SMBs should check domain history as they start operating online

online networking

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift toward online shopping and e-commerce.

Sales from online grocery shopping, for instance, increased by 18.2% in 2019 and was expected to remain at the same level until 2023. However, studies show that online grocery sales have grown by 40% this year, notably as the pandemic pushed more people to shop online.


Source: eMarketer

Small businesses also found it necessary to go online, amid lockdowns and the dwindling number of people going out. Even those meant to provide good physical experiences, such as coffee shops and restaurants, have decided to sell their products online. But before doing so, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that do not yet own a domain name may find it useful to use WHOIS history tools to check domain name ownership history.

Why Is Domain Ownership History Important?

Among the primary requirements when starting an online business is a domain name. It is usually the brand or company name for those with existing brick-and-mortar establishments. But, in general, domain names should be catchy, relevant, and easy to remember. Another requirement, though, is often overlooked—the domain must also have a clean historical WHOIS, and below are the reasons.

Domain History Checks Help Users Avoid Blacklisted Domain Names

Using a blacklisted domain name can have negative consequences for e-commerce businesses. First, their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts may only go down the drain. Why? The domain could have been used in blackhat SEO practices in the past, prompting search engines to include it in their blocklists.

Spamming could also cause a domain to get blacklisted, among other reasons. As a result, its new owner could suffer from poor email deliverability, negatively affecting a business’s overall marketing strategy.

The domain hbwcoffee[.]com, for instance, is available for registration. But its domain ownership history reveals that it was briefly owned by a certain Jody Smith from the U.S. in 2016. The name matches one of the people involved in an exhaustive international spam network shut down by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2008.

It could be a coincidence, as there are several people with the same name, but the spam group ran campaigns that marketed herbal products, which hbwcoffee[.]com could be part of.

Domain Ownership History Helps Protect SMBs’ Reputation

Whether it is the company’s domain name or its partners and third parties, checking domain history helps SMBs avoid undesirable associations. Damage to reputation could have far more adverse effects beyond poor SEO and email marketing. Associations with shady individuals and organizations can cause customers to lose trust in the company.

For instance, advocates could make SMB owners donate part of their profits to a specific charity. Not only might it be a worthwhile cause, but it’s also an excellent marketing strategy. However, business owners have to ensure that the organizations they donate to are not associated with malicious or suspicious activities.

A cybersquatter who buys domains and redirects them to adult websites can be seen in several nonprofit foundations’ domain ownership history data. Below are some examples of the domains affected:

  • acrossthestreetministries[.]org
  • adventures4charity[.]com
  • aflameministries[.]org
  • yeshuaministriesintl[.]org
  • yeshuahamashiach[.]com

Checking domain history should be an indispensable part of the process of starting or shifting to an online business platform. Such a practice could help avoid future problems that past associations with suspicious people or organizations could bring.

Not knowing that a domain is blacklisted could cause companies to invest in different SEO and marketing strategies but to no avail. On the other hand, dealing with organizations that once hosted unreputable or malicious content could also turn off existing customers. Knowing the history of a domain early on can help avoid these complications and allow SMBs to focus on more critical business processes.