10 Tools for Researching Domain Names

If you are planning to start a new website and buy a domain name you will probably need to do some research on any domains that you are considering. This article does not focus on finding the right domain name, but rather the research that should be done once you’ve found a domain that you want to use.

The domain name that you purchase may or may not have a history, and that is what you need to know about. It’s possible that the domain has been penalized by Google or other search engines for the practices of previous owners, which is certainly something that you will want to avoid. A domain with a negative history can carry over when you start hosting your site on that domain.

On the other hand, the domain may have some valuable elements as a result of a previous owner, such as Google PageRank, Alexa rank, inbound links, etc. In these situations the domain will typically be for sale by the owner or through some type or re-seller service, but not always.

Here are 10 tools that can help you with your research:

Whois.net – One of the first places most people look, Whois will give you some basic information about the owner of the domain and where it is hosted. If the domain name isn’t currently registered you’ll simplify have the option to purchase it. The SEO Egghead Whois Search is another option to get the same information.

URL Trends – If the domain is existing, URL Trends will show some valuable information such as the PageRank, Alexa rank, and the number of incoming links recognized by search engines. The current data does not appear to be completely up-to-date.

Archive.org Way Back Machine – The most useful feature of the Way Back Machine is that it can show you when the domain was being used. Older domains benefit by having more trust from search engines (assuming they haven’t been penalized).

Domain History from Domain Tools – If you want to see if a domain name has any type of history, this is a good tool. Enter the domain and you’ll see dates in which the history is recorded. In order to see details you’ll have to upgrade, although it is free. If the domain has no history, you’ll see a message that there is no recorded history.

dnScoop – dnScoop has some different features than the other tools here, although it will also give you some of the same information. When you enter a domain it will tell you the age of the domain, the PageRank and Alexa rank, and the number of inbound links. One of the most useful features is that it will show you what other domains are hosted on the same IP address. Although if you purchase the domain you will be free to host it anywhere you choose.

dnScoop also gives you an idea of how much money a domain could make each month on Text Link Ads, which is obviously either an advertisement or an affiliate link. It will also calculate a value for the domain based on all of the information that it gathers. I would put too much weight into this value when deciding the price you should be willing to pay for a domain, but it can be helpful for comparing domains against each other.

Marketleap.com Link Popularity Tool – If you’re interested in seeing how many inbound links a domain has, this is a great tool. It will let you compare up to 4 different domains at one time. The report will produce the number of links being recognized by Google, MSN and Yahoo.

Google Banned Checker – You’ll want to avoid buying a domain that is banned by Google, unless you’re willing to work to get the ban removed. This tool will tell you is a domain has any pages indexed by Google. It is somewhat useful. If a domain has no pages indexed it is either new or banned. So, if you are buying a new domain this tool won’t have any value for you. Also, a domain can be penalized by Google without being completely removed from the index. This tool will not detect that penalty, it will simply tell you that a page is indexed.

SEOmoz Page Strength Tool – The page strength tool can be very helpful if you are evaluating a domain that has some history. It will show you a number of factors including PageRank, age of the domain, inbound links, and more.

Popuri.us – This is another tool for finding inbound links, rankings, and PageRank. It also includes a link to Whois and DNS info.

Number of Pages Indexed – If you are not sure whether a domain has a history or not, try this tool. It will show how many pages on this domain are indexed by the major search engines. If any pages are indexed there is some kind of history.

Looking for hosting? WPEngine offers secure managed WordPress hosting. You’ll get expert WordPress support, automatic backups, and caching for fast page loads.

45 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Monika @ The Writers Manifesto, December 21, 2007

    That is a cool post. I love the wayback machine. Especially looking at the bigger nobs and see how they started. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction in regards to the banned domains.

    I was looking for this today and then forgot all about it.

  • Ruchir, December 21, 2007

    Excellent list of useful tools. Hehe, I use archive.org whenever nostalgia strikes me…

  • Wayne Liew, December 21, 2007

    Great write up. Such list is very important for those who are frequently on the lookout for new domain names acquisitions and those who wanted a new domain for their blogs or whatsoever.

    I do like Whois a lot since I can dig up some “personal details” about a domain and of course Archive.org. It’s fun to look at how Google and Yahoo once look like in the past. :lol:

  • Vandelay Design, December 21, 2007

    Thanks for the feedback and for the stumble.

  • Registry Repair, December 23, 2007

    nice post. could you please let know more about Google Banned Checker?

  • claire, January 6, 2008

    Thats a great post and i’m sure a lot of readers will find these tools extremely useful. dnScoop sounds extremely useful so thank you for sharing.

  • Goji Berries, January 6, 2008

    A great set of tools for anyone interested in buying expired domains.

