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How to research if a domain name was previously in trouble with Google?
You finally decided to buy your own domain name. Great!
What would you do before you jump of the fence? Would you make any purchase in your life without much forethought, especially if you know that one purchase is going to change your life?
Domain name purchase is also no exception.
Domain research using the tools given in this post can help to make a better decision before you buy a domain. If already bought, you still have some corrective actions that can be taken.
You may buy a new domain or register one by buying from someone – existing domain from a reseller.
Firstly, let’s see the options for performing a domain name research:
- Do a search for the domain in Google. Try doing a “site:search”. This gets you results from that particular domain, if it’s already used by somebody.
If there is no information from that domain inspite of having some content on that site, then it is a pretty bad sign, because the site was not indexed – or it was de-indexed from the search engine database for some corrective reasons.
If you see historical data, domain names were registered first back in the 1980s. There is an interesting infographic on this:
- If after your domain name research you find that the domain is parked, Google tries to take it out of their results anyway.
Ponder more: What is a parked domain?
- Also search for the domain name…like the name of the domain without the .com or .net or whatever the extension is on the end – this helps you in finding the reputation of the domain. Just do this kind of website lookup using tools given below in the resources section. You can also use Webmaster tools1 to do URL lookups.
- There are also domain name finders available in the internet ecosystem that you can use to find the ones that you want to research for. This helps in finding out the actual domain owner in most of the cases, especially whois.com2 research helps you do this exact thing.
- May be spammers used it for some abusive purpose previously, or simply to find out how people were talking about it. Probably you can find a comment or two to see if anybody were complaining about the domain for spamming their blog, or something like that.
- You can also use the internet archives. Just head on to archive.org and search with that domain name – it will show you what the older versions of that site looked like. If that domain appears to be a lot like spamming, that is a clear sign to be a lot more cautious in buying that domain.
This could mean that the previous owner might have spoiled the domain’s reputation and it takes a lot of effort for you to even get it back to good reputation and to clean it up, especially if there is an associated social media presence with that name.
If at all you decide to buy an existing domain from somebody – may be a reseller – then you can request for the analytics from them, see for any new messages in the Webmaster Tools and check for the existing traffic that goes to that domain. If the traffic looks okay without any sudden drop, then it’s ok to go for that domain, of course after doing all kinds of research outlined in this post.
If at all you find the nitty-gritty too late, after purchasing the domain and find the site to be in a bad reputation, then you can still request for reconsideration in reindexing.
Consider why you are buying the domain:
- For all the previous content?
- For the links that come to it, the back links?
- For the domain name itself?
The backlinks might not carry over as per Matt Cutts in one of his interviews3, so please be prudent of that fact. If you have all spam links and content, you can consider doing a disavow using Google’s Disavow Tool4. This can give you a fresh start.
Use the above techniques to find out if the previous owner of the domain used it for spam purposes or not, to decide if you want to purchase the domain. If you find it all well after performing these tests, and you are satisfied, then you might want to consider buying it.
Hope that helps.
These are the main methods to do the domain name research. If at all you’ve decided to invest to purchase your domain name, please do follow the guidelines given above so your investment gives you a good return and not make you work more than what is necessary. All the best!