Can a Spam Domain Rank Later? Unlikely, Says Cutts
So, you found an existing domain name for sale and it just so happens to be available at a steal of a price. The only problem is that for most or all of the domain name's life so far, it's been a spam site packed with black hat SEO techniques. Now, you have good intentions to turn the domain around and use it for your reputable business.
Is it worth the time trying to save a spam domain site, or is it better to go with a fresh domain that hasn't earned a poor reputation? As reported by Search Engine Land, Google's web spam head Matt Cutts is back with a new video to share the answers.
Double Penalties - Not the Best Start
Cutts says that the main problem with buying a spammy domain is that it's probably already inundated with not one, but two types of penalties: manual ones and algorithmic ones. For manually assessed penalties, it's possible for site owners to correct and eliminate the spam and send a reconsideration request to Google, which should result in having the manual penalties removed from the domain. However, any penalties assessed by Google's algorithms won't be removed until the algorithm detects the changes you've made.
Essentially, Cutts says that while reviving a heavily penalized domain name is possible, it can take an enormous amount of work on the part of the site owner to even get the domain back on an even playing field with similar domains that haven't been spammed to death previously.
Documentation is Key
Cutts goes on to say that if you decide to bring a spammy domain back from the dead, it's very important that you document each step you take along the way. This way, when you send a reconsideration request to Google, Google will be able to easily trace your steps and recognize that the domain is no longer spammy.
Even so, Cutts says that the problems with a spammy domain can easily go beyond the scope of Google. It could be similarly penalized in other search engines, have complaints against it registered with the Better Business Bureau or other similar organizations, or simply have a negative association in the minds of many consumers.
Bottom line: unless you desperately need a particular domain name that happens to be available at an incredibly low price, skip it and look for something that's not already ridden with penalties. Even then, you shouldn't attempt to rebuild a spammed domain unless you're very confident in your SEO knowledge and abilities.
Finally, check out our post from two days ago with another video of Cutts, this time explaining why new pages tend to rank higher at first before settling into the SERPs.
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