SEO Tip #79: How Does Google Determine Domain Age and Is It Important for Ranking?

Matt Cutts: Good question. So the first thing that you need to know is that WHOIS data is not generally available, even if you were a registrar. And WHOIS data can vary from TLD country code TLD. For example;, .fi for Finland, .in for India, and in general sometimes that WHOIS data is on websites and all that sort of stuff.

So what’s much easier is to say, “When did we first see a website, when did we first crawl it?” We did actually file a patent on using historical data in the search results and that issued I think back in 2005. So there are a lot of ways you can think about the age of a domain.

For example, when did you first see a link to a domain as opposed to when did you first crawl it? And there are a lot of things you can look at like how stale is the data and stuff like that. But a good way to think about it is often the vast majority of the time we’ll have coverage for when we first crawled a domain or when we first saw a link to a domain. And that’s going to be a lot more useful data than perhaps WHOIS data that you might not be able to get for every single domain.

So in general, how important is it for website authority? Well, my answer is not to worry that much. The difference between a domain that’s six months old versus one year old is really not that big at all. So as long as you’ve been around for at least a couple months, a few months, you should be able to make sure that you’re able to show up in the search results.

So a lot of people are talking about, “Oh I want to get pre-aged domains or I want to get domains from 1994” or something like that and that’s not typically something that you need to worry about. I would say it’s often good to go ahead and buy a website, put up a place holder page to tell people what’s coming and then just go ahead and develop the website.

By the time you get your website live, often that’s two or three months down the line already. So just something to bear in mind, WHOIS data is not generally available even though Google is a registrar, a WHOIS registrar, that’s not something that you get automatically from being a registrar.

Whereas when you crawl the web you end up finding new domains relatively quickly after they’re registered because of the links to those domains. And when you first crawl a domain or when you first are able to see a link to a domain, it can be a very nice way to measure how old a domain is.

So a lot of the times, whenever you’re saying OK, search over some given subject, you know Mayan art. You can see on the left-hand side there’s now a place where you can slice and dice by different dates. So that’s actually a combination of different dates, but for example it could have used when we first saw a page or when we first saw a domain name.

You might also take into account when it was last updated, all that sort of stuff. But in general I wouldn’t obsess about trying to have an old domain. The fact is it’s mostly the quality of your content and the sort of links that you get as a result of the quality of your content that determine how well you’re going to rank in the search engines.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.