If you buy a domain, check its history

I stuffed up this week.

Earlier this year we instructed one of clients to purchase a .com domain from a domain squatter based in Canada. They owned the trademark but needed the domain to roll out their global eC3ommerce strategy, so they forked out some cash and bought it.

We checked the domain earlier this year through to Yahoo, basically checking to see who was linking to it. There were hundreds of quite powerful sites linking to it, which meant it had some inherent authority right off the bat. It had also been registered way back in 2000, so it had lots of age as well.

All good.

The site went live on Tuesday this week and as part of our normal launch checklist we created a Google webmaster tools account for the new site.
That’s when I realised I’d stuffed up.

I was confronted with this screen:

g-index-1

Frankly, this is the first time I’ve seen the dreaded “you’re not in the index” message. There were a few ripe words.

What I hadn’t done was check to see if the domain was in Google’s index. What I should have done is use one of Google’s advanced operators: the site: command.

Here’s an example:

g-index-2

So we’ve got a major, expensive global eCommerce site that’s been SEO’d but not in Google’s index. That makes for a really unhappy customer.

The first thing was to lodge a re-inclusion request. That was easy, but Google’s message back to me was to wait for a couple of weeks. What little hair I have left was promptly torn out.

Next was to start calling in favours.

I hit the phones, and called my Australian Google contacts. They were all at a sales conference in Japan. Can’t tell you how happy I was for them.

Next I called Barry Smyth who heads up Search Marketing Expo in Australia to see if he could put me in contact with someone from Google’s web spam team.

It just so happened Barry was in Seattle at SMX West, and about to have dinner with Matt Cutts! He said he’d raise it with Matt.

Barry also gave me the email address of Adam Lasnik, who used to be part of the web spam team and a regular speaker at SMX Sydney.

Adam got my email and promptly forwarded it to one of his contacts.
This morning I got into work and the site was back in the index!
Relief and gratitude all round.

The lesson here is if you’re going to buy a domain, make sure it’s in Google’s index. If it’s not, the owner has probably done something to violate Google quality guidelines!

For more Online Sales expert advice, click here.

Chris Thomas heads up Reseo, a search engine optimisation  company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

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