Hello, hello, long time – no see! Welcome to another episode of our Tips and Tricks series. I know it took a while for this one but don’t think for a second that the wait was due to the lack of entertaining and useful information. The last few months here were very busy and everyone in our team had to pitch in and help with the exciting innovations we introduced. So the minute I had some spare time I knew – it was time for a new Tips and Tricks.
You already learned some integral parts of choosing your domain. Now, I will tell you more about the registration of previously created and expired domains. But why would you need or want those in the first place? There are a bunch of reasons, really – from establishing or protecting your brand, to retrieving a name with sentimental value or, in most recent years, helping your SEO and link-building efforts. With the ever-changing lifestyle in the Google Algorithm Zoo, old tactics are revised and new strategies come into play. Whether you will get that keyworded domain to complement your business, or you will use the name to include in your private blogging network, it is up to you, but one thing is for sure – if you just go for it, there is a high risk that the great name you stumbled upon is just a cover for a crappy old domain with no real value.
What can we do to minimize the risks, though? Age, being a part of over 200 search engine ranking factors, is something that can be easily checked and proven, but what about the other stats that we want to find pre-purchase? Should you go for high PR? High Alexa rank maybe? Those two top the charts for being most discussed and most useless and easily manipulated at the same time. Toss them out the window and lets see how far we need to go to pick that perfect name, aged like a fine wine.
If you are a sucker about statistics and comparable numbers, make sure to look for the ones that really matter. Instead of bothering yourself with PR and Alexa you can evaluate the domain authority (DA), page authority (PA) and Trust Flow (which evaluates the quality of your linking buddies and their connections). The higher DA/PA – the better, and if the Trust Flow is above 20 then you have a solid contender for your money.
Check and assess if the domain itself is properly indexed and how does its anchor profile look. If the anchor is too spammy then you should expect that the possible penalties will also affect the current anchor profile. You can tighten it up a little by stopping the access to all link trackers and applying a privacy on your domain Whois details. This is also essential when buying links and, as this is quite a tricky process, you should make sure that all websites providing those, are hosted on different places, with no more than around 30-50 links each.
Reviewing your potential aged domain for manual penalties is one of the easiest things but sometimes the smallest pebbles can flip the car so do your homework. As you are probably aware, manual penalties are applied and appear in the Google Webmaster Tools. So include your targeted name there and see if you should expect surprises on that front.
Subsequently, another pretty light task is to check the history of the website that resided on the name and see if there is anything concerning there. Former adult websites, online casinos, hacked sites or any kind of activity that contradicts with the relevancy of the domain (provided its not a brandable one) is a big no-no for your decision making. If it’s a brandable domain you can check the online reputation of the previous owners and whether or not there is anything concerning there. Just pass your URL through the Wayback Machine and go back in history to the very roots of the existence of your name.
Time to go a little in-depth and analyze the existing links at hand. A big repeated mistake is going through all the possible troubles of obtaining a great domain and blindly rushing into 301-redirecting it to your site. For all you know, it might have a ton of spammy and toxic links and you should not do anything before you make sure they are all cleared. Disavowing the bad ones is a partial solution and if you have thousands of them maybe this isn’t worth your efforts after all. You can also use Link Research Tools or another similar checker to see what other names 301 redirect to your desired one. This is particularly tricky as you don’t have control over the other sites that connects to yours. Stopping those on a server level is not a viable solution as the bad partner will still be recognized by search engines. As for the actual links you find that look ok, you can dig deeper and see how many of them are contextual, how many and how well ranked are the outbound ones and if those come from names on multiple C class IPs, just to be safe that you are not missing an obvious blog network.
Keep in mind that the actual snatching of the domain from the market might be a pain in the buttocks, too. Waiting for a name to expire, especially a good one, means that while saving money on it, you have a much fiercer competition and they will certainly not wait to the last minute to appear from the shadows. Using a good backordering service (a.k.a. drop catchers) is a must in this case so be sure that the competition is already using one, too.
As you can see, details matter a lot here and I am sure that even these tips and tricks might miss to address something, in general cases they should be absolutely enough to help you determine if you found a rare gem or just a shiny lump of coal.
Share your opinions in the comments and add valuable insights of your own, so that we can collectively help everyone out there looking for the perfect domain match.