Length of domain registration important for SEO?

The question whether the length of domain registrations had an influence on search engine rankings or not has been around for a while. But so far none of the big search engine companies has given any firm advice on this subject.

Today, however, I stumbled upon a post on Search Engine Land saying that domain registrations probably have a small influence on rankings in search engines, but that other factors (quality of content, amount of links, etc.) have a lot more weight. This isn't surprising to me, but I still believe that the age of a domain as well as its future expiration date do affect search rankings, even if only to a small extent.

Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable quotes John Mueller, a Google employee:

A bunch of TLDs do not publish expiration dates — how could we compare domains with expiration dates to domains without that information? It seems that would be pretty hard, and likely not worth the trouble. Even when we do have that data, what would it tell us when comparing sites that are otherwise equivalent? A year (the minimum duration, as far as I know) is pretty long in internet-time :-).

But another Google employee and SEO expert, Matt Cutts, gave less clear advice, as quoted from Search Engine Land:

My short answer is not to worry very much about that [the number of years a domain is registered], not very much at all.

In the same post, Search Engine Land says that when they had an interview with a Yahoo employee some time ago, that employee said that domain registration lengths did matter. So while most search industry insiders say that domain registrations have only a small influence on search engine optimization, none of them clearly states that they have no influence at all.

My interpretation is this: Concentrate on creating high-quality websites with unique content providing valuable information to visitors and that attract lots of incoming links. But if you ever get the chance to purchase an aged domain, go for it as it will most likely improve your chances of getting a better ranking in search engines. Also renew your domains well in advance if you already know you're going to own them for a long time, because this might have a positive effect on your search engine position as well. If nothing else, you won't have to worry about domain expirations for a couple of years anymore.

6 thoughts on “Length of domain registration important for SEO?”

  1. From the research I have done online and in person, the expiration date is listed as a ranking factor within Google’s Search Algorithm Patent. They do not have to use that data even if listed in the patent. Nor do they have to disclose the weighting that they place upon that factor. Most SEO experts I have spoken to feel that it is a small influence at best on search results. Much more influential is the search term match within the domain name. If the search keywords are contained within the domain, the site will have a higher trust factor. If it is an exact match it gets a big bonus and will likely skyrocket ahead of the even the best worked on SEO sites. Secondary to the search term match is the creation date, which is considered by most SEO experts as a factor. However, it is less significant than back links, relevent content, and several other attributes. Creation date is probably a top ten factor.

    Although the expiration date's importance is not considered to be as significant, it is still a factor within the control of the domain owner and it is a low cost method for the site/domain owner to nudge the site up a bit in the search results. This would mean more traffic to the domain/site owner and so should be done.


  2. Excellent comment, Victor!

    My developed domains I usually renew for a couple of years in advance, because 1) I don't want them to expire by accident and 2) I feel it might have some effect on the websites' search engine positions.

    I agree with you about keywords contained within a domain name: I have made the same observations and that is why generic domains are not only good investments for type-in traffic, but they are also a great advantage when it comes to ranking well in search engines. In fact, I believe this is one of the major benefits of owning a keyword domain name as an end user.

  3. In a video interview, Cutts said that it was in the patent but it was not in the algorithm, at least yet. That was back in February I believe. so it may play at some time, but not much now.

  4. Dominik,

    I see you quoting what google employees are saying about this - don't believe it. 😉

    We've done quite a bit of testing of the "age factor" and "renewal period" of domains over the years.

    Based on our results, I can tell you that domains that are "old" (I'd define this as 10 years or more) and that are renewed for 3,4,5 years or more get extra "trust" from google.com

    This applies to .com, .net, .org extensions only in google.com, as you could have guessed.

    There is a complex set of factors that google uses for their "trust" of domains but age definately has a strong impact on the trust. A young domain takes longer to rank, with more content and more back links.

    And I think this makes sense for google to do this. If you're a SE spammer, chances are you are using a new domain with a 1 year renewal and using the a .info, .tv, .biz etc extension with a 1 year renewal so google can tag a spammer's new site pretty easily and save us all the spammy search results.

    I presume the bulk of the search traffic (and spamming) is going on in google.com so that's a good place to apply these filters. In our tests, this age filter seems to apply to google.com only. If you're using a young ccTLD domain (or even new one) you can rank in the ccTLD version of google pretty quickly. [Based on our testing]

    And ... we've outranked .com, .net names in with a ccTLD in the ccTLD versions of google.

    There is a gold mine of ccTLD keyword rich domains in your favourite niches out there, go find 'em everybody.

    - Richard

  5. I don't think it makes a huge impact, but it's something to consider. It's one of those "tiny factors" of the 100's of things google considers to rank a website.

    I would focus on snagging more keyword rich domains for 2 years then less domains at 10 years.

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