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2. Checking a site's history

<< How to do due diligence on a web site or blog

- Places like the internet archive are invaluable in your research as we explain here.. This "wayback machine" will usually show you how the site looked in the past. But it's not a complete picture, it may sometimes not have any information at all about the target site and it sometimes breaks down and can't be reached.

There are other methods worth employing:

Searches: Various locations present themselves. When searching it's worth trying the domain name both with and without the "www". You could also try the site's name itself (For example, this site's domain is but people talking about this site may omit the hyphen to read "Experienced People" or "ExperiencedPeople"), the brand name they traded under or the name of their product/s, email newsletter etc.

- If it's a site that sold goods or services check for feedback forums where the site/company may have been discussed.

- Try the site's name in some searches in multiple search engines to see what gets thrown up. Follow some of those search results and have a browse through the context in which this site/domain keeps getting mentioned. The link searches in Yahoo (link: and linkdomain:) are particularly useful.

- If the site has a unique IP you may want to check if that IP was associated with some illegal/adult or other content you wouldn't like to be associated with. If it was used for a link farm that's a particular problem as it takes a while to shake off the link farm reputation. Our IP and DNS research tools may come in handy.

- Try searching for the domain name in places like Stumbleupon, Technorati, Digg and other social networking and bookmarking sites. There may also be comments on reviews in here.

- If you are looking to run a particular ad network's ads on the site, it may be worth checking with them to see if they'd ever banner the site. In any event, it may be worth getting the sellers assurances that they were never banned by any ad, affiliate or other network.

- You can also get some idea of how a site looked in the past by looking at cached versions of their pages. Search engines are good places to find cached versions. A in Google will bring up a list of pages Google has for that site. True, most of the cached versions are likely to be fairly recent but searches at other search engines who don't crawl as frequently as Google does would throw up older versions.

- Other caches: Feeds (e.g. - sitename without the TLD) and other places could show posts from the past even when they've been deleted from the blog.

Why bother seeing what the site looked like?

For one, the buyer may not want to be associated with a domain that was used for illegal activity in the past.

Another good reason is to ensure it's not a repurposed site or a drop catch.

This is best explained by an example. (fictitious site) acquired Page Rank (PR) over time as it gradually built up many inward links to the site. All those links pointed to the ABC-Video-Producer site as a  company that provided Video Production services. The site rightly showed up in search engines for Video Production related keywords and the home page was a PR7.

The company, being careless, forgot to renew the domain name one year and the name ended up expiring and being "grabbed" by Domainer Ltd, one of the numerous domain businesses that specialise in drop-catching.

Domainer knows that a PR7 site (technically, a site with a PR7 homepage) commands a high price in the market. However, the content that used to be on the site is still copyright ABC Video Producer Ltd so Domainer posts some quick content to make it look like a well established site. If sites on Mobile Ring Tones are selling for more than sites on Video Production, Domainer would put up ring tone related articles and images and attempt to sell the site as a quality ring tone site with a PR7 home page.

Some flaws are immediately obvious - the site doesn't have a reputation with search engines for Ring Tones and so won't get any traffic on the new terms. Other sites will gradually notice the change of use and stop linking and stop sending traffic. What's more, the PR is likely to not last beyond the next PR update. Google can and does sometimes reset the PR to zero. The site becomes next to worthless.

As a canny buyer you now know how to check whether a site is a repurposed or drop catch one.


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