Can New Domains Outrank Old Websites in Google?

SEO Question: I have the same content as a top ranked competing site. Are they outranking me because of their domain age? What can I do to outrank them?

SEO Answer: Competing requires more than just replicating what a competing site has done. Back when search was less sophisticated people had to follow links to get where they wanted to go. Thus directories were more relevant and many sites listed any halfway decent sites in their vertical based on the fact that they were even in the same vertical. With search replacing links as the default navigational scheme you have to do more to be linkworthy.

A site like SeoToday would not get to the top of the search results if it were launched today, but because it was launched many years back and was easy to link at back then it has many authoritative industry related links that help keep it ranked well in Google.

Also think of the search business model as though you are a search engine. To them, being the first person to do something is a sign of quality because to be the first person in a market requires some market timing / knowledge / investment / luck. The people who bet on new markets are in essence rewarded if/when their market takes off, both by self-reinforcing market effects (people being more likely to find / experience / link to top ranked results) and by algorithmic weighting on domain age.

The biggest issue facing search engines is the quality of their results. By relying on old / stale results they require new content producers to do better things than old websites did to steal marketshare. Thus you have to be innovative / offer a better customer experience / be more remarkable to rise to the top of a marketplace.

If you want to outrank established websites you can't just replicate what they have done, you also have to do unique and linkworthy things that will help you overcome their early market lead and the self-reinforcing effects of search.

Published: November 21, 2006 by Aaron Wall in Q & A


November 21, 2006 - 3:23am

Thanks for this info. I needed this one to outrank most of my competitors on the ongoing SEO contest here in our local area. The competition is open to all domains whether its a 10 year old domain. But I choose to use new domains to experiment on the contest. Though most of the sites that are on top of the SERP was domains that have been a while for a long time.

Just want to add some input to your post what I've observed on the ongoing contest. If the site is keyword rich domains, it has big weight in SERP. If you search in Google "ituloy angsulong" which is the SEO contest keywords you will see that domains that are on top 10 are sites thats been been around for a long time. New sites are not being favored by Google. But not on Yahoo. MSN is now updating slow on their index pages, cache, and backlinks unlike their previous state.

November 21, 2006 - 3:50am

I have a friend with a SEO site that is older than yours Aaron, to test a theory I added a single article to it and it outranked the best. I tried the same on mine and it was not even found. If I was to buy this established older site from him I would outrank the best of them in SEO but that is not my goal. Very unfair situation indeed. :(

November 21, 2006 - 4:29am

In my opinion, where the engines (Google most of all) fall down is with directory sites.

The authority which is inherited when a "directory" site enters a new market causes them to artificially outrank more locally relevant sites which are not as globally authoritative.

With my clients I see this all the time with big, old directory sites (switchboard, citysearch, etc.) which are no longer locally relevant but (and this is a guess) because of their age and global authority are able to outrank newer more locally authoritative sites.

It's a bother for sure and at worst forces us all to pay or pray our way into "authoritative" directories and sites to get any ranking (especially in Google, and to a lesser extent Yahoo) when competing for phrases with big, old, no longer relevant directories.

-- an aside: Thanks for the great info and the license to an occasional rant.


November 21, 2006 - 4:31am

What I have found is that good as old domain names are, most that own them don't know the power they have with them and thus you have exploited a hole. You need to do more (and better) then they have done when it comes to marketing and getting trusted sites to vote for you. I have found even doing this 1/2 speed when going up against an old domain name that does not realize their power you will outrank them for most of the words they have rankings on. Do more then the competition and do it better them and that is a good start for outranking an old domain. (atleast thats what I have found with my case studies)

November 21, 2006 - 5:25am

Hmm. Well, I changed domain names for my noncommercial site about a year and a half ago, and I moved all my content over. All that remains of the old site is a page with a link to the new site saying that I've moved. Yet that content-void page still outranks the new site in Google SERPS, even though the new site has much better content and also better links. I'd say there's a pretty strong age bias in Google.

November 21, 2006 - 7:21am

Can New Domains Outrank Old Websites in Google?

