Saturday, 14 July, 2007

Historic Domain Penalty

Historic Domain Penalty

With the free market of Domain names, one may acquire a preowned domain from its previous holder. While domain names - and URLs in general - do not hold the power to drastically strengthen the relevance signals of a web site, the ease of remembering a well marketed, short and/or on-topic brand name will lead many to negotiating for preowned domain names ( in hope of using it for a new web site or migrating another set of pages under new URLs ). However, some of the domain names may have had a history in Search Engines, and not necessarily a clean one. This should not pose any problems to the new owner, for communicating the change of ownership is usually enough to clear the records and let the domain start anew. However the actual need to check for a problem on these fronts may not even occur to those who purchase a used domain.

Known issues

Sometimes a latent thematic penalty / ban may not be evident to the website owner when purchasing a domain name, and only show its effects when the new web site starts to extend its relevance to the given topic, and tries to rank for themes it is penalized for. Also, the owner may not have noted to the webmaster the presence of a domain history on record. When a web site can not compete in a certain area, or is penalized / banned in general without actually breaching any policies or guidelines, the history of the domain may need to be checked, and a Reinclusion Request sent to Google through the Webmaster Tools pages. In these cases the penalty or ban may be the remains of a URL based record in the Index, a penalty that was raised because of ill natured methods used on the site that was previously hosted with the domain name.

+ Resolution: Without jumping to conclusions, checking the record of a previously owned domain may always be a good idea. An immediate measure for to-be-purchased or only recently bought domains could be to visit the actual web site, or checking the cached version of the pages ( historic supplemental results ) in the Google index and optionally in other Search Engines as well. A quick check on domain information available in Google may also reveal any existing problems. Should the question arise at a later time, or have these pages been removed from the database already, other methods, such as tracking the WHOIS record, checking any active historic, yet off-topic inbound links and their sources, and most importantly, the use of the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive may carry some hints on previously hosted pages. It is fairly easy to identify malicious or MFA web site, and should you see such a picture when looking at the previously recorded states of the domain, you may need to file a Reinclusion Request through Google Webmaster Tools, explaining the situation and the fact of ownership change. Read more on Banned from Google and Reinclusion Requests.

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