Longevity and Search Engine Positioning

By Deane Barker on June 29, 2005

Does anyone want to weigh in on how much longevity plays into search engine positioning?

Take two sites: both are really equal in terms of search engine optimization, and both have an equal number of inbound links. But one has been on the Web six months (long enough to get indexed by everyone), and the other has been on the Web for seven years. Which one ranks higher?

I have a long-standing suspicion that engines take longevity into account — they look back at their indexing logs to find out how long a site has been in their index — when ranking sites. This is completely independent of other factors, like code optimization and PageRank. When all else is equal, the older site wins.

Anyone want to agree or disagree? Does anyone have any documentation to this effect?



  1. You “know” this, or you just suspect it? I suspect it too, but I’m curious if there’s been a study or anything.

  2. I think he is referring to the recently discussed Google search patent. I can’t find a link to it now (of course) but I recall it listing that Google takes into account not only how long your site has been up but also the domain registration. “If you registered your domain for only one year, the chance of you being a spammer is more.”

  3. I agree – in fact one of my sites is being neglected right now – but is indexed daily. It’s been around 3 plus years and I guess that’s why.

    Interesting – I was wondering myself.

    Leslie in San Antonio

  4. It’s called the “aging delay” and it almost assuredly exists.

    Search engine optimizers have been aware of it for a year or so, and as Mike said, Google’s patent earlier this year seemed to confirm suspicions.

    The consensus seems to be that for six to nine months after your site is created, you’re in the Google “sandbox,” a subset of pages that are kept from achieving high rankings for competitive keywords. It appears from the patent that age continues to be a factor even after you’re out of “sandbox,” but it’s not clear what the effect is over the long term.

    Here is a good summary of the patent’s main points, with some discussion of the age issue. (All the analysis on this is being done by SEOs, who always strike me as a bit sleazy, but there’s no way around the fact that they know their stuff.) A Google search for “aging delay” turns up a lot more. Hope this helps.

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