The first computers started connecting to one another through Wide Area Networks in the 1960s. However, it took several years before the Internet exploded in 1990. The World Wide Web was created a year later, which also gave way to commercial service providers to begin operating. The registration of domain names became an official part of the process.
Initially, owning a domain name was free but the exponential increase of Internet use needed to be controlled. Registration services were offered, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was created. ICANN is a nonprofit corporation that manages the domain name system of the Internet, as well as its other elements, including IP address allocation and protocol parameter designation.
Fast forward to today, it is estimated that there are more than 19 million registered domain names. Approximately 40,000 are registered each day, proving that there is nothing that can stop the Internet from growing. Buying a domain name from a domain registrar is now a simple process which takes less than 2 minutes.
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Your Domain and Its History
The first step when building a website for your brand is to register the domain name. You will need to pick the domain registrar, and from there, you will find whether the domain you want to use is available or not.
Most of the time, people would opt for a domain name that is new with no history at all. However, there are cases where buying an old domain is more beneficial than a new one, especially with ranking fast in Google. As you know, using a new domain name that Google’s spiders have never crawled into before may not be effective if you want the search engine to rank you high in the results page.
With an old domain, you have a previously registered domain name. Often, it has built authority over time, and you may even benefit from its connections. Plus, Google trusts these old sites, which can give you a high ranking quickly.
For some reason though, the owner stopped paying the registration fees for the domain. The registrar will immediately put it in an auction. If no one buys it, the name expires. Although the expired domain may have a bad reputation on Google and all its data might reset to default, it could still build authority over time. The longer it has been around, the more trustworthy it could become for Google.
The Impact of Your Domain’s History
An old domain may boost the efficiency of your SEO efforts. However, there is one crucial step that you should not neglect here, and it involves knowing the history of your domain name. Its background will tell you who owned that particular domain before you did, the type of website, and the activities that took place under it.
Imagine that you are all set with your site, and you are well-prepared to expand your online business, but Google will not rank you in its search engine results page. The very reason could be the bad history of the domain you are currently using.
If another person, group, or business has used the domain before you, it is essential to know if it has a good track record. If for some unknown reason your website finds it hard to be visible in the organic SERPs, it may have violated the guidelines of the search engine. Some domains may have been penalized by Google or had numerous drops, which would cause the problem.
Google sees domains as proof of the owner’s identity and what he or she does. Therefore, a decent track record is significant to your overall SEO ranking.
Tools to Use for Checking a Domain Name’s History
At this point, you should already understand that it is important to be aware of your domain’s history before you actually purchase and use it. The Internet leaves a trail that can easily be traced and you cannot hide anything online. The domain you may be interested in buying could have a history of its own, which may include sensitive content and malicious code. It may even have different owners before you.
Thankfully, it is possible for you to figure out the history of the domain you are using or any domain name that you may wish to buy. You can investigate whether it is worth your investment or not. Here are the best tools that will let you check the history of a domain:
Some tools require you to pay for their service but if you want one that is 100% free, use who.is. To use, you need to head to who.is where you can check the information regarding a domain name you want to look up. This tool will give you the details you need, including its history, whether the domain is registered or not. You can also go to the websites of web solution providers, such as Namecheap and Godaddy.
The free tool will allow you to obtain the following pieces of information:
Previous and current domain owner
Other website information
Host Internet Protocol (IP)
Who.is also has a feature where you can get a mail alert in case there are any changes in the information of the domain you are interested in. For instance, the owner of the domain sold or transferred it to another. You will then get an email from who.is.
This tool is useful for site owners too because they can use it to correct information about their websites. If you find incomplete details regarding your own site, you can request for the domain registrar to perform the corrections.
One tool that is closely related to the first one mentioned above is Whois Request, which also lets you know the history of a domain. With it, you can look up whether or not a specific site address has been previously owned. It is a useful tool that you can use for free, and you can get the changes since 2002 up to present in the nameservers of domain extensions, including com, org, info, net, and biz.
Whois Request also comes with other services, which you may find useful for your investigation, such as reverse lookup of nameservers and IP. The tool can also be used for grabbing the name of the domain owners and their contact details.
