In the world of SEO, there is a common belief that an old domain will always beat out a new domain in search rankings.
In other words, the older the domain the better.
The truth of the matter is that’s simply not true. With the right strategies a new domain most certainly can beat out an older, more established domain.
Let me show you what I mean.
Does the age of your site even matter?
Let’s pretend for a minute that you have two sites…one that was launched in 2005 and another that was launched in 2010.
Every SEO factor is equal with both sites…the same number of links from the same sites pointing to the same pages with exactly the same content.
Most people will argue that the older site will rank higher than the newer site. That’s probably true. But in this case it might be because the age of the domain is the only factor that is different than the two.
But the newer site could out rank the older simply because it got all the right SEO factors into place faster. Here’s what’s really happening. The older sites have simply done the right things over time.
- Great domain names – Sites that have been around a lot longer were able to pick up great domain names because there was less competition for them. Names like useit.com, bowling.com or realestatemarketing.com.
- Exact match domain names – Similar to the example above, the older sites could cherry pick the domains with exact matches. This is true for brand names, too, like vans.com or apple.com. Nowadays new companies need to think of domain names while they are thinking about a company name to see if it is available. This usually leads to some obscure words like supyoinc.com.
- Short domains – In the early days all of the short names were available so it was easy to grab golf.com, poker.com or wine.com.
However, even though older websites had these advantages, those factors, while important, aren’t the reason why those domains are ranking so high.
The reason they are ranking high has to do with them doing the right things…things you can do too!
They’ve Built Newsworthy Brands
First off, it’s more than likely a domain that has been around for a number of years has not been idle during all that time…in fact, they’ve been very busy building a solid brand:
- They’ve create an attractive work culture that gets some press every year because it ends up in a “Best Place to Work” list.
- Each year they release the coolest products that money can buy…and their products get pretty darn good ratings in consumer review publishers.
- The company hosts or sponsors a competition or festival every year related to their industry for the last ten.
- The CEO is repeatedly doing some wild stunts that gets him an occasional front page scoop in a major newspaper.
In effect, what these companies have done is a brand that people easily recognize. And each time it’s mentioned in the press…it gets a link from a high-authority website.
Naturally Google is going to look at the value of those links, press mention, social signals, etc. and think that this domain is very relevant when it comes to relevant search queries.
For certain it will rank better than a newer site that lacks all of those attributes. So what this all boils down to is that if you want to make your newer site rank higher than older, established sites…then you need to do what they’ve done.
It’s like you have to become good at disciplines like public relations, publicity, marketing, networking and advertising. Sheer SEO alone won’t get the job done. This is why a site like Huffington Post can seem like it blew up over night…
Arianna Huffington had tons of money and connections she could throw at that site. She didn’t get the rankings that she gets because of SEO or the age of her domain.
Maybe you don’t have the money or connections of an Arianna Huffington…but that doesn’t matter. You just need to employ some of the following strategies.
Create a Product Killer
The first thing on your list of to-dos for beating the competition in the rankings is to build a better product. If your product isn’t very good, it’ doesn’t matter how much publicity or SEO you do…it will back fire on you.
Take Instagram as an example of a product killer. Search for the term “photo sharing app” and here are the results you see:
Instagram is one of the newest players in the game. There are older players like Hipstimatic. But because Instagram built a killer product it eventually got bought out by Facebook which is driving all of these results.
But even before that its popularity was accelerated by all the press mentions and rapidly growing adoption rate. Instagram is a classic example of a domain doing all the right things in an accelerated way.
Create Remarkable Content
You would think with such a huge company like Intuit out there that an entrepreneur would be crazy to try and enter the personal financial space…
But that’s exactly what Mint.com did.
Now it’s important to realize that they built a great product but they might have remained in the dark if it had not been for their aggressive content marketing strategy.
Day in and day out Mint produced and published great content on personal finance on their blog that attracted attention, links and traffic. It wasn’t before long that they started to dominate the online personal finance rankings.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Hire the right editors, writers and contributors.
- Insist upon quality writing and illustrations.
- Share content aggressively across the social web.
- Be patient while building up an audience.
The magazine space is another industry that you would think an entrepreneur out of his or her mind to try and enter with yet another magazine. Conde Nast dominates that space, right?