  • Fixregistrytool, March 18, 2008

    thanks for the great set of tools.

  • Seokeytools, March 18, 2008

    Nice tool collection. I wasn’t aware of some of them. A question: How does Popuri.us actually work?


  • Vandelay Design, March 18, 2008

    I never paid much attention to how it works. I don’t build tools like that so I’m not much help on that question.

  • Photoshop Master, March 26, 2008

    Now, this what i like…as a graphic designer myself..this is very helpful..a digg and a stumble.

  • Registry Cleaner Comparison, April 29, 2008

    Google Banned Checker is a great utility! I highly recommend it to anyone researching domain names.

  • Computer Repair Software, April 29, 2008

    Excellent resource! I will be sure to use this list in the future. Everyone should bookmark this page!

  • PC Speed Up, April 29, 2008

    I’d say I use popuri.us the most out of any tools on this page. The others I am not as familiar with, but sound good.

  • love icons, May 12, 2008

    Thank you for the great list. I love dnscoop myself.

  • EasyAdsenseVn, September 11, 2008

    Thanks for sharing these tools!
    It is surprising for me when I use Popuri.us and Number of Pages Indexed . They give me more details about my blog. Thanks again for posting this useful article!!!

  • Vista Registry Cleaners, September 23, 2008

    I think Archive.org is a really powerful tool. I use this whenever I purchase an established site. Thanks for posting these, there are a couple I’ve never used before.

  • old domains, September 26, 2008

    olddomains.net is another great resource for finding great domain names. They have aroud 1000 new domains daily with Pr, backlinks, alexa rank, delicious bookmarks and other infos. You can find domains with PR 5 or 2 mln alexa rank.

  • XP Registry Cleaner, December 16, 2008

    Thanks for the links, I’ve used the page strength tool from SEOMoz and love it, works wonders! The Google Banned checked tool sounds interesting, keep us posted :-)

  • Lots of Freebies, January 2, 2009

    I’ve only come across the Wayback Machine before finding this blog but I’ve just been trying several of the other tools and they seem very useful.

    In my case I’ll be looking to use these tools to contrast my current site with my competitors and they’ll hopefully be able to provide me with some useful stats on improving my site.

  • registry cleaner, April 14, 2009

    Thanks for the list of tools. I’ll be able to use Google Banned Checker and SEOmoz Page Strength Tool immediately.

    By the way, wasn’t the name Vandelay used in Seinfeld by George Costanza…”Art Vandelay”. Sorry, i just remembered that and had to throw it in here… : )

  • 4design, May 26, 2009

    I mainly use the service only for verification Whois.net domains. But for a list of the remaining 9 service – many thanks to you!

  • Theo, June 19, 2009

    Great article, but I have a question. Does anyone know of a tool that will help you come up with a domain name that is available, based on different keywords?

  • Vandelay Design, June 20, 2009

    http://www.bustaname.com/ is pretty good.

  • best registry cleaner, October 12, 2009

    I’ve only come across the Wayback Machine before finding this blog but I’ve just been trying several of the other tools and they seem very useful.

  • XP Registry Cleaners, November 4, 2009

    This is really worth a bookmark, some solid advice here.

  • mower, November 15, 2009

    I was aware of Archive.org but not the others, much appreciated.

  • hzreynols, November 20, 2009

    This is very good info. Worth a bookmark indeed.

  • marco, November 21, 2009

    I was very aware of the archive as well. but not all the others.

  • Registry Cleaner Download, December 2, 2009

    These are great tools. Most people assume buying an old domain name gives them an advantage, but you are right to point out that it may also have some negative history with Google. Thanks for the links to these valuable research tools.

  • Registry Checker, December 16, 2009

    Buying a domain with good history should be the main objective for any webmaster online. Great post.

  • regtweaker, January 21, 2010

    Excellent list of useful tools.thanks your post

  • free registry cleaner, January 28, 2010

    Excellent list of useful tools. Hehe, I use archive.org whenever nostalgia strikes me…

  • one source vitamins, February 4, 2010

    Great tools. I would definitely use these for future domain names.

  • Victor Carpio, April 6, 2010

    I use nameboy.com is very powerfull for the generation domain names, which will show you the domain names what are available. but I will use some this services. :-)

  • Rich, May 10, 2010

    Really liked those links they helped out a lot, but the google banned engine gives false positives. If I put www. in front of my domain it claims it’s banned. :D

  • jayseo, June 11, 2010

    I really like all mentioned tools but banned site checker is really a good one.

  • johncenanss, August 4, 2011

    Thanks for providing this information. It is very useful to the people who want to create the new website and looking for the domain names.