Domain Age as a Ranking Factor



Google has specifically stated that domain age doesn’t impact SEO—so why do older domains rank so well? What can younger firms do to compete?

You may have heard our Director of SEO mention the longevity of a given domain while doing a comp analysis. It’s true that older domains do enjoy some serious advantages when it comes to ranking on Google. 

But age isn’t everything—and we’ve got the recipe for helping your firm compete with established leaders online.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how domain age impacts organic rankings, with a few tips for getting a leg up on established competitors

What is domain age, exactly? 

Technically speaking, domain age is the date Google first discovered your domain. It’s not actually the day you first registered your domain name. 

The age is measured from when you first shared your website with the world, or more accurately, when Google first discovered your website. In other words, your domain age is associated with the first time your site was indexed by Google or identified through a link. 

However, it’s common (and usually accurate enough) to use a website’s registration as the marker when discussing domain age.

The age of a website domain does NOT directly affect its organic rankings

It’s true: Google has officially stated that domain age is not considered when ranking websites, as confirmed by John Mueller

There is no causal relationship between ranking and domain age alone.

But the reality is a bit more complicated.

“Greater effort over time” is a better way to think about this. Age alone is not a defining factor, but the experience and authority gained by older websites can absolutely help them rank higher. 

Bear in mind that an older domain name is not necessarily a more trustworthy one. That’s because useless content and black-hat SEO techniques like bought links cannot save even a well-established domain name from Google’s hellhounds.

Domain age DOES typically yield some results that can improve SEO

So age doesn’t matter at all? Well, no.

Older domains tend to come with some naturally accrued momentum that does help them rank. 

Here are two examples: 

  • Older sites tend to have more organically acquired backlinks 
  • Older sites tend to have more content, assuming the business has been building out its content bank over time.

Building authority online is a very important factor in SEO. It’s part of Google’s E-E-A-T concept, which includes authority and trustworthiness. 

Authority matters a lot, and older domains benefit from having had more time to build trust with Google. Of course, not all established domains have capitalized on this opportunity with the same fervor. 

Ultimately, it takes effort to improve SEO—and domain age can provide a boost if and only if the domain owner has used their extra time well. 

Domain age and how to get a leg up on your established competitors

We get a ton of questions from lawyers about domain age and SEO, especially when answering the question, “Why is this competitor outranking us?!” 

If you want to get a leg up on an established competitor, here’s what you’re facing.

New websites don’t have any markers to help Google’s algorithm place the site confidently in the SERP. This is especially true for YMYL websites such as legal, financial, and medical sites. The bar for earning trust online is much higher for a law firm, unfortunately.

Here’s the good news: You can make significant gains in the SERPs with SEO in six months to a year, even with a new domain name when competing against established firms

Create more great content

Be consistent. 

Don’t change your URL unless absolutely necessary. 

Continue building backlinks. Earn them from trusted sources—don’t buy them. Focus on quality over quantity. 

Build an excellent user experience, including accessibility.

Remember, your journey to SEO success depends on your goals. Are you aiming to rank first? To rank at the top “page” or within the first 10 results now that Google has continuous scrolling? Are you trying to rank for high-competitive phrases or your own branded key phrases? 

Review and next steps

The age of a domain doesn’t help it rank, but sites that have been associated with a specific business entity for a long time tend to have an advantage.

Older domains tend to benefit from more backlinks and more content—which do influence rankings. But there’s still room for newer firms to nab a spot in the SERP, even with a new domain name.

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