No one can deny that the Internet is here to stay and that businesses who do not embrace the internet are going to struggle in the coming years. With the Internet and Search Engines reaching a new level of maturity, I have noticed in their rankings that they are beginning to put more and more weight on the age of the domain in their index and because of this we have now reached a crossroad for many businesses to evaluate whether they are better off buying an existing domain versus registering a brand new domain. But Buyer Beware!
I have met many many people who have benefited and also been burnt by buying existing domain names. The major disadvantage of buying an existing domain name is that it may have been banned from the search engines for in appropriate search engine tactics, better known as black hat techniques. My own personal experience with the search engines and trying to talk to a human being in the past to plead my case over an issue with one of our own domains has made me come to the realization that none of them have a clue of what customer service is and they do not care what they do to you and this is where the problem lies when buying existing domains.
If you purchase a domain that has been banned for either Search Engine Black Hat techniques or for click fraud then you can pretty much write off that domain ever getting into the indexes ever again. Which means that if you are relying principally on traffic from the search engines, then you are going to invest a lot of money and get absolutely no outcome? In fact one of our own clients was caught where the domain they had purchased was banned in just about every index and by many of the pay-per-click engines as well. Literally the money they outlaid for this domain were totally wasted.
Look, there are many reasons why domains can be banned and in some cases they are banned by indexes for the owners simply not understanding the rules that the various search engines place on the websites that they index. Whilst that is no excuse in the scheme of things, as a buyer it is something you need to be aware of.
The key advantage of buying an existing domain that has been indexed is that it is often easier to optimize that site for certain keywords than it is for using one that is a brand new domain. If you believe the stories of Google’s sandbox rule, then all new domains will take 6 to 12 months to rank well which means for a business that is purely internet based that could send you bankrupt and I can assure you I have seen that happen. Whether or not you believe or do not believe that the Google sandbox rule exists, in most search engines, the age of the domain in the index does play a role in your ranking. I have seen webpages in the index that have been there for 10 years and have less than 20 back links on extremely competitive terms and rank in the top 5 of those competitive keywords.
The bottom line is this, where possible and if you can afford it, buying an existing domain name that is already in the index is a valuable commodity. Even more so if there is an associated website to go with it. Just look at the money Google paid to You Tube for their site.
Over the last few years my team and I have helped many clients broker existing domain names, usually associated with their companies name, that have been in the index by people creating adsense accounts for Google or Yahoo and once they get control of the domains they have seen vast improvements in their traffic flow and search engine positions because the domains they had bought had been in the index for some period. In fact every one of them that has done this now has top 2 rankings in all the major search engines.
When we are evaluating domains that have been owned for some period there are a range of elements that my team and I look for. The general elements we review include –
1. Is the website currently working?
2. Does the domain exist in any of the major search engines?
3. Can you verify ownership of the domain or is the domain details blocked?
4. Where is the domain currently residing?
5. Is the domain in an area on the Internet that is used by black hat people or organizations that use questionable techniques?
6. What is the IP Number of the server the domain resides on?
7. Can we find any indications of references to issues with this domain name on professional search engine forums or bloggs?
8. Does the domain reside on any black lists for spam or for activities related to advertising? We also look to see if the domain is on any number of white lists as well (this is a positive issue)?
9. Does the domain have a history in traffic tools such as Alexa? Have there been any comments or statements placed in the Alexa Register or similar registers?
10. Is the domain registered with a reputable domain registration company?
My team and I will also look at whether or not this domain has been owned by a range of different companies or individuals and in particular if it has been deleted or pre-owned before today and resold.
I should note that there are many other issues we look at but the ten above are the key issues everyone should look at when deciding to buy an existing domain. There are many reasons why domains may not have positive findings for each of the issues above, but just like you were trying to buy a business you need to see if there are any issues and if there are can they be dealt with and are they likely to cost you money. Nobody likes to lose money on a deal, especially me, and when buying domains you need to make sure that you have done your homework and that the domain is worth the money you are investing.
Sometimes, you are better off simply paying a few dollars and putting in a lot of hard work with a new domain then buying a domain for a few thousand dollars to find that you can never rank well in the search engines because it has been banned.