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Dear +Matt Cutts This answer is one of the worst cop-outs ever

Posted in: General by Richard Hearne on April 11, 2013
Internet Marketing Ireland

Dear +Matt Cutts 

This answer is one of the worst cop-outs ever. Are you really suggesting that everyone now needs to do due diligence on purchases that may cost as low as $8?

Can I buy a domain that used to have spam on it and still rank?

Secondary market is huge, and there's no way to request webmaster tools messages from top brokers as domains resolve to their sales sites.  You should go out and learn how big this market is.

In fact, over time I think you'll realise that this will be one of the biggest failures from your team.  You should hang your head in shame.

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  1. Seconded.

    Comment by Jim Munro — April 11, 2013 @ 3:59 am

  2. I don't think the answer that Matt has provided is anywhere near as bad as you're making it out to be Richard. The scenario isn't an $8 dollar domain name, the example provided was $5000 domain name.

    If you were going to spend $5000 on a car, would you want to make sure it was road worthy, get an independent check done it, make sure that it isn't stolen or encumbered in debt that you'd need to carry if you purchased the car?

    I'd want to do the above things for a domain name and in fact I did do the background checks on domain names I've purchased on the secondary market only in the 4 months for exactly this reason, which weren't $8 domains but in the thousands of dollars.

    At least Matt has said that it is possible to recover from that scenario with the appropriate documentation but Google are not going to simply remove a penalty from a domain that has been spammed into the ground because a user (new owner or existing spammer) sends in a weak reconsideration request.

    Comment by Alistair Lattimore — April 11, 2013 @ 4:28 am

  3. Consider that you might be making excuses for immoral behaviour, Alistair.

    Of course a $5K domain was selected for the example, it allows Google's deception of the buying public to be glossed over. That's just cynical PR management.

    Google has no right to take action that causes financial harm to innocent third parties. If they want to do it, they should make sure that consumers know what they are doing. If they tried the same trick  in the real world, there would be sanctions.

    Comment by Jim Munro — April 11, 2013 @ 4:33 am

  4. Rubbish, if you want to go and make a bad investment right now – no one is going to get in trouble for it but yourself. Off you go, spend money buying an investment property doesn't perform, buy shares that don't perform – the onus is on the buyer to perform due diligence in lot so different environments around the world; Google aren't doing anything special. The one difference in this scenario is that buying a domain name isn't regulated like buying a car is in Australia for example but there are countless other examples where someone can buy something that isn't in a regulated space and get themselves in trouble and absolutely no one is going to lend a helping hand because they made a bad decision.

    Comment by Alistair Lattimore — April 11, 2013 @ 4:40 am

  5. The same holds true whether it's an $8 domain or a $5,000 one.  Companies may well only spend $8 on the domain, but then fork out 10's of '000s of dollars on the site.  

    The point is that the average webmaster isn't an SEO, and has no way of telling a Penguin domain.  In fact none of us do without seeing traffic stats – I can show you countless domains with backlink profiles that should be penguined but that are not.

    Matt is mixing up Penguin and Manual penalties in this video – you cant get a reconsideration request through their filters unless you have a manual penalty.

    He's basically saying "we're going to punish the many for the sins of the few".

    Comment by Richard Hearne — April 11, 2013 @ 5:00 am

  6. You can flip that around as well though Richard, if you're going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an investment – it is in your interest to do due diligence.

    Don't get me wrong, I realise this is an impossible position for a small operator to grapple with. Not only do they have no idea of the nuances of Google, their guidelines and their penalties – they have no insight into how they might determine a risky investment.

    Maybe in time Google will provide an API to the domain industry so that they can provide a risk assessment figure on a particular domain between 1-100 for instance. They do that sort of thing with the web hosting environment now, so it isn't an impossibility and it'd certainly provide some amount of insight as to how risky the purchase is in the eyes of Google.

    Comment by Alistair Lattimore — April 11, 2013 @ 6:30 am

  7. The problem is that the domain industry has no interest in this.  It's the end buyers who pay, not the domainers.  From the domainers' point of view this is a Google problem.  And you know what?  I think they're dead right.

    Funny though, that the issue may be related to the Disavow Tool.  Surely this is exactly what the tool is for, and yet +Matt Cutts makes no mention of that?  Why cant the OP buy the $5,000 domain and simply disavow all the links?

    Perhaps because the Disavow Tool doesn't actually work?

    Comment by Richard Hearne — April 11, 2013 @ 6:46 am

  8. Exactly.

    Comment by Jim Munro — April 11, 2013 @ 9:15 am

  9. This is the internet, Alistair, it's supposed to be free and fair. It's not rubbish to expect a level playing field. You are probably the most highly skilled technical person I know except perhaps, my own sons. :) jk over – what I mean is, you know the score, you know how to not buy a domain that has been rendered useless by Google. The man in the street is not as equipped as you, that's why we have consumer protection laws.

    Comment by Jim Munro — April 11, 2013 @ 9:25 am

  10. To be fair, it is no different to buying something else… if you buy a shop, and it has a bad reputation, that bad reputation can stick. Same thing with a domain name…

    Comment by Colin McDermott — April 11, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

  11. The issue is that they are concealing it by only making this known by seo and forum channels, Colin.

    The innocent victims will be mr and mrs joe public. They can do what they want but they must ensure that innocent victims have at least a chance of making an informed decision.

    Comment by Jim Munro — April 12, 2013 @ 7:19 am

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