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Can a new website rank well on Google?

matt-willson
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We’re often asked “when will my website be #1 on Google?”. There’s no single answer – every website and search is different – although for new websites, on new domains, it will often be longer than the website owner expects.

A recent summary of data by Ahrefs.com gives us a good analytical basis for the expectations an owner of a new domain’s website should have.

Here are the main takeaways from that article:

Top ranking pages tend to be older than lower ranking pages

In their analysis, Ahrefs.com found a high correlation of age of the page, to how high it appears on search

  • Site appearing in the top 10 results were 2+ years old
  • Sites appearing in the top 3 results were 3+ years old

Very few sites less than 1 year old appear on Page 1

In Ahrefs.com data, it was clear that it is unusual for a new site to achieve a Page 1 ranking in the first year

  • Less than 5% of webpages less than a year old were even in position 10
  • Less than 1.5% made it to position 1

As you’d expect, the market you’re competing in makes a big difference

Every search gives different results – and every business is trying to get their business visible. The searches that have more people doing them have more businesses chasing visibility in the results – and as you’d expect, the competition means these searches are more difficult to rank for

  • 5% of webpages under a year old rank in Google’s top 10 for niche searches
  • 0.3% of webpages under a year old rank in the top 10 for generic searches

Domain authority – the number & quality of links from other websites – has a large effect

Since Google came into being, links from other websites have been a big driver of search engine ranking – and even though search algorithms have changed a lot since, it’s still an important factor

  • 6% of those with high authority (= more links) got to top 10 on Google
  • 3% of low authority sites (= less links) got that far

What does this tell us?

First of all, the maxim remains “correlation doesn’t equal causation”. Nonetheless, the drivers of natural search ranking – such as backlinks – are the things that take time to establish for a website, hence we can take guidance from Ahrefs.com’s observations.

So if you’re the owner of a website on a new domain, you should bear in mind:

  • Don’t expect to rank on Google anytime soon for competitive searches
  • Don’t expect to do nothing and rank anywhere in search
  • Backlinks – links from other websites to yours – are still important to search algorithms
  • Good PR is often what gains these links
  • Good quality, shareable and reference-able information and articles – such as the one on Ahrefs.com we’ve referenced here – are also a good source of backlinks
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