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1. Checking the ownership of a website

<< Return to start of due diligence


Netcraft will let you run searches on what operating system his hosting service is on and on how reliable it is. Domain Tools lets you search a domain or an IP, find a site's "blacklist status" and even find other websites hosted on that same IP. There are various DNS, Reverse DNS, IP Whois, and abuse/SPAM lookups at DNS Stuff. Other useful tools include DNS Lookup where you can see if the domain's name servers and mail servers are working, whether there've been any custom modifications to the DNS records (CNAME/MX).... and if you don't know what all that domain Latin is they even explain it in simple terms. Tools like will, for a small fee, disclose sites connected to the same owner.

What to do with the results?

Use WHOIS to query the domain. Note all the details the WHOIS search provides.

- If the domain is "locked" note that there may be some delay in unlocking it before it can be transferred.

- The length of time the site's been online is very important. Older sites are considered well established/grandfathered and less likely to be spammy. Other things being the same they command a higher price. Beware though that if a domain that expired and gets renewed may lose its previous history and may be considered a new domain for all practical purposes. It also often loses the value of incoming links it built up.

- The length of registration remaining is more important than it first appears. Some believe that search engines - Google in particular - work on a belief that valuable domains are registered for longer periods of time. It may be to the site's advantage if it has already been registered for several years into the future.

- If the domain was sold recently and moved from one registrar to another it may be another sixty days before it can be moved again.

- Certain TLDs (top level domains) like .org work to slightly different rules, you may want to familiarise yourself with them before you bid for the site. Others like .gov or country specific ones like .us may have limitations on who can buy/register the domain. Some country specific domains like the used in the United Kingdom allow private owners to withhold their personal details from the public WHOIS listing.

- If the owner's full details, including name, address and working phone number are not included in the WHOIS you may want to seek some additional verification of ownership. If they are listed it's reassuring when those details match those of the seller and you can double check by phoning him on the number listed in WHOIS.

We got some other website tools here.