Domain Age and Rankings

Barry Schwartz picked up on a thread over at WebMasterWorld. The thread was started by Brett Tabke, and discusses the affect of domain age on search engine rankings. In it Brett suggests that it’s a top 5 or top 10 factor in rankings.

That’s lofty territory! However, I can confirm from my own experience that domain age is a major factor. I know of sites that seem to be absolutely squatting in the number 1 position on major search term results when the links and content they have just don’t seem to justify it.

What’s behind this, and how big is it? First things first, we know that “Trust Rank” is a big factor in rankings. Sites that have been around for a long time, and that have maintained a consistent theme (this is key) get positive points from a trust point of view.

This is simply because businesses that survive the test of time are less likely to be spammers. There are other related things you can do, such as pay for your domain for multiple years in advance, as this is something that a spammer may be less likely to do (although this would be a minor rankings factor).

Trust is huge. Another major factor is to get a link from a highly trusted site. This is something that will provide value beyond what you would expect, provided that the link is relevant, and not purchased. The reason this provides higher levels of benefits is that it affects your trust score, and your relevance rankings as well. You win twice.

But back to the old domain discussion … having a domain that has a few years on it has real value. If you are planning to start a new web site, you might want to think carefully about acquiring an existing domain that has been around for a while.

Just make sure you buy something that is highly relevant to the topic of your planned web site. And check out it’s history and make sure it doesn’t have any negative flags on it from the search engines (i.e. was it banned at any time in it’s history, or does it appear to have any algorithmic penalties on it)


  1. PaulKnag says

    I’ve noticed this too, from the other side. I performed a by-the-book 301 relocation of a corporate website undergoing a re-branding (established, 1998 PR6) to a new domain in July. Same Whois info. The new site still maintains a PR 0 and doesn’t rank well even for its own name, despite almost 50,000 links showing in Yahoo linkdomain, all whitehat.

    News references and business partner references still outrank the actual corporate site.

  2. Eric Enge says

    Interesting. I am suprised that the 301 redirect didn’t handle the issue in it’s entirety. My experience shows that you would be OK if you did a domain move with 301 redirects, and that the trust cores would be passed through.

  3. says

    There might be some lag between setting up the 301 and the various SE attributes (PR, trust, etc.) actually being passed over from old site to new.

    Out of curiosity, did you redirect page by page or the entire domain?

  4. Eric Enge says

    Paul – I think what Richard means is, did you 301 to newdomain/page1.html, and to newdomain/page2.html, and so forth for every page on the site? This is what you want to do.

  5. says

    Yep – that’s what I was wondering about.

    Can I ask how large the site is also? Doing a root level 301 for a large site might cause you quite a lot of pain, Google-wise.

  6. says

    Domain age is NOT a factor. I can put any new domain into competitive results in 2-3 months, perhaps sooner now that Google is doing daily data refreshes (haven’t launched any new domains in a few weeks).

    And if I can do it, anyone can do it.

  7. says

    Execellent Article, i do think domain age is a factor, even though you can register a new domain, and get it to the top of the search engines, depending on what keywords you use of course

    But if somebody came up to me and said heres a domain name, its 11 years old, then another came up exact same price, this domain is 3 months old

    What would you go for?
    11 years


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