08 Apr 2006

Buying old domains – chat and ramble.

A post by Barry on SE Roundtable caught my eye called "Changing Domain Name Ownership Whois Information & Google Search Ranking Impact." His opening paragraph states:

Every since Google became a registrar in January 2005, SEOs wondered how Google would use the whois data. In mid-February we reported that Google admitted to using registrar data to "increase the quality" of the search results. Today a new thread was created at Cre8asite Forums named Changing Domain Ownership, Do’s & Don’ts.

This thread on Cre8asite referenced can be found here. Gilad starts the thread by asking:

I am about to acquire an older domain, and was looking for some input as to the affects of ownership changes on ranking and sandbox…

Barry then goes to Google for an official comment….but all he got in return was "A no comment was sent to me."

They’re probaby afraid to comment because of post like what I’ve done (Screw the Sandbox, buy an old site)….but it also doesn’t seem fair to hold back infomation from a paranoid person who’s buying a domain for totally legit reason and is afraid that if he buys a site (thus changes the whois), moves the host, does a redesign…will that kill this site?….I think it just might (I don’t know because I’ve never done that…and wouldn’t do that). Even if the content topic on the "new site" is the same as the old site.

I do believe that the less you change, the better.

As I am a salesman of SEO services, I’m put in the position of telling a prospective clients (if they have a brand new site), "We’ll, you’re looking at a few years to see any traffic from Google because of this thing called the "sandbox" (or more precisely, it’s "Links over Time" as a Trust Value) – I don’t care how great your site is, or how much of a resource you’ve made it.  No one likes to hear that, but I’m trying to be honest with them. I’d be lying if I said anything less (and I don’t buy the "oh with great trusted links you can "excape" the "sandbox"….in my eyes, thats BS).

So I can either try to get rid of that prospective SEO client caller (who has the new site) ASAP (which I so often do)….or I can explain all of this and add…ya know, there just might be a related site that’s been abandoned or someone who might sell you their old (related) website….and if we do it right, you might have related ranking traffic a lot sooner. (what would you do?) (I’ve only done that a couple of times….I’d rather have someone for a client where we’re working on their site they called my about…which basically means, if your site is less than 2 years old, I probably don’t want to work with you).

….you might be asking "How are your old sites do that you bought a few months ago doing?"….well to be honest, they’re doing quite well….one made ~8k last month, another made ~5k last month, another I turned right around and sold it for a price that made me over 8k instantly in profit, another made about $300 last month, and the other I haven’t changed yet as it took a few months to finally get the ownership changed and since the whois changed, I haven’t touched the site yet (I’ll wait a few months to do anything if the whois changed).

….yes…they were very profitable and I should make ~$150k from those sites over the course of a year….total spent for those 5 sites was less than $20k…..not a bad profit margin.

…now mind you, if I buy an old site, I buy the content too….if I do any changes, I do it over time….if I add any content, it’s related to the original content…I really try to add value to the site….should an engine be upset with me for doing this?…..I hope not…..I can’t help it if I find an old site that has huge potential ($), but isn’t using that potential (because they don’t know that potential)…as an SEO I can see potential, and I’m going to leverage that to make $. I really believe what I’m doing is "clean"….I’m not buying say an old site about "cats" and tossing out the content and selling viagra…that’s be stupid….but if I find a great site about "cats" I’m adpt to sell cat related products on it or serve cat related advertising….I might even add some cat related articles to the site.

Is there something wrong with that in your eyes?