Matt Cutts: Avoiding a Penalized Domain Purchase

Google Penalty graphic
With Google’s recent algorithm updates cracking down on poor link building tactics, above the fold ads, and spammy content, it’s becoming increasingly more important to do whatever you can to avoid receiving a Google penalty to your site. But what if you haven’t acquired your site yet? Are you safe to buy anything available and start with a clean slate? Not necessarily.

This week, Google’s Matt Cutts released a video discussing the steps one should take in order to avoid buying a domain that has previously been the recipient of a Google penalty. Domains carry history, and if the domain you are interested in has been used and built out previously, it is possible that it has received a penalty. Cutts drew attention to the following ways to make sure you’re buying smart and safe:

  • Search for the domain using both the command, and the domain name itself minus the TLD. Searching for the domain allows you to see if there is any content indexed. No results at all can be a bad sign. A parked domain, however, is not a red flag, although more often than not these parked pages are removed from the listings by Google’s algorithm regardless.
  • Check to see what the past version of the site looked like. If it appears spammy, proceed with caution.
  • If you are dealing with a private seller, ask to access or view screenshots from Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, or other tracking systems they may use. Getting a clear view of any notifications and traffic trends will help you understand if the domain is in danger.

Once you’ve researched the historic quality of your potential domain, and you still decide to purchase it despite an old penalty, there are ways to get back into the search engine’s good graces. Submit a reconsideration request to Google with clear details on the steps you have taken to correct the previous owner’s mistakes and how you plan to proceed in the future. If the links going to the domain when you buy it are all spammy, consider disavowing all of them and starting fresh.

View the full video from Matt Cutts here:

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