Buying a domain name is like buying a car.
First off, let’s look at how you start out looking for a domain to use. When you need a domain name, there are two options you can choose from. You can buy a brand new domain, ensuring that you won’t have any problems with it, or (like in many cases) the domain name you were looking for was previously owned and you buy it from a registrar (like GoDaddy) .
It’s just like if you were to buy a video from a store, compared to if you were to buy it off someone from Craigslist. The Craigslist one may be less expensive, but you won’t know if there have been any issues with it in the past.
Unfortunately, if you want to buy a domain but it has a bad track record, there’s really no benefit of purchasing it. If a domain has been in trouble with Google in the past, Google remembers who they are and keeps an eye out, regardless of new ownership or not.
To put it into perspective, imagine you wanted to rent an apartment. The previous occupants had some run-ins with the law and were arrested. For this example, let’s say that they were caught with some illegal substances. Now, if you were to move in afterward, the police would still be checking in on your house, and if they found anything illegal, it would be your fault. It’s the same situation with purchasing a domain. The best option is to carefully search for a domain and make sure that it has a clean record. A little research can save you from buying a useless domain.
Now that you’re prepared to find your very own domain, let’s look at how to research them.
When you have an idea of what domain name you want, the first thing you should do is search for the domain in a couple of ways. The first way is a “site-colon search” on the domain name (site: domainname.com). If you search for it and there’s no results at all from that domain, even if there’s content on that domain, that’s a bad sign. You should also search the domain without the “.com” to research the site’s reputation. Search the name on Google and see if anything unusual stands out.
A lot of domains get on Google’s bad list for spamming people with emails or spamming comments on websites. If you search for the domain and you see any sort of spam, you know right away that you should run away from it. Some quick detective work could save you hours of backtracking or from buying a new domain name completely.
Another very useful researching tactic is to use Archive.org. Here, you can view previous versions of the site to see if it contained any types of spam, auto-generated content, or anything else that would have you believe it’s a buggy domain. If you are purchasing a site from a current owner, you should ask to see the site’s traffic analytics so that you can identify any trends that are out of the ordinary.
This research might not seem like much, but when using something as important as a domain name, it’s crucial. Do yourself a favor by making sure you purchase a quality domain, instead of another bad apple. If you do the site-colon search, you search for the domain name with the “.com”, and you look for it in the internet archive, you will have a good understanding of whether or not your preferred domain name is one you should consider buying, or one you should steer clear from.