High Page Rank Domain Fraud
By Jerry West
It Has Probably Already Happened To You
This article covers the rising rate of fraud in the industries of selling expired domains and selling used domains. This article was previously only available to our paid members of the SEO Revolution, but we are releasing it as a public service due to the high level of fraud that is currently in the market.
Recently I purchased some domains from a broker that were good domains and
looked to be well established (they had good PageRank). However, when I 'got
them home' so to speak, they were far from what I thought I had purchased. In my
investigation into this, it was clear that many of the domains being sold today
from brokers and especially on eBay are littered with fraud.
Domain names are investments, and any investment should researched. Never
make the assumption that the domain broker has done this research for you.
Chances are, they haven't.
Just as there is fraud in PPC, there is fraud
in domain purchasing as well. Remember that. Just because the toolbar says a
PageRank 5 doesn't mean it is.
First, let's discuss the process and how the con artist works. Most SEOs and knowledgeable webmasters know the value of a high PageRank site. And how it can take months - even a year to get a solid PageRank 5 site. So, many SEOs and webmasters turn to domains being sold to get a jump start on the process. Their thinking is, 'If I spend a few thousand on this site, it will shave months off my work schedule.'
The thinking is sound, but unfortunately, the bad guys know you are thinking
this and they take advantage of a 'loophole' in the system that isn't known
to most SEOs.
The Google Toolbar. Google really didn't know what they were
starting when they first introduced it back in 2002. Now, millions of webmasters
all have 'Green Bar Addiction' and they watch their PageRank values as closely
they do the stock market.
The Loophole: In order to protect their algorithm from their competition
(Yahoo! and Microsoft) and 'black hat' marketers, they publicly show 'delayed'
Much like the free stock quoting tools online are 15 minute delayed, the
Google Toolbar is delayed too. Only, it isn't just a few minutes, but 3-5
So, the PageRank you see displayed, is actually the PageRank the page
in October, November or December of last year! I am sure you know where
this is going now.
Google updates their toolbar about once every three months.
So, the con artist does one of two things usually. The first is that
hijack the PageRank on another domain. I won't go into how this is
amateur thieves can't replicate it. The second way they do this is
that they will buy or beg for temporary links from other sites or networks,
the PageRank to a 5, 6 or 7 and once the toolbar updates, they cancel
all the bought links which lowers the real PageRank, the actual one, to zero.
even though Google 'delays' the showing of the PageRank by a couple
of months, they use the current values in their ranking process.
So, even though the site can 'verify' it is a PageRank 5, the actual
is 0. You basically bought a 'vapor domain.' Here is a systematic
way to check to ensure what you are being sold is genuine. Your 'Gotta make
is really a Rolex' cheat sheet:
1. The first thing to do is to just go to the site directly and see if
PageRank is the same as advertised. Sometimes the con artist gets lazy
and doesn't realize
a toolbar update happened and their 'PR5' site is actually displaying
2. While you are there look at the site. Is the domain online? Is
still live or is there a 'placeholder' page? If it is a placeholder,
the domain is probably dead.
3. Next you want to look at the site's history. When was the domain registered?
To whom? Where is it hosted? Is it on its own IP or is it sharing
with hundreds or thousands of other domains? What was the site before?
A great place to start your research is DomainTools.com . There
you can find key information of when the domain was registered, where it is
and if the domain has its own IP address or not. If it is sharing
address, you can access the Reverse IP Tool and often you can uncover
sites. This does require at least a Silver Membership which runs
$15.00 a month.
will also tell you if the domain is on any black lists.
To find out what the site was before, you can use the Way Back
Machine at www.archive.org . The reason you want to do this is if the domain
is currently a viable site but back in '01 was a child porn site,
you will want to pass for obvious reasons.
4. Is the site listed in the Google index? Just because it has PageRank,
doesn't mean it is still listed, so check. The best way to do this
is to check the
Google Cache. Do a query in Google for - cache:domain.com (home
page check) cache:domain.com/subpage.html (sub page check). Please note that
are no results that come up, the site could not allow Google to
cache the site. If that is the case, use the site: command instead. I like
command first as that allows me to see the most recently indexed
page and what
it looked like. If it is different than what is currently displayed,
that could be a red flag.
5. Verify the PageRank is legit. In the domain buying space, PageRank
is often faked - especially on eBay or other auctions. I have been
a victim of this
in the past.
So, how can you protect yourself? Easy. You can use a free tool over at SEO
Logs. Just type in the domain and it will check. If it comes back and verifies
that it is valid, are you safe? Not quite. One more check.
Use the PageRank Predictor from iWebTool. It will give you a prediction based
on current link counts from MSN. You should also check Yahoo!'s
These are two great resources because they update their links on a weekly basis,
whereas Google updates theirs about once a quarter.
That was a lot to digest, I know, but this is how I make sure that I never
get taken when buying domains. Getting ripped off is never something that is
pleasant - and domain fraud is a killer as your ability to recoup your loss
is slim to none.
Now you have the knowledge that you need in order to verify what is being
presented to you is real.
© 2007, WebMarketingNow.com
Jerry West is the Director of Internet Marketing
for Web Marketing
Now. He has been consulting on the web since 1996 and has
assisted hundreds of companies gain an upper-hand over their
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