How to Perform a Domain Name Background Check

  • April 26th 2014
  • by Marvin Russell
How to Perform a Domain Name Background Check

You may want to investigate the history of a used domain before spending big bucks on it. Getting that “perfect” domain can cost thousands of dollars, so why wouldn’t you do some investigating before you make that kind of investment. You’d look under the hood before you bought a used car, right?  Then do the same thing for a used domain, especially if it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.  Otherwise you could be pouring thousands of dollars down the drain.

What are the dangers of used domains?

CheckIt was previously used to spam people
The last thing you want is a domain from a website that was previously used to spam people. No wonder they’re selling it. A domain used for spam could be red-flagged by Google, mkaing your SEO efforts super difficult.

CheckIs has spammy links
You don’t want a domain from a site who hired a shady SEO company who built shady links. Removing those shady links will be a nightmare, making it extremely difficult to rank for anything.

CheckIt was banned or penalized in Google
Make sure you do your homework on your domain. (see below) Double check that the domain your trying to buy hasn’t been penalized or even worse banned from Google. You can’t call 1-800-google to fix the situation. You are on your own! So, it’s just not worth it.

CheckYou have to remove links manually
Let’s say you buy that awesome premium domain only to find out that someone linked spammy websites to it in a poor SEO effort. Well, Google recommends that you contact all those spammy websites and ask them to remove your link. The world is a very big place and spammy SEO people often outsource to other spammy SEO people, who outsource to more spammy SEO people.

CheckYou have to disavow links
Disavowing links can be a nightmare. Matt Cutts of Google warns that this should be the last method of removing spammy links. However, Google does have a process for this, but one you don’t want to go through.

What are the benefits of used domains?

CheckThe age of domain
Older domains kick ass in SEO. Time after time, I have personally seen older domains do so much better with search engine rankings just because they are older domains, and therefore are more reputable in the eyes of Google.

CheckNo Google sandbox
Google sandbox is the mysterious (and unverified) label your domain gets when it’s new. Sandbox indicates that your domain is very new and can’t possibly have good enough information worth ranking high, yet. Sandbox can last months, and up to a year. Therefore, your SEO efforts may be more difficult. Used domains don’t run this risk.

Google sandbox is unverified, and theory amongst SEO professionals.

CheckIt has a great link history
Just like you could have bad links you may have the opportunity to buy a used domain with awesome links. An easy way to tell if a domain has awesome links is that the owner will tell you it has awesome links. It’s like selling a used car and bragging about low milage.

CheckIt has a great share history
Like a good link history, the used domain your considering buying may have a great share history as well. Maybe it was shared a few thousand times, giving it more authority in Google and Bing. Test it out by running it through the website analysis tool on MySiteAuditor.

CheckIt has a high PageRank
The only way to get a high PageRank in Google is to have other web pages with higher PageRank link to yours. It can take years to accomplish this. But a used domain may already have a great PageRank, saving you the trouble.

How to perform a background check on a domain

Matt Cutts just recently launched a Google Webmaster video about this exact topic. I highly encourage you to watch it. I took some notes, and listed them below for you as I watched this very informative video.

Do a (site:yourdomain.com) search in Google for the domain
Matt says to do a “site:” search in Google before buying any used domain. To do this, go to Google and search site:YourDomain.com. This will list every page of the domain currently indexed by Google. No results are usually very bad results. It could mean this domain was banned from Google.

Do a regular search for the used domain
Also, just do a regular search in Google. I would try the search with quotes and without. This should bring up all of your domain name mentions from websites around the world. No results means a low value domain because nobody is talking about this domain or linking to it. If you get lots of results get your hot pocket and a glass of wine ready.  You’ll need to start digging through these sites to see if they are spammy or not.

Use Internet Archive
Matt had a great suggestion that you should look through archive.org. I love this site. You can see any site and how it looked over the last 20 years. You can also see what the older site on the used domain your purchasing looked like. This is a great way to see if anyone previously used your site to spam people.

