Whether you decide to pay attention to it or not, registering a new domain or old domain can have an impact on your business or brand's online presence. From SEO implications to residual traffic, the age and history of a domain name is an important consideration when acquiring domain names. Given the option, you may even be asking - 'should I register a new, unused domain name or acquire an older, aged domain name?'. We’ve got you covered, as we’ll be highlighting the various attributes of both old and new domains.
WHAT IS DOMAIN NAME AGE
Domain name age is the number of years that a domain name has previously been under ownership (registered). Every year that a domain name is registered adds to it's age.
New domains are domains that have never previously been registered, while old (aged) domains are domains that exist with previous ownership. Occasionally, older domains can function very similarly to new domains depending on how they were used. For example, if a domain had been registered for 10 years but was parked or unused entirely, it would likely be very similar to using a new, fresh domain name.
WHY DOMAIN AGE CAN MATTER
Due to their lifecycle, domain names can expire from previous owners - intentionally or unintentionally - providing opportunities for others to acquire it. Domain names can also be sold through domain aftermarket services, which is another way to obtain an aged domain name. But just because that domain was sold or expired doesn't mean the history of content, traffic, and backlinks instantly disappears. The domain's authority still persists to an extent.
But what exactly do old domains provide versus new domains? Let’s dive into the differences.
OLD VS. NEW DOMAINS
OLD DOMAIN NAMES
Domain names that have been previously used can be either amazing opportunities or cause future headaches, completely dependent on its history. The list below identifies how older, aged domains can be affected by their past - just keep in mind that some of these can be either a positive or a negative trait depending on context.
The content that previously existed on a domain can act as a topic or niche indicator to search engines, which can accelerate/decelerate domain authority gains depending on how you utilize that domain. For example, if an old domain was primarily used for content about trucks, and you acquired and used that domain to write about health issues, there will likely be extra time required to recalibrate the domain changing verticals. This extra time could temporarily have a negative impact on your page search engine rankings. Alternatively, if you use that domain name to also discuss trucks, you may be able to carry the momentum of the previous content to improve rankings faster, with even potential to repurpose and modify previously existing content on that domain to assist that momentum.
Developing backlinks is challenging, and older domains can have the advantage of already having backlinks developed. With backlinks being quite important to how search engines perceive a website, having pre-existing links pointed to older domains can be a strong boost to domain authority - so long as the backlinks carry value and they come from other domains that have some authority.
Domain names receiving traffic that expire or are sold don’t immediately stop receiving that traffic. That flow of users attempting to visit that expired or sold domain will dwindle depending on the domain and how long it's been inactive for, but, if reacquired and used, it can provide a traffic boost to the domain. This traffic usually comes from type-in traffic (going directly to the domain from the browser address bar), backlinks existing on others sites, or even through search engines.
Newer domains have the disadvantage of having to go through the first initial indexing process - which can be slow and takes time due to the domain having no previously-existing content or backlinks. Older domains usually have the advantage of being already indexed by search engines, which can make the reindexing process occasionally quicker and also improve any initial search engine keyword rankings due to the previously mentioned historical context. It can be very valuable for building organic traffic momentum quickly.
Potential Established Value
Due to older domain names having previous ownership, there is a good chance that the domain was registered for a reason. Domain names previously registered for long periods can be an indicator that the domain is established on the web - with the chance that it held value for the previous owner. Domain age can be a decent at-a-glance indicator for valuable domains - though your research is required to verify this at a domain-by-domain scenario.
Domains with a history also can have some inherently negative attributes which can sneak up on domain owners who aren’t careful. If a domain previously had associations with malicious, illegal, or inherently negative attributes (such as spam or phishing), that can and will have an effect on how users, other websites, and search engines perceive the domain name. This will result in an uphill battle to improve the domain’s authority, which can take a lot of time and resources. After all, you can’t control how someone previously used a domain - but their actions can affect your success while utilizing that same domain name.
NEW DOMAIN NAMES
Domain names that have no history can require extra work to get things rolling, but they do offer some benefits over old domain names.
Starting a business or brand from the ground up can be challenging, but doing it through a clean-background domain can ensure that there are no historical influences that may alter how your domain name is seen. It puts the power entirely in your hands to make the right decisions and build your domain authority through your content and marketing efforts. This will be a lot of work, but can be a more predictable route versus developing a website on a domain that has an established history.
Since you would be starting with a new domain, you don’t have to worry about potentially inheriting a negative reputation that may have been built from previous ownership. This negative reputation could be from users past experience with the site, or how search engines previously viewed the domain name.
Time & Clean Up
When registering an older domain, you may need to spend time and effort understanding the domain's history, existing backlinks, and previous content to ensure there are no surprises down the line. Additionally, this research may indicate that there is some cleanup required - such as fixing broken backlinks or disavowing toxic backlinks. With a new domain name, these steps aren’t required - you can just register and start building your brand on that domain name.
DOES OLD VS. NEW DOMAINS MATTER FOR YOU?
After looking through the various attributes of both old and new domains, you may ask - 'do I need to worry about domain age?'. The answer is somewhere between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, depending on the domain in question, the use of the domain, and the domain owner's objectives.
If you're registering a domain with the objective of investing your time building a brand on it or perhaps reselling it later as an investor, it can be important to know the ins and outs of the domain. Some domains with very negative historical use can create unforeseen hurdles before you even begin building out your website or brand. Alternatively, they can also make your job a bit easier if you find the right older domain within your content niche.
It’s best to atleast be aware of the advantages and disadvantages that aged domains can provide, and decide what avenue works best for your situation. If you have the time and resources to discover the perfect older domain name and investigate its historical context, it can be a powerful tool to build momentum.
On the other hand, if you’re a newer business owner who perhaps isn’t so knowledgeable in SEO or doesn’t have the time available to find a suitable aged domain, building your brand from the ground up on a new domain name is likely the best option for you and your online presence.
At the end of the day, depending on your objective, there is no right or wrong when it comes to old versus new domain names. It should be viewed in a case-by-case scenario dependent on the users needs, goals, and resources. If you’re looking for tools to analyze a domain's historical use, you can use Wayback Machine to delve into a domain name’s previous content, and SEO tools such as Ahrefs or SEMrush to research a domain’s existing authority/backlinks.
If you're looking to discover and register aged domain names, you can check out our domain aftermarket which frequently has many older domains to review. For new domain names, you can search through our domain search to discover potential domains that fit your brand or objective.