A Domain Name can be:

  • Completely Fresh: Not taken or registered by anyone ever! These type of domains can be registered without any worries.
  • Active but listed for Sale: A domain is currently active, but its owner wants to sell it using Domain Auctioning websites, direct advertisements, marketplaces etc. Carefully read the description of the domain, type of content hosted on it and its expiry date. You can see a live example of a marketplace here.
  • Used but Expired: Someone registered a domain, but it got expired because the owner didn’t want or forgot to renew it, and now it’s available for registration again.
  • Used and Expired, but Banned!: Someone registered a domain in the past, but it got banned by Search Engines (Google, Bing etc.) OR by some online monetizing programs (AdSense etc.) because of illicit practices (Black Hat SEO, fake clicks on advertising slots etc.) by the webmaster.
  • Active or Expired, but has a Search Engine Penalty.

If you are going to purchase a domain in near future, then let’s check out in this post some important tips and general precautions that you should consider before making the final purchase:

1. Search and Ask before buying: If you want to know whether a domain has been previously registered or not, then use following search terms in order to find traces of it on the web:

google logo

  • site:domain.com [Example] – If a domain has been discontinued a few weeks ago, then search engines may still have it in their index. But, in case the previous owner has requested to remove the domain or if it got expired many months/years ago, then search engines will not yield any results when you use the site operator (site:abcxyz.com).
  • link:domain.com [Example] – If a domain previously existed on the internet, then some sites might be linking to it. You can see a list of all those sites using link operator (link:abcxyz.com). Keep in mind, the results yielded with this operator are not so reliable. Also, sometimes the operator doesn’t yield any results, even if back links are present.
  • “domain.com” [Example] – Include the domain keywords with its TLD within quotation marks. This will show you a list of all those webpages that contains the term domain.com.
  • “www.domain.com” [Example] – Include www, Domain Keywords and its TLD within quotation marks. This will show you a list of all those webpages that contains the term www.domain.com.
  • “domain” [Example] – Include only domain keywords within quotation marks.

Analyze the search results carefully and you may get an idea whether someone previously owned the domain you are going to register.

If you are unable to deduce anything from search results, then I will suggest you to open a support ticket with Namecheap (my preferred registrar) and ask them directly.

2. Use Internet Archive (Way back Machine): If a domain existed on the world wide web in the past, then chances are very high that it must be present in Way Back Machine’s digital library too (Example).

way back machine

But, the database is not fully reliable as because the crawling process is slow and webmasters can easily block archive.org_bot or ia_archiver crawler from crawling their site using a robots.txt or .htaccess file. You may see No Results for certain domain names that currently exists or used to exist in the past!

3. Use AdSense Sandbox: If a domain existed in the past and you are going to register it again, then you should definitely check that it’s not banned by Google AdSense – One of the largest online monetizing program. Make use of AdSense Sandbox and if the tool is showing NO RESULTS for a Domain, then chances are very high that it is banned by the program.

Regarding other monetizing programs (Infolinks, Kontera, Chitika etc.), you can only determine the status of a domain when you apply with them.

Additional Tips

1. Always Bargain: No matter what price has been set for a particular domain name, always bargain with the seller by contacting him directly using Email, Private Messages (feature present in most marketplaces and auctioning sites) or Telephone.

2. Research: If you are buying a domain from a re-seller, marketplace or an auctioning site, then research its credibility using Google (Example).

3. Reconsideration Request: If you have bought a domain name that was previously being used for spamming and search engines have banned it permanently, then you should file a reconsideration request.

4. Copyrights and Trademarks: You should NEVER buy a domain which contains copyrighted keywords or keywords of a trademark like onlinefacebook.commicrosoftdeals.netgooglesearch.in etc.

In future, these type of domains are likely to be taken down from the internet OR you will be asked to hand over the domains to their respective organization/company!

Feel free to ask any query or share your domain buying tips in the comments section below.