How to Look Under the Hood of a Pre-Owned Domain


Used, or pre-owned domains are potential goldmines that some new business owners ignore. Unlike looking at used cars, previously owned domains can be more valuable than a new domain, and therefore, cost more. Before you dive head-in to buying used domains to make a quick buck or to get your new business off the ground, there are major pitfalls to look out for before buying a domain.

As with any major monetary investment, you do your homework on the domain first. If you don’t, you risk throwing money down the drain. In the case that you’re working with a domain marketplace or broker, you can ask questions and mention concerns to the domain seller directly. If they refuse to give you the requested information, that’s a big red flag.

Here are some things to look at before purchasing a pre-owned domain:

Pre-Owned Domain Background Check

Like buying a used car, you need to look at the domain’s history and present condition. After all, who wants to buy a lemon. For domains, a lemon is one that has been previously penalized by Google because it was used to spam people, it was not shared or talked about and it has spammy, low quality links.

Is the Domain in Good Standing?

There are steps you can use to see how a domain has been used in the past and whether or not it is currently in good standing with Google.

The first step you should do is conduct two Google searches for the domain: One in Google and the other a regular Internet search.

For the Google search of the domain, type in “” in the search bar. If there are no results, it is likely that the domain has been severely penalized or banned by Google. Doing a general search for the domain by entering “” and in the search box will let you know whether other people shared it.

You can also use to see how popular (or not popular) as site is.

If no results are found, it means no one is talking about it, and therefore doesn’t care about it. The results will also show where the site was mentioned (if there are search results). This can make it easier to see if the site was previously used to spam. Don’t purchase a domain that has been penalized by Google or has nobody talking about it.

Used domains often have some sort of history attached to them. You can check the domain’s Page Rank to get an idea of its authority, do an Internet archive search at to see past websites using the domain, indicating any spammy activity, the domain’s Google Analytics to see if there are possible penalties or issues associated with the domain and check the Google Webmaster tools for any severe drop-off in links associated with the domain, which can indicate additional penalties or a possible Google ban.

The seller should have no problem with you accessing these accounts in researching a domain. If they are, then that’s a huge red flag.

Check Your Links

Sometimes a domain may appear to look legit and in good standing with Google, but can have bad links. It is a pain to remove links associated with a domain. If you leave in the bad links, your domain and any web properties associated with the domain will not rank highly on search engines. Therefore, it is easier to look at the type and quality of links already associated with a domain.

There are a few different things to consider when assessing domain links. Some are listed below:

  • Ask for link removal. The one thing Google recommends for sites with poor links is to contact all the sites those links go to and them to remove your link. This can be a long, unproductive effort, so it is best to not be in that position in the first place.
  • Disavow bad links. This should be a final resort as it can be a nightmare and there is no set procedure on the best practices for this procedure.
  • Not all links transfer over. Another thing to be aware of it the fact that not all the links associated with a domain will automatically transfer over to the new owner and web properties. The lost links should be part of your price negotiation arsenal when buying a used domain.

While used domains with poor quality links can prove to be a disaster, established domains with high-quality links can prove to be invaluable. Pre-owned domains offer high page authority and ranking on top of their quality links.

Pre-owned domains can be a great investment. They can also be risky if proper research isn’t done in advance. Knowing what to look out for will ensure that you’ll be sure to make a wise domain investment. If you’re in the market for a used domain, contact us at Domain Market today to browse our large selection of reputable domains.

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