You have your eyes set on the domain you want.
It’s the perfect domain at a great price. All that’s left to do is buy it right?
Not so fast.
So many people make this mistake. They fall in love with a domain and buy it without checking the domain ownership history.
You need to be sure that the domain you are buying:
Ready for some good news?
There are three easy to use tools that will help you check the domain ownership history of any domain in less than 5 minutes.
What Will I Learn?
A domains WHOIS history (also referred to as domain ownership history) contains a list of the domain names previous owners, addresses and contact information, as shown in public WHOIS records.
The WHOIS records date back to the first time the domain was ever registered.
Pretty cool, right?
The truth is the past matters in the online world- especially when it comes to domain names. That’s why it is so important to do a history check.
Domain ownership history allows you to see exactly what you are buying before you even get your wallet out.
Here’s the truth:
You wouldn’t buy a second-hand car without looking at the service history, right?
A domain ownership history check is just like getting a service history check on a car that tells you what it’s been used for and whether or not it has been maintained over the years.
A domain ownership history tells you:
Domain ownership history checks are important and provide a lot of details for serious domain buyers.
It’s always worth the extra effort to ensure that your purchase is a good one – particularly if you are domain flipping high-value domain names.
Checking a domain ownership history is easier than you think.
There are three different tools to help you do it. Although similar – each tool uncovers slightly different things about the domain’s history.
DomainTools is a premium tool.
As a premium member, you can check the historical data of any domain.
DomainTools premium membership costs $99 per month or $995 per year.
The membership provides you with the most important statistics about any domain name and gives you a very complete history of it.
What if you just want to check the history of one single domain?
You can buy individual reports for a one-time price of $49.
First, decide whether you will sign up for the DomainTools membership or buy a report individually.
On the Whois lookup History Page, type in the domain and click lookup.
On the next page, you will get some initial details about the domain.
Here you can choose to buy the full report for the domain. If you purchased the membership you will be able to download the full report.
Note: These reports can be huge – in some cases over 2000 pages long.
DomainTools have a sample report of their own domain history (domaintools.com) so you know what a report from them looks like.
DomainTools isn’t just a domain ownership history checker.
They have a bunch of other features and software that will help protect your business’ cyber security.
Check out some interesting cybersecurity statistics & facts!
These product features:
And a lot more. DomainTools has a blog that covers a range of topics related to business cyber security.
Who.is is probably the most well-known domain history tool on this list.
Don’t want to spend money to see the history of a domain just yet?
You’re in luck! The Who.is tool is completely free and allows you to track a lot of historical information about any domain.
With Who.is you can see:
Who.is reports are not as comprehensive as DomainTools reports.
Who.is provides you with the most important public information that you need to know before purchasing any domain.
If you have premium domains with higher value it is probably worth purchasing the full report from DomainTools otherwise Who.is will do just fine.
Domain history checks are easy with Who.is.
On the home page type in the domain and click the search button.
The search result will bring back all of the information for:
Who.is has made its name by offering free domain history checks.
But they don’t just stop at that. Who.is offers a lot of other services including:
These services are sold through name.com who currently own the Who.is toolset and database.
Wayback Machine is a very cool free website history tool.
It is run by Internet Archive which is a non-profit library of:
…And so much more.
Wayback Machine allows users to search the history of over 607 billion web pages.
Simply type in the domain you are interested in and Wayback Machine will show you historical screen captures of the web pages on that domain.
Pretty cool, right?
You can see when the domain had a live website built on it and what that website looked like Wayback when.
This gives you a lot of context of how the domain has been used in the past.
The Wayback Machine interface looks like it was made in the early 2000s and hasn’t been updated since.
Thankfully it is pretty simple to use. Head over to the Wayback Machine search page.
Type in the domain and click Browse History.
Wayback Machine will bring up a timeline with a calendar underneath.
The black lines along the timeline show when the domain had a viewable web page built on it. If there aren’t any black lines, there is either no record of the domain or more likely – it never had a website built on it.
Now click on any year on the timeline and choose a specific date using the calendar.
You will see what the web page built on that domain looked like back on that exact date.
This is the perfect way to see if or how a domain was used in the past.
Wayback Machine is owned by the Internet Archive.
Internet Archive is like a massive online library with tons of records including:
So, if you need historical data on almost anything digital…the Internet Archive is the place to go!
So now you know how to comprehensively check the history of any domain your heart desires.
But, why should you even care about checking the domain ownership history?
Here are three big reasons.
Knowing who the previous domain owners were is important and it needs to be investigated before buying the domain.
When investigating the previous owners of a domain, answer these questions:
You may even need to reach out to them to find out this information. It’s important to do what you have to do.
Now, this might sound like extensive work.
But if you bought a second-hand car you are going to find out who the owners of the previous car were and what they did with it.
It’s the same for domain names. Especially if you are spending more than $5,000 on the domain name itself.
Do the work and find out as much as you can about previous domain owners. If the owners were decent people this is a good sign to move forward with the sale.
There are a number of things that make a domain valuable.
But in most cases people are buying and selling domains based on two things:
You want to know if any of the past uses of the domain will affect the brandability or SEO of that domain in the future.
Simple as that.
Brandability is pretty easy to see just from what the domain name itself is. But there is also a second aspect to it.
In some cases, the domain may have been used for sites such as:
If you now take that domain and use it for a project about “affiliate marketing” you might run into a few branding issues.
This is especially true if the previous site had a big online presence.
You want your new domain to rank organically, right?
So you need to make sure that your domain has a squeaky clean history with search engines like Google.
The most common past uses that affect SEO are:
All of these have the potential to hurt your SEO in the future.
3 months into the project you realise that you still have almost zero organic visibility.
So you do a little digging and find that the previous owner 2 years ago ran a dodgy site with spammy content.
As a result, your new domain…
All of that time, effort and money spent on your new site has gone to waste just because you didn’t check the domain ownership history.
This scenario happens more than you think. Don’t fall into the same trap.
Checking the domain ownership history before you buy a domain is important.
While it takes a little more time and effort – the work to do a thorough check will be worth it in the long run.
Use the three tools above to look at each aspect of the domain names history. A 5-minute review can save you…
Don’t forget: You wouldn’t buy a used car without checking the history, right?
So don’t buy a domain without investigating the domain ownership history. Simple as that.
Want to learn how to make money selling domain names? Check these posts: