Does domain age and registration period affect SEO
Search Engines are never so generous about all the factors that come to play in determining and ranking websites. There had been a lot of research that give us a clue on what the ranking factors are but we have never gotten a comprehensive guide from Google on the specifics.
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Google ranking factors are very critical factors for every website owner who is serious about ranking well on serach engne result pages. There had been some agreement on the importance of certain factors like domain and link popularity but there still exist much debate over factors like age of domain name and registration period. That will be the focus of this post: does age of domain name and the registration period affect website ranking?
What is meant by Age of Domain Name
By age of domain name, we are referring to how old is the domain name. A domain name that was registered in 2010 would be 6 years old in 2016. So the age of domain name represents the duration or period the domain has been in existence.
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What is Registration Period?
This means the period, in years, it will take for the domain to expire. So, if in October 2016, you register a domain for 3 years, it means the domain will expire in October 2019 and the registration period will be 3 years.
The focus of this post is to determine how these two factors affect the ranking of websites.
The opinion of SEO experts on the effect of these two factors differ. Many SEO's advice support the position that both domain age and length of registration effect search engine rankings. While others do not. This debate has been going on for years.
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Does Domain Age Affect Ranking?
Google's Matt Cutts says SEO practitioners should not worry about domain age and its effects on SEO. Matt Cutts is Google Engineer and spokesman. He dispels some myths and sets the record straight on the importance of domain age for good search engine rankings.
The popular belief has been that older domains do better in search results and are given extra favor due to their age. The idea is that an older domain that has been established has earned a greater level of trust with Google than a younger domain that is not as established. Matt admits that this is true to a point, but domain age is an insignificant factor that really carries very little weight in the Google algorithm.
Matt then goes on to list the ranking factors that are more important for a site to rank well in Google:
- Unique, high quality content
- The quantity of content
- External back-links to your content
Important:Matt Cutts does not out rightly say domain age is irrelevant, he only said you need not worry about that and goes on to list factors that are more important for ranking purposes.
Matt Cutt's position clearly indicates that domain age is a minor signal and we completely agree with that. But we wouldn't agree that it does not matter at all. Infact, each time Matt Cutt says You need not worry about that; it is an indication that you may have touched on a ranking signal. Google appears to have a policy of keeping the ranking signals as confidential as possible.
It is also important to note that if you have a new domain for which you are building relevant links and you do that quite often, often you can outrank an older domain with more links that hasn't added any links or content recently. Google sees your site as being fresher which relates to being more relevant.
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Consider for example a domain that is 2 months old and that is referenced by 10 back links. This domain may be scored higher by search engines the one that is as old as 10 years that is referenced by 100 back links because the rate of link growth for the former is relatively higher than the latter. The ration of backlinks for the new domain is definitely more impressive than the ratio of backlinks for the older domain.
However, if you have an older domain age and add frequent and relevant content along with gaining frequent but natural backlinks then it will be very hard the newer domain to overtake the older in rankings.
Read more: Search Engine Manipulation: What It Is And Why Google Frowns At It
Domain Registration Length of Time.
This video by Matt Cutts admits that Google uses historical data in ranking. Historical data actually include the registration information.
One thing I have noticed with Matt Cutts is whenever he is asked about a potential ranking factor and his response is I wouldn't worry about that; then you can almost bet that you have nailed a ranking factor.
Danny Sullivan asked if the length of time a domain is registered for matters in search rankings to Matt Cutts directly and this is his response:
To the best of my knowledge, no search engine has ever confirmed that they use length-of-registration as a factor in scoring. If a company is asserting that as a fact, that would be troubling.
All Matt Cutts is saying is that they have never confirmed this to the best of his knowledge. Here is an excerpt from their patent involving the use of historical data in regards to this claim.
These clearly state that Google could use domain data if they wanted to. And in Matt Cutt's video, Google admits to the relevance of historical data.
How do you respond to that, you may ask. The sure thing to do is not to take things forgranted. We will recommend that domains should be registered for at least two years. That is not to say that if you register your domain for 10 years, you will enjoy greater preference. That's not the point made here but if you can do a ten year registration, there is no harm in doing that. A multiple year registration will just be sufficient.