Check the domain’s age
Matt didn’t mention this, but I will. Check out the age of the used domain. Remember what we said earlier; older domains perform so much better in search engines. Anything 10 years or older is pure gold!

Check analytics
Ask the seller to see the domain’s analytics. Look for sudden drops of traffic and investigate the reasons why. It could be the sign of a penalized domain.

Check Google Webmaster Tools (look for drops in links)
Ask to look through their Google Webmaster Tools so you can see any messages from Google. Google is great about letting you know if your site has problems or has been red flagged. And if the seller says no, that’s a red-flag itself.

Be careful that the links may not carryover
Google doesn’t guaranteed that the links will carry over to a new site or a new domain owner. So, tell the seller to ease up on the price a bit. Those links are great but are not guaranteed.

Final thoughts

I’ve bought premium domains, used domains and new domains, so my recommendation on whether to buy new or used would be different for every situation. If your buying your company domain, then paying a premium may be worth it. If you’re launching a new company I urge you to obsessively look before paying for a premium or used domain.

In November of 2013, I was looking a domain for my free checklist site. After weeks of looking I stumbled upon checkli.com. (Pronounced check-lee). It was perfect! Oh, and it was new and only $12.00 from Godaddy.

  • Thanks for listing out the points which might affect a domain. My domain was used in the past and i didn’t know it. Came to know that using archive.org. Don’t know whether to drop the domain or use it :(

  • Sherry6658

    I currently gain something like $6k-$8k every month from working on the internet at home. So if you are eager to finish basic at home task for few h each day at your home and make valuable salary for doing it… This is an opportunity for you… http://clck.ru/A54RG

    dgfvdfg

  • alma.jackson.1994

    I currently get paid around 6-8 thousand dollars /every month for freelancing at home. Anyone prepared to work easy computer-based task for 2-5 h each day from your house and get valuable benefit for doing it… Then this invitation is for you… http://fave.co/2bocRGL

  • mary.riddle.91

    Start Earning 90 dollars each day for working over the internet from your home for couple of h /day… Get regular payment weekly… All what is required is a personal computer, net connection, plus a little free time… http://ow.ly/n1nP303oO1A

  • susan.skinner.93

    One yr ago I decided to resign from my previous job and that decision changed everything for me… I started to work on-line, for a company I found online, for a few hrs each day, and my income now is much bigger then it was on my old work… My last month payment was for 9 thousand dollars… Superb thing about it is that now i have more time for my family…
    http://korta.nu/MDe

  • katharine.brunt

    It’s been 1 year since I decided to abandon my last job and I am so happy now… I started freelancing from comfort of my home, for a company I discovered online, several hours a day, and I profit now much more than i did on my office work… My last month check was for Nine thousand bucks… Superb thing about this work is that now i have more time for my family… http://korta.nu/MDe

  • april.clay.91

    After 5 yrs I decided to resign from my office job and that decision changed everything for me… I started to work from home, for a company I stumbled upon over internet, several hours a day, and my income now is much bigger then it was on my last job… Paycheck i got for last month was for $9k… The best thing about this gig is the more time i got for my family… http://secure38.com

  • roseanne.leblanc

    After 5 yrs I finally resigned from my old work and I never felt better in my life… I started working from my house, over a website I stumbled upon over internet, several hrs every day, and my income now is much bigger then it was on my last job… My paycheck for last month was for $9000… Superb thing about this is that now i have more time for my loved ones… http://chilp.it/8d93f4b

  • lottie.warford

    After 5 yrs I decided to resign from my previous job and that decision was a life changer for me… I started working from comfort of my home, for a company I found online, few hours every day, and I profit now much more than i did on my office job… My last month paycheck was for $9k… Great thing about this gig is the more free time i got for my loved ones…
    http://chilp.it/8d93f4b