In the latest webmasters video from Google, Head of web spam Matt Cutts offers some advice on how to avoid purchasing a domain name that may has been destroyed by a spammer in the past.
Wally in Reno asks:
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?
Cutts starts off with a few rules of thumb when it comes to checking a domains past activity. Firstly do a search for the domain, and do it in a couple of different ways. Do a ‘site:’ search, so, ‘site: domain.com’ for the domain you are wanting to buy. If there are no results at all from the domain you want to buy and you can see that there is content on that domain it is a pretty bad sign. However if the domain is parked with no content Google do try to omit parked sites from the search to give better results.
If B*Different were having this problem, we would go to Google.ie and enter site:bdifferent.ie if no results came up we would be in big trouble luckily for us this is not an issue for our site.
Cutts next suggestion is performing a simple search on the domain name – excluding .com or its extension. Here you are on the lookout for the domains previous reputation. Are people online talking about the domain in a bad way, is this domain associated with spam tactics such as sending unsolicited emails or leaving dodgy comment spam on other sites.
Another rule of thumb from Cutts is to check out Archive.org to look at previous versions of the site. Here you will see if in the past it contained spammy, auto-generated content if it did it would be a good idea to stay away from that domain name and choose another one. “The previous owner might have dug the domain into a hole, and you just have to do a lot of work even to get back to level ground.”
Cutts goes on to suggest that if you are purchasing a site from a current owner, ask to see the analytics and webmaster tools so you can see traffic patterns and if there are any warnings or messages.
Cutts continues “ask yourself are you trying to buy the domain just because you like the domain name or are you buying it because of all the previous content or the links that were coming to it, or something like that. If you’re counting on those links carrying over, you might be disappointed because the links might not carry over.Especially if the previous owner was spamming, you might consider just going a disavow of all the links that you can find on that domain, and try to get a completely fresh start whenever you are ready to move forward with it.”
Cutts sums up the video by saying “Overall, if you do a site-colon search, or you search for the domain name, or you look for it in internet archive, that’s a really fast, quick way to get an idea of whether it was owned by someone that used it for ill, or whether they were doing some good stuff with it,”