Many people purchase a domain only to discover it’s been seemingly permanently banned by Google for using black hat SEO tactics, then have to jump through hoops to prove it’s all cleaned up and do a reconsideration request. And it becomes even murkier when purchasing not only a domain name but also the site content as well.
In a new webmaster help video, Google’s Matt Cutts details some things webmasters can do before purchasing a domain to prevent ranking problems later.
Start by doing a site search in Google for the name of the domain you’re buying, he said.
“If there’s no results at all for that domain, even if there’s content on the domain, that’s a pretty bad sign,” he said. “If the domain is parked, well we try to take part domains out of the results anyway so that might not indicate anything. But if you try to do site: and see zero results, that’s often a bad sign.”
You can also do a site: search on the domain name in Bing as well, so you can get a better idea. Obviously if a site is showing up in Bing, but not Google, that’s a major red flag. But you can also do a site: search in Bing and plug in typical spam keywords and see what shows up.
“Just search for the domain name, or the name of the domain minus the.com, or whatever the extension is on the end. Because you can often find a little bit about the reputation of the domain,” Cutts said.
“So were people spamming without the domain name? Were they talking about it in a bad way like, ‘This guy was sending me unsolicited email and leaving spam comments on my blog’? That’s a really good way to sort of figure out what’s going on for a site, or what it was like in the past,” he said.
Again, do a thorough search on both Google and Bing, especially if you’re looking for things like spam comments they might’ve left where those sites are now removed from the Google index.