One thing that is clear about Google's position is they will use all data points about your website (or as they say in their patent - document) to build a profile for your site. They will use Chrome browser data, Google Toolbar data, Analytics data, Adsense data, Adwords data and any other data points they can find about how people interact with your website.
Also read: How to Use Keywords in Website Content for SEO GainsIs More Content Exactly the Same as Quality Content
From the analysis above, quality content for us has often focused on the number of words and content relevance. But we should be more precise now and detailed about what actually Google sees as uality content. Lets loo at what Google has stated in its own guidelines:
Google has quality guidelines here. However, you may notice that there are many guidelines around negative signals but few around positive signals. When reading these, think for a minute what happens when two, ten or a hundred websites aren’t doing anything bad. How do you determine the quality difference if no one does anything wrong?
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Avoid the following techniques:
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans or other badware
- Abusing rich snippets markup
- Sending automated queries to Google
Follow good practices like these:
- Monitoring your site for hacking and removing hacked content as soon as it appears
- Preventing and removing user-generated spam on your site
Google did not stop there. It goes on to provide its guideline on how to create the uality content it tals about. In a section from Google’s Webmaster Academy course, Google tells you how to “create valuable content.” Specifically, Google wants you to avoid: broken links, wrong information, grammar or spelling mistakes, excessive ads and many more. Google''s focus here is on what you should not do.
There are some tips on how to make your site useful, credible and engaging; however, when it comes to being more valuable or high-quality, Google basically says, “be more valuable or high-quality.” Google says “be more valuable or high-quality.”
As you begin creating content, make sure your website is:
Useful and informative: If you’re launching a site for a restaurant, you can include the location, hours of operation, contact information, menu and a blog to share upcoming events.
More valuable and useful than other sites: If you write about how to train a dog, make sure your article provides more value or a different perspective than the numerous articles on the web on dog training.
Credible: Show your site’s credibility by using original research, citations, links, reviews and testimonials. An author biography or testimonials from real customers can help boost your site’s trustworthiness and reputation.
High-quality: Your site’s content should be unique, specific and high-quality. It should not be mass-produced or outsourced on a large number of other sites. Keep in mind that your content should be created primarily to give visitors a good user experience, not to rank well in search engines.
Engaging: Bring color and life to your site by adding images of your products, your team or yourself. Make sure visitors are not distracted by spelling, stylistic and factual errors. An excessive number of ads can also be distracting for visitors. Engage visitors by interacting with them through regular updates, comment boxes or social media widgets.
Lessons From Matt Cutts
Taking a clue from Matt Cutts' guide above, three factors are crucial for higher rankings:
- Unique, high quality content
This is not necessarily the most important element, however it is a prominent factor and do affect ranking significantly. Unique high quality content simply imply that your content should be original and not copied from some other places on the web High quality is some what subjective but we can relate it to the volume of content. It is believed that contents of u to 1500 words will be of better quality, contain more keywords and deal with a articular topic more extensively. So, Google sees quality in terms of how much a topic is dealt with and also makes this judgement in relation to the number of words contained in an article.
- The quantity of content
The quantity of content hear means the volume of articles contained on your website Your website should be rich and dealing with a vast amount of topics in the area of focus Websites that contain only very few articles tend to rank lower than websites that are rich in content, containing hundreds or thousands of articles. Of course, websites with large amount of articles contain more keywords and have a greater potential to appear in searches than websites with only very few articles.
That said, it is important to note that you should never sacrifice quality for quantity. Volume of articles or quantity of published articles matter but Google will not reward you for churning out numerous poor quality articles, rather, you will get a penalty.
Google is very concerned about user satisfaction and want the top results in its search engine to reflect best quality articles for every search result.
- External back-links to your content
Back links are one of the top most indicators of quality and used by Google to rank websites. In writing content for your website, you need to take into consideration that your content needs to be of high quality to be able to attract external websites to link to it. But there are some important things to note about link building.
- It is better to link to websites that have better Moz rank than yours.
- It is better to have links from websites that are in the same industry as yours.
- Do not involve yourself in reciprocal link building
- Do not buy links.
What is your idea or experience on this issue? Do you think we have missed anything? Let's have your feedback in the comment box.