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I've heard that registering a domain name for a very long time, say 5 to 10+ years, can help with your search rank.

This seems at least plausible to me, since a fly-by-night, massive domain name farm isn't going to bother registering their names for more than a year. Someone who registers a name for 10 years is incurring many times the expense per domain name, and that's a de-facto money tax disincentive for massively registering many domainnames.

Are there any citations or other sources indicating this is in fact true?

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Not an answer: Rather than registering something for 10 years, you might look into purchasing something that's already 10 years old. Unless it's been used for a pharma website or the likes, it'll at least (most likely) get you out of Google's Sandbox from the get go. –  intlect Aug 16 '10 at 20:00
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4 Answers

I'm not really sure it does but from my humble experience with SEO, link building always plays the largest part by far. A few links from pages with high PageRank should have a much greater effect on the site's rank in SERPs (provided that they have the right keywords in the links' text and not having too many links on the linking pages).

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I don't think this is really the case, at least not directly. If a site is online for 10 years then it will naturally pick up back-links. Even a few links would outweigh any value given to the domain name.

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If it had any value it would be so small that I wouldn't even give it a thought or let that factor into my decision when purchasing a domain name. After all, search is about relevance and how long a domain is registered in no way indicates what a website is about or if it is any good or even spammy. It only means someone registered a domain for 10 years which can cost as little as $20 (hardly a large sum of money especially when compared to how much money a web can make if it ranks well in Google). If I had to take a guess I would say it may be a factor, one of many factors, in determining if a website is possibly spammy.

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up vote 18 down vote accepted

This March 31, 2005 Google patent seems to indicate it might be true:

[0039] Consider the example of a document with an inception date of yesterday that is referenced by 10 back links. This document may be scored higher by search engine 125 than a document with an inception date of 10 years ago that is referenced by 100 back links because the rate of link growth for the former is relatively higher than the latter. While a spiky rate of growth in the number of back links may be a factor used by search engine 125 to score documents, it may also signal an attempt to spam search engine 125. Accordingly, in this situation, search engine 125 may actually lower the score of a document(s) to reduce the effect of spamming.

Although "inception date" in this case is the date the content was posted, so unless you've got a time machine handy, you can't force 10 year old content to magically appear on your domain.

[0099] Certain signals may be used to distinguish between illegitimate and legitimate domains. For example, domains can be renewed up to a period of 10 years. Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain and, thus, the documents associated therewith.

This, on the other hand, seems pretty clear. Makes sense to me, anyway; if you're registering 10k domains to spam, you probably don't want to pay 5x as much to have them registered for 5 years. Particularly since you'll use them only briefly and move on in scammer/spammer style.

Matt Cutts touched on this in one of his webmaster videos too:

"How much weight does the number of years a domain is registered for have on your ranking?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1_1NQWQJ2Q

Answer is:

We have a lot of ideas and we file a lot of patents, but that doesn't mean we actually implement all those ideas.

He does not however say domain registration term doesn't matter, he just says "don't worry nearly as much [about this as you do about producing great content]".

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Matt Cutts has perfected the art of answering stuff without actually answering it. –  Tim Post Aug 16 '10 at 9:50
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Sounds like a yes, BUT it's just one metric among thousands. –  pate Aug 23 '10 at 19:14
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