What if You Ranked Number 1
June 19th, 2008

How to Buy a Domain Name (without getting ripped off)


As everyone knows, just about all the good domain names have already been snatched up. For this reason, we often recommend that our clients shop to purchase a domain name from a third party owner that is either industry relevant, contains very few characters, or is a well established domain name; i.e. it was purchased over 5 years ago. We’ve negotiated the purchase and sale of several very nice domain names in the past for clients, but just recently a deal fell through when we discovered the name had been blacklisted by Google. For this reason, I wanted to touch base on things to look out for when purchasing a new name from a third party.

Step one: Use the Wayback Machine to take a look at the domain’s archive. Sure, there’s a clean site on there today, but do you see anything that was on the site at one time that can come back to haunt you? Do you want to be associated with their former content or products?

Step two: Take a look at the domains backlinks using Yahoo’s Site Explorer. Visit the links and ensure that the domain is nestled in a clean and respectable neighborhood of links. Look out for red flags like links from dozens of similar looking spammy directories or adult sites. This all speaks to “the company you keep” principle, and you don’t want your hard earned corporate image to be blemished by less than reputable associations.

Step three: Make sure the domain is indexed in Google by entering the following query site:www.example.com. If you’ve found an archive in the Wayback Machine and backlinks at Yahoo, but Google says: “Your search – site:www.example.com – did not match any documents”, it means the domain has been de-indexed or blacklisted by Google. This would make your new domain less valuable than a brand new $9.99 off the shelf name from GoDaddy.

Step four: If everything checks out OK, and you’ve negotiated the deal you want, arrange a secure transaction. Never pay using cash, check, money order, Western Union, bank wire or PayPal. We have nothing against these forms of payment – just don’t go this route when purchasing a domain name. Use a third party escrow agent such as Escrow.com to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. PayPal doesn’t offer buyer protection on intangible goods, which is what a name is, and nearly every other form of payment puts you at risk for not getting what you’ve paid for.

If this all sounds like too much work or time, just give Newport SEO a call and we can probably secure a name for you while making sure you don’t end up buying somebody else’s bad reputation.