Old domain vs new domain: Is it better to invest in old domain or buy a new one?

Search engines like Google are a free and reliable source of traffic if you are creating quality content on your website on a regular basis. However, there are various factors on which Google decides the ranking of web pages on its search engine result pages (SERPs), and whether it considers the age of the websites or domain or not has always been a point of discussion. I

I am often been asked by fellow entrepreneurs, whether it’s a better idea to get an aged domain for a premium price, or simply buy a new one. According to me, buying an aged domain just because it has been aged is never a good idea. I will, however, recommend investing in an old domain only if there exists an active website on it related to your idea.

Luckily, if you get such a domain, you still need to be careful about buying it. Here are a few points that will help you to decide whether a particular aged domain is worth buying or not.

Domain history: Does Google trust sites that have been aged more than the new ones? According to Google’s engineer Matt Cutts, up to some extent Google favours established websites, but domain ageing alone has a very little impact on algorithms.

So if you are just looking to buy an old domain from the wild, despite it never had a content relevant to your current idea, it might not be a great idea. Here are three things which Google can track regarding a domain and decide to upgrade/downgrade the rankings:

  • Has it changed ownership?
  • Has it expired? How long has the site been live?
  • Is it about the same topic as older versions of it?

Link quality: A good aged domain certainly comes with a benefit of having a lot of backlinks. Earlier links used to flow much more easily than they do now. If you try to replicate a competitor’s links, odds are you will not be able to get a few of their most important ones. The editorial quality links are the hardest to gain and pull the most weight in search results. Since the web has more content on it now, and search is so much more relevant, the quality needed to be link worthy is much greater than it once was.

However, you need to make sure that the backlinks coming to the domain you are looking to buy are coming from authoritative and not spammy websites. You can use websites like Monitor Backlinks to get a list of all the backlinks to a domain.

Link age: If the backlinks that are from authoritative websites, check for their age. In a similar fashion to how Google may trust older websites, if relevant, more than the new ones, it may also put greater weight on aged authoritative links.

Regular traffic: If the website you are looking to buy already have some traffic, even if it’s very low but is consistent, it can be considered as a great benefit. It should take a significantly lesser amount of effort to increase traffic than the amount of effort it will take on a fresh domain to build the same amount of traffic, provided your new content caters to the same niche.

Now when you know how to analyse an aged domain, you are in a better position to decide whether to go for it or not.

In case, unfortunately, the domain of your choice fails on above criteria, don’t lose hope. After all, a domain is just a part of an idea, and not the whole idea itself. Instead, you can buy a fresh domain and gain authority with some hard work and patience. Here are few ways you can adopt to get a newly registered domain ready for your big idea.

Start early: It could be a great idea to buy a domain well in advance and let it age in a proper way. Note that simply buying and forgetting will not work, but you will need to keep updating fresh content in a regular interval. You can choose to update it daily, once in a couple of days or weekly. But make sure to stick to your schedule.

This is, of course, a boring option, but if your content is good, eventually, your website will start to gain authority. You can then pour more resources into it.

Start lean: Many high-profit, authoritative sites only had the profit element added long after they became authoritative. Many people only accidentally stumbled onto business models, long after their websites were made.

Some of the sites that later became highly commercialised may not have been worthy of a link in their current form but were easier to link to when they were less commercial.

So if you are planning to launch a product six months later, it could be a great idea to start a simple blog about it and publish quality articles at regular intervals.

Start with a micro niche: If an area is hyper-saturated, start building create your brand around a subsector that is not yet hyper-saturated. Later on, after you have gained some authority, you may broaden your niche.

For example, if you want to create an app which aggregates great deals from e-commerce websites, you can first start with a small segment e.g. fashion, or even smaller e.g. clothing, or even smaller e.g. Menswear, and so on. The point is, considering the resources available to you, choose the niche where you can outsmart existing players. It would be easy in a micro niche since your competitor is catering to a broader niche and you are focusing on your micro niche. Once you have gained some authority in your micro niche, make a swift move to broader niche.

Viral Marketing: Viral marketing, if done rightly, can make you avoid the time taking steps we discussed earlier. It can be achieved through various ways e.g. running a contest, refer and earn programs etc. However, needless to say, it would need a lot of resources and money, and most importantly, the ability to do it rightly.

Old domain vs new domain: which is the winner?

If an old domain has been maintained in the right way and is related to your target niche, it’s certainly a great idea to go for it. But investing in an old domain with no reputation whatsoever has no benefit over a fresh domain. Rather, it’s better to get your hands on a fresh domain with a catchy and brandable name and invest time and resources to gain authority for the same.

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