Does Domain Age Affect SEO? – Analysis



Does Domain Age Affect SEO? – Analysis
11 August 2022
When you started exploring the world of search engine optimization (SEO), you probably noticed many moving parts and factors that impact a website’s ability to show up in search results. Let's explore one of them and find out if the domain age affect SEO.



Table of contents: Understanding the complexities of domain age is a critical part of your broader SEO efforts. It’s true what people say; SEO is about the long game. Of course, those people aren’t literally talking about how long the website has existed, but it is still worth exploring the effects domain age has on the ranking potential of new websites.

What Is Domain Age?

Domain age generally refers to how long ago a website owner first registered the domain of a website. When it comes to SEO, domain age describes how old the website is and how long the website has been active. For search engines like Google, domain age is typically based on when it is first identified through a link on the Internet or when the website is first indexed. Because this information is not publicly available from search engines, most website owners and SEO practitioners choose to look at the domain age based on a website’s registration, which is generally easier to identify.

Does Domain Age Affect SEO?

The role of domain age on SEO and a website’s ranking potential is frequently debated. So, naturally, domain age matters, but probably not as much as you may think. While Google’s John Mueller has stated that domain age does not directly impact rankings, it would be inaccurate to say that domain age has no role in SEO. [embed][/embed] There is no causal relationship between the age of a website ranking higher than a newer website based on domain age. But, domain age does have a solid correlation to many factors related to the length of time that a website has existed. Ultimately, new domains will have a tough time outranking competitors with older domains until other things, such as content quality and backlinks, can catch up.

Analyzing How Long SEO Takes for a New Website

If you started a new business website today, how long would it take to rank on Google? Well, that depends. To answer this question, we need to break down what it takes for a website to show up on Google and what we mean by ranking on Google.
  • Crawled = a website has been discovered by Google, and it can use its web crawlers to fetch a website. To make this easier for a new website, simply setting up Google Search Console and submitting the website will help Google crawl it within hours.
  • Indexed = Google has discovered your website and has recognized it as a website capable of showing up in search results for potential search queries. Indexing should happen within days of your website being first crawled as long as there are no issues. To see if your website has been indexed, use the following search modifier ‘site:’ when searching on Google.
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  • Ranking = Your website shows up in the search results when you type in a specific search query. A website is ranked on Google if it shows up on any search results page, even though 91% of users don’t ever look beyond the first page of results. Therefore it is crucial to clarify more specific goals for rankings, such as first page rankings, top 5 rankings, or ranking #1 for a particular search phrase.
There are also various types of search phrases that can be broken down further based on ranking difficulty.
  • Ranking for branded phrases = Branded searches are specific phrases that directly relate to or include your company’s name or branded products. As long as your brand doesn’t overlap with common words or other businesses, you should see your site ranking for branded search phrases within two weeks of indexing.
  • Ranking for low-competition long-tail phrases = The level of competition and specificity of the search phrase will impact how quickly you start ranking. A low competition search query that is hyper-specific, such as “Mexican restaurant on Main Street in Stockton, California.” For this type of long-tail phrase, your website could be ranking within a month.
  • Ranking for high competition phrases = These search phrases are often searched by millions of people each month and have many businesses competing for this web traffic. To rank for a phrase such as “Nike running shoes” you would need to put significant effort into SEO over a long time. You should expect to put in at least 3 years of SEO for the high-end competitive search phrases before you expect to start ranking.
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New Websites Facing the Google Sandbox

When a new website publishes content, SEO experts often notice that it is significantly more challenging to rank for search phrases when compared to a more established existing website. This observation is often described as Google’s Sandbox Effect - a period of time that makes it more difficult for new websites to rank on Google’s search results. While Google has denied a probation period that keeps new websites from ranking, it is clear to see sandbox-like effects based on their algorithms. Google heavily values trust and authority, which a new website will not have. Below is a quote from Google’s John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst) about the sandbox effect from Feb 23rd, 2018.
With regards to the sandbox, we don’t really have this traditional sandbox that a lot of SEOs used to be talking about in the years past. We have a number of algorithms that might look similar, but these are essentially just algorithms trying to understand how the website fits in with the rest of the websites trying to rank for those queries. […] It’s always kind of tricky in the beginning when we have a new website and we don’t quite know where we should put it. 
It is also important to acknowledge that Google does not look at every industry or vertical in the same way. For example, medical, financial, and legal websites often face a more difficult barrier before Google trusts a new website enough to show it in rankings for specific search phrases.
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Fortunately, no specific domain age or amount of time must pass before a website can get out of the sandbox; instead, it is a culmination of ranking signals that lead to Google recognizing the website as high-quality and trusted.
It is best to create high-quality content, build natural backlinks from trusted websites, design a positive user experience, and follow general SEO best practices.
With that in mind, once a website reaches a certain level of authority and trust, it can compete on the same level as older domains that have already escaped the Google Sandbox.

