ZDNet recently bought a new domain name from the domain name aftermarket (a domain name auction), and almost immediately got their trusted, authoritative, 2 year old website banned in Google. ZDNet wrote a scathing article on their site, blaming Google for the error, claiming that Google got it all wrong. But, that’s not the case. Google absolutely got it right, and was correct in banning the site in Google. Here’s how ZDNet bought a domain name, redirected their trusted, authoritative site to this new domain name, and then got their website banned in Google.
It all went down like this. Here’s a quick timeline of the events, and how buying a domain name got their site banned:
– ZDNet runs their CXO-Talk.com website for two years. Adds great content on the site.
– ZDNet decides to purchase CXOTalk.com at a domain name auction.
– ZDNet bought the domain, failing to do their due diligence on the domain.
– ZDNet redirects CXO-Talk.com to CXOTalk.com, their new domain.
– Google immediately bans the site, and gives site owner a “pure spam? message in Google Webmaster Tools.
The plan was, ultimately, a good one. Getting rid of the hyphenated domain name and moving it to the non-hyphenated version of the domain. I have always preferred using a non-hyphenated version of a domain name, a domain name without a hyphen, because, mainly, it will end up in sending traffic to the non-hyphenated version of the domain name. Ideally, you should own both versions, and redirect the hyphenated version to the non-hyphenated version.
So, ZDNet did have a good plan, which was to buy the non-hyphenated version of their current site, and then start using it. But in this case, their plan backfired on them. And oh how did it backfire! Google banned the domain name and banned their site, although they thought that it contained great, authoritative, trusted content. So what wrong?
Before redirecting the CXO-Talk.com domain name to the CXOTalk.com domain name, they didn’t do their due diligence on the CXOTalk.com domain name. It turns out that the domain name was a “throw away” domain name, used by blackhat spammers to generate gibberish content on the site. The content on the CXOTalk.com domain was so bad that it got banned in Google. So, once they were done using it (and spamming the heck out of it), the owners of CXOTalk.com sold the domain name to an unsuspecting buyer.
That buyer was ZDNet.
What ZDNet failed to do was properly check out the domain name. They didn’t look at the history of the domain name. They didn’t look at the Internet Archive of the domain. They didn’t check out the backlinks of the domain name. It was the backlinks of the domain that gave it all away: it was linked from all sorts of other spammy websites, hosted in other countries. If you look up the backlinks for CXOTalk.com on Majestic.com, you’ll see what I mean.
When ZDNet redirected their CXO-Talk.com domain name to the banned website with all the former spam, they essentially “combined resources” into one domain name. All of the history of both domain names, along with all of the backlinks and other search engine data and ranking factors that Google takes into account, are combined. And, rightfully so, Google banned both domain names, which was now one domain: CXOTalk.com.
Whenever you buy a domain name, it’s is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to do all of your “due diligence” on that domain name, and literally check everything possible. The last thing you want to have happen is something like what happened to ZDNet. Their trusted, authoritative site was banned in Google. All because they bought a domain name.
Update: According to @mkrigsman, Google has lifted the penalty on the domain.
@bhartzer the block was lifted but would love to hear your strategy!
— Michael Krigsman (@mkrigsman) April 29, 2015
My Verified Domain Service Handles This For You
After having been in the SEO business for nearly 18 years, and having bought and sold domain names for over 15 years, I have seen what can happen with domain names, and especially aftermarket domain names. You can buy a domain name that had a great former website on it and redirect it to your current site. If that domain name has traffic from the links going to it, then your site will benefit from that. But if you buy a “bad” domain name, like ZDNet did, it can be a disaster: you can get your good website banned.
Along with Globe Runner, we will soon be launching a new service that will “thoroughly check out” a domain name and verify that’s it good to use for commerce on the web. There are over 30 factors that are manually checked, many that you have not even though of, and we manually check them all. I have personally developed this proprietary process. We are so confident that there will be no problems with a domain name that we have verified and approved, that we are offering a guarantee, up to $50,000. Essentially, if you find a problem with a domain that we verify as being approved, and we can’t fix the problem, we’ll buy the domain name from you, up to $50,000, based on the amount you paid for the domain. Getting a domain name verified and approved will give you piece of mind.
We haven’t officially launched this service yet, but if you would to get an invite to sign up for this service, sign up for my newsletter; I will give out invites to all of my current newsletter subscribers as soon as they’re available.