But Good magazine wasn’t deterred because they realized that they could create a great product for a profitable niche that wasn’t getting served.
However, bringing press attention to a magazine on eco-friendly issues was hard to do until they struck gold with their infographics.
There infographics weren’t only unique and new…but they were bold and challenging…bringing attention to some hot topics like greed, transparency and selfishness that negatively impacts environmental issues.
If you want to create an infographic, follow these five steps:
- Put together a skeleton of arrows and words.
- Assign the right number of colors.
- Choose wisely how you use both kinds of graphics…themes and references.
- Pull together a lot of interesting facts.
- Turn those facts into knowledge.
Create a Unique Value Proposition
The shoe industry is another tough place for an entrepreneur to enter but [enter name] did so and brought the world TOM shoes.
While these were some pretty neat looking shoes, what really set apart TOM shoes from their competition was their value proposition: “Buy a pair of shoes and we will give a pair of shoes to a poor third world child.”
Suddenly this brought them a lot of attention as major magazines like NY Times and Time started writing about them, which brought a ton of attention, links and traffic…and over time they started to dominate in their space.
Want to create a unique value proposition? Then do this:
- Research your competition and find out where there are product gaps.
- Keep your eyes open to problems in the world that need a solution.
- Blend two very different ideas together and figure out how you can make them profitable.
Create Momentum with Your Network
Scott Harrison didn’t have much competition in the non-profit sector he tried to help when he launched charity:water…but that doesn’t mean he was able to go in and dominate.
When it comes to non-profit ventures everyone knows that having enough cash is your number one problem from start to finish. And most non-profits struggle for years before they finally gain credibility and start to gain publicity and donations.
But Scott, who was a former promoter for night clubs and fashion events, tapped into his network and raised a ton of cash. More importantly to our discussion here is that he was able to use that same network to get a ton of press for his charity.
Here’s how you can tap into your network to bring awareness to your website:
- Approach a few select people you know and ask them to blog or tweet about your project.
- Try and connect with reporters at major publications. This usually means going to conferences and parties and even living in the right cities.
- Do something great.
What to Do Once the Dust Settles
Constantly staying in the media spotlight is impossible…so eventually all the attention is going to wear off. Does that mean you will slip back in rankings?
If you stopped doing the things that attracted all that popularity and links, naturally you may drop in rankings. You will want to keep a steady stream of content going up so that you are crawled frequently, get frequent links.
Does link age matter?
Another SEO issue that’s closely related to the age of the domain is the age of a link. The theory goes that links from pages or domains that have been around for a long time will be better than links from newer sites.
What’s actually going on is the same thing with domains…the link is probably an authority link because the domain has done the right things over time.
In almost all cases a newer site hasn’t had the time to do all the right things…so it’s not going to be as important as an older site with established authority.
So, when it comes to links, what should you look for when it comes to your link-building strategy?
- Authority sites – These can be as old and established as Drudge Report (!997), Jakob Neilson’s Useit.com (1995) or CNN (1995) or as new as Huffington Post (2005), Mashable (2005) or The Verge (2011).
- Relevant sites – Getting a link from an authority site like Mashable, that focuses on tech and social media, to your gardening website is not going to matter as much as a link from Better Homes and Garden. Focus on relevancy when attracting authority links.
- Substantial traffic – A link from Drudge Report has been known to crash sites because it sends such a massive load of traffic. Other sites may be huge but won’t send you a ton of traffic because they’re just not geared that way. Do your research before choosing where to pursue links.
- Anchor text – A link from an authority site with bad text anchor won’t be as valuable to you as an exact match anchor text. This may be out of your control, but review how a site creates links before you pursue them.
- Relevant pages – Where a link points to is equally important. A link to your home page from Mashable won’t be as valuable to you as a link to a specific page that matches the issue at hand.
These are the factors that are more valuable to you than age. One hundred new links that fit the requirements above will be more valuable to you than one hundred old links that don’t fit the categories above.
In the end, when it comes to dominating your competition in search rankings, age plays a tiny, tiny part of the equation…so tiny that it’s not even worth worrying about.
Instead, you should focus on other factors like marketing, branding and publicity success, a commitment to growing content year after year and acquiring links from old and new authority sites. Do those things and you can easily compete with older domains!
What other strategies are there for helping a newer domain outrank an older one?