Buying a domain name – Caveat Emptor

Buy a domain name, build a website, promote your business online and get lots of new business through Google. Sounds relatively straightforward.

No doubt you and your webmaster have drawn up a checklist of things to do before going live with your website.

Well here’s one bit of cautionary advice that doesn’t crop up as much as it might. Make sure you check the history of your domain name.

Buyer beware! before using a domain name as your website address and plastering it all over your company literature, check it’s not a tainted domain name.

The last thing that you want to do is buy an ‘second hand’ expired domain that has poor credibility and is actually banned or under some sort of penalty. It’ll be an uphill struggle to get back into Google’s index and to re-establish a site that has was involved in a link exchange scheme, has abused adsense or used other spammy techniques and been ditched by another webmaster.

First thing you should do is check the history of the domain.

1. Run a check on the waybackmachine on Internet Archive, look through the archived pages of the site for anything suspicious or alarming.
2. Do a search on Google, using, if the site domain name has expired then it might be natural for it not to rank in Google, but if it’s very recently expired then this might sound warning bells if it doesn’t show up.
3. Check the site’s backlinks in yahoo site explorer to see if it’s got history and a link profile on other sites. Look at the quality of these site and the links.

If you’re stuck with a domain name that’s banned, best thing to do is file a reconsideration request to Google and detail exactly what’s happened. If you’ve not invested in the domain name in terms of company literature and it’s not a must then it might be best to go with a new fresh domain.

Recently I looked at one site that had so much mumbo jumbo automated text on it, coupled with yahoo ads all over the place, and a suspect link profile. Although back in the index after a reconsideration request and under different ownership, months and months later the site is still under some sort of penalty. Some authority links might be necessary to give it some credibility.

Don’t make the same mistake with your domain.

2 Responses to “Buying a domain name – Caveat Emptor”

  1. SEO Tools, websites and plugins to help speed things up | Internet Marketing Belfast - Michael Wall Says:

    […] way back tool allows you to check the history of a domain name. It certainly comes in handy if you’re about to invest in a domain name and build a site on […]

  2. sudhaNo Gravatar Says:

    Many seo professionals will say that it is useless to buy expired domains but that’s not entirely true. For a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) point of view, the domain will lose its authority once it is dropped. That is why it is better to transfer ownership before a domain get dropped if you still want it to rank for its search terms afterwards. In the case of expired domains, what I’ve seen is that you will still get traffic from referring sites where your backlinks are placed and some organic search as well if you keep the same theme.

Michael Wall

Michael Wall is an experienced SEO based in Belfast N.Ireland currently running his own SEO Agency.

Michael Wall is available for Internet Marketing, Google Adwords PPC and SEO work. Please call Belfast 02890 923383 or use the contact form.

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