Deciphering the Impact of Domain Longevity on SEO Success

3 min read

A question about whether domain age affected search rankings was posed on X (previously Twitter). John Mueller of Google corrects the information.

The inquirer sent the following tweet:

“Does a domain name’s age affect its ranking in Google searches?”
SEOs have long observed that higher ranks are correlated with older domain names.

However, correlations are typically a weak basis for reality comprehension.

What John Mueller of Google Told About Domain Age

John Mueller of Google tweeted: “Mostly those looking to sell you old domains :-).”
And in case that’s not clear enough for some, Mueller has already tweeted:

“No, domain age is not relevant.”


Why Do SEOs Think Domain Age Is Important?


Nearly twenty years have passed since SEOs first believed that domain age was significant and even a ranking influence.

Google filed a patent for information retrieval based on historical data, which may have inspired the idea.

Domains concerning historical data were discussed in the patent. However, SEOs need to have understood the patent to say what it says. They interpreted the patent completely wrong.

In part of the patent labeled “Domain-Related Information,” spam sites are identified using domain-related information.

Giving a domain registered for a long time bonus ranking points is not the same as identifying spam sites.

According to the patent, it analyzes domain data to identify erroneous domain names that spammers use:

“Those who try to trick (spam) search engines frequently utilize ‘doorway’ or disposable domains to get as much traffic as possible before getting detected.

Search engines may use information about the authenticity of the domains to determine how highly to rank the documents connected to these domains.

It goes on to say that throwaway domains are only typically registered for a short period, unlike regular sites.

This is the part of the patent that SEOs should have read more carefully. “Legitimate” domains are not ranked using this data. Spam websites are located using the registration data.

It reads as follows:

Doorway (illegitimate) domains are rarely used for longer than a year, whereas valuable (legitimate) domains are frequently paid for several years in advance. As a result, the future expiration date of a domain name can be used to predict the legitimacy of the domain name and the documents that are linked to it.

That claim is made about determining which domains are “illegitimate.” That’s the context; nothing about promoting genuine domains is discussed there; the focus is on identifying spam domains.

For a very long time, SEOs have only seen what they wanted to see. However, it is abundantly evident that the domain history data is utilized for spam detection rather than ranking signal generation.

The following section discusses the use of DNS history data to identify spam websites:

Illegitimate domains may be found by tracking this data for a domain over time.

Identifying, storing, and using a list of known-bad contact details, name servers, and IP addresses makes predicting a domain’s legitimacy possible.

Last but not least, the patent states that while a name server’s recentness alone may not always indicate spam, it may suggest that other data points in addition to the name server’s recentness may.

“A name server’s recentness alone might not always be a bad indicator of the associated domain’s legitimacy, but when combined with other factors—like the ones mentioned here—it might be.”
A similar patent application from Microsoft from 2006 describes using backlinks’ domain age to identify spam sites.

The patent’s “background” section clarifies that its goal is to locate spam websites. The invention of the patent resulted from the declining price of domain registrations.

According to the patent:

Spammers frequently use a web farm tactic to take advantage of these offers. Specifically, spammers buy or acquire a lot of websites and link them together to boost the rankings by inflating the number of contributing domains for some or all of the websites.
John Mueller is telling the truth. Domain age needs to be taken into account when ranking. A patent that makes such a suggestion does not exist.

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Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]