Matt Cutts’ Views on Buying a Domain Name

Your domain name is very important for search engine optimization as it is how netizens find, remember, share and identify your company or organization online. Rather than registering a new name, many search engine marketers find it easier to buy a domain. However, it can prove really worrisome if you find that the domain you purchased has been banned by Google for black hat SEO tactics, especially if you have acquired the site content as well. Instead of sitting back with a bad domain puzzled and resorting to a reconsideration request, you can act wisely before the purchase. In a recent webmaster video, Matt Cutts gives some tips to avoid purchasing bad domain and what should be done on finding the domain bad after the purchase despite taking all pre-cautions. Let’s take a look into it.

In the webmaster video, Cutts suggests you should first consider how much the domain that you want to buy is worth to you and why you need to use it. If you are clear about this, take the following steps before making the purchase.

  • Do a site search for domain name (site: domain name) that you want to purchase in Google. If you find the domain is parked (a placeholder page for a domain that is not yet developed into a website), you should know that Google does not return parked pages in its search results, and so that may not indicate anything. However, if you a site search and find zero results for the domain name, then it is definitely a bad sign.
  • Do a similar kind of site search in Bing. If you can find the corresponding site in Bing results, but not in Google results, then it is a bad sign. While you are doing site search on Bing, you can add typical spam keywords and check what appears.
  • Search for just the domain name, omitting any kind of extension along with it (for example, .com, .org). This will tell you something about the reputation of the domain. Perform a thorough search on both Google and Bing while you are looking for spammy comments since Google may have de-indexed that site owing to that spammy content.
  • Go to and put in the domain name to use the Internet archive. This will show up previous versions of that site and you can check whether the site looks spammy. In that case, that site may lead to ranking problems and you would need to work a lot to overcome that. You should also know that auto-generated spam content is bad and that domain is best avoided. Certain domain sellers may block the access to by including it in the robot.txt file. So if the previous content gets blocked, it can be a red flag. However, certain parked domains do this automatically.
  • If you are buying a domain which is currently in use, you can ask to see the analytics or Webmaster Tools console to check new messages or screenshots or something in order to check the traffic over time. If the traffic has gone down significantly, avoid the domain.

According to Cutts, if you purchase the domain after trying all these steps and find it still has issues, you can send a reconsideration request. Consider the following before doing this:

  • You may want to purchase a particular domain because of its content or the links that you value. Those links might not carry over when you go for reconsideration.
  • If you decide to go ahead and buy that domain, disavow all the links you can find on that domain name for a fresh, new start, especially if the previous owner was spamming.

Things You Must Consider for a Smooth Deal

If you buy the domain from someone who is currently using it, make sure the deal goes smoothly to avoid problems that may arise in future. Here are some points to note:

  • Lay Down Solid Terms – Clarify the terms of deal thoroughly with the domain seller. Sending an e-mail that summarizes the terms of the deal is a good practice. In case of higher value domains, buyers should execute a short acquisition agreement to make the deal legally binding.
  • Choice of Payment Method – Use an escrow service for a large transaction so that they function as a mediator between you and domain seller. Once the escrow service confirms that the buyer has control of the domain name, they will transfer the funds to the domain seller, and the transaction is complete. However, escrow services may have restrictions about the payment method. You can opt for payment modes such as banker’s draft or instant payment if you are not using escrow services.
  • Transfer of Domain Control – If you are using escrow services, you will get instructions on how and when to transfer the domain control. The transfer process will depend on the registrar with which the domain is registered and where you want the domain to transfer to.

From this, it is quite evident that domain development is not an easy task. A professional SEO company can help with a comprehensive suite of services to ensure that you don’t go wrong – from research and name selection to website development, marketing, and analysis.