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Many users previously purchased expired domain names that used to house an older popular web site
in the interest of tricking search engines into thinking a site is not new. Search engines are now aware
of this practice and reset the “aging-value” of any site that is housed by an expired domain name,
as well as devalue its preexisting links. In fact, there may also be a penalty applied to such expired
domain names, as discussed later in this chapter in the section “The Expired Domain Penalty.” There
are still opportunities, however, in buying domains directly from users with old existing web sites.
The time-based factors that are used as ranking factors are the site and page age, and the age of the links
referring to it. The registration length of a domain name may also influence rankings.
Site and Page Age
A web site that has existed for many years is likely to rank better than a new site, all other variables held
constant. Over time, a web site that gradually adds valuable content acquires trust. This models human
behavior as well — a shopper is more likely to shop at a store that has existed for many years and pro-
vided good service than a new store with no reputation at all.
Likewise, a page that has existed for a long time may rank better, both because it probably acquired links
over the years, and because search engines may consider age a factor on the page level as well. There are
some conflicting views on this, however, and many also suggest changing and updating content on a page
over time as well, because it indicates that the site is active and includes fresh content.
Link Age
Links that are present on other sites pointing to a web site acquire more value over time. This is another
instance of the “fine wine” analogy. Over time, a link actually appreciates in value.
Domain Registration Length
Search engines may view a long domain name registration as an indication that a web site is not engaging
in spam. Domain names are relatively inexpensive on a yearly basis, and spammers frequently use them in
a disposable fashion. The domains eventually get permanently banned and must be abandoned. A search
engine spammer would typically not register a domain name for more than one year, because registering
for more than that disrupts the economics of spamming. Search engines are aware of this. Therefore, if
possible, it may be wise to register your domain name for more than one year. It certainly cannot hurt.
External Factors
Many external factors can influence the search engine rankings of a web site. The following pages discuss
Quantity, quality, and relevance of inbound links
Link churn
Link acquisition rate
Link anchor text and surrounding copy
Reciprocal links
Number of links on a page
Chapter 2: A Primer in Basic SEO
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