Google: You Don't Want To Dig Yourself Out Of A Hole

Apr 11, 2013 • 8:33 am | comments (10) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

in a holeIn yesterday's Matt Cutts Google Webmaster video he answered the question Can I buy a domain that used to have spam on it and still rank? gives the short answer, "It's possible but can be difficult. Best to get a fresh domain."

I wanted to highlight something I've heard Matt Cutts say dozens of times at conferences.

About 1 minute and 32 seconds in, Matt responds to the question in one way saying:

Some spammer has come a long before you and dug a hole and now when you start out you're already in that hole.

Matt Cutts has often said it is easier to start with a fresh domain that starts at a level playing field, at ground level, as opposed to starting in a hole and having to do all this work just to get to ground level and then have to work to start ranking the site.

We did cover this once before in 2010 with our story Google's Reconsideration Requests May Not Wipe Out Your Old Links.

Here is the video:

Forum discussion at Google+.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for man digging

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04/11/2013 12:41 pm

Also, before booking a domain, just look for whether it was registered before by someone else or not. - To be on the safer side.


04/11/2013 01:09 pm

Probably the guy could risk it and use the Google disavow tool ( to remove the penalty, but as Matt said it's all theoretical. Even with their own tool things might not work for the buyer of this spammed domain.

Fredrik Eriksson

04/12/2013 06:35 am

But doesn't he also confirm that if you already have a spammed domain, it's better to sell it and start fresh? Because that was the clear winner in the comparison? At least if the hole is big enough... Of course this might me morally wrong, but so was spamming your own domain :)


04/12/2013 08:03 am

Well selling a spammed domain and starting fresh, would all depend on how much damage has already been done in terms of failed reconsideration requests because of bad links, black hat, taking part in link schemes etc. And the fact that the website has no chance of ranking ever again or being listed.It's always best to do a proper analysis and see the real severity of what has been done in the past. Like they say "if all else fails" ...

Fredrik Eriksson

04/12/2013 09:37 am

When you already own the website you have all the data you need to determine that. You know how many links it is, if you can remove/control them easily and if your attempts for re-inclusion have failed or not. So if the hole is big enough, it's better to sell the site according to Matt :) The buyer will not have all the data that I mentioned above, and he will most likely not have control over any incoming links. Of course this is all wrong in a moral stand point but does a real spammer really cares about that?


04/12/2013 11:38 am

Thanks for the answer, but a little too late. Anyway now we know that even the best domains if they have spam on it they are worth nothing if you base your strategy on Google.

Soni Sharma

04/12/2013 12:17 pm

Domain analysis is important before booking and starting work.... It is also good for SEOs to check domain history first.

Jimmy Maddox

04/12/2013 02:31 pm

There ought to be a service that scans and researches domains that are for sale (pre sale) to check for any issues.. Kind of like bringing a used car for sale to a mechanic for a 20 point inspoection before buying....


04/13/2013 05:24 am

Thanks for your suggestions. Stock Tips

Mike Dammann

04/17/2013 04:26 pm

The only fresh domains would be brandnew ones then and that would only be names matching the name of a company uniquely. All else is recycled.

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