How To Check the History Of A Domain Name

By Roman Berezhnoi May 31, 2019 12.18K views

How To Check the History Of A Domain Name

When purchasing a domain name, one shouldn’t be attracted only by its nice and memorable name but also its possible dark past. If a previous owners engaged in black hat tactics, Google might have penalized the domain in search rankings. In an ideal world, search engines have to reset the history of used domains after the new registration of new owner. But that does not always seem to be the case. This is why the SEO performance of a website also depends on the right choice of its domain name.

Experienced webmasters especially those that specialize corporate websites development advise to look at the history of the domain before making your right choice. In any event you must buy the domain if you think the name works for your brand. But be careful not to buy a domain with a shady history or that had adult content on it.
I recommend you to read the article Google’s thoughts on selling domains based on SEO value by Barry Schwartz.

Ready to get a wide reservoir of new, useful information on this topic? In this article, we will guide you through the important point to consider before you purchase a domain name.

What is domain history and what is dangerous?

Let’s imagine a situation in which you bought a domain you liked, started filling your pages with useful content, promoting your website and after a long time, you see no result.

One possible reason might be that Search engines do not fully or partially index your resource. But what abour your domain?

An available domain name does not mean that nobody used it before. Some owners simply forget to extend the deadline, others deliberately abandon their web sites that fall under the ban or sanctions.

WHAT TARNISHES THE BACKGROUND OF A DOMAIN NAME

  • problems with page indexing as a result of posting spam content or past spamming links;
  • search signals that worsen ranking;
  • negative reputation among Internet users;

New domain name vs Old domain name. What to choose?

Many SEO specialists follow their theories and concepts as Domain Age or Domain Authority. But you need to know a simple thing about old domain name, it has a search history.

A history of domain name is a number of search signals which were collected by search engines. These signals can have positive or negative effects on a website ranking.
You can buy new names without any history – this is how you really start your business from scratch without the fear of unpleasant surprises in the future. It seems a simple and convenient solution, especially for beginners. But it can be a challenge.

However, in case you decide to purchase a used domain name, make sure it has an impressive reference profile and age, plus a good history that will allow you to easily take top positions in Google.

All domain names fall under the following classification:
Without history – it means that the name of the site never belonged to anyone. This is a blank sheet to which you add everything you want. It is basically the cheapest.
With a good history – the domain has an excellent trust (the level of trust of search engines), quality resources link to the site.
With a bad history – the name is in the “blacklist” of Google, you will have a lot of headaches due that domain name.

Web.archive.org – time machine for each website

Do you want to check the past contents of the site you are going to buy and see graphic images in different time periods? To do this, you should use the service mentioned above, which stores snapshots of almost any resource (at the time of writing this material, there are 362 billion pages in the database).

The principle of the analyzer is to save a copy of the site during indexing. In this case, the story includes pictures, text, styles, pages – this is a full-fledged archive of text and HTML information.

The action algorithm is extremely simple:

  1. Go to Web.archieve.org.
  2. Enter the URL of the domain name you want to check.
  3. Learn the past of the site.

The screenshot of Web.archive.org page with history of website. It looks as a calendar with dates of the website changes

Web-archive allows you to check the age of the domain name, as well as to assess how close its subject matters to you. Based on the data obtained from the Web-archive, you can easily find out if you should purchase it or not.

Attention! Web-archive made copies of all more or less popular sites from the end of the XX century. However, scarcely visited domains might not have been considered.

The screenshot of Webarchieve.org page with clean history of the domain name

Also you can use other alternatives.
Who.is, DomainIQ, ICANN and other similar services offer several tools to understand any domain name’s history and health. Some of the tools are behind a paywall, but it might be worth registering before spending money on an expensive domain name.

How search engines view a domain

Your goal is to study the visibility of the domain in popular search engines (Google, Bing).

It is better to check the history of the domain in two stages:

First, search for a domain like this: site:example.com
This will show you all of the pages on the domain name that are indexed on Google.

Next, search for the domain name in quotes like this: “Example.com”
This will pull up references to the domain name, potentially including news stories about the website that used to be on the domain name.

Many SEOs think that is extremely important to study the position of the domain. They say that high performance increases the likelihood of successful websites promotion in the future. Pay attention to all search traffic, top queries and their fall.

SEOs recommends to use multi-functional SEO tools like SEMRUSH, Majestic, Afrefs. 

The screenshot of a Semrush page with research results wich includes keywords, a website traffic, a branded traffic and other information that SEO specialists can use

SEOs also recommend to study the reference profile.

SEOs think that site with spam or dubious links is not the best purchase for those who crave rapid development and growth. 

SEOs recommend to consider:

  • the number of pages linking to the site;
  • spam in the anchor list (without a direct entry of information and commercial requests);
  • lack of questionable resources;
  • the quality of websites with backlinks (high attendance and indexation, minimum advertising).

F5 Studio’s SEOs recommend: Don’t waste your time on useless tools and unhelpful actions. Google might reset all the good things, all the past links, and such when the domain name is sold.

Not to buy a domain name with a shady history or that had adult content on it. Web.archieve.org, Whois, DomainIQ, ICANN help you to know about history of many domain names.

Use free webmaster tools

Search engines penalize websites with sanctions for non-unique or re-optimized content, cheating, spam links, an abundance of advertising, etc. Unfortunately, you can’t check manual actions without purchasing domain.

To check the availability of manual action or security issues from Google and find out the causes of the problem, use Google Search Console. If your visitors prefer to use Bing you can use Bing Webmaster Tool to check your domain when you bought it.

Let’s sum up

It is not necessary to make a purchase, to complete the verification and analysis of the domain history. After all, a dubious acquisition is filled with further large financial and time costs, and even hard work on a project with a bad history will not guarantee good results.

Many webmasters get tired of fighting ghost dragons in the form of sanctions and dislike of search engines. They just throw a project without prolonging the domain, which, by the way, goes into the next hands.

Of course, the Google’s penalty or manual action can be dealt with. But why should one stress themselves, if there is a chance to immediately buy a “successful” domain name?

On the other hand, a domain name with good history might help the new website to ranking. You can consult F5 Studio’s web development specialists to avoid pitfalls for your new website. F5 Studio’s SEO services help you to save time and money if you want to get valuable traffic from search engines.

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