Domain Age: How Important Is It for SEO?

SMS Text

One SEO related question which is often asked throughout webmaster forums is how much domain registration age is important for SEO. The points behind this question include:

  • well-established sites have old domain names, so by reverse logics, an old domain should mean that the site is well established;
  • spammers register and drop domains quickly, thus logically spamming sites usually have newly registered domain names.

Generally, webmasters agree that domain age is hardly a powerful ranking factor but opinions vary:

  1. it can be no factor at all;
  2. it can play only a single minor factor in the millions of other factors (but it still is);
  3. it matters a lot (as most participants of this discussion seem to agree, for example).

Google’s patent “Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data” of 03/31/2005 reviewed by WebmasterWorld forum hugely accounted for these rumors implying that Google does look into domain registration (1) and renewal (2) 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.

While the patent does sound rather straightforward (by the way its official version is no longer available online, so it might have been deleted), domain age factor is both overestimated and misinterpreted. My point is simple: domain registration date cannot speak for either quality or trustworthiness of a website as:

  • domains can be registered but never used for a long time (parked);
  • new domains can be used for highly established companies (with the old domain 301-redirecting to the new one);
  • a domain name can be used for illegitimate purposes for years and then sold to a “good” person/ company without any change of the initial registration date.

Thus my verdict to the whole dispute is as follows:

  1. Website age (and its backlink profile age) is what really matters;
  2. Domain age can play a minor part only as damping factor – i.e. one of the factors signaling the search engine that this might be a spammy / illegitimate site;
  3. Old domains may carry more weight due to their past records (i.e. old backlinks pointing to them) – this can be a good point to consider but then again if you are serious about your brand, keep in mind that an established domain already has associations and history before you own it and they might be hard to conquer.

Conclusion: domain registration date won’t of course hurt but it will hardly help. So I would focus on registering a new short niche-related and catchy domain name instead of trying to buy an old (previously owned by someone) one.

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project,
Ann Smarty
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Aydin Mirzaee

    hi Ann,

    good post 🙂 When we first registered, we got a lot of favorable blog posts and linkbacks. Then, we stopped pursuing this and did not much else to improve SEO or pagerank. After a few months (without doing anything), our page rank increased from a 3 to a 5.


  • Garrett Pierson


    Thanks for the great insight on Domain Age and differentiating it from Website Age. I totally agree with all aspects of your post above and hope all will read and understand this!!!

  • Aydin Mirzaee

    and Garrett, thanks for pointing out my misunderstanding 🙂

  • Nick Stamoulis

    This is a great topic that is often disputed. Great clarification and it totally makes sense that backlinks are what’s most important as opposed to the length of time the domain has been up and registered. Awesome article!

  • Mercy

    So can we put up like this? Ranking in SERP influenced becoz of the age of links pointing to your site, and not the age of your site itself.

  • Ann Smarty

    @Mercy: not site age but domain age – I did my best to draw the line in the post. yes, certainly, backlinks are a more powerful factor than domain age, I guess…

  • Some Guy

    One part that does not make logical sense is the impact the length of the registration may have, for instance if I registered a domain for 5 years but it is in it’s final year nobody would know I had registered it for a 5 year stretch, they would assume one year because it expires this year.

  • Web Agency Chieti

    I would also add that not necessary a domain name, also when registered for good purposes, is registered for many year in advance.
    My main web site, that next year will be 10 years olds, is payed yearly just for contability matters.

  • Infonote

    From my experience, owning a site with information on various topics, I can state that after 1 year, I have noticed an increase in Search Engine rankings.

    Not sure if it is a result of more backlinks like e.g. submitting to directories or because I have more information but I started getting ranked well after 1 year.

    There are so many factors that it is difficult to find a true cause.

  • Nintendo wii

    As Ann said that it depends upon the various factors but the most important is backlink. secondly i would like to add that if we buy old domain which is relevant to our industry then it will be very very helpful to gain huge traffic as it is already having huge backlinks and advantage of PR. I have bookmarked this age here for promoting in my stumble upon .

  • Internet Eyer

    I think that domain age does make a difference, but only a minor difference. That said optimizing many minor things leads to a major change…..

  • Scott

    Interesting, especially the part about link profile age. Would you say that even if the anchor text of an older backlink was not related to what you were trying to rank for it would still contribute to the ranking power for any current word or phrase you were trying to rank for? For example, you have some backlinks from 2001 with the anchor text “toys” but now you are trying to rank for “cotton candy” using new links with that anchor text. Are you saying that because the “toys” links are older you will rank easier for anything? Or are you referring to an actual historic link pattern tracked by google? Is link age more important than index age?

    • Anonymous Chicago Male

      Hello yes! And this 2008 post with the mentality of link names mattering at all is outdated with the Penguin update . Stay natural everybody.

