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Handling URLs From Previous Domain Owner



10:19 am on Mar 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello all,

I bought a domain name recently and found this problem. I hope you guys can give some advice.

This is my situation:-

1) I wanted to buy a domain name. I looked for the name and then I checked the history of the domain using waybackmachine and there was no archive found. so I go ahead and bought it. (www.example.com)

2) 1 month later (now), I found out that my domain birth date was actually on year 2007. So I have done a closer research.

3) I did a "site:example.com" at both yahoo and google and the result returned pages that I do not have on my website. However when I search "site:www.example.com", those pages do not appear. (I use Wordpress as CMS and have set the preference on dashboard to have my homepage with "www")

I feel uncomfortable over the pages. I am not sure whether the previous website is a spam site or anything (I cant retrieve the previous version of website through waybackmachine). My questions are:-

1) Do I need to set up 301 to redirect the "extra" pages to my homepage? If yes, there will be around 20 301 to be made. I think that's too much.

2) Will they be any negative impact on my site due to this? I realize Google doesn't crawl my site as often as my another new site. (For example when I cut and paste the whole paragraph of my content on the search column, the SERP doesn't return my site as first)

3) Any other action I should take?


[edited by: tedster at 6:03 pm (utc) on Mar. 2, 2009]
[edit reason] switch to example.com - it cannot be owned [/edit]


6:29 pm on Mar 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I would not suggest trying to leverage anything that remains in Google's index from a previous owner in your situation.

Instead, I would instead write to Google through the Reconsideration Request in Webmaster Tools and inform them about the domain owner change. There may be past history for the domain that you really DON'T want to take credit for, and this usually gets Google to start you out with a clean slate.


8:53 pm on Mar 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Leave the old URLs to serve a 404 for each one.

Start afresh with a new site, using your new structure.


10:29 pm on Mar 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

it doesn't sound like a problem. It would be a problem if your site wasn't indexed or was banned/filtered.

If the pages are cached in Google why not do a site:example.com query, then click on the "Cached" link next to the results which are old-owner pages .. you can then get a see what the pages were .. that should alleviate/confirm any thoughts of spam .. ;)

GWT can also give you a lot of info on the domain as a whole ..


10:59 pm on Mar 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The only downside to that is that the cached page will not show you if the previous owner was playing any backlink games that Google didn't like.


11:42 pm on Mar 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@tedster. very true. Hence GWT - You can then see all inbound links to the site.

So, with cached version of pages and now the complete inbound link list you can ascertain Google's last known state of site - content of pages and inbound link profile etc.

Of course we still don't 100% know what Google thinks about the site from a history perspective - how the links have progressed/been implemented, or content history .. but it does give you a lot more (varified) information to base your next course of action on - continue or dump and run.

Given the original poster didn't say anything was wrong or that the site had been banned, that they "feel uncomfortable" .. I would say check these things out, assess (either confirm your bad thoughts or relieve your stress) and then decide on a course of action - no need to panic just yet though!


1:42 am on Mar 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks all for the advice.

@g1smd, I have already started a new structure. I only realize this after 1 month.

@pbaddock, I am not sure it's a problem or not but the robot visit/crawling frequency does make me think bad about the situation. To illustrate, Google has not include my post after I have written it for a week which i think it is slow. I do have link exchange and have constantly comment on a few popular blog using the URL.
Too bad there is no any caches in google. Perhaps the previous version is too old?

I actually suspect that the previous version is too old for caches and the domain has been unattended for quite sometime (1 year may be). Will this be one of the reasons why the crawling frequency is low?

I guess I will just write to Google for a Reconsideration Request.


10:23 am on Mar 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi there,

I have written a Reconsideration Request and am waiting now. Mean while I have found another problem which I would like to seek advice on.

Inside Google Webmaster Tools, I have submitted sitemap of my site and some time later, robots crawl my site with this error:-

1) A few of my URLs (up to 5) are restricted by my robots.txt according to the report. I feel so weird because my robots.txt is just
User-agent: *

Sitemap: http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml.gz

I think that is no chance I have accidentally restricted the crawling. Those 5 pages are pages built with Snarfer Page (customized page template) in Wordpress.

Any comments and advices are very much appreciated.


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