluding “Alexa.com” from the results, the age of the oldest domain was 7 years old. The age of the youngest domain was 8 months old.

Conclusion

Granted, this is just a tiny sampling of search terms and is by no means scientific. And yes, there are a variety of variables that have to be taken into consideration. For example, one could reasonably argue that the number and quality of inbound links of each domain were largely responsible for the results I obtained. That’s a very valid argument. However, inbound links notwithstanding, it still doesn’t alter the fact that the top ranking domains are still, overwhelmingly older domains. That fact simply cannot be denied, or explained away.

So am I suggesting that it’s impossible for newer domains to crack the top 10 search results? No, I’m not suggesting that at all. But my test results would seem to indicate that newer domains are definitely at a distinct disadvantage.


David Jackson is a marketing consultant, and the owner of Free-Marketing-Tips-Blog.com – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business! http://free-marketing-tips-blog.com

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53 Comments

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  • I would be interested to see a comparison of the top ten results with the number of backlinks associated with each domain which is more likely a bigger factor. Additionally, is it the age of the backlinks with anchor text? I tend to find really ancient forum posts appearing higher up than newer content. Perhaps a longevity factor has more weight?

  • I totally agree. Whilest I haven’t carried out such a comprehensive experiment myself, I have definitely noticed an increase in traffic on my sites that have been going for a few years without any SEO work at all. I find it quite frustrating trying to get new sites to rank in the beginning and I’m sure age is a factor.

    Jonathan

  • Thank you Former Marine. Even among the responses to this article, the debate rages on.

    I wish you and your family a safe and Happy New Year!

  • So basically after a few years one will know if his projects have a chance to be successful if he does not want to advertise and just builds backlinks and does SEO. Good to know.

  • David, thank you for running an experiment. But I wonder if age is more of a correlation. At the end of the article, you add that many feel it is more about the links.

    Aged domains are more likely to have better link profiles. An experiment that would be harder to complete would be to take a new domain and provide it with a similar link profile and see how it does.

    I would think the link profile is more important than the age.

  • I am of the opinion that the older sites do have a great deal of backlinks and also a lot of SEO thus they would have to rank higher. And as mentioned, the new ones are at a disadvantage.

  • Christopher, one has nothing to do with the other. Why wait a few years for your domain to age and accrue backlinks?

    You should be doing everything possible today, to generate traffic and make your website successful.

  • I read that google will be changing its index results to include more up to date information for visitors. ie if you want super bowl scores / results up to date scores will appear first followed by previous years scores.
    Often visitors only click on the first page of serp, and all of the sites listed are established sites. Of course google wants to provide the best popular results. Many new sites dont stick around they have a good site at the start, the webmaster thinks they will become rich overnight , plaster ads all over it then abandon it a few months later because its hard work maintaining a site.
    Quality content, quality backlinks and good seo are essential elements as is domain age.

  • Having built a number of websites on both aged and new domains, I definitely agree that it gives you an advantage using an aged domain. That being said, as you mentioned, quality inbound links are the main factor that will ultimately help your rankings.

  • To be able to answer his query I felt I necessary to choose this a step even further and explain how rel=”author” appears to suit into a significantly grander prepare Google is employing all over own profiles. Remember to be aware, what We have shared with you below is basically my sentiment based on practical knowledge, analysis, and discussions with some of my good colleagues inside Search engine optimisation local community; not the least of whom is John Carcutt (my co-host on Search engine marketing 101 Radio).

    Primary take into account what we know:

    Leeds SEO Company
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    Google is taking under consideration the personalized blocking info (the block internet page preference in results) from customers that have an extended and dependable profile; verified by Matt Cutts in his September 21st Q&A (the very first remedy on the linked page).
    Right now, if you have a very highly trustworthy profile and you have authorship markup (rel=author) on your articles/copy you will get representation in Google search outcomes – by having your photo show up next to the article.
    So as for this markup to work you need to have a very Google Profile and it must be correctly associated with the sites you write on and your author page on the web page has to connect back (a few hoops are necessary) to your Google Profile to finalize the association.
    Google is integrating Plus into most (if not all) of their products – this was verified by Vic Gundrota on a recent Web Summit 2.0 interview with him and Sergey Brin.
    In an effort to be on Google Plus you have to have got a Google Profile.
    Your Google Profile prompts you to connect all of your social profiles so Google knows your social fingerprint and can highlight content in search successes that your friends have socially shared/liked.
    Links are an important part of Google’s algorithms but they are heavily gamed and likely cause the majority of spam found in Google’s good results.
    If Google sees that others like your content then it has a better chance of appearing at the top of relevant searches.

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    Next, let’s connect a few dots and make some educated assumptions:

    If your content is shared extensively on social networks, especially Plus, and you have rel=”author” (AKA authorship markup), Google will credit your profile with more trust.
    If someone links to your article or otherwise shares it, Google can see the authorship markup and will contemplate crediting your Google Profile – depending on the quality of person linking/sharing the article.
    Links are a trust indicator and Google Profiles will be a trust indicator with a tougher signal to fake.
    By creating content regularly that is highly shared and signed with your rel=”author” you will build greater trust for your Google Profile.
    The more trust & credibility you have with Google, the better chance your content will have of appearing while in the top search outcome.

    My Conclusion
    Build your Google Profile because there are many reasons to believe it will assist the ranking success of content you write and socially share. To be able to build your profile you will want to give Google every reason to believe you are trustworthy and rel=”author” is one of the tools they have given you to do that. The sooner you get started, the longer your positive Google Profile history will be and the more trust you can gain before your competitors wisen up.
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  • This is what I tell every new client I get that just launched a website on a newly registered domain. “It will take for us to earn the SE respect because your domain is new, etc…, there are no shortcuts but if we do things the right way we will soon be at the top”

  • Please, don’t ever go into science or research. You logic fails miserably. “That fact simply cannot be denied, or explained away.”
    Again, please! If you don’t know the simple scientific method, you have multiple variables and you have to change only 1. When it’s obvious, all these top ranking site can have strong backlinks, which could be the main factor and not the age.

    Easy analogy btw, it’s like you’re saying older people have advantage in getting a job. And you prove it by counting how many old people have high paying jobs. Obviously WRONG, if 2 guys have the same qualifications, one is 60 years old, one is 30, guess who will make more? It’s their skill/experience, not just because they are old that they make more money.

  • Picking domain names has always been a challenge. I absolutely agree with you and hopefully I’ll learn to be patient in coming up with a name the next time. I think domainka.com is also pretty good for getting a domain name.

  • I am doing some real research on this topic and I must add that most seo’s out there agree that…

    a. it can’t hurt (an old domain)
    b. it won’t do you much good
    c. it is a parameter but isn’t worth the trouble
    d. better spend time to find a short relevant domain.

    Thanks for the post mate

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