I have heard the question many times before: “How important is a domain name anyway?” and it always reminds me of that line from Romeo & Juliet, “What’s in a name?” My answer is always “YES it matters!” Your domain name is one the most influential reasons for anyone to ever click on your site. So how it looks, sounds, how easy it is to type and remember, and how it performs do all indeed matter very much. Like characters in a great tragedy, there are many reasons for a site or blog to die, but one of the quickest ways to kill it before you even get out of the gate is with a bad domain name.
If Shakespeare has taught us one thing through his play, it is that even if the rose does truly smell as sweet, that what is in a name can indeed be wrought with inescapable despair. So here is how to go about saving your site from a poisonous and perilous end.
Names with a Negative History
If you remember correctly from high school English class, the Capulet’s and Montague’s were only forbidden names because of a tainted history. Whether that is feuding families or a domain history of infractions and malicious behavior, you simply cannot avoid the history. Keep in mind that domain names don’t have to be expensive to be good. A cheap domain name can be just as perfect if available. For example, you could look here as a first stop to search and register a domain name you prefer.
You should use also use a WHOIS domain lookup to see the history of the domain before committing to it. The basic search will tell you ownership details, domain ID, and the registration and expiration dates. However, when you request a complete history, you are also afforded information on the status of the domain, the registering organization with contact info, and any recorded abuses that the domain may have accrued. If there is a bad history, it is better to stay clear.
What’s in a Negative History?
The negative history of a domain name can range from search engine infractions due to the duplication of content, or the previous site could have been involved in spamming behavior or even illegal activity. Trust me, if a site has been banned by Google and other search engines, it is a lot more trouble than it’s worth.
If the WHOIS domain lookup didn’t give you much, you can actually search the domain name in the search engine. When you see the types of pages that come up, you are aware of what kinds of associations the page was ranking for and whether it looked legit or spammy. Just remember to check across multiple search engines, not just Google.
You can also search the domain name without the .com extension and find some information (often reviews and comments) of the types of experiences people have had with this site in the past. This can also be a good indicator of what the site was involved in before. Finally, by simply typing in the domain name into the Way Back Machine, you can also see what the site looked like in the past and gauge how suspect it seems.
In the end, the name is everything, and there is no way to run away from a bad history. It will just end up putting your young and lovely website in peril, and will poison your own website history as well.