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:
- Is completely clean.
- Won’t negatively impact you in the future.
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?
What is Domain Ownership History?
Domain ownership history (also known as WHOIS history) is a complete documented domain name record. The record dates 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.
What does a domains ownership history tell you?
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:
- Previous sales history
- What the domain has been used for
- When it was originally registered
- If the domain was used in illegal activity
- Any trademark infringements
- Past domain ownership
You can even see the website traffic statistics in some cases.
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.
3 Ways To Check Domain Ownership History
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.
1. Domain Tools
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.
How To Use DomainTools To Check Domain Ownership History
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.
Other Ways To Use DomainTools
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.
These product features:
- Domain threat protection
- Brand protection and monitoring
- Online fraud investigation
- Phishing detection.
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:
- Current website information
- Ownership details
- Previous owners
- Historical IP address data
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.
How To Use Who.is To Check Domain Ownership History
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:
- WHOIS record
- DNS records
- Domain diagnostics
Other Ways To Use Who.is
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:
- Web hosting
- Website builder
- Domain transfer
- SSL certificates
- Domain data analysis
These services are sold through name.com who currently own the Who.is toolset and database.
3. Wayback Machine
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.
How To Use Wayback Machine To Check Domain Ownership History
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.
Other Ways To Use Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine is owned by the Internet Archive.
Internet Archive is like a massive online library with tons of records including:
- 610 billion web pages
- 33 million books and texts
- 13 million audio recordings
- 7.2 million videos
- 3.9 million images
- 755k software programs
So, if you need historical data on almost anything digital…the Internet Archive is the place to go!
Why You Should Always Check Domain Ownership History
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.
Learn More About The Previous Owners Of The Domain
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:
- How many owners has the domain had?
- What did the owners do with the domain?
- Did the owners publish spammy content?
- Did they use black hat techniques?
- What other domains do the owners have?
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.
Learn More About The Past Uses Of The Domain
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:
- Brandability of the domain
- SEO value the domain has
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.
Potential Brandability Issues
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:
- “Adult content”
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.
Potential SEO Issues
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:
- Issues with page indexing because of spammy content or links
- Penalties against the domain because of black hat SEO techniques
- Negative reputation amongst other sites and users
All of these have the potential to hurt your SEO in the future.
Avoid Bad Surprises
You just purchased an expired domain that you are super happy with. It’s brandable and fits perfectly with a project you’re interested in – what could go wrong, right?
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…
- Is on a blacklist
- Is currently being penalised by Google
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.
Wrapping It Up
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…
- Tons of money
- Trouble down the road
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:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Whois domain history?
WHO.IS domain history is also called domain ownership history. It’s a historical record of the domain’s past owners, their contact information and data about the domain’s previous registration.
How do I find domain owner history?
The easiest way to find a domain owner’s history is to use a free tool called Who.is. This provides you with a comprehensive historical record of all the registered information about the domain and previous domain owners. You can also use Wayback Machine to see any sites that have ever been built on the domain.
Who is the owner of a domain?
The owner of a domain is the person who holds the current registration of that domain with an ICANN accredited domain registrar such as GoDaddy or NameCheap. To continue to own a domain, the owner must pay the yearly registration fee. If the owner wants to sell their domain they need to transfer it to the new owner and record the transfer with the registrar.