If you are planning to start a new website and buy a domain name you will probably need to spend time researching domain names that you’re 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’s what you need to know. 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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
If you’re interested in seeing how many inbound links a domain has, this is a great tool. It will let you compare any domain and even subdomains.
The report will produce the number of links being recognized by Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
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.
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.
Hopefully these tools can set you on the right track. For more related info check out these posts:
- Designer’s Guide to Choosing Product and Business Names
- Seven Things Your Business Website Must Have
- 12 Essential Tools to Build Your Online Portfolio