10 Point Domain Name Analysis Checklist

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Nobody wants to pay good money only to end up with a bad domain.

That’s why it’s critical to know how to analyze Aged Domains before you buy so you always know you’re getting what you pay for.

As I mentioned in the last blog post on Buying Domain Names, people selling domains often take to deceptive and evil tactics such as forging high PageRanks, or selling ex-porn or ex-spam websites onto unsuspecting webmasters.

These are Aged Domains that you want to avoid paying your hard-earned money for because they often carry no SEO benefits, OR can even have a negative SEO impact, hurting your chances of ranking well in the search engines!

So that’s why knowing how to analyze domains, and doing your due diligence on any Aged Domain you consider buying (before you buy!), helps you to avoid making a costly mistake.

Kenny’s 10-Point Aged Domain Name Analysis Checklist:

In this video, Kenny takes you through the 10 factors he reviews when he’s analyzing Aged Domains.

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Grab a notepad and pen for this video because you’ll want to take a lot of notes on this one.

The items on the checklist include:

  1. Keywords
  2. Domain Usage
  3. Age
  4. History
  5. Popularity
  6. PageRank
  7. Backlinks
  8. Indexed Pages
  9. DMOZ / Yahoo! Directory Listings
  10. Trademark Terms

Update on our Backordered Domain…

Finally, a quick update for those who are interested…

Do you remember the domain Kenny backordered yesterday?

Well, he’s received a response and prepared this brief (55 second) update video to show you what happened next…

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Brent Hodgson a co-founder of Noble Samurai, and an internet marketing specialist.

Brent has written 68 post(s) for Noble Samurai

75 Responses to “10 Point Domain Name Analysis Checklist”

  1. Wow, Can’t believe Kenny is actually giving this information away for free. The site to visit on his 10 point checklist are worth the price of admission! I wonder if he will be talking about strategies for building out (or fixing) and possibly reselling domains. I’d love to know how he monetizes the domains he purchases beyond the conventional “add content and advertise or sell something”. How does he identify underutilized domains that can be refurbished and resold easily at high markups??? Thanks again Ken for this material!

  2. Good article.

  3. Nice Explanation! actually most webmasters only care about domain Age according to the WHOIS record! they never care about this domain already dropped,blacklisted or even already moved sandbox.

    Fantastic video with great explanation, keep up the fgreat work guys.


  4. Thanks for the great resources on where to pick up these domains…

  5. Great stuff. I have to sit down and figure out what names would be worthwhile to my SEO efforts.

  6. Man, Im loving these videos! If only I knew this stuff about 3 months ago! Thanks for sharing such informative and useful content.

  7. 7

    As usual you offer great information. But I’m missing transcriptions. I’m more the “reader”-type.

  8. good information, I will do what has not been done to improve my website

  9. Every Time a very good article. I think we see in the next time a software – he will do the hole work for us? thx

  10. Great follow up video! After purchasing my first expired domain last week, I can say that I did take #’s 1-9 into consideration, but I honestly didn’t check to see if I’d registered a trademarked domain.

    After doing a quick search, I see that my new domain doesn’t violate any rules.

  11. I backordered a domain that is expiring in a few days that happens to be the exact same domain, but without the hyphen of a competitor’s domain name. It happens to also have a PR of 2, 175 backlinks, and is sitting in position #3 for my competitor’s main keyword phrase.

    I have 2 questions.

    1) When a domain is deleted, does it start over completely as in at Year 1.
    2) Is a deleted domain age the same as if you backordered a dropping domain prior to delete and get it?

    I thought of these questions when you see someone having owned a domain from 2007-2009, but there are whois records from 2005 and there had been a year where no one owned it between then.

    I was curious because there are a few other domains which are being deleted soon, but I don’t feel compelled to spend $60+ in getting them, but have a good bit of age on them. I didn’t want to start compulsory buying them for future projects if the age wasn’t going to be there.

    Kenny Goodman replied:

    It depends on who you buy it from. Namejet do what is known as a pre-release section and domains in this particular section don’t seem to delete i.e. they keep the same original creation date. Same goes with a lot of Godaddy’s. I’m currently looking into this so that I can create a matrix of those that do and those that don’t.

