How to avoid buying domains with previous Google penalties?

How to avoid buying domains with previous Google penalties?There are a number of SEO performance benefits that come with buying an already existing domain name that has what we already like to call authority. Similarly, this can also be a complete waste of time and money.
Therefore, it is very important you know how to research for a domain name before committing to buy it in an aftermarket auction.

Recently, Google changed the way they penalize websites that break their webmaster guidelines. If you purchase a domain name that has a bad linking history or has recently used dubious and uncouth methods to rank and manipulate the Search Engine rankings, you could be wasting your time and money. This is because of the simple fact that such domains might take years to earn any referral traffic.
Therefore, to avoid such calamities, here are a few things you can do to potentially protect yourself if you are in the market searching for a used domain name.

Simple Google Search

This is one of the best ways to get insight into the potential of a site. For instance, if the site has content right now, do a search using the site: operator and see the number of pages indeed within Google. Then proceed to do a search using the info: Operator to establish that the domain name is the one listed within the results or if there are any re-directions.
You can also go ahead and do a simple search to verify if it is ranked at the top of the search result. If the branded search does not show the domain as the top result, then this is an obvious sign of a potential existing Google penalty.

Google Webmaster Tools/ Analytics

A Google Webmaster tool is the way Google communicates with the owner of a website. Look into the Webmaster and see if there is any manual penalty listed against it. Below is a link to find out how to use this method.

Google analytic which are traffic reporting tools are slightly complicated to use and could need someone with experience to use them.
However, these tools can be used to establish whether there were any irregularities attached with the domain name during its use. These tools play an important role in helping to correlate algorithmic changes with traffic events in the sites.

Archive .org Wayback Machine

Archive.org is a genuine place to find out if any domain had a website to it previously and the kind of content that was on that website. During this time, you can take advantage and go back through time and view the different versions of the websites and establish whether it had any spammy content before.
Ensure you find out if the content was relevant to the domain name or the kind of business the domain name was hosting. Take note, Google usually deindex or remove and penalize websites with a page rank penalty if it previously hosted a spammy content.

Check Backlinks

Make use of tools such as Ahrefs.com or any type of a backlink checker to research the backlink profile of the website. Check for the overall anchor text density, the types of links (directories, blog comments, forums or even Web 2.0 profiles) and the link velocity. Remember, links that have been built very fast especially if they come from the above mentioned link types is very bad.
However, if you do not find any history in the Archive.org and there are no traces of backlinks in the link checking tool, chances are the domain is new and that leads us to the next step.

Check the domain registration history

Use http://whois.domaintools.com to find out whether a domain name had previously been registered and the number of users or whether the domain name was dropped. It is wise you do a search of your potential domain name and see its brief history. Back then, if your domain name was dropped, that meant that the backlinks which previously existed would no longer be relevant to Google rankings. Today, this does not apply.

There are a number of benefits that can come with buying an existing domain name but this can only be realized if proper research is done prior to buying. It is important to note that if you are buying a business that is coming with a website, the value of the business can be affected with the kind of domain name it has.

Finally, take note that if you are planning to do a link cleanup or repair of your domain name, you are likely to waste a lot of time doing this.
However, if you need the services of an experienced SEO to evaluate the potential of the domain name or to provide you with the services of Google penalty removal.

How can I research a domain that I may want to purchase?

For more tips on finding the optimal domain name for your website, see our article on choosing a domain name:

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