Analyzing Website Ranking Potential by Domain Age

Now that we have discussed how long it takes for a new website to rank in general, let’s look at a few examples of website ranking by domain age.

Domain Age of Top Websites

[embed][/embed] It probably shouldn’t be surprising that the top websites on the internet in 2021 have been around for years. For example, was ranked the 2nd most popular website in January 1996 and, as of 2022, remains the 5th most popular website globally. While Yahoo is the only website that has consistently remained in the top 10 most popular websites over the last 25 years, you’ll find that many of the top 10 websites have a domain age that dates back many years. Below is a table of the ten most visited websites in the United States in July 2022.
Domain Domain Age Domain Creation Date Company Founding Date  24 years, 11 months 9/15/97 Sep-98  17 years, 6 months 2/15/05 Feb-05  25 years, 4 months 3/29/97 Feb-04  27 years, 9 months 11/1/94 Jul-94  27 years, 6 months 1/18/95 Jan-94  22 years, 6 months 1/21/00 Mar-06 18 years, 2 months 6/4/04 Oct-10  21 years, 7 months  1/13/01  Jan-01  16 years, 6 months 4/29/05 Jun-05  21 years, 0 months 11/6/00 May-15
This chart’s top website rankings are from Similarweb’s top websites in the US Report for July 2022.  The domain age of each website is based on WHOIS lookup information that was found using multiple domain age checking tools. The company founding dates are from publicly cited information about the start of each company. As you can see in the table, all of these companies are at least over five years old, and all but one of them were founded over ten years ago. You may also notice that the domain age doesn’t seem to match some of the company's founding dates. This highlights another SEO practice that some companies use to avoid some of the drawbacks of starting a new website. Rather than registering a new domain, some companies will purchase an existing website or buy an expired domain that another website owner had previously registered. The pros and cons of buying an existing domain is a more extensive topic that we will dive into in another blog. So instead, let’s look at a different website example and how it has performed over time.

A New Website’s Ranking Potential Example: is the perfect website to analyze to understand how a new website can perform in Google search rankings. Sparktoro was launched in 2018 by Rand Fishkin, the former CEO and founder of, an SEO tool, and leader in shaping the SEO industry for almost two decades. Therefore, we can be confident this new website was created under ideal conditions for ranking a new website. Sparktoro’s leadership has the most advanced understanding of SEO of arguably any new company and can build authoritative backlinks based on decades of experience in a related industry. Let’s take a look at’s organic growth since its launch and domain registration. Domain Registration Date: September 12th, 2017 Company Launch Announcement: February 2018 [caption id="attachment_56560" align="aligncenter" width="1291"]does domain age affect seo Source:[/caption] By April 29th, 2018, only two short months after its February launch, had over 2,500 referring domains, 2911 organic traffic, and 4,439 ranking keywords, according to Ahrefs. The website continued to grow over the rest of its first year, reaching over 3,900 referring domains, 9,680 organic traffic, and 14,500 organic keyword rankings by the end of February 2019.

What Can We Learn from This Example?

It is possible to rapidly grow a website’s traffic and rankings with the ideal resources, content, and backlinks. It only took one year to get to the level of organic traffic that it has sustained over the three years since. It is difficult to analyze a website’s performance over time without considering the amount of content published, the number of backlinks built, other marketing channels used, SEO effort and focus, and other intangibles. It is important to avoid straying too far from the original objective of understanding how a new website can rank well on Google. Yet, when we check back in at the start of November 2021, we see that’s referring domains continue to grow steadily, while organic traffic has largely plateaued. In addition, the number of keyword rankings has declined since its first anniversary. The lack of continued growth is largely interpreted as a reflection of Sparktoro pivoting its marketing plan away from SEO and content marketing.

