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1) Start from scratch in a newly registered domain name.
2) Buy an established domain name (4 years old, PR5, getting traffic), which is being used for something completely different to what I have in mind.
I'm tempted to go with 2, but the domain costs some good money and I would have to drop off all the current content, as it is not the subject that I want to focus on.
Also, it has an structure that is not compatible with my .htaccess file, so all the current pages indexed by Google will return a 404 error message.
In this scenario, does buying the domain provide any real value to the project? What should you do if you were in my situation? Any better option than those I've proposed?
Many thanks for your replies
The purchase might still be worthwhile if the domain name would be a really good one for your branding goals, but consider any residual value from the domain's existing web presence as a bonus, not your primary reason to buy.
I don't understand your comment about the .htaccess file. You should be able to use your .htaccess file to set up whatever redirects you want.
Then the domain wouldn't help you too much. If the domain is being used in ways that you aren't going to use it then the visitors aren't looking for what you have to offer.
The main benefit (which IMO wouldn't be much) would be backlinks to similar sites (but again, quite possibly unrelated).
Save your money, get a domain for $10 at the regsitrar of your choice and some hosting. Pick up Wordpress and pay some of the money you'd use for the domain for a good template for Wordpress (usually run $50-$150 and up).