If you are looking to save yourself some time and work then you are probably looking into purchasing a web domain that is already ranked high on Google. Here is where I mention “let the buyer beware” (even if you are using a broker). Yes, it sounds like a good business plan to purchase a domain name that is already capable of getting many hits; however, the fraudsters have found a loophole and will prey on those that are eager to get their business moving quickly.
What is the scam?
You believe you are purchasing a domain name that is ranked high on Google. However, after the purchase is complete the page rank is actually zero. The loop hole is that even if you contact Google they may still verify the advertised ranking.
The fraudster has placed a high rank domain on sale (at the time it goes on sale the domain was ranked high on Google). The person can advertise that the domain is high ranking and if you contact Google they will also verify the high ranking. Google has a delay of several months before their ranking is updated. During those three months the domain rank status can plummet by the fraudster doing a couple of different things. By the time the sale is complete and you have been using the new domain your rank status is not what you paid for.
How to avoid the scam?
There are a couple of things you can do to avoid being hit with this web domain scam. The first thing is to go to the site directly and see if the rank status is still the same. If enough time has passed from the time the fraudster put it on sale to the time you are looking to purchase it, it is possible that the status has since been update by Google.
Another sure way to tell is again going to the actual site itself. If the site is live then you have a better chance of it being a legitimate Google ranking status. However, if there is a placeholder then the site is likely dead in the eyes of Google.
Determine the history and details of the site. A few good questions to answer are:
- When was it registered?
- Who is the domain registered to?
- Where is it hosted at?
- What was the site previously for?
- Does it have its own IP address or is it shared?
For a monthly fee you can purchase the silver membership at domaintools.com and they will be able to answer these questions above for you. They will also be able to tell you if the domain has been blacklisted. Archive.org can tell you what the domain name was previously for.
Another red flag is if the most recently indexed page and the current web domain page is different. For example you would complete a Google search with the following “cache:domain.com” and compare the two.
In some cases, the page rank is falsely advertised. In this case you would still want to contact Google to verify the page rank. This way you can at least check that off your list as a possible scam. However, you still have to be careful if Google does verify the page rank for the very reason we discussed above.
There are three places you can also go to verify the site and is recommended that you use all three: SEO Logs, PageRank Predictor, and Yahoo!’s Site Explorer.
After completing these several checks and if everything is clear your odds have improved that you are purchasing a valid ranked web domain. On a side note, there are always new and innovative ways for fraudsters to continue to scam people so please take extreme caution.