Analyzing Companies in a Specific Niche by Domain Age

To explore the role of domain age in organic rankings and traffic, we have picked a specific location and niche. In this case, we are focusing our attention on roofing companies in Denver, Colorado. I have pulled four example companies below to analyze their organic traffic growth over time and hopefully understand ways to apply this to other niches and companies that compete locally. = First recorded Ahrefs organic traffic identified in September 2016 (Domain created in May 2016) does domain age affect seo organic traffic This is the oldest website on the list, with a total of 325 referring domains (43UR / 22 DR), according to Ahrefs. This website’s organic traffic graph shows steady growth over the first three years of organic traffic from 0 traffic to around 2,000 organic traffic. The website then sees a period of rapid growth over three months up to 3,500 organic traffic followed by a massive drop to under 1,000 organic traffic, which likely indicates unnatural/blackhat SEO followed by an algorithmic or manual penalty. Since its recovery, it has maintained its organic traffic at roughly 2,200 organic traffic.  = First recorded Ahrefs organic traffic identified in November 2017 (Domain created in April 2001) does domain age affect seo example This website showed a pretty strong jump when it first registered measurable organic traffic in November 2017. The website then essentially maintains around 150 organic traffic/month from January 2018 through January 2021. At this point, the website starts to see growth taking it up to its current 800 organic traffic. This change is likely an indication that the company began emphasizing SEO in early 2021 and possibly began working with an SEO company to grow its organic traffic. = First recorded Ahrefs organic traffic identified in October 2019 (Domain created in November 2013) does domain age affect seo example 2 This website represents a relatively new ranking website with its first measurable organic traffic in late 2019. It only saw its organic traffic rise to 60 organic traffic within the first year ending in November 2020. After the end of its first year, the organic traffic increases rapidly with sharp rises in spring/summer 2021 before stabilizing at around 300 organic traffic by November 2021. This growth represents almost a 500% increase in SEO-driven traffic from the previous year. = First recorded Ahrefs organic traffic identified in April 2020 (Domain created in October 2019) does domain age affect seo example 3 This website is brand new, with its first organic traffic identified roughly six months ago in April 2020. While this website hasn’t reached the traffic levels of either of the first three websites, its graph shows this website reached 60 organic sessions in 6 months, roughly half the time it took

Potential SEO Ranking Factors that Domain Age Impacts

Overall, domain age is only one factor in the complex SEO process. Nevertheless, old domains that maintain their website and continue posting great content tend to continue getting traffic until they are outranked. A website simply existing for longer isn’t going to impact the website’s ability to rank higher on Google’s SERPs (search engine ranking positions). Instead, the greater effort over time likely leads to higher rankings for older websites. The longer a website has existed, the more likely it is to have created content on that website and gained backlinks from other websites on the Internet. Therefore, if a website has been building content and links over time, search engines will perceive it as more authoritative and trusted than a brand new website. And because these old domains are more authoritative, they routinely show up on the first page of results for thousands of search queries. Most of the time, old domains rank well because they’ve had more time to build authority. Sites like, for example, have had years to acquire quality backlinks, garner traffic, and show the Internet that they offer high-quality content. In contrast, an old domain isn’t automatically a credible one. While an old domain name will usually have more ranking potential, this isn’t an absolute rule. An aged domain with poor content and bad or spammy links are no better off than a brand new domain. If you’re unfamiliar with backlinks, these are links from other domains that point to your site. Your domain’s backlink profile isn’t only about the number of links your domain has, but the quality of those links as well. Older domains have had time to establish credibility. Thus, they usually have more websites linking to them naturally because they produce valuable content. To view your site’s backlink profile, online tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz can be helpful. They’ll crawl (or analyze) a website and tell you where it is getting backlinks. It may seem that more backlinks are better, but this isn’t how Google works these days. Links that you receive from spamming forums, paid sources, or unrelated sites aren’t providing value. An older website with thousands of low-quality backlinks isn’t going to do well in an organic search. A new site with fewer but better backlinks will do quite well by comparison. [caption id="attachment_47207" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Read more about the most common link building mistakes in our premium report:[/caption]

Domain Age & SEO - The Takeaway

Mastering the unique elements of SEO, like analyzing domains and websites by age, is critical for your digital marketing efforts. It’s a challenging world out there to navigate alone. While planning your SEO activities, keep in mind that if your domain is new, it might take more time to rank high as it is not perceived by Google as authoritative. Do you need help with SEO efforts? Reach out to us today and let us help you outrank your competitors!
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Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

Logo Delante

Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

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