Be Aware of a Domain Name’s Previous Business Activity


One of the most favorable things I look for when acquiring a domain name is a note on the homepage that says the company is no longer in business – or a default hosting page after knowing there was previously a company’s website on it. Businesses go under all the time, but the underlying domain name could still be a valuable asset the former owners don’t even realize has significant value.

I was looking at a domain name that I would like to acquire this morning, and it has all of the signs that it could be available for the right price. There is a note that says the company, which had been in business for 75 years, had closed 6 months ago. The email addresses were bouncing, and the phone numbers weren’t working. This got me excited, as I love tracking down a domain owner. This is similar to how I was able to buy a couple of years ago… good research to find a former partner in the firm.

While concurrently doing due diligence on the domain name of interest and doing some research to find contact information for the former President of the company, I came across a website that had consumer complaints about the company. Some of the complaints were pretty harsh:

  • “This place is a disaster”
  • “their behavior has been totally unprofessional”
  • “my advice is to stay away.”
  • “Won’t be visiting… or ordering from their website again”

Although the company was in business for 75 years and these comments may be accumulated over time, it’s still good to be aware of these comments that can easily be seen by anyone who does a Google search for the domain name. The domain name has a dual meaning, so it wouldn’t be used in the same way as it was before, but there are still a few websites with negative comments, and people might infer that they are about a new website that would be built down the road once the site launches.

Although most people would recognize the difference between what was there and what would be built there, some potential advertisers could see the complaints and simply pass on advertising. Domain investors need to keep in mind that comments about a business on a domain name could have a detrimental impact on the domain name’s value.


  1. Thanks for the post, Elliot… good info, and something to keep in mind for sure.

    One thing I should mention — if you are hoping to keep the domain under wraps until you close the deal, you shouldn’t give related verbatim quotes. Paraphrase instead.

    Otherwise it’s too easy to find out what domain you’re hunting for…

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