Do a Google Site:Search
Go to Google.com and enter this query into the search bar:
Obviously replace “domain.com” with the domain you’re researching.
What You’re Looking For:
eYou will either see 1 of 3 things:
- Nothing. No pages indexed
- A bunch of pages indexed
- One or two pages indexed that are “landing” or “expired” template pages from Namecheap or GoDaddy or something
While seeing nothing is not inherently bad, it’s not going to help with anything either. You want a site that has a strong history of being indexed by Google. Having nothing show up in the index at all means you’re going to have to work extra hard to get the site back in the index and to have Google’s algorithm think nice thoughts about your domain. Probably should avoid this in most cases.
Many Pages Indexed:
This can go one of two ways, either the previously hosted site is still indexed in Google (mostly good!) or a bunch of unrelated, spammy, or foreign language pages. Basically, if you see anything different from what the site used to be, it’s not good.
There is a bit of nuance here, you have to use your best judgement.
Here’s an example of an expired domain with both unrelated and a different language indexed:
So, the site used to be about music, judging from the URL, and was probably an English language site. But now it’s in Japanese and from a quick trip to Google Translate is about cosmetology. Not a good sign if you see this.
Here’s another example:
While this site has some posts in English, some posts in other languages… there’s no coherent theme, no clear niche. The presence of a foreign language is not strictly bad–a few weeks ago at the time of this writing, the domain AnimatorExpress.com went for $11k, and had a lot of Japanese content on the anime-focused site, which was natural. In the above example for IndyPosted, the indexed pages are all over the place. You’d have a hard time identifying in what niche the site has built authority. Probably I’d avoid this one as well (and indeed, I left this one out of my expired domain newsletter when I found it, as I didn’t think it’d be a good fit).
Here’s a good example of indexed pages in the SERPs that looks 👌👌
You can see the URL is about Paris and food, and all the pages look to be from the original site, talking about travel and food. A good pickup!
Check the Source of the Backlinks
You’ll need a paid tool to do this one, sorry. My tool of choice is Ahrefs, but I’m pretty sure some other tools have this functionality.
Basically, you want to make sure the majority of the backlinks are pointing to the domain you’re looking to acquire, and are not point at another domain that is then redirecting them to the domain you’re researching, because eventually that juice will go away.
Here’s a for instance:
If you’re looking to acquire PureEnergies.com (a recent SEO newsletter reject) and you see when looking at the backlinks:
That’s no good.
You don’t own 1bog.org, so you can’t insure that the link will remain in place.
One of these isn’t a deal breaker, so don’t sweat it. But if most of the jaw-dropping domains in the backlink profile are all pointing at another domain that are then pointing at the domain in question, just say no.
However, sometimes there’ll be a redirect from http://domain.com to http://www.domain, or http:// to https:// etc. That’s fine. Like this: