Run a Domain Name Background Check Before Buying

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Many webmasters choose to buy already well-established domains that have a number of backlinks and can be easier (and faster) to promote. These might be:

I don’t want to go into discussing the effectiveness of this method as it can be both waste of time and great tactic (I myself saw both). Some people prefer to start from scratch; others want to develop old domains as this appears faster. What holds true is that buying an established domain is risky and you should know what to look out for.

The main thing is that those old domains did not create problems for you: “second hand” domains might have had negative reputation with Google (they might have been part of the network, involved in illegitimate or spammy techniques, etc). Thus you may find hard time getting the site indexed or by linking from it now blacklist your other site.

So prior to bidding or buying an established domain, make sure you have accomplished the following:

  • check Internet Archive – make sure the previous site content had nothing to look out for;
  • thoroughly explore the site backlinks; you can’t be sure what exactly to look for but try to see some patterns: blog comment spam, directory links, same anchor text abuse, excessive blogroll links (that might mean participating in reciprocal link schemes), etc. Even if the site previous owner’s strategies did not trigger penalty yet, they might in the future.
  • check the site Google cache date (along with its cached text-only version);

Google cache

  • check how often the site changed its hosting (owner) – which also speaks for its stability. Domaintools provide you with both hosting and whois history with more details available after account upgrade.

NS and Whois History

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Mikhail Tuknov

    I would recommend using

  • Assad

    check how often the site changed its hosting (owner) – which also speaks for its stability.
    I can’t recall on how this point adds up as a factor. Previous owner might as well changed his/her server but I don’t think it reflects as bad reputation.

    I bought myself a domain that changed its NS few times. I don’t know whether it’s a bad move afterall.

    Care to elaborate?

    As pointed by Mikhail, I agree. To be exact,

  • Ann Smarty

    @Assad – that’s exactly the tool I also recommended in the post 🙂

    As for the NS and Whois history, it might mean nothing but it can also be a flag for you to dig further. Like I said with the premium account at Domaintools you can get much more information.

  • Ajith Prasad Edassery

    Great tips indeed. I shoulda known this three months back 🙁 I purchased this domain without knowing that it was an expired one and still being penalized by Google for some junk backlinks.

    I am glad that your post was also linked from dailyblogtips (through which I came here) so that this information on background checks spreads faster.

    Cheers and keep up good work!


  • domainregistrar

    Hi Ann,
    Excellent inputs, though I agree that site hosting changes really do not matter in this regard. Previous owners may move from a free to paid hosting, and again change hosts but that in no way could lead to (-)ve rating for any website. Overall good points applicable to all web masters though. Keep it up !!


  • Phil Barnhart

    There is a a free cheat sheet at to help you conduct a domain name background check. Just enter the domain you are researching and links are generated to help you quickly research a domain’s current status and past history.

  • shellbecomingroundthemountain

    What about running the domain past one of those internet archival sites? You know, the ones which save old copies of webpages in sort of a time capsual? Maybe then you’d see what the domain you’re buying was used for previously.

  • identitytheftprotection

    Hi friends,

    actually i need to buy one domain but i don't know how to get it. thanks for this information.
    can i use identity theft software for my domain. is it secure for my domain.

  • Ewan Domain

    Great tips for buying a domain. I have my eye on a certain domain at, and the price is really good. Going to try one of your techniques, thanks!