Everyone wants to see their website ranking in the top 10 on Google for the keywords that matter the most to their business. You have gotten a great design which complies with W3C HTML standards, have remarkable content in form of presentations, blog posts and articles and you have also have submitted your website to directories. However, that top 10 ranking still remains elusive, doesn’t it? We all have gone through that stage of oblivion and it is true that the shining stars of today were nowhere to be found yesterday.
While ranking in Google in not a rocket science for those who know how to do it, even the best of the search engine optimization specialists tread cautiously when it comes to ranking newer websites. Not many, who know the art and science of SEO, are ready to offer commitment, leave aside a guarantee, for your high ranking endeavor. This hesitation is well grounded in the fact that Google’s ranking algorithm is heavily tilted towards aged and trusted domains. Yes, aged AND trusted – while the two are different, the former helps in building the later and hence they are directly related.
According to Google’s “Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data” patent, Google does look into domain registration data to separate legitimate domains from the non-legitimate ones. Google, itself is a domain registrar and while it doesn’t sell domains, it uses its access to uncover the details related to domain names on the web.
However, there are many reasons which lead us to believe that domain age is just an indicator and might not be a true ranking factor. We say that based upon the following analysis:
Domains can be registered but never used by the owners. They can be parked, lying idle or 301 (or 302) redirecting to other domain names.
With branding in mind, established companies may change their domain names and redirect an age old domain name to a newer one.
Without changing the domain ownership, illegitimate domains can be handed over to others.
Search engines rank web pages or documents on the results page and not domains. Try ranking a domain name without any actual content or links, all by itself in search engines and you will soon arrive to the conclusion that the domain cannot be found even for its exact match keyword. Hence, the separation of domain age vs. website age is important to understand why old websites tend to rank higher in search engines as compared to newer ones.
Search engines follow people and the algorithms try to reflect reality and opinion of people. In the real world, people tend to believe persons and companies which have been established for a while and have clients, projects and a sound financial record under their belt. Experience and trust matters and both of them usually come with time. The same applies to the search engine algorithms where via age, the search engines are focusing on
Old documents are more trusted by Google.
Old documents attract links and hence have a better pagerank.
Google’s unknown but very well discussed “Google Sandbox” doesn’t apply to old sites.
Documents which stand the test of time are thought of as legitimate.
That would be too pessimistic a statement. While it is true that older sites have the playground tilted in their favor, newer sites can still rank well by doing the following:
Focusing on less competitive, 3-4 word phrases which do not bear high traffic but can still send a small stream of regular traffic.
Producing content regularly and using social media, blogs and advertisements to boost the visibility of this content.
Getting linked from trusted sites such as government sites, colleges, university sites, old websites, and newspaper sites. Google deploys algorithms like Trustrank which focus on ranking sites higher, and which are closer to a “seed set of websites”, by the virtue of linkage.
Using Google Adwords for keyword research and sales.
Hence, it is important to understand what can and cannot happen in the world of search engines. Armed with this knowledge, you can set realistic expectations of high rankings while at the same time focusing on building your strengths to attain long term sustainability.
While an SEO expert can help you in understanding the nuances of newer sites, they can also work towards decreasing the sandbox span by showing signals of trust and worthiness to search engines. However, as thought leaders in SEO, we would also suggest you to analyze and value other vertical databases like Google Local through local internet marketing, keyword buying through Google Adwords and other search engines like Yahoo and Bing. These for sure can give that life support needed for a new website.