Myth or fact? Google will favour your website more if you register the domain for 10 years
About domain renewal
When you buy or renew a domain name you can choose how many years to extend it for between 1 and 10 years. The 10-year limit is to help free up abandoned domains faster, but you will always have a chance to renew the domain before anyone else. You will usually get 14 days notice via email before the domain expires with instructions on how to renew it.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is an active practice of tailoring websites to perform well in search engines. If your website has a high listing in organic search results, you can gain many visitors. Search Engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo use algorithms that automatically rank each website, based on a number of things from keywords and traffic to how mobile friendly it is.
Google measures the following domain related information:
- Names of administrative and technical contacts
- The main registrant’s address location
- The date of registration
- How long you renew the domain for (1- 10 years)
- Hosting company location
- Name server location
- DNS Records
- How stable the data is (not frequently changing)
Information according to an official US Google patent in 2007
The great domain extension debate
There’s a lot of disagreement online about whether extending longer will give you a bonus SEO ranking. After scouring through seemingly bottomless threads I decided to condense my key findings into this one article. Here’s the three key things I learned from this experience:
- Even though the idea was discovered in an official Google document quite a few years ago nobody has agreed on an answer yet.
- Google likes to keep its website ranking algorithm hidden and change it frequently. Partly to keep people from cheating the system and improve things but mainly just to annoy the technologically challenged (kidding).
- There’s a hell of a lot of copy-pasting in forums, I’m definitely not considering adding one to my website and leaving my SEO ranking to the general public.
So there’s no definitive answer out there yet, but there are some really good points both for and against extending the time for longer that you really should consider when renewing your domains:
Reasons to extend a domain for up to 10 years
Search engines put a lot of energy into combating spam and scam websites to keep them from showing up in results.These websites are often registered for very short-term use, they are abandoned after a year and then expire. While larger websites that have been around for ages tend to register every 10 years.
The SandBox Effect
It can take quite a long time for your website to start ranking well since older pages and links are worth more. Anything you do short term will have almost no effect. Since google favors the older listings, it puts your new business under very unfair circumstances online in the early days. People believe that you can get around this sandbox effect by registering a domain for longer, demonstrating that you are serious about your website.
It’s in the best interest for Google to send users to reliable sources and ensure nobody is sent to a business that no longer exists. Only website owners who are serious about their business lasting long term would consider extending a domain for a length of 10 years. Considering that so many small businesses fail within the first year of opening, it would make sense for Google to have more confidence in people that extend for longer as they are seriously considering their business long term.
Reasons not to extend a domain for longer
Consider the risks
Renewing a $40 domain for 10 years would cost $400 and is a much larger investment to make. What if you wanted to change business name, sell the business, switch hosts. It’s possible to have a complete name change, migrate the website to another name and keep the SEO ranking if you do everything right. This is one of the first tricks I learned when changing my business name from Lancer to Launch Design. Some people even say it just sounds like an elaborate sales pitch from the registrars.
Things change. Fast
The rate that Google and other technical companies change things around would undermine the need to extend it very long. How many small business owners do you know that make 10-year long business plans? Even if Google states that from tomorrow they will be taking the domain registration length into account, it could be gone within the year, leaving you hanging on to the domain.
Some argue that even if there is an SEO boost it wouldn’t make a major difference to your ranking. There are much more important things to consider for SEO. The things that really make a huge difference is the quality of the website and what links are pointing to it. If you really want to have good Search Engine Optimisation then you should start by setting up well and writing really good original content.
Does google really favour domains that are registered for longer?
Since there’s no real evidence this still remains a myth. However, it does make a lot of sense if you take all of the points into consideration. Since Google measures all the other domain information, it’s likely they also take the length of renewal into consideration. Registering the domain with correct location information is a good start, but there’s no harm in waiting a few years before renewing for longer.
When you buy a domain, how long should you extend it?
SEO ranking is a lot of really small things that all add up, everything you can do will help, but always keep in mind that SEO is strictly a long-term solution. As a small business owner, I always register for 1 year to begin with, then extend for longer if it’s a sustainable resource. Even though I plan to keep Launch Design running long term and pass it on into good hands if I can’t manage it. That first-year marker is a really good time to reflect on the website and make decisions on how long to renew it for again. My next domain renewal for my main business will likely be for 3 years, while the rest of my domains are extended one year at a time.
Extra Domain SEO tip
If you use domain identity privacy you may want to reconsider
When you register a domain you are asked to enter your name, email, phone number and even your address. It’s actually a huge security risk as anyone can access this information by searching the domain name. On the other hand, this information can be used as proof that you legally own the domain. There have been court cases where companies lost domains because they were using WHOIS privacy services to mask their identity. Also, while it’s still common practice to mask the information or use fake info, it may have a negative effect on your ranking. You can avoid using a personal address by registering with your business location, contact details, and even the business name instead of your own. This means that your business legally owns the domain and Google can validate that all of the information is legitimate.
When buying domains in New Zealand it’s best to practice the following:
- NEVER Google search ‘best hosting company in NZ’ – all of the top pages are fake advertising websites made by the hosting companies.
- NEVER read online reviews, if it’s your first time ask professionals in local social media groups for reliable companies
- Don’t mask the identity automatically
- Avoid using your personal home address and landline phone number
- Pay that tiny bit extra to register with local companies
- Host your website with local companies if it’s an NZ based website
- When buying a domain, use your business as an identity if you can
- Always register the domain with a real local address
- Only extend for longer than one year if you have high confidence in the websites sustainability
- Find a very good reliable host that’s not increasing in price every year before you extend for longer