Finding old domains for a new venture

At the start of every new website you have to decide on a domain name. Let’s work here on the basis that you want to avoid the sandbox and therefore look for an established domain that has some backlink history, how do you find such a domain?

Finding old domains for your new project can offer quicker rankings if done carefully and possibly good releveant backlinks with the added value of some traffic so finding an established domain in your niche is a commonly used practice for a new venture. A previously used domain may well have had money and promotion spent on it that you can piggy back onto and take advantage of.

A good strategy is to go to Dmoz and drill down to the area that you plan on developing into. For this example I’ll use furniture as topic. Navigating to furniture in dmoz brings up quite a list.

The boring bit comes next and you have to browse each link looking for either a dead page or a page that clearly hasn’t been updated for a long time or has broken links etc.

A few minutes later and bingo! Furniture Gallery has a default apache page being that a website isn’t configured there, probably had been something there before as it’s currently showing a PR 4. and is a nice .com domain name.


So a little work needs to be done to check its history in


Very nice history there, lots of pages and from 1999 through to last year, this is a nice find indeed, let’s do a bit more looking into it’s history by having a look at backlinks.

Using yahoo siteexplorer shows 1,269 backlinks, MSN 859, Google 20.
Then having a quick look through the backlinks shows they are relative furniture related links so this is all looking very good, it’s impossible to say what kind of traffic our find is getting as far as I know but its got such a good long history there will be some traffic there and it would make an excellent furniture website for us to build on.

Doing a Whois search on the domain name gives us a contact email address to approach, they next job would be to send an email to the whois contact and start negotiating on a possible purchase.

Oh, I just did this as an example and haven’t contacted the owner of that domain so if your quick!

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. I knew that DMOZ was useful for something :). Great piece of advice here.

    Regards, George

  2. What kind of registration year do you set as a number you will not go newer then? or does it depend on backlinks etc… For example you find a domain registered in 2004 which is relativly dead but has some nice backlinks. Would you consider that established? or would it need to date back to maybe 2002 or even earlier?

  3. No set year Matthew, a domain over 1 year old can carry traffic, if its got a dmoz listing, over a year old and a number of good relative backlinks it would be of value for building on and ranking well, traffic is always a bonus but harder to guess.

    I bought a 10 year old domain that had good history and gets 400 uniques per day, the traffic is always more of an unknown, the ranking ability to avoid the sandbox and rank well quickly was more my motivation.

  4. Thanks for the details there!

  5. What do you exactly mean by “avoid the sandbox”? Or rather, what is a sandbox?

  6. Sandbox would be the belief that new websites/domains that gather links suffer an ageing filter by google and cannot compete for popular keyword & phrases for at least 6-8 months, thus buying an older domain could facilitate starting a new venture and getting good high organic listings in google for popular search terms early on Keith.

  7. Does it means if dmoz listed domain was already dropped it will suffer from google sandbox to avoid competing with popular keywords? Also is there any effect in pagerank when domain was already dropped?

  8. Pagerank will often disappear from the toolbar on the next update if the domain dropped, you could get residual traffic from links but better to get the domain before it expires if you want to avoid the sandbox and keep its page rank.

  9. I noticed that this site has a PR of 0

    Why didn’t you buy a domain that has a high PR with some traffic or even an expired one?

    I am in a dilemma of either starting a new website with a new domain or buying a domain that has PR and traffic

    What is your view and how can I resolve this dilemma?

  10. Hi Abdul, rankings or monetry gain was not important for starting this new blog/website, we were more interested in getting the right name.

    Depends on whether you can sacrifice the ability to choose your own domain name or whether your happy to use whatever you can find.

  11. At website it seems sites stop at May 2006. Are these the most recent pages available or should i check out some more sites. Will pages from 2007 come up ?

  12. Yeah they always show up to around May 2006, found this which may answer it.
    Why are there no recent archives in the Wayback Machine?

    We do not add pages less than 6 months after they are collected, because of the time delayed donation from Alexa. Updates can take more than 12 months in some cases.

  13. Thank You

  14. just used this and may have had some success. just wish I wasnt so broke right now or I could make a move on what I have just found =(

  15. I tried to negotiate an old site which has PR 3, would you believe, the owner wants some ridiculus price, apparently it was his baby. Either that or my people skill sucks.

  16. What are the odds of finding a domain this way that was let go and is available.

    A million to one?

    So you’re saying there’s a chance.


  1. […] previously pointed out one good resource when searching for an older domain to start a new website. Assuming you find a nice domain with some traffic and negotiate it for a […]

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