    I hope this helps

    Isha replied:

    This one is interesting to me too Kenny.

    I bought a good deleting domain name (through Godaddy) for peanuts in a micro niche for which I’m already at #1 in Google. Before I bought it it was just being used for Adsense, for I think 3 or 4 years, and there’s no history for the domain name in archive.org. My site is the plural keyword and the one I bought through Godaddy is the singular. The search numbers and competition are similar for the 2 keywords.

    The thing is though that the singular keyword domain I bought has no age according to Google. I’d like to know exactly what I should have done to prevent this from happening.

    From your reply to another comment on this blog post, do I understand correctly that I should have:

    1. Checked who the registrar was and keep the same registrar (this info being in Whois), and
    2. Kept the same host (presumably via whoever owns the domain servers listed in Whois)

    If I’d done those two things would that have kept the domain age?

    Kenny Goodman replied:

    I don’t think this would have helped on the age front Isha.

    I basically do this as a safe bet to keep the authority of the backlinks and PR in check but it’s just like I don’t walk under ladders so I don’t get bad luck.

    I don’t think Google penalizes on Server changes and a lot of people tell me they have experienced no problems when they changed registrar.

    I keep it with the same registrar because I have always done it. I will (when I get some time) run some tests on this and let you know the results

  12. 12

    I have the awesome Market Sumari software and this blog information is only adding to explaining the features, like Domain Age. However, I am starting with a new name for branding reasons, and not able to get an aged-match name, so have done some Sumurai research on your website to learn from a 2-year newbie in your niche. I notice though you are not in yahoo or DMZ – assuming you can’t get into DMZ, is yahoo directory over rated? ie can I save myself $300/year for no real gain? Thanks

  13. Great info as usual thanks but I do wish Google etc. would take DMOZ i.e. ‘The Open Directory’ out of their algorithm (if indeed they do count it) as, these days, it seems all but impossible to get into it.

    I think the last site I got indexed in it was over 5 years ago and they have a reputation of simply not being on the ball anymore so I get frustrated that they are continually given ‘kudos’ as being a ‘must have’ link.

    Yeah, I’m bitter :-)

    Matthew Watts replied:

    You can always apply to be an editor to the category you want a link from. ;)

    Vinnie replied:

    yeah, DMOZ is pretty corrupt. you can often buy links there too. actually, i think that is the only way to get a link from DMOZ now.

  14. Matthew Watts posed some very good questions above. I have often wondered the exact same thing. I can’t wait to see the response.

  15. 15

    What is the exact name of the firefox SEO add on needed to see the search engine information on pagerank in back links. There are a large number of them listed in the add on section of Firefox.


    Isha replied:

    It’s called “SEO for Firefox” John, and you can get it here:

  16. Why aren’t we using MarketSamurai to do this research?

    Kenny Goodman replied:

    I just wanted to show you the manual way Robert so you understand how hard all of those little monkeys work behind the scenes at MS. :-)

  17. What about dropped domains? What are those? Also, what does that mean to your PR?

    Kenny Goodman replied:

    A dropped domain is one that has actually reached deletion. I’ve had some that have kept their PR and some that haven’t I’m afraid. Google behaves in some very inconsistent ways sometimes

  18. Nice video – I wanted to ask…what about looking up NS History, IP History and any change on name servers etc? Google probably doesn’t trust a domain too much if it’s moved about and changed owners a lot – what are yout thoughts on this?


    Kenny Goodman replied:

    The rule of thumb is to keep it with the same registrar.
    I like to keep it with the same registrar and where possible the same host and then once I have put my site on the domain I wait for a couple of months and then change hosts if I need to.

    People change hosts and people even need to change registrars if they are receiving a bad service so I’m sure Googles algorithm doesn’t penalize but hey, someone once planted that seed in my head and it’s probably for similar reasons that I won’t walk under ladders!

    I get told that I’m way to cautious on this one but better to be safe than sorry :-)

    Brent Hodgson replied:

    It’s something that I’ve never worried about too much, from an SEO perspective. And historical Name Server details can be an expensive thing to check.

    Even Wikipedia has had 32 Name Server changes, putting it on 16 different unique name servers over the past 6 years.