Internet Archive Wayback Machine
Another tool that you can try for learning who owns a specific domain is through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. This nonprofit library stays true to its name by serving as an online time machine. It efficiently records the websites that have existed on the web.
What you will find even more useful is that it lets you see how older versions of websites looked in the past. For instance, you can view how Facebook looked like in 2010 using the tool. To use, go to archive.org and enter the URL you are curious about. Then, choose the specific year, date, and month to see how the website appeared at that time. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine is 100% free.
If you want to try another free tool for checking the history of a particular domain, HosterStats is a great option. It can review the DNS details of the domain name that you would like to investigate. The online tool also lets you track the statistics of a domain for more than five million hosting providers using their nameservers.
The tool is easy to use where you just head to its website and enter the URL that you want to look up. It will instantly provide you with the traffic report of the domain, which includes the unique daily visitors and page views each day. Additionally, it can give other details, such as the supposed regular income of the site and its estimated worth.
HosterStats also provides search engine index information, such as the number of Google, Yahoo, and Bing indexed pages. It can also display the domain’s backlink, safe browsing rating, WOT trustworthiness score, and other statistics. Of course, you can get the hosted country, location, IP address, and domain registrar among many other details.
Another tool that will let you know the DNS report of a particular domain is IntoDNS.com. It has a simple layout, and you can quickly get the information you need by typing in the domain name on the box provided on the website. From there, you will instantly get a report detailing the site’s configuration and current health.
IntoDNS is also useful if you already have a site since it provides recommendations on how you can fix DNS structure errors. In the online world, you need a healthy status for your DNS to ensure the longevity and success of your website.
While free services are helpful, you may want to take advantage of the additional services that you can get from a paid tool, such as DomainTools.com. Head to the website, enter the domain name that you want to inspect and get the information you require.
Domain Tools provides you with valuable facts about the history of any domain. It has a unique feature that lets you obtain information regarding the current DNS records, as well as nameservers. The tool promises to deliver high-impact numbers and stats, along with the complete history of domains. It also permits users to keep track of title changes and other records relating to the entire ownership history of the URL you want to use.
This tool supplies Whois information for the domain name you may want to use, or you are already using. Pay attention to the creation date of the site. If it is not the date that you purchased it or the results say it was created many years ago, the domain has a history. You can use this information to figure out if it has faced any penalties. Usually, a domain with history may have a penalty in the past. You do not want to take any chances, mainly if it is expensive.
Norton Safe Web
This tool aims to help online users have a secure experience while on the Internet. Safe Web is a creation of Norton Security whose main task is to track sites to ensure they have no malicious codes, malware, and other harmful elements.
Using this tool, you can determine whether the domain name you want to purchase is safe, penalized, or blacklisted because of malware. Norton Safe Web can help you save a ton of money since it will warn you about a domain name that will not contribute to your SEO ranking.
Other Ways of Checking the Background of the Domain Name
There are other methods of scrutinizing the history of a specific domain. One easy method is through searching for it on Google. While this technique does not guarantee that you will get accurate results, chances are if it has a previous history, it will appear on the search engine page results. Scrapers can give you a hint regarding the background of the site if it has existed before.
The automated bots may occasionally provide a backlink to the previous domain of the webmaster. These links typically appear in the SERPs, which will help you pinpoint the content that the domain circulated in the past. You can always use this method in case you did not find any history using the free tools above.
Most of the time, knowing the age of the domain is useful, especially if the resource has backlinks and created content. Older domains generally have more backlinks than new ones. They also come with more indexed pages, which mean that they can already influence your ranking if ever you purchase one.
Buying a new domain does leave you with minimal costs and risks initially. However, it also requires more time and effort compared to domains that already existed before your purchase. Aside from the age, check the domain authority of the site using MOZ DA, a website metric ranging from 0 to 100 that rates the site’s trust point. You can use the website Audit tool that lets you check the MOZ DA metric, along with other relevant characteristics of the domain.
With these methods, you can check a domain name’s history and get other critical information that can help you decide whether or not you should purchase a particular domain.