Just like certain vintage wines become more valuable with age, older domains are more desirable than newly registered ones. While a bit of age won’t make a terrible name any better, it is something buyers like to see and can increase the name’s value.
One or two years won’t do much to change a domain’s price, but a continuous registration of ten years or more that has never changed hands will sell for more than the same name registered a month ago, especially if it has been put to use during this time.
Why are older, single-owner domains better? It’s all about search engine optimization, or SEO. The top search engines, most notably Google, all have what’s known as a “sandbox,” a place where new websites are put until they can show their trustworthiness and reliability. Typically sites less than a year old are given “sandbox” status, and it’s only after the search engine takes them out of the sandbox that they start receiving large amounts of traffic.
Six to twelve months is a normal amount of time to spend in the sandbox, though there are exceptions. Search engines are smart, and can tell when a domain switches hands. If you buy an old domain and use it with a new website, you will still spend time digging moats and building castles with the other new guys, but will probably be granted access to the playground must faster. SEO experts believe search engines prefer older domains because of the “trust factor” associated with them.
A domain that has expired and is re-registered can still very useful and will spend less time in the sandbox than a new name if it has backlinks, but isn’t as desirable as a name that is transferred to you without letting it expire. When a domain drops, the search engines essentially hit a giant “reset” button and treat it more or less like a new name, though they will be quicker to trust it.
So the next time you look for domains to add to your portfolio, take age into consideration. It’s certainly not a make-or-break factor, but it can give your site a competitive edge over others.