The Importance of Domain Age for SEO

One of the most frequently asked questions asked throughout all webmaster forums is how important domain registration age is for SEO. And there are several sound reasons why it makes sense for Google to favour older domains.

The basic logic here lies in the following two points:

1)       Well-established sites own older domain names, so by this token, older domains may be more reliable sources

2)       Spammers register and discard domains quickly, a new domain therefore is more likely to host a spamming site

Opinions on the importance of domain age vary, although most webmasters agree that it’s hardly a potent ranking factor.

However, Google’s patent “Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data” clearly states that Google does take into account domain registration and renewal dates:

“(1) … the date that a domain with which a document is registered may be used as an indication of the inception date of the document.”

“(2) Certain signals may be used to distinguish between illegitimate and legitimate domains. … Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain and, thus, the documents associated therewith.”

Although, the patent sounds pretty straightforward, domain age factor seems to be blown out of proportion. The point is simple: domain registration date cannot guarantee either quality or reliability of a website because:

-          Domain names can sometimes be parked, that is registered but never used for a long time;

-          New domains are typically used by highly established companies (with the 301 redirect from an older domain);

-          A domain name may be used illegally for spamming and other black hat SEO purposes and then sold to a new more law-abiding owner with no change of the domain registration date.

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