    I do occasionally look at NS History and IP history on aged domains – but that’s part of a slightly different strategy which I learned from Kenny 2 years ago at an event in Beechworth. (Kenny – you know what I’m talking about… This would be a good one to explain in a future video)

  19. Great stuff.

    If I’m able to find a new (aged) domain that is much better than my current (built) domain, what do I do next? How do I shift to the new one?

    Would I keep my currently ranked site as is and then just start building the new one with unique/new content and let the fitter of the two survive? Or do I somehow point/redirect the current one to the new and better domain?

    I don’t want to spoil all of the hard work and results so far, but in the long run the aged domain I’ve found should be much better for the site.


    Andy Perkins


    Kenny Goodman replied:

    If I already had a performing site with a good history I would carry on developing it. If you have the time/money then create another site and let them compete against each other.

    Brent Hodgson replied:

    This is a tough question.

    You’re right – you don’t want to undo all of your hard work by moving from one site to the next.

    If you think there’s value in both domains, you might be able to run them both. Two sites ranking for similar keywords could substantially increase your traffic – although it means managing two sites at once…

    I know quite a few people who aim to have their own sites in all 10 spots on the front page of Google for their keywords. When they do it, it’s not search engine optimization, it’s search engine domination!

  20. Thanks Brent!!! Thanks Kenny!!! Great videos, good explanation.

    I’m not trying to be the smart guy here, but I guess those who already own Market Samurai can find the whole process of analyzing the backlinks (anchor text, PR, age of the page) of the preowned domain you are about to purchase a breeze :)

    Kenny Goodman replied:

    Yes I just wanted to show people the manual way also

    Brent Hodgson replied:

    You’re so right. People could just add the URL into the SEO Competition matrix to check these things within a few seconds.

    The funny thing is, I never even thought of using Market Samurai to do this. (I have my own tools for analyzing these things.)

    Hopefully it’s helpful for people to understand where the data comes from though.

    “Back in MY day, we never HAD tools like these… We used to have to collect our data manually… 15 minutes it would take us! And that was for every domain we analyzed…” ;)

    Masato replied:

    Well, I AM a proud owner of Market Samurai :D

  21. 21

    Thanks for the tip on the fake domain name – I just bought one a few hours ago on GoDaddy with a pr3 – I was very happy – but now i see it was a forwarded domain – I paid $10 so it was a cheap lesson -

  22. I haven’t ever understood why a yahoo directory link was worth so much in google’s eyes. It isn’t really any different than buying a link from a link farm. Yahoo directory isn’t really any thing but a $300.00 a year link.

    Brent Hodgson replied:

    They used to actually recommend sites paid for Yahoo! Directory listings (in their Google Webmaster Guidelines, from memory.) But they don’t specifically mention it anymore.

    Potentially how Google sees it today is as a link with a high barrier to entry. For a site to get into the Yahoo! Directory, it needs to pay $300 AND go through a review process. So it keeps low quality sites out of the directory, and Google can rely on what is in there as being high quality.

    This is why we check for Yahoo! Directory links in Market Samurai.

    Some people don’t put as much credence on these links, so they take this out of their analysis equation. So long as their strategy works, I say go for it. Although I still frequently see SEO Matrixes where the top 5 of 10 sites all have Yahoo! Directory links, so I’m inclined to believe that they still do carry some kind of weight.

  23. A domain’s DMOZ listing is usually removed when a domain expires, even if you backorder it. Apparently, DMOZ has a way to determine when a listing should be removed (not sure if the editor actually check the expiring domain to see if ownership has been transferred). So I personally wouldn’t count on the DMOZ listing of a domain to remain.

    Kenny Goodman replied:

    We are also talking about Namejet pre-release etc which don’t actually delete and of course domain resale where it is only the transference of a domain from one person to another.

    Make Money Online replied:

    I’ve tried those ones as well. In my experience, some domains retain their DMOZ listing and some are delisted. So I think there’s a 50-50 chance that a domain will be delisted from DMOZ.

    Do you have any recommendations on how to help make sure a domain’s DMOZ listing remains?