The shortest answer is Yes. Link bait!

November 21, 2006 - 3:30pm

Well, what do you do when a well established website republishes your post (even with a credit)?

You'd be beaten anyway, unless you have zounds of links to the copied page.

I guess the simplest solution is not to be republished with permission and provide unique content instead, though.

Anyway, how do you handle your republishing with WPN, if you do?

November 21, 2006 - 3:35pm

When you are new it is totally worth getting syndicated. Sometimes it is still worth it even when you are not.

I figure that WPN drives me enough targeted traffic that converts that it would probably pay for itself even if some of my content from went into duplicate content hell. Plus, as long as my name is being seen it probably doesn't hurt me to occassionally have it seen on other sites.

November 21, 2006 - 4:13pm

Certainly it's no good copying or replicating the old websites. If you have talent and are ready to accept the challenges of SEO, no doubt you will be at that stage as the old websites are.

November 21, 2006 - 4:57pm

Well, when it comes to the iEntry network, it sure is worth syndicating and you are right at that. I am thoroughly enjoying reaching a wider audience.

You are also correct that 'it depends'.

It'd be interesting to rank somewhere around or higher than the page, which has your article, though. Then you'd get both the SE traffic and reach more people.

I guess there is nothing to worry about your content being reprinted, because you reach another audience, get incoming links, etc. If we focus on the target audience for a second, it becomes apparent.

Thanks for replying.

November 21, 2006 - 9:29pm

Aaron, I had the same concern. WPN published my blog's post that I wrote a few hours ago. Now if Google sees (caches) their site first, it will think that the originator of the content is WPN. I become the DUP content guy.

Now ... consider the fact that they link to my post on my blog at the end of the article and they link to the home page. Might Google also be considering that? I would think so.

November 22, 2006 - 12:09am

Igor M. - Wouldn't you think Google would be smart enough to tell who's page/post was created first? Time stamp on the file should be able to prove that, surely they have taken that into consideration.

November 22, 2006 - 1:11am

The file timestamp can be changed when updating the file. It shouldn't be the major factor, though it does play it role, I assume.

I'd think that links to the original article should help, though, if the copied article gets the links, there isn't much you can do.

November 22, 2006 - 8:33pm

I am a newbie to this whole SEO thing, so pardon my question if the answer is a obvious one. We are in the process of launching a vacation rental site in a non-USA country, which focuses on Brits, Aussies and other European travelers. We have a vacation rental related .com domain and website that we have done nothing with for the last 4 years, no links, just left the basics of the site up. It has a page rank of 2 and shows up in the yahoo and google search engines, and is being spidered. My thought is that with all the info we have read about the sandbox, we would be best off in re-optimizing this site with new relevant keywords and using it rather than waiting for a new regional domain to show up. Any thoughts? Is it easier to get a regionally based site to show up in Google, ODP etc.



November 22, 2006 - 11:20pm

I think there are a couple of things worth keeping in mind in terms of this discussion. First off, becoming a blog partner for WebProNews doesn't mean WebProNews is going to pick up everything you blog.

As a matter of fact, the actual percentage of your blog posts WebProNews picks up is probably going to be relatively low. The 'algorithm' that controls who gets put on the front page of WebProNews' Blog Talk section is a guy named Chris.

Chris isn't swayed by link counts, title tags, link neighborhoods or your Digg-ability. He's looking for whatever is interesting. In that regard, I'll put him up against Googlebot any day of the week (though I must admit the Googlebot probably has better taste in both music and film).

So, since we aren't really using everything you publish, the question then becomes a matter (I suppose) of the things we do publish outranking the site of origin.

This does indeed happen from time to time, but I'm really not all too sure about why it should be a major concern for a couple of reasons. But on these rare occasions where it happens, unless the search query is some super general, incredibly popular string - you have to ask yourself how many searches you're missing out on really? 50? 100? 200? And even if you are outranked by WebProNews for this term how badly outranked are you? Are you 8th where we're 5th?

Let's go with the worst case scenario and say there's a term where WPN outranked your site that pulled a few hundred queries per day. That doesn't mean that every one of those couple hundred queries clicked on WebProNews at number 5 (or you at number 8).

