When it comes to search engine optimization, or SEO, there are many different factors that contribute to a website’s rankings for a specific keyword. On page optimization, key word density, and backlinks are the most common, and important, factors in SEO. However, there is one other factor that may play a small role in a website’s rankings that is often over looked by webmasters, and that is domain age.
The importance of domain age for SEO has been debated for several years now. Supporters of the theory that the longer your domain has been around the better it will perform in the search engines have two theories why this is the case. The first idea is that well established sites have old domain names and therefore old domains should have a well established website with quality content. The other idea is that spammers tend to register and drop domain names quickly, so therefore newly registered websites have a greater chance of being used for spam. While you may in fact be hosting a legitimate website on a newly purchased domain, in the eyes of the search engines you could potentially be a spammer and someone they want to keep their users away from. Obviously, spammers are now looking for domains with age to put their spam on, so when check the age of a domain, you should really also check its history.
There are several theories out there as to how Google uses domain age to influence a website’s rankings in their algorithm. One speculation is that Google will look at the date when the domain was registered and associate all of the documents on that website with the original registration date of the domain. This would give more legitimacy to the website’s content in the eyes of the Google search engine, allowing a website to rank higher for certain keywords.
Google also supposedly uses domain age to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate websites. The main point behind this theory is that legitimate sites will be paid for several years. Someone who is going to post quality content or build a brand around their webs presence will want to protect that brand by registering their domain for several years at one time. Doing this will ensure that the domain does not expire and fall into the hands of someone else. On the opposite side of this theory illegitimate domains are rarely used for more than a year. Spammers often find the need to jump from domain to domain so they do not bother registering a domain for more than a year and paying more than they need to. With poor quality content there is no need to keep the domain for several years like a legit domain would. Sometimes, people drop a domain and re-register it when it becomes available again. My customer Reikipunt Adelheid had this happen; and we were able to save the domain name after 2 years and set the site back up. She lost a lot of SERPS; but with some work; we were able to restore the main keywords for her.
While these are interesting points to keep in mind when working on your website’s SEO it is important to remember that there are many other factors that determine your website’s rankings in the SERPs. Domain age may play a part in this ongoing equation, but it is just a small piece of the puzzle. If you are not spending time perfecting your on-page optimization or building backlinks to your website, you are not going to see the results you are looking for.