When purchasing an existing domain there is the need for a certain amount of caution. Firstly you have to decipher what was the sites purpose in the past. Will moving your brand to that new URL impeed your goals of making your newly designed website engaging to customers or will they not be able to find you?
The good news is there are tools that can tell any website owner, freelance web designer or want-to-be SEO expert how a domain has been used in the past. I have found there are really six areas you need to test an old domain against on the internet:
Who owns the domain?
Finding out the actual owner of anything is important and a domain (url) is no different. Where it is stored, who purchased it and at what time are all relevant questions. Because the internet is a relatively open platform, it is not really that hard to ascertain this information as the list below will attest to
- who.is displays the owner and when it was purchased
- whoisrequest.org this is the same a who.is but gives more depth
- www.dnswonder.com to test the DNS records of the website
The visual history of a domain
Websites can go through many stages of metamorphosis whilst live on the internet so trying to track the history can be challenging. Imagine if someone took photos of a domain over its lifetime and stored them in one place, wouldn't that be helpful? Well, there is just such a place, and that is the job of the internet archive.
It keeps a copy of all sorts of information on the public internet. But is also takes images of what a website has been upto, this can really helpful when you are trying to work out how a domain has arrived at where it is today:
How a domain has been categorized
All websites across the web are placed into categories and sorted at different levels according to search engines. Finding this information out when you are looking at purchasing a domin is really easy with the current online tools. They can tell you amazing information like what is the Gobal Ranking, which lists globally recognised websites and the amount of traffic they are expected to get, who has linked to this website in the past and many more amazing peices of information:
Check if a domain has been used for spam or is blacklisted
The following services provide a great insight into if a domain has been blacklisted by the domain name servers on the internet. If the domain you are looking to purchase has been used by spammers then the best thing to do is ...run and keep running. The reason for this is search engines will stop any traffic coming from a blacklisted site and you will not be able to be seen by your audience, and that's what you dont want right?
There are ways to request that your domain name be taken off these spam checkers and blacklists but they take time and there is no guarantee that they would honour what you are asking for. When you are looking to acquire a domain that has been used always, always, always check to see if they are blacklisted or have been used for spam.
These are my choice for doing blacklist testing:
Has a domain email been blacklisted?
Multirbl is great for one importantant function that is its ability to see if an email has been used for spam. Sometimes computers get hacked and use a personal email to spam others, this tool will not only check your domain but you can add a specific email address to find out if it has been used as a spamming tool, neat huh?
Are search engines penalising a website?
In the past, some SEO experts used certain tactics that were gaming the system to get a domain to number one in search rankings, and for a while it worked. But as search engines worked out the way they were being gamed they would penalise, but not blacklist from the search engines.
This meant that a website would be displayed in the search ranking but could not make it to page one for example. The way to check if a domain has been penalised is by checking the following:
Finding out website traffic
Getting a websites traffic stats when you don't have access to its analytics can be an issue when trying to work out how it is performing on the global or regional scale. There are a few websites that can give you some insights, I have listed them below:
How much is a domain worth
So how do you find out what the price of a domain is worth? This is an interesting pursuit to say the least, but there are some sites that will give you some guides to work it out. Look at the Page Rank, the amount of traffic, and social media interaction. Have a look at the following websites to find out what the website is worth:
As promised you don't have to pay the world to find out if an old domain has been misused. If you are looking to purchase a domain and you are not sure about its past email us now.