How To Perform Due Diligence On Aged Domains

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Buying and selling aged domains is big business these days, particularly as it gets harder and harder to clamber past the completion and set up camp at the top of the search engines with a brand new website. An aged domain can be a quick fix – albeit one that you may end up paying handsomely for. If having weighed the pros and cons of old versus new and your decision lands on the side of old, it’s important to carry out due diligence before actually purchasing the domain name.

Failing to make the proper checks would be like buying a second hand car without first taking it for a road test; it’s smarter and safer to make sure all is in good working order and that you’re getting the bargain you think you are before handing over any cash and putting your financial well-being on the line.

There is no single correct way to perform due diligence on an old domain as the factors you consider will very much depend on the reasons behind buying the domain in the first place. Some buyers will need to consider dozens of factors and perform several in-depth checks before finalizing the purchase, while others will need only one or two results from the tests below to make their decision.

Points to consider…

1. Development Potential:

The domain you buy will have a certain function as its birthright – it may be that you want the name to represent a new product, a portfolio of services, a brand, a community, a social media enterprise, a charity, a promotion, a viral campaign, etc. Analyzing the URL for its suitability will encourage you to keep a very clear head and focus on the purpose of the address.

While it can be tempting to buy an aged domain for any number of reasons, the money invested must be likely to show a return somewhere down the line and that will only happen if the URL has potential to align with its new remit. You should also consider the resale value of the domain just in case you decide to sell it on in a few years time. Aged domains that are obscure or slightly too risqué will often disappoint at a second auction.

2.  Keywords:

Keywords in an aged domain are just as important a consideration as keywords in a new domain. If you can combine an aged domain with keywords relevant to your product or industry, then the address will be a much greater asset than a domain that is aged but without keywords. The use of keywords in domains has been the subject of much discussion amongst SEO experts and it’s widely agreed that they are of benefit. The extra time and money spent on acquiring an aged domain will pay off in the form of more traffic and an easier search engine optimization process.

3.  Traffic:

Does the domain you are considering already garner some search traffic? If so, and it combines your keywords, you’ve already got a head start on two of the most difficult of online marketing tasks. The most valuable type of traffic is organic traffic (visitors sent directly from the search engines). Ignore paid search traffic when assessing traffic to the domain as you may not decide to run a paid search campaign or may have a lower budget, in which case the PPC data would be irrelevant. The easiest way to check the traffic to the domain is to request analytics and reports from the current owner. If that isn’t possible, you can try Alexa.com for a general idea.

4.  Back Links:

Just as traffic is important, picking up an aged domain with some authority links already in place will make life a lot easier further down the road. Consider your intentions for the domain when assessing the type, quantity and quality of backlinks. Referrals from respected sources are of course key but other information such as the anchor text of the link and PageRank of the referring page should also be studied. This is easy to check using any number of tools, such as Yahoo’s Site Explorer.

5.  History:

How the domain has been used previously is a huge SEO concern and something that should be studied in depth before making a purchase. Domains that have been used for industries such as gaming or adult sites or have been subject to black-hat SEO techniques in the past will face an uphill battle to regain favor with the search engines. If the domain has been subject to a Google penalty for example, it could take a while to have the address successfully reconsidered for index inclusion. Likewise, a domain that has been associated with anything untoward could give a negative impression of your own brand when the two are linked should the purchase go ahead.

6.  Age of the Domain:

The age of the domain will play a factor in its asking price and should also factor into your own decision to buy the domain. If you’re intending to purchase an aged domain for SEO reasons, a domain of 12 months or less is unlikely to make the big dent you’re hoping for. A domain that has been around for a number of years though is worth the expense, provided all other factors line up. You can check the age of an aged domain by looking at its creation date or first registered date. If you’re buying through an aged domain auction or specialist reseller, they should also be able to provide you with the information.

Check out these 6 items prior to purchase of an aged domain under consideration, and you will be able to start off on the right foot with your new property!

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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