Can I buy a domain that used to have spam on it and still rank?
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Can I buy a domain that used to have spam on it and still rank?

Hello. We have a question from Johan
Tavard, from Thailand. Johan wants to know, can I buy a
domain name on the secondary market that has a lot of spam
on it and still rank? How can I reset the SEO
of that domain? Thousands of root domains
coming from spam. OK, so good question. And in fact in the follow on
comments Johan said that the domain he’s thinking about
buying would be $5,000. This is a really tricky
question. Because on one hand, there’s
algorithmic spam and there’s manual spam. And all manual spam does have
an eventual time out. So if you were to completely
clean up all the content on the domain– do a
reconsideration request– in theory, that domain
can recover. However, on the algorithmic
side, if there are a ton of spammy links that the previous
owner built up, that can be a little bit hard to go through
and try to clean up, and get all those links taken
down, make a list of all those links. The way to think about it is
there are a lot of spammers out there that do basically
what’s known as a churn and burn tactic, where they just use
as many techniques to try to make domain rank
as they can. And then as soon as that domain
is awful, or bad, or Google has caught it, then
they sort of move on. And they go on to some other
exploit, and they try to tackle it with another domain. Now what you don’t want to do is
be the guy who gets caught left holding the bag. Who buys what looks like a
good sounding domain, but actually a spammer has kind
of driven into the ground. It’s almost like instead of
starting from the ground floor, some spammer has
come along before you and dug a hole. And now when you start out
you’re already in that hole. It is possible. You would really need to
document the steps that you took very well. So, for example a spammer
could easily– here’s an exploit that you can
just imagine on the fly– churn and burn. Drive their domain into
the ground, burn everything to the ground. And then try to pretend like
they sold it to somebody else, when they haven’t really sold
it, and try to rejuvenate it. And renovate it, and make it
sound like it switched owners. And so we’re automatically going
to take those sorts of reconsideration requests
with a grain of salt. So I would be extremely careful,
especially if you’re talking about $5,000. At that level it’s probably
worth the trouble to ask if you can see the sort of messages
that show up in Google’s Webmaster Tools. And I would do an honest
assessment. From what you’ve said in you’re
follow on comments it sounds like– or in the original question,
you’ve got thousands of domains with spammy
links to the site. If I were looking at the
situation, I would probably pass on that temptation. And I would almost rather start
with a clean, fresh domain that really hasn’t
already gotten a really bad reputation. Not just with Google, there
might be other search engines. It’s the sort of thing where
there might be complaints on Better Business Bureau or
various consumer complaint sites, and there might be a
bad association with that domain name in various
consumers’ minds. So definitely investigate
carefully. We have seen a lot of black
hats who will spam as much as they can. And then when they get caught,
they try to sell their domain, and flip it on various domain
selling boards. And try to get a last
little bit of money. And you just don’t want to be
the sucker who’s the very last person in line and doesn’t
realize that that domain is in really bad shape, and then have
to try to renovate it. When it might be easier
just to start fresh.


  • ttttchess

    Every movie a see of this guy makes it clearer to me that the Google system has as many holes as videos apparently about 575.

  • MrTVTL905

    I never understood why people would buy a used domain. That's like the people who buy used police cars and ambulances. You know the thing's been driven into the ground, and in this case it's a lot cheaper just to get a new domain.

  • MrTVTL905

    That's exactly the point…there's no logical reason to say that as a general rule. The examples cited in the video explain otherwise. If an SEO is selling an "aged domain", the first thought in anyone's head should be, "what the hell did this guy do to the domain such that he'd sell it?" If it "ranks" and has value, he'd keep it.

    The whole thing is completely ass-backwards.

  • josh bachynski

    !?!?!?!?!? For $5000 I can get any site you want on page 1 after 1 year. Any decent marketer could do that for you. Why start with a liability?

  • mvandemar

    That's flawed thinking. There are many reasons someone might sell a domain or site that have nothing to do with it being "worthless" (liquidation, other interests taking priority, lack of time to maintain, flipping domains professionally, etc).

  • MrTVTL905

    A site, yes…not a domain. The "flipping domains professionally" is a sketchy industry, and it doesn't count. I can understand someone building up a site, brand, a community, and then selling a working profit-making site to someone else that can take it to another level. But we're not talking about that here.


    What tools or programs to you recommend to remove the spam. I just got my website close down for that reason. I want to clean it and put it back online.

  • Peter Sedesse

    that is a very small part of their algorithm and totally blown out of the water if that ´age´ is full of spam and being crushed by Google.

