Posted on 06/06/2018 at 03:00 PM
At some point in the life cycle of your business, you will likely be tasked with purchasing a domain name. Whether you are a new business just starting out with a brand new website, or whether you are hoping to acquire additional domains with the goal of improving your current website’s SEO, it’s important for you to do your research before you commit to purchasing.
Why is that? Well, many domains have been previously owned and used by other websites, and if you end up purchasing one with a history of spamming tactics, link farming or keyword stuffing, for instance, then it’s possible that Google or other search engines may have penalized the website, even blacklisting it completely from search results. This negative history can be transferred to your website and make it that much harder for yours to rank.
For that reason, it’s important to make sure that the domain you decide to purchase has a clean history to avoid headaches and the additional costs that can come with cleaning up a spammy domain. Here are some tips!
Search the Domain
This one sounds almost too simple to work, but actually, a simple Google search for the domain in question can reveal a lot about its history. To do so, you’ll need to conduct a “site: search”. Simply enter “site:www.domain.com” into your Google search box.
Now, take a look at the returned results. What do you see? If the answer is ‘no results,’ this could mean the domain has a manual penalty which is preventing it from showing in search results. There is a possibility it has been blacklisted by the search engine. At this point in your research, consider this a warning flag.
Check Web Archive
Next, you’ll use a tool called Web Archive, which is a digital archive of the World Wide Web. It allows a user to search a domain name to view a timeline, complete with screen captures, of the website’s content at various points in history. These screen captures can help you determine if a website was used for spam, if black hat SEO tactics were ever in use, and more!
Keep in mind, this is not a fool proof method. It’s always possible that a website administrator has requested that their domain be excluded from the Web Archive, and in this case, the history will not be available. However, you should still keep Web Archive in your toolbox and always check for any available history before purchasing a domain.
Check with the Seller to Obtain Website Statistics
As someone interested in buying a domain, it is on you to make sure you ask the seller the right questions. You are well within your rights to ask the seller for any available data on the domain, like access to Google Analytics statistics or their Google Search Console account.
If you are able to obtain access, look for sudden drops in traffic that could indicate a manual penalty by a search engine.
Make an Informed Decision
Based on the above three points, you should be able to get an idea of whether or not there is a high risk of negative SEO history associated with a domain. From here, you’ll either make your purchase, or explore other options using the same steps above.
What should I do if I purchased a Spammy Domain?
So you found this article a little too late and are now stuck with a domain that is chalk full of spam. Or maybe you even took all of the above precautions, but somehow still wound up with a spammy domain?
Determining whether or not a website has a history of spam associated is not always cut and dry. Taking the above precautions will greatly minimize the risk, but there is always a small chance that you may still end up with a spammy domain. If that happens, what should one do about it?
Know that there is still hope to clean up the mess. You always have the option of embarking on a domain clean-up mission! This may involve creating good content for your website, disavowing spammy links and submitting a reconsideration request through Google. Doing so requests that Google review your website after you have fixed any identified problems so that it can once again become eligible for indexation.
It will take time and money, but it can absolutely be done. However, because this process can be long, complicated and costly, we recommend seeking professional help early on to ensure efficiency and accuracy as you take the necessary steps to get your domain cleared with Google.
In Need of a Domain Background Check or Domain Clean up?
Global Reach has SEO experts on staff who are experienced in domain background checks and domain clean up and reconsideration projects. Contact our Internet Marketing Team to get started!