  24. Something not mentioned but probably goes without saying. All this great info that Kenny has shared could also be used to help “build” a great site that you could sell for a nice some of money in the future. Yeah! Let’s have our cake and eat it too. Great stuff here. Maido Arigatoo m(_ _)m

    Brent Hodgson replied:

    Doitashimashite ^_^

    Good point re: building sites and selling them.

    I’ve seen a lot of great things happening on Flippa.com lately (and I know Ed Dale’s been talking about a specific strategy for selling domains on there with his “Starting from Scratch” course.)

  25. Thanks guys, great stuff. Can’t wait to start searching for some sweet aged domains, should be fun. I agree with Clive about the DMOZ indexing. It is pretty much a joke because you can’t get into it anymore. So only aged domains and sites are relevant?

  26. Thanks for this. Market samurai best for me.

  27. Lol Kenny time you had your own copy of Market Samurai so that you could use it for a lot of that research you just showed us. I’m sure the great Noble Samurai guys are giving you one for free for all this wonderful work you’re doing ;)

    Brent Hodgson replied:

    LOL – Good point Isha!

    Many of these things can be researched inside Market Samurai’s SEO Competition module.

    Although I still think it’s valuable that people know how to get the data by hand.

    Kenny Goodman replied:

    They’ve given me a 25% discount if I buy more than 1 copy :-)

  28. Thanks for the info! Alot of people would pay good money for some of this… Not that I’m suggesting you should start charging us Brent!!

  29. 29

    Thanks for sharing this great information. Wondering if there is any tools you suggest that automate the process to find the dynamite domains.

  30. Great Video guys thanks heaps.. awesome content

  31. On the issue of Trademarks – what is the position if the domain name contains a trademark but that is only part of the domain name.

    For example, if I have a trademark on DINGO, does a domain like DINGO-Services.Com infringe my trademark or is it only DINGO.com that I can object to?

    How does one enforce the trademark and get the domain? If I was had a domain that was someone else’s trademark, what avenue do they have to stop me – especially if I am in a different country to them?

    Brent Hodgson replied:

    This is something that you’ll need to speak to a trademark lawyer about.

    Having been through it, it’s a tricky area of law, and there are a lot of factors that can influence whether or not a trademark is being infringed.

    Emily replied:

    I am not a lawyer but will share what I learned while getting my Master’s in Internet Marketing and taking a class on Internet Law. Our instructor advised to just not use the trademark at all.

    In addition, decisions seem to be based on whether the use is misleading and confusing to the consumers. In my opinion, dingo-services.com is very misleading because someone can think that it is a subdomain of dingo used to cover their services.

    Also, dingo is a made up name that is a true trademark and would most likely not be allowed use by anyone even if they add anything to it. On the other hand, a trademark like “Jen’s Quilts” can be debated because there are many people named “Jen” and may do quilting. This situation will be debated in court and the outcome will be unpredictable until there are more cases like this to get an example from.

    On the note of different countries, many countries now work together to prevent trademark and copyright theft.

    Again, I am not a lawyer, this is just based on what I learned in my Internet Law class.

    Most things in law are not set in stone (although it should be) because every case is different or it may be a new type of case that never occurred before, so most legal advice is speculation. You should always consult a professional lawyer who can provide you with “professional speculation” based on legal research, current and past laws, and case histories. This is why it is important to consult with a professional and experienced “Internet” lawyer who is worth their weight in gold.

  32. Again Great article by MSam and kenny. Succinct and very informative.
    I have used register compass to pick up dropped domains that have been out of action for over 3 years and still have domain age and backlink validity with google. The oldest is 9 years old and the biggest number of back links is 1300 (some pr5 in amoungst them) They are all hyphenated (which is why they were probably left and some are really quite wierd sounding so you’d not want to be trying to use them to brand a business, but if they directly match a google searched phrase and it has some money associated then i’m in.

  33. 33

    Another great video! Thanks for this info.

    I have a question for you or anyone else that can help me out. I have bought domains in the past, from a normal registrar (mine was namecheap.com) and than later found out it had kept its age even though it got deleted and re-released.

    My question is, does Google see this as well or has the domain age actually been wiped out so that it’s seen as a brand new domain?

    Brent Hodgson replied:

    The answer here is “Sometimes”.

