A friend of mine recently emailed asking if it is possible to check whether Google may have blacklisted an after-market domain he was considering buying, and if there were problems, what he should do to fix them. Although there seem to be a number of bits of the answer in different places, I couldn’t find one article that covered this issue. So, here goes.
One thing to bear in mind with after-market domain purchases – Google frowns on purchasing these solely for inbound links to artificially boost the value of a new site. However there are tons of reasons why an after-market domain IS the right way to go:
– Your preferred domain name finally becomes available
– You want to capture a different segment of traffic from typos, and a typo domain is available for sale
– You have a great business idea, and the domain name is ideal for that
– You want to buy a domain with a ton of inbound links to get a benefit from… oh, wait. That’s what Google doesn’t like. I didn’t say that. Really
Note – much of this process below requires that the domain has been used to publish a site, however several of the tests will work even if there has never been a site published to that domain.
So, on to the process (which is not foolproof, but is a good starting place).
IS THE DOMAIN BLACK-LISTED?
Q 1: Has the domain been used for sending SPAM?
Find out: First, get the IP address where the domain / site has been published. Then go to www.mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx and enter the IP address.
What it means: I have (knock on wood) never had to deal with a domain on the blacklist on this site. However, it means that someone has used that domain for sending SPAM emails, and is an indicator that there may be issues with domain history in Google as well.
Why do I care? Because if the site has been used for SPAM (or malware), Google may likely have blacklisted the site.
Q 2: How long has the domain been registered?
Find out: Go to Google and type in “whois domainname.com” (replacing “domainname.com” with the domain you are researching)
What it means/Why do I care: The longer a domain name has been registered and the longer the time before expiration the better.
Q 3: Does the domain / site have PageRank?
Find out: Check the domain’s Google PageRank. If you do not have the Google toolbar enabled on your system, you can visit SEOChat’s nifty tool at http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/pagerank-lookup/.
What it means: If the domain was hosted and had a site on it recently (or still does) it is less likely to be black listed if it has a PageRank (not always a perfect indicator, but it does help). Here’s an easy rule of thumb by PageRank.
None at all: Either no site was published there or it has been a while site it was, or the site has been blacklisted.
0-3 is not a very strong domain
4-6 likely to be a good investment, depending on price and how it fits your business plan
>=7 Get your credit card and BUY that thing now!
Why do I care? Google uses PageRank IN PART to assess the relative importance of a website that appears on a given domain. By using a domain that already has PageRank, you overcome one of the bigger challenges with getting positioning for new sites. However, do not rely solely on a good PageRank – there are a lot of things to take into consideration in promoting your site after you launch it.
Q 4: Does Google have the site indexed?
Find out: Go to Google and enter “site:domainname.com” (replacing “domainname.com” with the domain you are researching)
What it means: Google will either deliver back a list of pages that it has cached for the site or it will return nothing.
Are there pages that Google shows in results? If so, then this is good.
Or do you see a page that says “Your search – site:xyz.com – did not match any documents?” If so, then this is bad OR it means that there has never been a site published there.
Why should I care? Although this goes to the point where you start building your site, if there are pages in the Google index, you can check inbound linking to those pages (best way is through Yahoo), and redirect them to appropriate new pages so that the link value (if appropriate) follows to your newly published page.
Q 4: Are there links going to the website?
Find out: Go to Google and enter “links:domainname.com” (replacing “domainname.com” with the domain you are researching)
Then go to Yahoo and enter the same command.
What it means: Google reports the number of links that they view as valuable – they do not externally list ALL of the links that they have found into the site. Yahoo reports total number of links, regardless of value. The bigger the difference between the Google number and the Yahoo number, the more of the links Google interprets as being link-spam.
Bear in mind that with sites that have been published a long time, the difference between these two numbers might be pretty significant.
CLEAN UP TIME!
First, build your website and publish it to the domain. Once this is complete, create a sitemap.xml file (there is a great tool to create them at www.auditmypc.com).
– Create a Google Webmaster Central account or add the site / sitemap to an existing account.
– Validate the sitemap using one of the methods provided by
I have never gone through the reconsideration process, so am not certain exactly what the success rate is. If the domain is being used for good and not for evil, and it can be checked by a human or a robot, then it should be able to be re-added to the Google index. You can submit a request to be reconsidered by Google.
Start getting GOOD inbound links. Several ways to start this is through letting other people know about your site, submitting to directories, through various social media methods. Here is an exhaustive list of directories where you can submit a site (if it is appropriate to the directory).
Continue to pursue GOOD inbound links over time, and that should help with validity of the site.
If you want to redirect the domain to an existing site, then assure the pointer provides a permanent redirect (301) to the site. You can also do some submissions and build inbound links to the newly-acquired domain through a source like ezinearticles.com, squidoo.com or other article publishing sites.
Good luck getting a great domain name!