Can You Rehabilitate a Tarnished Domain?

Now that the internet has been around for a while, there’s a chance that some premium domain names are already taken or have an inglorious history if they are available. The best way to ensure the integrity of an aftermarket domain name is to learn its history. However, if you’ve already registered the domain or a domain squatter has tarnished your existing name through nefarious practices, you have little choice but to sell it, retire it or rehab it.

How Do Good Domain Names Go ‘Bad’

Typically, a domain is considered ‘bad’ if it has been sanctioned by Google for black hat SEO practices or for running a website with a lot of consumer complaints. People who register a nearly identical name for the purpose of stealing traffic may reflect badly as well. The worst of these domains may have even been banned by Google, which means you won’t be able to be included in web searches.

How to Learn the History of a Domain

Unless you’re one of the forward-thinking people who buy and sell domain names regularly, you may not know the ins and outs of buying and registering one. Most people who’re looking to register a domain name are doing so for a personal or business website. Not knowing a domain’s history can make yours unusable.

The first thing you should do if you’re considering an existing or retired domain name is to do a search of that domain name. Do the search in Google first, then use the same name, with and without the TLD, with other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. If your search turns up nothing, or there’s nothing on Google but it turns up on other search engines, that’s a sign that the domain has been banned by Google for some infraction. If the domain does come up in a search engine listing, look for negative comments about the domain in the individual listings.

Another way to check a website’s history is to search for the domain name in This is a mega directory that lists all domain names in existence, who they are currently owned by, if they are available and if there is any negative history associated with the name. The <a href=””>Internet Archive</a> is also a good resource to check if you’re purchasing an aftermarket domain. This directory shows the search history and previous versions of more than 286 billion websites. What you’re looking for here is blocked or spammy content.

How to Turn Things Around

Rehabilitating a tarnished domain is difficult but doable. Since Google is the search engine that sets the standard for all other search engines, it is them that you have to contend with. In order for a website to be indexed on Google, it must come up clean after analysis by the Googlebot webcrawler. If you purchase a domain that is linked to existing problem content, you must either disavow those links or remove the content. You can then request a reconsideration from Google after the problem content has been removed or revised.

The criteria for reconsideration can be difficult to reach, especially if the domain has a long history of bad practices or associations. Unless that particular domain is essential for your needs, it may be better to retire it or resell it, if you can, and start with a new one.

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