    It’s a tricky situation. Perhaps it’s a strategy we can get Kenny to cover in another video in the future?

  34. I can’t believe what a brilliant job Kenny is doing not only creating these great videos but also responding to the comments.

    I’ve just found more great stuff about buying domain names on his own blog http://kennysblog.com/


  35. 35

    Thank you so much for this great invaluable information. You guys are amazing!

  36. 36

    Hi – are these on the blog forever, or for a limited time? its just i have bookmarked it because i really wanna watch, but no time at all for the next couple of weeks, and im worried it’ll be gone!

  37. I have searched it… Thank you for article. Good information about domains.

  38. I was pleased to have met Kenny at Coming Home in Manchester. I was shocked at the small percentage of people in the room that brought aged domains and did their DD research on the domain before bidding.

    I am lucky enough to have brought some Dynamite Domains. It takes hardwork and quite a bit of time to fully research and evaluate a domain names true worth.

    Thanks for a great series of videos \Kenny.

  39. Thanks for sharing the information. I read it somewhere that once you buy an older domain and change the owner info, Google resets the value meaning that it looks at it as if it’s a new domain. Is that true? have you personally experienced anything like this?

    Diana replied:

    ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG THIS JUST HAPPENED TO ME. I just backordered a domain and I LOST ALL THE PR.. NOT good. I’m pretty upset right now.

  40. Thank you,

    You continue to send me valuable information on a very regular basis and i will be participating in your discussions more often than not. Funny thing! This subject is whats on the agenda next! I have an oldish domain name but there are so many crawl errors eg. pages deleted etc.
    Do you think this has any influence?

  41. 41
    On March 31st, 2010 at 8:00 pm
    Dan Lawrence said:

    I have found a what seems so far to be a good domain, it has 100% KW to Domain density & is 9 years old but when checking the WayBack machine see the owner has blocked it (via the robots.txt file) is this a reason to be suspicious ?

  42. no doubt about this video. very informative every should use these information before buying any aged domain

  43. Hi Kenny,

    Thanks for the post! What screencasting software are you using?

  44. You guys are the best for training. I have reached number 1 on Google through the idea’s that you taught. FYI: My site is number 1 out of 18 million sites for the keywords Fitness Exercise Bikes.

  45. 45
    On April 1st, 2010 at 2:52 pm
    Roger Baker said:

    Very interesting and useful information. I am surprised about AuctionDrop – they were a “we will sell your stuff on eBay” service that joint ventured with Mailboxes etc. in Silicon Valley (San Francisco Bay Area). I see that AuctionDrop is still active at the Trademark office (one of the 12 citations I saw).

  46. Wow – fantastic video. I will definitely be using Kenny’s 10 step due diligence plan when considering my next domain. Some excellent resources.

  47. Thanks again guys, another great blog post on picking the right domains and how to pick the winners. I really like your tools and recommend them where I can. Keep the info coming so that we can keep learning.

  48. MS is an awesome product, and I find myself easily addicted. And the information in these blogs is great, too. Keep up the good work.

    Do the gurus at Market Samurai have any suggestions for improving one’s chances of getting listed at DMOZ or Yahoo?

  49. Thank you for sharing your expirience!
    I have make allot of mistakes buying aged domains, but now I will be beter prapared. Keep up the good work.

  50. As it shows on the video a lot of minutes can go into analyzing just one domain. Even if you are using additional tools (like greasemonkey scripts that show PR next to domains, or tools like Freshdrop), in case you are searching for many many domains in different niches, whereas it may be easy to find good domains, it is hard to judge which is best.

    All the info I can gather around gives the above basic information bits. Nothing intermediate even.

    Like for instance decide:

    7-year-old info, keyphrase with suffix;
    2-year-old org, exact keyphrase;
    1-year-old com, exact keyphrase but with hyphens;
    9-year-old net, partial keyphrase;
    12-year-old com, no keyphrase but brandable in that niche;
    10-year-old com, no keyphase but with backlinks from related sites;

    …mix them more for more.

    Sometimes I end up with shortlists that looks very close to the above. I haven’t yet come up with a thought-piece that compares possible domain purchases as the above.