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Can deleted (expired) domains be tainted forever in Google?
glitterball




msg:4567499
 11:19 am on Apr 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Would a domain name have any penalty or ban removed after it has expired?
Has anyone from Google ever made any comments about this?

 

Robert Charlton




msg:4567676
 8:55 pm on Apr 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts discussed this topic recently in a Google Webmaster Help video posted on YouTube....

Can I buy a domain that used to have spam on it and still rank?
Matt Cutts - trt 3:32
Apr 10, 2013
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGUw9oS5csI [youtube.com]

In answer to your question as you formulated it...

Would a domain name have any penalty or ban removed after it has expired?

...I think Matt's answer would be that the penalty is not removed just because of expiration. It would instead depend on the type of penalty. It would most likely also require clean-up, and some penalties are not easy to remove.

In the video, Matt makes the distinction between two types of spam that a domain might have, algorithmic spam and manual spam, and he gives what seems to me like best-case/worst-case examples of the two with regard to this question.

As Matt explains the distinction in the video, "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."

Algorithmic penalties, though, don't get removed until the algorithmic problems are cleaned up, "and 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, and make a list of all those links."

If the domain had been owned by a churn and burn spammer who used every conceivable trick to milk the domain for rankings, and then tries to make some extra money by selling it, a buyer might be left holding the bag.

Essentially, buying a penalized domain would put you in a hole, requiring that you build your way out, but the exact answer depends on the particular history of the domain and the type of penalties it has. I recommend watching the video a few times. Matt fuzzes the answer enough to keep the "secret sauce" secret, but I think he provides pretty good guidelines regarding cautions you need to take.

lucy24




msg:4567709
 10:33 pm on Apr 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

:: returning from YouTube, with extra time telling Flash that I don't want to upgrade just now, thank you, and no, I do NOT want to use my real name, why on earth would anyone want to? ::

He didn't address the question that came to my mind first: What about whitelisting referers? Much like the way most people screen out hotlinks, only here we've got page requests. If the referer isn't on your approved list-- the present site, authorized search engines, links that you personally know-- Deal With the request in some way. Either a flat 403, or a redirect to a page that says "Sorry, but the crack dealer doesn't live here any more."

Wouldn't that say that you mean business?

I've been thinking for years that it would be fun to pick up the domain cyberpromo dot com* and repurpose it as a spam-fighting site.


* But not for $19,600. This is not in my "fun" budget.

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4567716
 11:28 pm on Apr 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Great question and there's some interesting aspects to the answer imo.

1.) Yes, afaik a domain can be tainted beyond recovery, depending on what the penalty was for.

2.) "Essentially, buying a penalized domain would put you in a hole, requiring that you build your way out, but the exact answer depends on the particular history of the domain and the type of penalties it has." -- Exactly, and the only thing I'd add is "if it's possible to crawl out of the hole." -- I think there are some things they penalize for that are permanent.

3.) "What about whitelisting referers?" -- "Wouldn't that say that you mean business?"

Great questions, and I'm not sure it could be referrer based, mainly because gBot doesn't send a referrer header, so it wouldn't get "Uh, hey, yeah, nice try but you can't get here from there any more." information but it could certainly be domain based in some way.

I think the easiest way would be to do something along the lines of "picking up the domain", then disavowing everything incoming from everywhere which might take some work to track down and a RR explaining the situation and you didn't bother with asking what appear to be spam sites linking to remove the links, because you don't want any of them since you are looking for a fresh start, but?

From Google's side, the question I think would be asked is "What do they open themselves up for if they 'go with it' and give a fresh chance?", because if the domain was used to spam before and it had not changed hands (or maybe someone realizes there's a way to "start over" so they register the domain, back-order it under a different name so if the registration is checked it looks like a new owner, spam for all it's worth, let it go, re-backorder it, disavow everything, spam for all it's worth, rinse and repeat) the same domain could be reused for the same thing.

I think from Google's side it might be better to make it so it's difficult and takes way more time/consistency to overcome some (most?) penalties than it is to give a new domain a fresh chance, because there are a limited number of domains related directly to a niche (I do realize it could be limited to a huge number, there are still a limited number as far as keyword rich or topic specific domains go) and giving something new with no history and seeing what happens a "fresh start" seems like it might be better for them than it would be to open the door for rinse/repeat using the same domain.

It's definitely an interesting question Lucy24 has though, because if it's something they wanted to do, it would seem like they could even add a "disavow everything currently linked" option to the "disavow links" tool and could essentially give a domain the chance to start fresh if they wanted to.

JS_Harris




msg:4597351
 8:45 am on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

it would seem like they could even add a "disavow everything currently linked" option to the "disavow links" tool

I'd like a disavow everything button when I buy a domain, if I knew it would actually give me a clean slate. I'd be worried that I'd lose every good link the site had but not shake any of negative marks like human rater reviews from years before. According to Matt none of the benefits of old links will follow but all of the penalties will linger on... hardly seems right if the site is essentially about the same subject before and after.

Imagine buying a domain that, unbeknown to you, had a link from WW years ago. You would then never be able to get a link from WW to 'count' on that domain?

Hmm, I wonder if Google also ignores any incoming link from the same IP address... lots of sites are on shared hosting accounts with 100,000+ sites by other owners nowadays and I suspect even more when server technology continues to improve. That's for another thread.

Planet13




msg:4597406
 3:03 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

"I think there are some things they penalize for that are permanent."


could you help explain how you came to that conclusion?

JS_Harris




msg:4597490
 8:26 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

could you help explain how you came to that conclusion?


I can show you the analytics of a site penalized in 2007 that, despite all efforts to improve content, has yet to recover 90% of the traffic it lost from Google. It is heavily trafficked, and liked, thanks to other sources including yahoo and Bing... but not Google.

The drop occurred 10 days after a host change, which was made because the previous host did not allow htaccess control.

How many times has a host change resulted in lost traffic? Google ignoring previously earned links after transfer would be a good reason if that's what they do and I suspect that would be permanent. The thing is I have transferred other domains too that didn't lose traffic so it's apparently hit or miss.

Planet13




msg:4597565
 2:28 am on Jul 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hmmm...

"How many times has a host change resulted in lost traffic? Google ignoring previously earned links after transfer would be a good reason if that's what they do and I suspect that would be permanent."

Thanks for the note.

I had not heard / thought of that before.

It would seem pretty strange though not to transfer link equity just because of a host change... Would that be intentional, or a major goof on google's part, or...?

JS_Harris




msg:4597585
 6:57 am on Jul 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

I don't know honestly, I get their reasoning but if during transfer one site shows a parked page(when the IP is visited instead of the url) before Google has fully propagated the changes it seems to cause problems.

While their reasoning makes sense if a spammer is picking up the domains to boost his spam network somehow, or if the content of the site changes subject considerably, it makes no sense if the site theme is the same imo.

And to argue on Google's side - 'the site is not the same as when the link was created and so it cannot be considered a vote'.

I'd like to think there is a happy medium. If the site has the same topic and is of acceptable quality then perhaps Google can avoid nullifying links to the home page?

Planet13




msg:4597687
 3:14 pm on Jul 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Ok, I need to follow up here as well:

Is this a domain that changed ownership (as well as changing hosting companies)? Or it just changed hosting servers?

Was the site "down" for a significant period of time?

`````

Because it just seems weird. Sites change hosting companies all the times. And my hosting company changes servers from time to time... can't remember if I ever had to change the DNS entry or not...

And companies get bought out and servers get consolidated all the time.

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