Before You Buy a Domain Name, Check How It Was Used

My daughter was watching a movie on our flight home, and I used this time to think of some potential domain name acquisition opportunities. I spent a few minutes doing Whois searches for keyword domain names, and I found a great kids product domain name that was parked and listed for sale for under $1,000. I took the next step to buy it (clicking the DomainTools “for sale” link) when I noticed a giant “XXX” in the header of the parked page. Thanks, but I will pass.

Although many domain investors don’t really care all that much how a domain name was used in the past, I think it is important that we research the various iterations of how the domain name was used by its former owners. The domain name I found yesterday was one I would have bought in order to re-sell, and I would not want to have to explain why it had adult links at one time, assuming a prospective buyer sees that it was once laden with adult links.

In the future, when a prospective buyer has an interest in a domain name, you can bet he or she will want to know how it was used. Perhaps they won’t mention this to you, but I would imagine most buyers looking to develop a website or build a brand will check to see its prior usage, especially as it relates to any spam issues or Google penalties. If a domain name was used for spam, illegal activities, or maybe even adult content, the buyer may opt to buy something else. If this is the domain name that is desired for better or worse, the prospect may use this information as a negotiation tactic to get a better price.

It’s important for a domain name owner to check his landing pages to make sure there isn’t anything objectionable on them, but it’s equally important for a buyer to know what had been displayed on that domain name in the past. It is frustrating to buy a domain name, have a prospect want to buy it, and then have them lose interest because of the nature of what was on the website before.

Now I need to decide whether to tell the domain owner and/or parking company about their domain name.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Interesting perspective. Unfortunately, many domains get mis-categorized and never checked upon when parked. Some names are adult-sounding and trigger such categorization automatically. Other names, non-adult, may be placed on adult parkers or active web sites on purpose. However, on a case by case basis, any domain name can be taken out of its adult oriented past and used as non adult. The process of domain rebranding involves converting existing traffic to a special landing page where a few facts about the new portal are explained. It all depends on the buyer’s comfort level when it comes down to actually being aware of what the domain displayed in the past.

  2. MQ dot com was a porn site at one time and the owner who I happen to know bought it for $2,000 for his company a while back.. This of course was not related to children but it still had excess baggage which didn’t seem to bother him, When talking to him about it, he looked at it the same way I did, that he improved on it, turning something repulsive into something respectable and productive.

    I get your point about children though, it’s almost taboo, the domain was most likely not worth what could be waiting for you around the corner, but if a 2 letter dot com like this one came around and it was the same circumstances, your not going to tell me you wouldn’t grab it for 2K… I know I would.

  3. Have never actually been asked about prior domain usage Elliot. Few people know about archived screenshots in my experience.

  4. It’s funny that I open my email to see this article this AM. Just yesterday I had a buyer back out because of the past of my seller (prior legal issues with domains). I offered a quality (clean) portfolio and we worked out the terms of 6x, and at the final hour my buyer backed out because they had been advised of my seller’s past. There is absolutely no defense or validity to offer once that has been exposed. I’m no beggar, but we’re talking about 500K (any broker who presents these deals knows the time and effort involved in managing them (and the personalities) for commission). It’s frustrating to think that a muddied past of someone who you represent has the ability to deter buyers despite the earnings of the domains.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts

Poll: Are You Going to ICANN 79?

The ICANN 79 Community Forum Meeting is coming up in a couple of weeks. The meeting will be held in Puerto Rico from March...

Domain Broker’s Ad Campaign Highlighted by X Business with a Repost from Elon Musk

When looking at domain investor Twitter, I've noticed a few promoted/advertising tweets mentioning Rob Schutz and/or I recently wrote about Rob and his...

NameJet Announces Platform Enhancements

Last Summer, NameJet made some "big changes" to its platform. In essence, NameJet appears to have become a clone of Snapnames, its sister auction...

Rationale Behind Acquisition

It's not often that we hear from the founders of a company to discuss why they spent what they did to acquire a specific...

.Bet Domain Name Acquired for 5 Figures, Reportedly Resold for $600k

According to a tweet from Identity Digital (formerly Donuts), the domain name reportedly sold for $600,000. I have not verified or researched the...