  • Acumed

    I have done some research on the web and I am aware of the sandbox effect. Although, I have never seen anything related to how long is good.
    Another words, where do the cutoffs in the algorithms seem to be. 1yr, 2yrs, 5yrs?

  • Richard Vanderhurst

    Domain Age is very important when it comes to marketing and SEO, regular people doesn’t pay much attention for this but when it comes to SEO and marketers it plays a vital role specially when it comes to placing links on the site. The older the domain, the better it is and much stable.

  • seomati

    I agree with @Ann but with Richard V too. But actually i think very important is too keep the profile of the page for years and then the age fo the domain is important. When we change topic of our domain age is less important.

  • Nagaraj


    I’ve following queries:

    1) I want to book a domain for 5 years but planning to make the site live after 6 months with good content and design. So will this affect my ranking in future or delay adsense approval?

    2) Also when is the best time to apply for adsense and webmaster? I’m planning to load 300+ pages content and then apply for both. So is this a good way to start with?

    3) Before applying for adsense, can I put Google Analytics code on the site to track visitors, get back links and good PR?

    Waiting for the reply.

    Thank You,

  • Matt Saunders

    It’s an interesting topic. I think that domain age has a lot to do with rankings, the younger the domain is. For example, trying to get a domain registered for less than 6 months into the top 10 for any keyphrase (except the actual domain) proves incredibly difficult – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever managed it. So after this 6-12 month “probation period” it becomes easier to rank. This is just my experience anyway.

  • Val

    I’ve been researching this because my hosting company just send this to me in an email: “Consider this: Did you know that you can increase your Search Engine Rankings by registering your domain name for 5 or more years at a time?”
    I’m going to renew for maybe 3 years and see if there is any difference for a relatively new site. But you’re probably correct.


    Truly interesting topic. I’d have to respectfuly disagree with you that domain age has minimal impact. I think it has huge impact on how search engine (especially Google) values your site. As we already know, first 3-4 months many of the sites spend time sitting in sandbox environment.

    Age of a domain is very important because of the backlinks and traffic accumulated by a site that may increase the chance of getting on top of SERPs.

    Two things that are considered in the age of a domain name are:

    * The age of the website
    * The length of time a domain has been registered

    You can read the rest on my blog at link below,

  • Charley Christman

    I 301’d a couple of 10 yr old unused sites to a new 3 month old site, and although the PR only moved from null to 0, I noticed right a way that the pages that I had made a special effort to do onpage long-tail keyword SEO work began showing up regularly on the first page of Google. It didn’t set the world afire, but I’m convinced that it had a pretty strong effect on a new site with only 80-some back links to date.

  • Rizki Yudhistira

    hello ann …
    I think this is really an interesting topic …
    I think domain age is very influential in the SEO, and I feel normal that many webmasters who questioned the truth of this.

    I take an example:
    when I was researching a keyword “gps navigation system”, I see that there is 1,000,000 rivals out there, I use a new domain, the time was 2 years old, with 1000 backlinks (backlinks with the same topic) but I surprised because my domain name never appears, even when I checked with my domain also does not appear in the order of 1000, but when I see who my competition, I was surprised, because one of my rivals, who have only 79 backlink could be in position 32, and only have 1 item in it, how do you think ann??, I want to get an answer from you. I was one who had just learned about seo.

    * sorry if my english bad

  • Karl Kelman

    I think that the age of the website does play a role. My personal website, which I’ve little effort to build inbound links to, does fairly well on search terms. I think that this is because I’ve had it for at least five years.

    It’s sort of what Charley Christman was saying: old site – low PR – good SERP.

  • The Counselor

    Also, I have read that when a domain switches hands due to expiration (ie someone buys an old domain that expires), Google will fully reset its PR, and not only that, all of the pre-existing backlinks will be wiped out.

  • detik

    many aged domain wih no page ranking (PR0) sell in high price … in my opinion such domain means nothing for SEO SERP

  • marckdon

    I think the age matters but if you are good in providing the relevent and updated content to your users, then possibility that search engine will take its as the plus point over less age

  • seoonhire

    Even Website age not a ranking factor, but i suggest to book domain for long period.
    I follow you on twitter for updates, please follow me @seofreek

  • Adult toys

    Thank u for the info

  • Adult toys

    Thank u for the info

  • James Crawford

    I think age matters a lot. I have a new website and it has more inbound links than it’s competitors. However there site is older and has lots more content which has built up over time.

  • Bruno

    I would like to know what is the difference between the age of the domain and the age of the website. Aren’t they the same ?

    I mean, does Google detect the previous age of a website that has changed its domain ?

    I would like to hear your explanation on this. Thanks in advance 🙂