Purchasing an old website is not without its perils, of course. Before forking over the cash for what appears to be an instant ticket to the first page of Google, you should beware of a few situations.
Beware When Shopping the Online Marketplace
One of these pitfalls concerns buying sites on an online marketplace. A few big marketplaces are known for selling websites, and a number of forums have active site marketplaces. Type buy website into Google, and you’ll find most of them.
As you’re flipping through the listings, tantalized by the high PageRanks, age, and cool domain names advertised, keep in mind that many people sell their websites for one specific reason: There’s something wrong with them. This is not to say “be paranoid,” but rather “be cautious.”
I’ve come across many burnt buyers who innocently purchased old websites with great content and domain names only to find out that the websites didn’t show up in any Google searches. The sites had been de-indexed or blacklisted, which is why the sellers were so anxious to sell them.
Sites That Have Nothing to Do with Your Business
Another common error new website purchasers make is buying websites that have all the right characteristics but have nothing to do with the product or service they sell. Even if you get an old website with old links, if you try to take down the previously operating website and replace it with something completely different, Google is going to get the idea that the website was recently repurposed and thus will do the only sensible thing from their point of view: reset its TrustRank. To them, the site might have been trusted in the past, but that was another life.
A complete change in content often signifies a rebirth. You can get away with changing your Christmas website to a Hanukkah website, for instance, but not with changing your Christmas website to a life insurance site.
Avoiding Expired Domains
My last warning is to avoid expired domains. These are exactly what they sound like: domains that go back into the great big ocean of available domain names because their owners have either decided to abandon them or forgot to renew them.
Mostly, the companies that specialize in expired domains are trying to profit off people’s forgetfulness. I won’t get into the details of this shady business, but suffice it to say that it’s not a good way to acquire an old website, because the moment the domain expires, it becomes parked, and that means its TrustRank goes bye-bye.