Check Domain Names

Check Domain Names For SEO Implications

If website owners/developers don't check domain names, they could set themselves up in a situation where they wish they had.

Before you buy a domain name, think about your SEO strategy. Here are two considerations to think about before you pick up a domain name.

It's getting almost impossible to find a short domain name. Let's face it, the shorter it is, the easier it is to type in, remember and use in your marketing materials.

check domain namesBut unless you have tons of money, most of the really short domain names that describe your business are either locked up for years, or are sale for thousands of dollars you probably need to use for other things.

If you come across a fairly short domain name that's not too expensive, there's probably a reason. And I would say to you: buyer beware!

If you're starting a web site, and you've been researching domain names, you've probably come across several that look pretty good. But you need to ask yourself, what's the history of this domain name?

Why should you care if a domain name has been used before, and how does this affect your SEO program?

Here's why, in the form of a true story.

A few years ago, I was doing contract SEO work for a digital marketing agency. One of the projects I worked on was for a client that was re-branding. The way I remember, one of the company's intern was assigned to find a new domain name. Lo and behold, this person apparently found a keyword phrase domain name (short, catchy, and exactly on target) that was for sale, and it was only a couple grand to purchase.

The purchase was done. I'd done the keyword research, did the on-page optimization for the content, and the web dev team launched the site a few days later.

After two weeks, the site wasn't getting any traffic at all. We were puzzled. After all, we'd written great content, used some fantastic long-tail keyword phrases and optimized all web page elements correctly.

Another SEO guy and I dug into the site, looking for any technical issues or something that maybe the web dev team did, or did not do.

Nope, technically, the site was good.

Finally, a light bulb went off in the other guy's head. He ran the domain name through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and BINGO.

In a former life, this domain hosted spammy and pornographic content. Based on this, we figured the domain was blacklisted by Google, and all the penalties levied on the previous site followed the domain.

As I recall, someone at the digital marketing agency spent several weeks trying to find someone at the search engine to undo the penalties. They were eventually successful, but due to this error, we were fired by the client, and I think rightfully so.

Check Domain Names Quickly

Want to know if a domain is worth buying? Run it through the Wayback Machine and look at the content. If any of it looks spammy, I'd take a pass on the domain and look for another one.

It shouldn't take you more than about five minutes to figure out if a domain has a fairly clean history or not. Do this, and save yourself immense heartburn.

Another thing I'd be a little cautious about is purchasing domain names that are the keyword phrases you want to rank for.

Way back in September 2012, Google came out with a small algorithm update that penalized sites with domain names that are keyword phrases.

The former head of Google's web spam fighting team, Matt Cutts made the announcement on Twitter.

This one hit me directly with a site I built to sell an ebook I wrote. Yes, I got penalized. I lost exactly 50% of all traffic from Google due to this penalty. Google determined that the content wasn't the highest quality they hoped to see. Well, I was selling an ebook, so I used some fairly hard core copywriting tactics!

So the moral is, purchase domain names only after doing your homework, and be careful with those keyword phrase domains you want to use.

Would you like to learn more about SEO? Let's get together for an SEO class, and I can show you how to do basic and advanced search engine optimization to help your site show up higher in search engine results.

Our basic SEO class is now available online.

Until we meet again, stay safely between the ditches!

All the very best to you,


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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