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Google Provides Tips on How to Avoid Buying Bad Domain Names

Posted on April 23, 2014

Matt Cutts, the head of Google's Webspam team, gives some basic tips on how to avoid buying a bad domain name at YouTube's Google Webmaster videos.

So, what do we mean by a bad domain name? When we talk about bad domain names, we're not talking about an ugly, long, hard-to-pronounce domain name. We're talking about a domain name that may have had a troubled past with Google.

Why would a domain name be penalized? When Google becomes aware of a domain name that is used to conduct spammy or illegal activities, they may penalize it. A Google penalty will cause the domain to significantly lose its rankings within the search results, and sometimes not appear at all. This penalty will stay with the domain until the issues have been fixed and a reconsideration request is submitted.

Due to this potential risk with pre-used domains, people have been suggested to do some research on the domain name they plan to buy or register. There are a few simple ways to check whether a site is currently penalized.

  1. Run a search on Google for the domain name without the extension, and see if it shows up in the first few results. Keep in mind that if a domain is new or it's a popular EMD, there's a chance that it may not be within the first few results.

  2. Run a site search on Google using this format: If you see a significantly lower number of indexed pages than you expected, or if the index page is missing from the #1 spot, there is a good chance that the domain has a penalty.

  3. Check (Internet Archive) for domain history. A domain with history will show a calendar of yearly screenshots, while a brand new domain will return with this message: "Hrm. Wayback Machine doesn't have that page archived." For domains with history, check the screenshots and see how the site was used. If you see a spammy site in the screenshots, then you'll know what kind of domain you are dealing with.

Keep in mind that these checks are most useful when researching to buy a pre-used domain or website. An unused domain will not return any results in Google search or

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About the Author

Steve Baik is the manager of AddMe. He can help you answer any questions you may have in regards to SEO, Internet marketing or buying targeted traffic. Feel free to contact Steve should you have any questions or suggestions.

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