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Why is Google like an SEO Elephant?

Simple answer: Google never forgets. That is to say, it never forgets when it comes to the history of a domain. In fact Google no doubt has a backdated database of website information the size of a death star. And what do they use this for: evaluating the merit of a website of course. Google has a lot of factors built into its search engine ranking algorithm and the history of a domain can in some cases be vital.

The unfortunate fact is that some black-hat web users or spammers use domains in such a way for their own malevolent benefits that the domain is eventually run into the ground. Then in a move of pure evil, they sell the domain onto an unsuspecting patron who is blissfully unaware of the fact that the domain was previously used as a spammy link farm to sell Viagra, or ivory or to host copious amounts of deeply disturbed pornography.

A Fresh Start for the Domain?

What does this murky history mean for the site’s new owner? They’ve done nothing wrong, the domain isn’t bad in itself and it might even be a particularly good domain name for the user, so surely Google will give it a clean slate. WRONG!

It’s an unfortunate consequence that Google will probably have developed a very low opinion of this domain and it could more than likely affect the websites prominence in the SERP’s. In some cases website owners have had a domain for months and found they aren’t even appearing anywhere in the results for their exact domain. Not good for a website with a decent level of SEO.

What Can I do?

Unfortunately, if you already own a domain that is struggling to appear in the rankings, there’s no quick fix. You could check several areas of your websites SEO to try and improve its chances such as looking at whether you have any backlinks, ensuring you have useful relevant text content on your site, or perhaps submitting your websites sitemap to Google if you haven’t already done so.

If your site is already reasonably well optimised then this could be a strong indicator that your domain is tainted in Google’s view.

Look Before you leap

The best defence is a good offence as they say. So go on the offensive before you purchase a domain for your website. A little checking can go a long way and there are some useful tools on the web that can help you out. You can check the history of a domain to see what it has been in the past by using the Way Back Machine at the archive.org website. That way you can ensure you’re not paying for an evil domain that’s going to be avoided like the plague by search engines.

Matt Cutts provides some insight of his own on the topic. Back me up Matt!

Elephant photograph by Tim Seed courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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