By Melissa J Luther
Older Web sites seem to have an advantage when it comes to search engine rankings, but a site’s age alone is not a primary factor in its ranking. A well-designed new site can rank well within a few months, if you focus on those things that give the older sites their advantage.
The ranking benefit a Web site gets as it ages is largely due to the increased trust it gains over time. This trust comes largely from inbound links and quality content.
Sites that stick around over time, drawing large amounts of traffic and gaining regular backlinks, appear more trustworthy than brand-new sites with a few brand-new links. In Google’s eyes, links into a site equal trust in that site, but links are not all equally valuable. Google’s ranking algorithm looks at the link profile of a site as a whole, considering not only number of links, but also their quality and age.
A lot of links implies a lot of trust, as do links from high PageRank sites. A few high PR links can be more helpful than a lot of low PR links. On the other hand, lower quality links built up organically over a long time create a history of trust and can count more than a few high PR links that you got last week. You can’t age a link, of course, but you can work to steadily increase your number of quality links.
Valuable content is important, to both your visitors and the search engines. Because the best Web sites are always adding new content, an older site will naturally have more. Of course, you can start with a lot of content, but you still need to keep growing your site. As you add content over time, you increase your potential for attracting links and SEO value.
Again, this takes time. You can compress the time needed by adding content frequently; just make sure it also provides value.
Domain Age and Expiration
Some SEOs and domain registrars will try to convince you these matter, but they don’t. A domain that’s been registered for a decade but never used has no history of providing value or gaining trust and won’t fool the search engines.
As for time to expiration, Google’s Matt Cutts stated in a video on YouTube that you should “make great content, don’t worry nearly as much about how many years your domain is registered…”
What Should You Do?
Create an appealing Web site with good internal structure and room to grow logically. Keep your coding clean, your directories logical and make sure internal links work. Then get your site live with a plan for regularly adding fresh content.
This strategy gives your site a chance to start building a history with the search engines. In addition, as you trickle in content over time, you keep the site fresh, and you can announce new content as you put it up, hopefully getting natural links in to that content. This will build a natural trust with the search engines.
About the Author
Melissa J Luther, owner and founder of LookSee Information Solutions, LLC, helps small businesses create and maintain a strong online presence. She takes a multi-channel approach, with a well-optimized Web site as the center of an online presence that includes content creation, PPC advertising, linking and social media as appropriate.