May 19, 2008
Does age matter? – Domain age and Google
If there’s one issue that splits the Search Engine Optmisation (SEO) community, it’s whether or not the age of a website’s domain impacts greatly on a site’s performance in Google.
A few years ago, the link was well established. Google seemed to be attempting to stop its search results being flooded by spammy newcomer websites by valuing a website’s domain age heavily in determing search results. This did work, but the problem was that it also kept new sites that were of high quality out of the top of the results. In essence, it was a temporary fix to a permanent problem.
Then, in late 2006 and early 2007, SEO consultants all over the place watched as some of their respected clients suddenly dropped off the top 10 list. This led to many SEO “experts” claiming that Google had dropped domain age from its ranking algorithm.
Over the last 12 months, many SEO experts have come out and stated that Google has reinstated domain age into their algorithm, as many older sites are now performing much better. It is this humble SEO consultant’s opinion, that domain age is in the algorithm, but only in a limited form.
The practice of domain selling, where companies buy a domain name now, hold onto it for five years or so, and then sell it, has meant that it is not effective to weight domain age too heavily.
The feeling out there now is that Google is using other factors, such as traffic, content and backlinks, to determine a website’s authority. This explains why some SEO’s seem to think domain age is still critical, because for the most part, it is safe to assume that a site that has good traffic, content and backlinks has been around for a while. But it appears that some SEO consultant’s are mixing up correlation and causation.
By weighting traffic, network monitoring, content and backlinks (amongst other things) more heavily, Google are effectively removing those spammy sites from their results but also allowing young sites that have plenty to offer rank well.
It seems that Google may have finally found the balance.
In short, it is difficult for new sites to zoom up the Google rankings, but the age of the domain is not the reason for this. New sites struggle because they don’t have traffic or backlinks to help their ranking. By the same token, older sites will not rank well just because they have been around for ten years.
So while there does exist a correlation between the age of website’s domain and its search engine performance in general, the actual causation for this is most likely a string of other factors that more comprehensively determine a site’s authority, and hence its relevance to search results.