Can I extend my domain name expiration date to improve my search engine ranking or protect my domain name?

When we provide a free domain name to hosting customers, we register and renew it in one-year increments. The renewal happens about 30 days before it would otherwise expire.

We're occasionally asked if it's possible to extend the expiration date of a domain name that we provide for free as part of a hosting plan, usually for one of these reasons:

  • Some search engine optimization (SEO) sites suggest that domain names that are prepaid for many years in the future will improve their search engine rankings.
  • Renewing your domain name many years in advance makes sure you’ll keep the domain name, even if you don’t pay the hosting fees at some point.

How do I extend the renewal?

We can extend the registration date of a hosted domain name so that the expiration date is up to (but not more than) ten years in the future (which in most cases means adding eight or nine years to it).

When we do this, we immediately pay the central domain name registry a nonrefundable fee for the additional years. That means we have to pass that fee on to you.

The extra domain name fee will be in addition to your normal hosting fee. In other words, doing this costs you more in the long run, because you won't be getting our normal "free domain name renewal with a hosting plan" in those future years. It also means it's one of the few fees we can't refund under our money-back guarantee, even if you change your mind or you're dissatisfied with the results.

If you want to do this, please see our domain name price list for the applicable fees, then contact us and ask us to extend your registration. Keep in mind that you'll need to do this on an ongoing basis if you want to keep the expiration date far in the future.

Does adding expiration years for SEO purposes actually work?

Probably not. Expiration dates wouldn't be a very good test for search engines to use: it's an easily-gamed system that has little bearing on whether the information the site contains is likely to be valid, which is what search engine algorithms are all about.

More than 90% of all domain names on the Internet expire within a year, including many high-profile domain names. It's hard to believe that Google is ranking these sites lower because they expire soon, while giving a boost to any spammer who pays a few extra dollars for a multi-year domain name. If it did make a measurable difference, spammers would immediately take advantage of it by registering all their domain names for longer periods, and Google would quickly stop rewarding it. So if there is any effect, it's probably very small compared to other factors.

Google did obtain a patent that talked about using domain name dates as part of a ranking algorithm, but companies like Google patent lots of things they never intend to use, "just in case." What's more likely is that Google is looking at the domain name's creation date to benefit the rankings of domain names that were registered many years ago, since that probably does mean they're more likely to contain useful information. But you can't do anything about the creation date of your domain name.

This is all just our opinion, of course. If you have someone telling you something different, and you value that person's opinion, you should probably go with what he or she is telling you instead of asking us; Google and other search engines don't announce how their algorithm works, so it's impossible for us or anyone else to tell you the "right" answer. All you can get is opinions.