Consulente Web Marketing e Consulenza Motori di Ricerca

Web Marketing & Search Engine Consultant

3 Simple checks before you buy a domain name

Domain names are an essential building block of any web project – first you choose a TLD depending on availability, then you do the rest.

It’s so difficult to find the right name – I’ve spent hours brainstorming names with Clients only to discover them all taken!!

But wait a minute – there is a market for domain names isn’t there? Why not buy a used one? Domain names become available every day, there are plenty of domain name registrars and resellers with names to choose from – many at affordable prices …

Domain names are like:

  • used cars – someone had their go with it, for some reason they’re giving it up
  • trees – plant one and it will grow quickly, you have a limited timeframe to move it: once the roots deepen it cannot be moved, only chopped down
  • children – you can educate and influence (by using your authority and reputation) when they are young

How to choose a “used” domain name

  1. Request access to Google Webmaster Tools

    Verify if the domain is penalized, if there are any spamdexing issues, … if you’re denied access they have something to hide.

  2. Verify how old the Domain name is

    They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – it can be hard to change domain name reputation and positioning: the older to domain name, the harder it gets. Anything older than 3 to 4 years of age I’d say is “senior” – anything beyond 5 is “old” – more than 10 is “secular”

  3. Analyse the incoming linking profile

    Picture this: you are going to open an online flower shop off a TLD previously hosting hard core porno: think it’s gonna be easy? Think again. Check out your historical incoming links profile and see how many links there are and consider it virtually impossible to remove them all.

Delete old content for a fresh start? Not really …

No, it’s not that simple. Although you have removed all those old pages and they no longer exist, they’re gonna haunt you and cause big, maybe enormous problems depending on the Inbound Links (IBLs).

You’ll do your homework and tell Google you have removed the previous website, that it no longer exists and ask (politely) to remove it from the index, but those incoming links are telling the search engine spiders (bots) there was once content and it might just re-appear so they keep returning “hoping” to find it back in its place.

You can implement an energetic 410 in place of a 404 (page not found) to tell the search engines “this content is gone FOREVER” and hope they will understand what you are saying and trust you (after all you are a new landlord – they no close to nothing about you …)

You are what you are because you were what you were

Each and every domain name is a unique experience and adventure just like people – when you take over a Domain name you inherit:

  • History
  • Reputation
  • Authority

You can’t erase it, only change it with time: the longer the history the longer the corrective process may take.

Ask yourself: “is it really worth it??”

You’re beginning to understand there may be a lot more to just buying the domain name and setting up a new website. On the other hand if you are purchasing a TLD with roots in your areas of interest it could be a great starting point. Those IBLs might get discounted by the search engines but who cares! They’ll generate direct traffic.

In light of all this you need to assess the impact of past history and estimate the costs involved to modify the existing profile.

The Bow Tie Theory Still Stands

IBM Bow TIe Theory Graph

In the dark ages of the Web the bow tie theory was at large – I believe it is still central in many aspects. The so-called “core” is where well positioned websites sit pretty and enjoy top placement for competitive keywords.

A change in topic will disrupt the status quo and there’s no way to foresee what will happen, how long the transformation will take, or what the end result will be – only time will tell.   

4 Replies

  1. I really like this post great work!

  2. Rex Jarvis

    The WayBack Machine won’t do much for your new flower shop where the porn site used to be either will it? Great post as usual.

  3. the longer the history the longer the corrective process may take.Nice post.

  4. These are good suggestions! But old domains aren’t usually sold! 😉