On the other hand, WebProNews Distribution is in the hundreds of thousands - and that's just email, not even counting the webpage traffic.

What that means is that even on the very worst opening day in the history of WebProNews' darkest day in the email business, your post is going to be exposed to tens -if not hundreds of times more eyeballs than that number 5 and 8 result put together.

Furthermore, those eyeballs are attached to the heads and brains of people who are interested enough in the given subject to actually subscribe to, confirm, create filters for, open and actually read emails about it.

That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

As for the duplicated content issue, content is syndicated, duplicated, replicated, scraped and otherwise re-purposed all over the web. In many cases completely without permission, attribution, or consideration. It's sadly enough the shape of things to a great extent.

In closing I'll paraphrase a piece of an interview I did with Rand Fishkin last week. (I'd link to it but I don't know how) - Maybe Aaron can help me out with that... - anyway:

There certainly was a point in time when duplicated content was cause for major concern in terms of your search ranking. However, scraping and splogging are so prevalent now that search engines can't realistically penalize you for it - if there's a penalty at all anymore it's so widespread as not to be noticeable.

In other words folks, if there is a distribution platform out there willing and able to further broadcast your voice, there's no reason in the world not jump on that opportunity.

Thank you.

I'm Mike McDonald, and I approve of this message.

November 23, 2006 - 1:02am

@yuri - the timestamp is easy to fake... if you want I can send you a short php include that will date back all your files -say - 2 years ...

but Google isn't stupid...

so don't bother trying as well :-)

November 23, 2006 - 3:56am

Great comment Mike...and would you believe that I just bought the Charlie Brown Christmas DVDs?

November 23, 2006 - 4:34am

Hi Jenica
It is hard to give specific advice that is pertinent to your situation without knowing more information about your site and market position. But I don't have enough time to do that sort of research at the doing way too many things.

November 23, 2006 - 2:27pm

OK, here's a question along the "age-before-beauty" lines...I have a portfolio of about 500 domain names which I have been accumulating over the past seven or eight years.

Most of these names are routed to a monetization service (, where they get a trickle of type-in traffic each day.

Question 1: When you speak of "Domain age" are you referring to the actual age of the name (registered in July 1996), or "age" in terms of sites that have content up the longest/been spidered the longest?

Question 2: I am now undertaking a plan to build out 100 of these sites over the next year. From an SEO point of view, do you recommend that I put SOME kind of content on each of them (like a coming soon page with a site statement or somesuch) and just add to it, or go 0-60 on them, one at a time?

November 23, 2006 - 9:01pm

Q1: I think having some links and being indexed and not being a ppc domain lander page for a period of time probably all add to the domain age part.

Q2: Not sure what the best solution is without doing some sort of market analysis and knowing your strengths / weaknesses / assets / etc. ... but I would probably take the ppc lander pages off any domains I intended developing, and get at least a few of them links pretty soon.

November 24, 2006 - 2:11pm

I don't think google looks to much at the age of the website. You will be down the first or second month, but you will rise...I actually launched a new website in my country...and with a page rank 0 , with a new domain, in ten days I was in the top ten, doing white seo. It's a seo related website..... Actually I just made the desing and only a few links to me (compared to my competitors) but didn't had time to stay on it...only 5 days........ And about duplicate content....I disagree that you can't rank well or outrank your competition with the same content, I did it..... ( my website it's over 2 years old)...of course I have his agreement on taking all the content because I didn't had time to make my own. The competitors website had pr 5 , mine has pr3. so it's totaly possible. just recently changed my page because of the conversion rate....

Irimia Bogdan
February 12, 2007 - 12:26am

It is very hard because of the links that have pointing to them...... I know that you can take the competitors websites with duplicate content....I have done it.... and of course the domain age doesn't matter....... I have tested it on a number of sites......

November 26, 2006 - 9:21pm

im finding it extremely difficult to compete with the sites that have been up for 12 years or so. Their rankings are solid and i find it almost impossible to get ahead.

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