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:
- registering an expired domain (with the help of services like Domain Name Aftermarket);
- buying a domain directly from its previous owner (at webmaster forums like DigitalPoint).
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);
- 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.