30 Oct 2005

Playing with Google’s Domain Age Factor

Being a CEO of an SEO company, who does sales too, I try to be as “realistic” as I can about what it’s going to take for a website to obtain “good” rankings in places like Google, Yahoo, and MSN over a period of time when speaking with potential clients. At one point, all prospective clients all ask, “how long will it take to get good rankings?”.

It is why one of my first questions to them is “how old is your website”, and then I cross it with this wbp backlink tool, or I’ll use the Cool SEO Tool. (to check their site againt the top 10 for phrases they’re targeting).

When leads come in from people who are seeking natural search engine rankings on new websites, it creates it’s own unique set of what I think is “realistic predictions as to search engine rankings”.

In case you didn’t hear, I like em old….but in case you misunderstand, the “I” is Google.

We mostly pass on leads for new sites because the games that need to be played to get a site in the top 10 with a new site  is not something that I (nor I think most our staff) really like doing (unless the client is content on waiting a few years).

I have had a few people really push me into “what it takes” to get a new site ranked, and the conversation goes something like this:

  • Existing Client: Jim, I’ve got have a new site, and I want to be found in Google for relevant phrases so that I get traffic.
  • Jim: That’s great….We’ll consult you on making the world’s most relevant and best site for your topic….We’ll help you to build your site up so it’s the best resource on the planet. We’ll explain all about ways to create great content, give away free stuff, build a community, etc. We’ll add our on page optimization, and start you on a link advertising campaign.
  • Prospective Client: That’s great! That’s just what we want. Now, how long will it take for Google to rank our wonderful great resouce site in the top 10 for some relevant phrase?
  • Jim: …well….there’s this thing called the Google Sandbox….”age of links”, “natural link growth”, bla bla bla….. If we play our cards right, in a few years Google will “validate” this “aged site” with it’s great old natural links following a aggressive (but hopefully not too aggressive), “natural link growth”, bla bla bla….
  • Prospective Client: Did you say a “few years”?
  • Jim: Yes…..that’s what Google wants….I’m just telling you…bla bla bla….see our cool seo tool to analyze the top 10 (take note of the age and links)…bla bla bla…..Google hates new sites..bla bla bla…
  • Prospective Client: Oh, isn’t there some kind of “work around” so we don’t have to wait years? 
  • Jim: We’ll there’s Google Adwords and there’s Overture (yahoo). (followed by solutions)
  • Prospective Client: What about getting our brand new site ranked in the Natural results, but not having to wait years?
  • Jim: Well….understand that everything I said about having a great ole resource, the best site in the world, building a respected “community” is still all good stuff……and no matter what, if you’re thinking long term, then you should still have your main site be the best it can be…..but, if you want to get into some tactics that you could use on some “secondary site” that are a little more aggressive (thus might be frowned up by the engines) I could tell you about those….but mind you, doing things like that might bring that site an overnight ban by any of the engines for being that aggressive.
  • Prospective Client: Please tell me more. I do want the worlds best site, and I’ll do everything I can to do just that….but I can’t wait years. Tell me other options.
  • Jim: Well for one, you can get space on another website (and bla bla bla), you can buy and old site and bla bla bla, 301 bla bla bla, etc…Or we can take your new site and just slam it with tons of links and aim for Yahoo and MSN….but that might hurt  your site long term in Google….and bla bla bla.

I try not do this these things…..but If Google’s going to play with an age factor, then I might have to play along sometimes. I don’t want to….Google makes me.

How do you guys play?

Comments

  1. Sage Lewis October 30, 2005 at 9:05 PM

    Hi Jim,

    I like your honesty. The more clear you can set the expectations for a client, the better their experience will be.

    These days I am much more comfortable with the phrase, “I don’t know.”

    When I get the, “how long does it take,” question, I have a speech that I have come to memorize. “No one can guarantee when or even if the search engines will list your site for the phrases you are interested in. [If I’m feeling a bit snarky I say] No search engine optimization company knows any secret, inside information to get you special consideration to get you to the top of the engines. [And if I’m really on a role I say] And if they tell you they can guarantee a specific listing in a search engine’s organic results, they are lying to you. [Finally I say] This is what we do know, if you make a good web site, make a good plan and stick to it, you will prevail. Just stick with your plan.”

    If they ask again, I simply say, “I just don’t know.” That typically resonates well with the type of client we are looking to attract.

    The only reason I don’t personally go with the “years” commitment is because I’ve seen different things. Sometimes a site gets totally locked out. And sometimes they get in relatively quickly. There are many factors that I feel account for those differences. But I’ve been surprised by some quick listings every so often.

    I always look forward to your blog posts. Keep up the good fight!

  2. Adam October 31, 2005 at 5:42 AM

    I find that customers (perhaps unconsciously) ignore the part where I tell them Google listings could be a year or more away on a new site and that if they want Google traffic they should budget some Adwords money. Three months later they come back asking where their Google listings are. Rinse and repeat.
    Every time I do new consult on a new site I am shouting the caveat about site age effect on Google listings louder and louder. The thing is the louder you shout it, the more the prospective customer is saying “he can’t get me into Google, he mustn’t be very good”. It really is a balancing act.

  3. Emilia November 13, 2005 at 9:40 AM

    Geez, i have this same conversation with clients and prospective clients every single week.. and im on the other side of the world.. Australia.

    I agree with Adam, that you need to tell them about the ageing delay to protect your interests in 2 months after launch when they wonder why they are not listed.. (then you can say … well I told you so!!!) but at the same time, not give them all bad news.

    People want to hear what they want to hear and if my competitor gives them a good warm feeling about their position, even with guarantees, it doesnt surprise me that we can get overlooked.

  4. Bjorn Solstad November 24, 2005 at 9:41 PM

    Hm.. Actually your blog is the only one I have started reading regularly. I also appretiate your honest way of writing – a consept many SEO’s seems to have forgotten.

    I have a few clients in Norway, and luckily it is still fearly simple to get them ranked for local competitive words. But, even so I am still giving them the “it could take years” story. Luckily they know me from before and trust my advice.

    I saw a fearly clear evidense that age of domain has an effect with one of the last sites I started working at. The doamin was registered before 1999, but they had never marketed the site. I get top 10’s for very competitive words even without any IBL tactics involved. It’s amazing how it works sometimes. When they asked me how I do it I answered honestly “I don’t know”. They did not believe me of course, and thought it was some kind of joke 😉

  5. Abdul Hayi Mansoor August 2, 2007 at 8:51 AM

    Excellent post. I face same problems while talking to client’s. They always ask for top ten for very newly built sites.

  6. Demonz Web September 13, 2007 at 1:58 AM

    I find alot of web designers I know (who are not SEO’s) get annoyed when they are asked by their clients why their sites aren’t indexed by Google. It is very hard to explain to them that Google is not a web technology like html or css we have complete control over.

    There is no doubt in my mind that site age is an important factor in receiving trust from Google and we try to emphasize this to our clients. I believe a good system is to start with an AdSense and SEO campaign and gradually phase out the AdSense campaign as the SEO begins to have a positive effect on SERP results. Also in terms of link building being harmful, it is possible to limit the damage by finding desired links in advance and phasing them in at a similar rate.

  7. seo4growth February 18, 2008 at 8:51 AM

    jim – ur one of the few companies / sites to actually be so honest.
    I often feel we who are honest are the minority. Like demonz tho, i agree the roll out of PPC is an alternative option.

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