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How To Research a Domain You Want Before Making a Purchase



Do a "Site:" on Google. Also search for domain. Try and find reputation. Look up on archive.org. Ask previous owner for WMT (Now Google Search Console) and Analytics data.

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?
Wally, Reno

Internet Archive Wayback Machine:

Matt Cutts gave a few tips on what to do, what steps to take, when researching a domain name buy.

(1) Do a site command and if no content is found, that can be a bad thing. Of course, if the domain name was never registered or is new or is parked, then it is likely no content will be found. But if it is buying someone else's domain name, then no content found is a red flag.

(2) Search for the domain name without the .com and see what people wrote about it. See if there are bad stories on it. See if someone went around and did a lot of spamming.

(3) Use archive.org to see the site before you owned it. Did it look spammy?

(4) Ask to see Google Webmaster Tools and look for messages and stats there.

(5) Ask to see Google Analytics or other analytics they may use.

Now if you do buy a domain name that has issues, then you can submit a reconsideration request. Matt Cutts said that before you do that, ask yourself why you bought the domain name. Was it for links and rankings or just because you like the domain name. If it was for links, typically those links will not help you. You may want to disavow all those links and go forward with the reconsideration request to start new.

If you figure out the domain you want to buy only to find it’s already taken, you may wonder, “What next?” Or you may have already found a domain listed for sale that you’d like to buy but want to make sure you’re avoiding any potential risks or setbacks with it

Here are 11 ways to research a domain you’re interested in buying:

  1. See what is currently on the domain by entering it into your browser (be careful of spyware or virii). It may have a website, be redirected to a different website, have a parked page, have indication of being for sale, or have nothing at all.
  2. See what used to be on the domain by checking it at Archive.org. You can find out if it had a bad history or if the current website on it is well-established or not.
  3. Check who owns the domain, its creation date and other potentially useful information by searching on a whois lookup service like DomainTools. You may find the domain is well aged, which can provide an additional boost to your search engine rankings. Sometimes, the owner includes in their information that the domain is for sale.
  4. Find out if the domain is publicly listed for sale by searching on major marketplaces such as Afternic, Sedo and GoDaddy Auctions. This may help give an indication of price before you contact the owner and/or allow you to buy the domain non-direct if you wish to remain private.
  5. Determine potential trademark issues by searching for existing registered trademarks on the domain’s keywords in the US Trademark Electronic Search System and the ROMARIN International Trademark Database. If anything comes up and you are unsure if the domain would be safe to buy, contact a lawyer specializing in domain trademark law.
  6. Search on Google for just the domain in quotes and see what discussions exist about the domain. This can help with determining that past use of the domain may have been a spam or scam site. If there is a website on the domain and no results show for it on the first page, Google may be penalizing it in their rankings.
  7. See what other sites use the same name in a different extension by searching on Google for “site:domain.*” putting * in place of the domains extension. This may help assess whether the domain could potentially infringe upon another site’s common law trademark rights (always consult a lawyer specializing in domain trademark law if you are unsure).
  8. Find out whether the domain is in any spam blacklist by using Blacklist.org. This is especially important if you intend to send emails out through the domain once you develop it.
  9. (if looking for traffic) Check the domain’s traffic rankings and history on Alexa, Compete and Quantcast
  10. (if looking for SEO value) Check the domain’s page rank at PRChecker.info which also indicates whether it is “fake” or not.
  11. (if looking for SEO value) Check the domain’s backlink profile at OpenSiteExplorer.org . You can see not only how many backlinks it has but the strength of them as well to confirm any SEO benefits it may give.