Researching a New URL

When you are buying a new URL to host your website on, it is important to carry out some research into it’s history before you commit to buying it, as you can run into potential problems if you do not. If the domain name is brand new and has never been registered before then you should have no problems and can go ahead with the registration, however if it has previously been used for something, the definitely need to do your due diligence.

One of the first places to start is by checking the Whois information, there are many sites that allow you to do this free of charge. Here are just a few:

http://whois.domaintools.com/

https://who.is/

https://www.whois.com/whois

Whois information will tell you the name and address of the person who owns a site, as will as the IP address and most importantly, how many times the IP, hosting and namesevers have changed over the years. If you find that the site has previously been hosted any at all, you need to continue with your investigations. Try and see it as if you were buying a second hand car. You wouldn’t dream of handing over your hard earned cash before you had a proper look under the bonnet would you?

The next stage is to find out what exactly was on the website when it was live before, and the simplest way to do this is back searching for it on the Wayback Machine. This is a fantastically useful website which stores an archive of a huge number of website and will hopefully show you what you need to know. Brose through the history of the site and look out for anything suspicious, What you are basically looking for is anything that looks illegal, spammy or even slightly dodgy. For example if the URL is about gardening, you do not want to find that it has at some point in it’s life been used to sell fake handbags or trainers. Use your common sense, because it is easy to spot when this has occurred.

wayback machine

Finally, you need to check whether or not the URL has has a lot of bad backlinks pointed towards it, and the best way to do this is to use a service such as Majestic, Moz or Ahrefs. They will show you all of the backlinks pointing to your site and you should look careful at each one. If there are none, then you should be good to go, although, if you find hundreds of links with strange anchor text, foreign anchor text, or lots of exact match anchors text, then the alarm bells should start ringing immediately. Any site which has these kind of links may have suffered some kind of penalty from the search engines and you may find it extremely difficult to get any search traffic to it.

If  any of these thing turn up during your research, it is best to move on and find a new domain, as you may well be wasting your time by setting it up as a new website.