  • Rob Maas

    OK Matt, now you are telling us to prepare our reconsideration request real well before you submit when there is an algo penalty, but just a few months ago you told us that you guys don't look at reconsideration requests if there is no manual penalty ?? Matt C. Video: October 24th. So How to show your efforts ?

  • Simon Legouge

    and 5000$ is aproximately 150 000 baths so don't wait that much by the .co one should be free ;). Building a new business on an expired domain is often a bad idea 😉

  • Richard Hearne

    Obviously lots of ignorant people commenting who have no idea just how large the secondary domain market is.

    2 of the largest domain brokers between them drop catch 55,000 domains monthly and add them to their listings. Cheapest domains will start around $1,000 on any broker site.

    As for marketers saying they can rank any domain for $5,000 – exactly what services would they happen to be selling?

  • Svenn Dhert

    Google is hunting for quality information, if you do switch to quality information from scratch its better then from spam. But both ways will average over time.

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  • Skitrel

    You can get any page on page 1 in 3 weeks. Making such statements is absolutely ridiculous unless you're clarifying the competitiveness of the term.

    Car insurance. Page 1, $5000? Guaranteed within a year? I don't think so.

    Clarify your guarantees clearly or risk being ridiculed as little more than an amateur making hyperbolic statements. Preferably never ever make guarantees, ranking matters little anymore except to amateurs, traffic results and conversions are the performance metrics now.

  • Sexy Monkey

    Went through something similar when I "reclaimed" a domain I had lost a year earlier. When I got it back, it had seo plague. Google wouldn't touch it. It took six months for google to re-index it.

  • Shahan Born Calicut B'in Dubai

    I hope the two types of spamming that the author mentioned is about:
    1: On Page: Manual Spam (like creating a separate section for search engines)
    2: Off Page: Algoritmic Spam (Like sudden generation of links)

    can anyone answer this ?

  • texxs01

    It's all about the keywords in the url…
    "Spammy" sites often have great page rank.
    They really need to rethink the way use that word btw. It's like they don't even know what the internet is.

  • Max Media Solutions

    Yes, I strongly agree with Matt, I'd really veer off from that direction (buying spammy high pr domain) and instead start from scratch. With $5,000, I certainly can do tons of High Quality Marketing Campaign without even worrying of getting a slap from Google. It is rather a wasteful of money to spend on that direction. If you remove those spammy links pointing to the newly bought old high PR domain, you will likely to lose PR(if those spammy links gives 'Juices').

  • TheAlphaPoonaphants

    How does one learn more about websites, google and utilizing tools and whatnot to explore the world of selling domains and managing them?

  • RankYa

    Thanks for the explanation Matt, perhaps common sense should prevail. That's a lot of money for a domain, yet, there must be a good reason for the webmasters to really want to purchase this domain name. And yes, domain names are important for the webmaster, just imagine time and effort that goes in to choosing one (keywords? branding? or just sounds good and easy to remember) Can I buy a domain that used to have spam on it and still rank? But would you buy a house with flawed foundations?

  • mfby2k

    Why the disvow tool takes months to remove or not consider the spamy links to website. I have submitted the file to disavow tool months ago but the links are still there.

  • Nizam Khan

    Yes, an honest and helpful advice is to start with a fresh domain (especially if investing that much huge amount of $5,000).

  • Brian Kiernan

    Even what looks like a fresh domain can have spam linked to it. When that 5k site does not sell it returns to the general pool of domains and then is bought on namecheap for example as a new domain only to find out later that domain has a bad history. I even check the back links of the domains I buy on namecheap which seem like the are brand new.

  • Evolution Website Design

    I was offered evolution (dot) net yesterday for US$10,000+ and it is currently just a Parking PPC ads site. No thanks, But its a huge market. Buyer beware!

  • Spook SEO

    Spending $5000 on a domain with thousands of root domains coming from spam is almost a sure way of giving a way your money. Just like Matt said, you'd be better off starting fresh.

  • প্রিয়াঙ্কা খান

    Spending $5000 on a domain with thousands of root domains coming from spam is almost a sure

  • HighPRweb

    Instead of putting 5k on one domain you can spend 5k in a better way as spreading on few domains there are tons of good quality domain on the marketplace go and pick few you will see the result very soon Well said matt.

  • Anton Tolstiy

    А есть по-русски? потому что экшели я плохо понимаю инглиш.

  • Rohit kha nganba

    Please help me.. How can i investigate a domain? Recently I buy a domain, I want to check the domain before starting my work on it. Your time will be appreciated 😊

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