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You're registering a New Domain Name, but how long for?

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When registering a new domain name (DotCom, DotNet, DotOrg, etc.), the registrant is given a choice regarding the name’s registration period.

At this stage, a substantial number of users simply register the name for a one year period, to keep the initial costs low.

After this first year, should they choose to retain the domain name, it will then be continually renewed along with its web hosting package. It is a little known fact, however, that Google seems to place a certain amount of emphasis on a domain name’s registration period, and that this may have a slight impact on rankings.

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What does registering a new domain name have to do with Google?

Apparently Google considers domains which are only registered for a one year stretch to be more likely candidates for spam websites. If this comes as a surprise to you, take a look at the following excerpt from Google’s original patent application:

Google patent application extract:
[0099] Certain signals may be used to distinguish between illegitimate and legitimate domains. For example, domains can be renewed up to a period of 10 years. Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain and, thus, the documents associated therewith.

While this little piece of news made its way around the web design and SEO communities some time ago, many less experienced online netrepreneurs and webmasters are still largely unaware of the implications brought about by Google’s date checking approach.

Implications? What Implications?

Put simply, and based on the above patent application extract, registering a new domain name for an initial period of only one year may well be considered as ‘dubious’ by Google for at least that first year.

A handful of experiments carried out by us during the past ten months or so (May ’06 to March ’07) indicate that Google does indeed seem to mark down web sites with a shorter registration period. This is further demonstrated by a client who recently approached us because his web site was not listed in the Google index, even after six months of promotion.

Closer examination revealed that, while its optimization and link building strategy showed some fundamental flaws, nothing about the website seemed to warrant its outright exclusion from the Google search index. Its domain name, however, had only been registered for a one year period, about seven months earlier. After a couple of basic alterations, which included extending the domain’s registration period, resulted in the site being indexed by Google within a short time.

It has to be said that this case, and our continuing experiments, seem to show a general trend rather than firm evidence, and more research is necessary to confirm the current findings.

Web Promotion must be balanced

Ultimately though, as stated elsewhere within the IceGiant website, great web promotion services rely on a balanced approach which includes all the necessary building blocks:

  • Unique, High-Quality Content
  • Quality Inbound Links
  • A Solid Internal Link/Site Structure
  • A User-friendly Navigation Structure
  • W3C Compliant Code

However, at the moment it would appear that registering a new domain name for just one year might actually hamper the above steps considerably.


*Damn... now I’ve gone and offended the religious zealots as well as the techies. Looks like I just can’t win this week.

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