After speaking at Ed Dale’s Thirty Day Challenge Coming Home Conference in Melbourne last month and prior to the launch of Domain Face I’ve had an influx of people asking me whether buying aged domain names for SEO value is seen by Google as white hat or grey hat, so I’m going to use this post to explore the subject.
I’ll use the term ‘aged’ throughout, which means the domain name is pre-owned and isn’t brand new/unregistered.
I buy aged domain names through various different avenues:
- Contacting owners direct
- Auctions – sold by owner
- Auctions – Pre-release sold by registrar before they delete
So why do I buy aged domains?
Because I’m frustrated at the increasingly difficult task of sourcing brand new domains with the keywords or branding I’m looking for and also because I may need other SEO factors to beat my competition within a particular niche.
If I can find an older domain name, with a higher Google page rank, more quality back links and pages indexed than my competitors then I’m starting on a very good foot and it saves me slogging my guts out doing all the initial ground work needed to compete with them.
I will probably pay a small premium for this but it far beats the time, effort and money to do it from scratch! And it’s much cheaper than buying a full-blown website!
If I were to do an analogy I would compare domain names to plots of land:
- Unregistered/brand new domain names are bare, baron plots of land with NO Infrastructure
- Aged domain names with good SEO value are like a fertile plots of land with a Good Infrastructure ready to roll: foundations laid, water mains, electricity, gas, access roads, telephone/broadband lines etc
If you were building a property fast and had the choice of building on a plot of land with or without infrastructure, which would you choose?
So because I have found an easier way of doing things does it make it tainted in any way?
Not to me!
Why would renovating an old domain name (or website for that matter) be grey hat? Why would giving them a new lease of life rather than letting them wither away and die be wrong?
If it was seen as unethical then every website sale going forward would be included, which would mean Google would need to penalise a domain/website every time a domain was transferred or contact details were changed.
Can you imagine being the proud new owner of Business.com (reportedly sold for circa $340m) only to find as soon as the transaction was made and domain transferred to you, Google delists it?
Google has all the necessary measures in place to see whether a website should rank for a particular keyword or phrase so as long as you follow the usual ethical techniques once you buy the domain then the Google Gods should be ok with it.
Rule of thumb – Check the previous content of an aged domain on Archive.org and replace it with content that is equal or BETTER than was on previously in order to offer a good visitor experience. Do this as soon as possible.
As long as your intentions are good then when you purchase an aged domain name, you are buying it complete with the good will from the previous owner which along with many other possible values includes SEO value and if you keep the website in the spirit of it’s previously owner then Google ‘should’ be ok with it.
Always remember to carry out the usual due diligence when buying aged domains.