Here is a question that continues to come up ever since search engine optimization started to become popular all those years ago. For many, the idea that domain age can give a site an edge, especially if its older than others seems quite rational and for a time search engines did show indirectly that many older sites did indeed rank higher (of course other factors could have been in play). So, is there any evidence or statements from Google itself that confirms domain age matters when it comes to ranking in Google? Yes, Matt Cutt's, from the Search Quality Group of Google has recently given insight on this matter and the answer will surprise you.
How is a Site's Age Determined?
Before discussing whether domain age matters to ranking in Google, it might be good to start off explaining how Google determines the age of a website. There are actually quite a few ways it is possible to determine the age of a website. One way which many web surfers and SEO/SEM professionals use is Whois.org. Whois.org offers an extremely easy and convenient user interface to find information regarding a wide range of websites. Websites can be searched by url, keywords and even sites that are now defunct can be found on some occasions. However, using a registry database such as Whois.org is not the best way for Google to determine the age of a website. This is important for those looking to purchase a website due specifically to the age it was created. Now and in the past, there are many domains for sale- say from the early and mid 90's that carry a premium due to their creation date.
Google's First Crawl of Your Site
However, since Whois.org is not necessarily complete or filled with reliable data, Google does not necessarily use this data to determine the age of a website. Instead, Google generally relies on the date it first crawled a website as its creation date. In addition, it even came up with its own patented detection system- which incidentally was patented in 2005. So when figuring out the creation date of a website, it is safe to say that Google first turns to its own records to determine this information.
So, Is Domain Age Important in Ranking?
The answer is No! After all these years, and even some of the experts believing that domain age matters (usually through anecdotal evidence), Matt Cutts has confirmed that domain age does not matter when it comes to ranking in the search engine index pages. This is actually very good news for a lot of businesses and for SEO/SEM professionals. What does matter is the quality and content of the site. While the age of a site obviously has an influence on the amount of links and indexing of it- which can indeed affect its ranking, the age itself is not a factor according to Matt Cutts.
Matt Cutts goes on further to imply that usually within a 3 month period, Google will be able to index your site and from that point on, you are on a level playing field on how a website ranks in Google. This is great news for businesses looking to reach out to the web to engage their customers and develop their brand. Whether they are 10 years old or a few months old, their website can rise in the rankings if they follow Google's best practices. This also kind of blows out of the water the sand box theory that new websites must wait a specific period of time before being noticed by Google and ranked within the top of the index pages. It's obvious that Google is now heavily focusing on the quality of the site instead of age.
For SEO/SEM Professionals
For years, there was plenty of evidence to indicate that domain age did matter in ranking. However, the web has definitely changed over the last couple of years and millions of new sites and pages have been created. This new information is far too important to rank based on age which is why if Google has ever factored in domain age into their algorithm, they no longer do so. This also means that once a site is a few months old and thoroughly indexed by Google (using sitemaps, etc) a website can start moving up in the rankings on its merits- a meritocracy if you will.
So, if you have in the past bought or developed domains based on age as one of the factors, it is no longer necessary to do so. That being said, there is definitely no downside to a site being older and it may even have some natural advantages as pointed out before of having a long history. To view the video of Matt Cutts discussing this topic, please visit the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pnpg00FWJY