There are plenty of reasons that someone might want to purchase an old domain which has been lying dormant in the hands of its previous owner. Whether it’s a takeover of an existing business or a repurposing of someone else’s domain, taking on a specific web address can be a good way to jumpstart a business without having to come up with a pithy web address which people can remember.
However, when buying an old domain, you are relying on the old owner’s website practices for search engine relevance. Google and other major search engines do not differentiate one owner from another, and so if a domain was marked as spam, it could be a very long time before you convince them otherwise. Here are a couple of tips for ensuring that the domain you are about to buy is on good terms with Google, and what to do if you learn that your website is on a bad domain.
Check Domain History
Domain registries do, in fact, keep track of how many times a given domain has been purchased, and in some cases it is possible to access such histories with little additional effort. Particularly if you are expressing interest in buying a domain, it should not be difficult for a registry to bring up all of the past uses for the domain, as well as any penalties which may have been placed on it by various search engines and legal entities. This will provide you with some information about the domain you are about to purchase, so that you know what problems you might have based on previous owners.
Learn About the Previous Website
Once you have checked the domain history, see if you can dig up an archive of the other websites which have been featured on your domain. This may be difficult, especially for websites that were buried by Google, but if you can find these archives, it enables you to visit the different websites which were featured on your domain before you bought it. This will allow you to see firsthand why Google or other search engines blocked that website if they did.
If you find that you have already purchased a bad domain, all is not lost, however. While Google is incredibly slow to “unmark” a domain as spam, it is possible to convince them to do exactly that. The key is to demonstrate a major shift in the website’s direction so that it is obvious that the domain is under new management. This requires a commitment to creating and maintaining a high-quality website with not even a hint of black hat SEO technique. After that, it’s important to just keep at it. Sometimes this process can take several months, but with time, the Google Penalty will be lifted and you will have a high-ranking website for your company.