Google domain name penalties can stick around a lot longer than you might expect

I was reading an interesting article in Search Engine Journal this morning about how Google penalizes some domain names, and doesn’t lift the penalty even years later after the domain has changed hands and has a new site on it.

It’s something that some new domain owners find out the hard way. One specific case highlighted in the article is a company that purchased the domain name Here’s the scoop:

“We bought the domain three years ago to have a brand called Girlfriend Collective, it’s a clothing company on the Shopify platform.
We haven’t had any… warnings from our webmaster tools that says we have any penalizations… So I was just wondering if there was any other underlying issues that you would know outside of that…
The domain is and the query would be Girlfriend Collective.
It’s been as high as the second page of the SERPs, but… we get quite a few search queries for our own branded terms… it will not show up.
My assumption was that before we bought it, it was a pretty spammy dating directory.”

(Source – Search Engine Journal)

There’s now doubt that is a pretty darn valuable domain name, but with a penalty from Google, it’s certainly not working the magic that the new owners were hoping to get with such a good domain.

What’s particularly interesting about this example is that when they looked in Google Webmaster Tools no warnings showed up about any kind of penalty. This means there’s probably no easy way to check if the domain you just bought has been hit with a penalty from Google.

So what can you do to figure out if a domain you’re planning on buying could come with a nasty penalty?

Head over to and take a walk through time and see what sites have been on the domain you’re looking at buying. If you find a spammy or scammy looking site, you might want to think twice. At the same time, it doesn’t sound like there’s really any way to actually know for sure.

Luckily, there is something you can do if you find out a domain you bought seems to have been penalized. Contact Google and wait, they can do the research and verify that you’re doing something a-okay with the domain and remove the penalty.

“In the end, Mueller admitted that it might be something on Google’s side. However an issue that remains is that there is no solution for other publishers. This is not something a publisher can do on their own like a disavow. It’s something a Googler must be made aware of in order to fix.”

(Source – Search Engine Journal)

This was all news to me, is it news to you? Have you ever bought a domain that was penalized by Google? If so, were you able to get the penalty removed?

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • John May 20, 2019, 4:50 pm

    Google is a harmful monopoly and this type of thing should not be allowed and should be regulated.

    The 60 Minutes segment about Google not that long ago was great, but *not surprisingly* it was made much harder to find or access shortly after it came out and made a big splash.

  • John May 20, 2019, 5:48 pm

    And while I’m still in a bad mood about this, Morgan Linton, and about a guy on Facebook who thinks all the never ending wasteful and destructive wars of the last 20 years are perfectly fine and the rich and powerful can do no wrong with that, I showed you many days ago how you can buy the very category owning .com for the business you are in for only $2,000, and yet you still haven’t done it, but instead you are supposedly focusing on an awkward new gTLD. How odd and eyebrow raising is that? Not expecting a response, just something for you to think about. Makes me wonder about your real intentions in possibly being a bit of an apologist for the new gTLDs, however. Who in the world wouldn’t jump at $2k for the category owning .com of their own business when they can well afford it, even if only to keep others from it?

    Makes you go hmm…

  • Don May 21, 2019, 6:05 am

    “Contact Google” – where do you think that exists for the average small business? Google offers zero support for SEO issues. You may luck out an get some vague reply if you visit a hangout, but there is no support from Google if your website has an algorithmic penalty.

  • Matt Holmes May 21, 2019, 7:46 am

    Agreed with Don, how do I contact Google? I don’t think the chat would work, is there somewhere to request that that you know of Morgan?

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