Domain Age and Search Engine Optimization: Are They Connected?
Last Updated December 24th, 2020 · Web Development
If you have a website, you might be wondering if the age of your domain will affect your site’s search rankings. Domain age is often touted as a lightweight but influential search engine optimization (SEO) signal. Many webmasters believe that the older their domain, the higher their website will rank. The connection between domain age and SEO, however, isn’t black and white.
What Is Domain Age?
Domain age refers to the length of time for which a domain has been registered. Regardless of the extension, all domains must be registered through an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) accredited company known as a registrar. The clock on a domain’s age begins ticking when it’s initially registered and continues running until the domain expires and is no longer registered.
Keep in mind that change of ownership doesn’t affect domain age. Domains can change ownership without it restarting their age clock. If you purchased a domain from a webmaster, for instance, the age of your website’s domain will depend on when they initially registered it.
The Link Between Domain Age and SEO
Domain age is absolutely connected to SEO. There’s a close correlation between the length of time for which a domain has been registered and the search rankings of the domain’s website. Websites with an old domain usually outranked those with a new domain.
Correlation, though, doesn’t equal causation. Your website may rank higher if it has an old domain, but the reason for its SEO success may not be directly attributed to its aged domain.
While spearheading Google’s search quality team, Matt Cutts shared a video on the official Google Search Central YouTube channel. In this video, he answered the question of whether domain age is important for search rankings. Cutts explained that the SEO difference between a six-month-old domain and a one-year-old-domain is small at best and that webmasters shouldn’t worry about it.
Why Old Domains Rank Higher
Google doesn’t use domain age when calculating a website’s search rankings. Its algorithm uses hundreds of SEO signals, but domain age isn’t one of them. Nonetheless, there are a few reasons why websites with an old domain rank higher than those with a new domain.
Older Domains Have More Content
The amount of content your website has will likely increase as its domain ages. Most webmasters gradually add content to their website. They don’t publish 100 pages of long-form content immediately after registering their domain. Rather, they begin with a few pages initially while slowly adding more pages in the months and years to follow.
With more content, your website’s SEO will improve. It may rank higher, and it may rank for more search queries. Google and other search engines prioritize content in their ranking algorithms. Websites with an old domain typically have more content, as well as higher-quality content, than their counterparts, so they are favored by search engines.
Older Domains Have More Backlinks
Along with content, domain age can affect the number of backlinks your website attracts. Backlinks take time to acquire. You can’t expect bloggers and other webmasters to link to your website if you just recently registered the domain. You must patiently wait for them to discover your website. Only then will bloggers and other webmasters link to it.
An old domain means your website has had more time for bloggers and other webmasters to find it. As your website’s exposure increases, it may attract more backlinks from these users, which contributes to higher rankings.
What About Domain Registration Length?
While domain age won’t directly affect your website’s rankings, it could be a different story for domain registration length. Registration length refers to the length of time for which you register a domain. When you register a domain, you’ll have to select a registration length. As per ICANN’s requirements, registration lengths can range from one year to 10 years. By choosing a long registration length, such as five years or 10 years, your website’s SEO may improve.
Google holds over 50,000 patents, many of which pertain to technologies and methodologies for ranking websites. One of these patents specifically mentions domain registration length. The patent states that legitimate websites are often registered for multiple years at a time, whereas illegitimate websites are typically registered for just one year at a time. In turn, Google’s algorithm may use domain registration length to identify low-quality or spam websites.
Domain registration length is likely more of a hint than an actual SEO factor. Your website won’t necessarily rank higher if you register the domain for multiple years. Instead, your website will project itself as being legitimate. Search engines won’t wrongfully target your website with a spam-based penalty. They’ll see its long registration length, giving them confidence in your website’s integrity.
The Benefits of a Long Registration Length
Choosing a long registration length offers other benefits. Depending on the registrar, for example, you may save money. Some registrars offer discounts on multi-year registrations. You’ll probably spend less money when choosing a single five-year registration as opposed to five consecutive one-year registrations.
You also won’t have to worry about frequently renewing your domain. There’s no way to permanently register a domain. Registrations have a fixed length, with 10 years being the longest. Before the end of this period, you’ll need to renew it through the registrar.
If you choose a one-year registration length, you’ll have to renew your website’s domain every year. If you allow it to expire, the registrar will place your website’s domain back on the open market for other webmasters to buy and use. Choosing a five-year or ten-year registration length, on the other hand, will alleviate this burden.
Domain age might not be a direct SEO signal, but it’s still closely connected to search rankings. Your website’s content will increase and encompass more digital real estate as its domain ages. At the same time, an old domain can attract more backlinks. You can’t control the speed at which your website’s domain, so it’s best to focus on other SEO processes such as producing high-quality content and customizing meta tags. Nonetheless, your website’s SEO will likely improve as its domain ages.
Link Software offers SEO services to our clients. We can get you started down the right path for your brand new, or existing website. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you get started with search engine optimization.