June 10, 2023

What’s Your URL History?

Are you the first person that’s ever owned your URL? Do you know how to find out? Why does it matter?

If you’re thinking of registering a new domain name, you might want to see if it was ever registered before. It’s possible that your new name might have been owned by a domainer or a spammer. If so, it can have some pretty bad consequences for your SEO campaigns.

Just ask Marianne Jones (no relation). When she registered her own name as a domain name for her business, she had no idea that it was previously owned by a domainer trying to cash in on the actor with a similar name.

That move was obviously unprofitable so he let it expire and she picked it up. The problem is, while owned by the spammer it managed to get banned from most major search engines.

As we all know, getting re-included in Google can sometimes be a royal pain in the ass.

So what can you do to check your domain name?

First off, I’d suggest heading over to domaintools.com and running a WHOIS on the domain. It’ll tell you if it’s ever been registered before. If it is, search for the domain name and see what comes up.

You might also want to visit archive.org and see what used to be there before you owned it. This won’t work with all sites, but it will with some. dotCULT has a very rich history there if you’re bored.

Once you’ve got it up and hosted, you can also visit my ip neighbors and see if you happen to share an IP with any spammy sites. If you do, you might request that your host issue you a different IP address. While there’s no proof that sharing an IP with a spammy site hurts you, it also won’t hurt to be free of it.

so should you avoid previously owned domain names? No, not at all. In Marianne’s case it made sense to register her own name. Why would she not? Just be prepared to deal with the hassle of trying to get re-listed once you acquire such a name.

If you’re interested in learning how to get re-included into search engines you can find some more information here and here.

UPDATE: As of 6-12 Marianne’s website has started showing up again in Google. It took about 1 week from the time we submitted a re-inclusion request for this to happen.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com