One of the sole reasons that people but old domains instead of registering new ones is because an old domain is expected to have several advantages over a new one. An old domain could have an easier to remember name, backlinks that give it better search engine rank, and also relevant referrals. Unfortunately, most of such domains have some health problems that could be the reason they are listed for sale in the first place. In this case, turning them around to become successful could be harder than starting with a new domain.
Because success online is greatly determined by “What Google thinks about your domain“, all important health issues that you need to check when buying a used domain relate to Google. Below is a list of what you should look out for.
1. Google has De-Indexed the Domain
Use site:example.com on Google search to check for this property. A site having backlinks without having hits in Google when performing a site search has the most serious penalty. When Google makes the decision to penalize a domain in this manner, there is always a crucial issue. They will therefore be extremely careful before removing the penalty. To do this will require communication with Google through webmaster tools, a process that is both slow and painful. It may actually take months of work and in the end, you may only get a domain without any backlinks meaning you will have to start afresh with it. There is therefore no need to buy such a domain name for SEO.
Because De-Indexted domains are usually very cheap, there can be instances where the domain is worth the immense tasks of getting it to work. An example is if the domain has an exceptional name and high traffic.
2. Ban from AdSense
A common reason that domain owners let go of a domain is because AdSense banned it. Fortunately, it is very easy to check whether a domain is banned from AdSense. Just click here and confirm if there are ads for the domain from an AdSense Sandbox.
At this point, there are three main questions you need to answer:
- Why was it banned?
- Is the reason something that is important to you?
- If it is, how hard is it to lift the ban on the domain?
Some of the most common reasons for a domain being banned include adult content, spammy or low quality content, and trademark infractions. Even if you do not need to use Google’s AdSense, there is still a note existing in Google’s database that says they don’t like the domain. This means that your new domain may suffer without you knowing why.
3. Domain has been banned from Parking
Even when parking the domain you are about to buy is not something you are planning to do, it is always a good idea to check if “Tier 1” parking is allowed for the domain. Bodis offers a domain status tool for performing such searches. A banned domain means that it violates or has violated Google’s webmaster guidelines. This penalty is almost irreversible but only counts if you would want to park the domain. The spam flag can however damage even a new website that is not linked with parking.
4. Info: search has no results
While it is not very common to check a domain using “info:example.com“, it is very important to do so. There is always a reason for not having results for such a search. Many times, it is because of one of two things:
- The domain has a “soft” ban.
- The domain has been properly redirected.
While a redirection is not a penalty, it can cause a domain to lose all its backlinks and this can continue even after the redirection has been successful. The info: penalty is usually automatic and therefore the easiest to correct. It will however, still have a negative effect on the domain’s page rankings. When traffic starts diminishing, this should be the first place to check.
5. Marked as adult
Bodis search tool will also reveal this too. If you plan to monetize your website with Google, this is a serious issue unless you want to create a website about adult content.
6. Relationship between penalties
Something interesting about all this is that even though the penalties are almost always due to some form of violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines, the relationship between penalties is usually low. Check a “penalty matrix” below what I mean (0 means not banned and 1 means banned):
|Domain||Adsense Banned||De-Indexed||Tier 1 Park Block||Marked as adult|
As can be seen, practically all ban combinations are possible, so checking only one or two properties is not enough to be sure that the domain is healthy.
In conclusion, some bans are not very important if the success of your plans are not directly affected by the bans. But because the bans have an effect in the price of a domain, it is always a good idea to closely investigate these matters.