You’re probably aware that Google’s algorithms take many factors – hundreds, in fact – into account when they’re determining how to rank a site for any given search. Did you know that several of those factors have to do with the details of your domain registration? While it’s not at all unexpected that having appropriate keywords in your domain can be an SEO benefit (hamsandwichesknoxville.com would be a great domain to have if you were selling ham sandwiches in Knoxville!), did you know that Google may also look at how long your domain has been registered and how far out that registration goes?
Let me say up front that Google has downplayed the effect that these factors have on a site’s ranking, and Matt Cutts specifically said “not to worry very much” about the length of time that a domain is registered. Unsurprisingly, there is a great deal of debate across the internet about whether to follow this advice. Some people argue that if Google states to not worry about something “very much” that they’re confirming, in a sideways manner, that these elements are in fact a factor, if a small one, and if a company wants to ace as many of Google’s indicators as possible there’d be no reason not to worry about this one at least a little.
The good news is that, in this case, not much worry is required.
Domain Age – You’ve Got It Or You Don’t
Domain age is just what it sounds like: the length of time that your domain has been registered. I registered my first domain in 1999, and I’ve still got that domain today, so it’s about 15 years old now. What does that tell Google? When a domain has been around for a while, Google knows that the site in question isn’t brand new, and that may add a bit of weight to their consideration of that site. An older domain is more likely to be associated with an established business or organization, and as a result is more likely to have more content, and potentially more trustworthy content.
Domain age isn’t something you can do anything about, however – you can’t exactly go back in time and tell your 1999 self to purchase that domain sooner. You bought it when you bought it, and once Google no longer considers it brand-squeaky-new the difference in ranking – though probably minimal – will only move in your favor the longer you own it.
Long Registration Length – Like Costco For Domains
Certain things make sense to buy in bulk. Toilet paper is never going to go bad, so if you can get it cheaper in larger quantities, why not? When we first got our Costco membership my husband and I bought a good ten year supply of Q-Tips. Registering your domain for multiple years is a bit like that. Domain registration isn’t a large expense – generally in the range of $10-$25 a year depending on your registrar. You’re going to need to continue paying for that domain anyway, so why not go ahead and buy 5 or even 10 years all at once? If you buy 10 years now, then you won’t be affected for a while if the price of renewal is raised next year.
Having your domain registered out for more than a single year lets Google know that you intend to stick with that website for the long haul. Domains that are going to be used for shady purposes are rarely registered for more than one year at a time, so this is an automatic indicator to Google that you probably don’t fall in the “shady” category. Unless your business is really struggling with cash flow, there’s no reason not to go ahead and push your domain registration out for a good long time and let Google know that you plan to stick around.
There’s No Magic Bullet in SEO, but Small Factors Add Up
As with many of the tips & ideas that I share in this blog, domain registration details are just one small factor among many, many factors where SEO is concerned. Having a domain that’s been registered since 1999 and is registered out to 2029 isn’t your instant magic ticket to first page results. SEO is a big picture issue, and there’s no reason not to take advantage of small tweaks that require little effort. The factors that make big differences tend to be the ones that require big effort – so take advantage of the easy boosts where you can! And, as always, if you need some help with managing your SEO, give us a shout and we’ll let you know what we can do to make it easier for you!