Are you thinking about buying an existing domain from its current owner or registrar? Before you buy an existing domain, you might want to listen to the tips Matt Cutts provided in the latest Google Webmater Help video.
In this video, Cutts answers the question: “How can we check to see if a domain (bought from a registrar) was previously in trouble with Google? I recently bought, and unbeknownst to me the domain isn’t being indexed and I’ve had to do a reconsideration request. How could I have prevented [that]?”
Buying an existing domain without doing a little research can end up wasting your time and money. Cutts offers a few simple and quick tips to help you assess a domain before you even consider buying it.
Do a “site:” search
Searching for “site:[domainname.com]” on Google should pull up a list of the domain’s pages that are indexed by the search engine. Cutts warns that if there are no results at all, even if the domain currently has content, is “a pretty bad sign”. In the case of parked domains, you probably won’t find any indexed results, as Google tries to exclude parked domains in their search results.
Search for the domain name without the extension
Doing a simple search for the domain name minus the extension (.com, .net, .org, etcetera) allows you to learn more about the domain’s reputation. This way, you can see if people have been talking about the domain in a negative or positive way. If you’re seeing a lot of discussions about spam emails and blog comments coming from the domain, you might want to avoid buying it.
Searching for the domain on Archive.org allows you to see past versions of its pages. You might be able to see if the domain contained spammy content or was just low quality overall.
Ask for Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools Access or Screenshots
If you’re buying a domain from an existing owner, ask them for access to Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, or for screenshots. You need to look at the domain’s traffic and observe if there were any sudden drops in traffic. These drops could indicate a penalty from Google. You should also be able to see if the domain received any warnings or manual penalties via Google Webmaster Tools.
Don’t buy a domain just because of the links
Just because a domain has a lot of backlinks doesn’t mean they’re good links, nor does it mean they will carry over when you buy the domain. Cutts actually recommends disavowing these links, especially if many of them are on spammy websites.
If you’ve already bought a domain and realized too late that it had a manual penalty, you can always clean up the links, improve the content, and send Google a reconsideration request.