Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Domain Age As A Google Ranking Factor - Hopeless SEO

Take a look at the chart to your right. The Top 10 Google SERP positions for a technology product. The column highlighted in pink is the DA - Domain Age of sites that are currently appearing on Page 1 of Google search results. None of the search results in this example are less than 11 years old! Many queries are starting to look just like that: There's just no room on Page 1 for a newcomer to squeak in. You could follow ALL of Google's guidelines to a 'T' - and still never make it to the top 10. Ever.

In this case we're looking for not just a hard drive, not just an external hard drive, but a search for the 'best external hard drive FOR MAC' which puts it way out into a much less competitive and niche-y 6-word, medium-to-long-tail keyword space - and still the Top 10 is hopelessly locked in and reserved for only the most established and aged retailers and tech companies on the internet.

For those of you who once had successful, thriving sites - and handfuls of not dozen or hundreds of ranking keywords that used to make it onto page one - this is what you're up against. These well-aged domains have such an utter lock-in now, that getting shoved off onto Page 2 or worse has been utterly fatal to your traffic and your online business.

This chart shows historical search traffic for this particular site from SEMRush.com - And it's like 80% of ALL SITES on the internet since Google Panda and Penguin updates hit 1-2 years ago. It isn't just about traffic loss from sites getting 'punished'  - but parallels KEYWORD LOSS of ranking keywords in the Top 20 positions (which is what SEMRush tracks - the first 20 positions.)

Website after website displays graphs like this. Of the keywords that still rank - many are finding only their NAME / BRAND still ranks -- and any keywords ABOUT the nature or products or services of the site itself have been strangled out of relevance - and visibility.

The point I'm trying to make in this post is two-fold:

1. In its quest for 'Quality' search results, Google has really cranked up the dial on Domain Age to even get seen these days. The consolidation of power - and visibility - is drastically being reduced to the top entities on the web - and quite frankly 90% of the internet HAS in fact, been declared or reduced to 'garbage' -- unneeded, unwanted, and disposable.

2. For all the possible penalties and flags and metrics that your site can fail at under the pressure of continuing iterations of Panda and Penguin updates -- It may be your site is actually performing better under those than you think. Maybe you're NOT nearly as 'penalized' as you imagine your site(s) to be. It may simply be that YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED on Page 1 anymore like the good old days when multiple slots on Page 1 of Google SERPS used to be open to younger and new sites.

The net result for many sites under 5 years old: Being shoved off onto Page 2 and beyond feels like a penalty, but it may simply be your 'young site' is no longer being REWARDED for flawless on-page keyword usage, topic relevance, exact or partial match domain boost, or the mix of decent and so-so backlinks you do have that once propped-up your site.

I've seen this exact pattern on site after site: My own, my friends, my clients. Pressure from the Old Guard at the top, squeezed by punitive algos from the bottom. Ultimately, it's a NO-WIN situation with Google, and the sooner the 90% of us realize that and move on -- the sooner you can set out on new and other paths you site(s) can survive and thrive on.