Detective Work with the Wayback Machine

A great tool to add to your website due diligence arsenal, the Wayback Machine is a digital archive of web pages across time. A website time line if you will, the Wayback Machine gives you the ability to see how a website has changed over time and lets you cross reference the website established date claimed by the seller.

For example, you come across a website listing on Flippa that claims to be established 2 or 3 years ago. Running the domain through the Wayback Machine will let you view, and do some limited browsing of, the site when it first appeared.  Step back in time and see what sort of content was on the site over time.

The following Wayback Machine results for indicate that the domain existed in a previous life back in 2002. It also gives an indication of the activity on the domain:

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When using this due-diligence tool keep in mind that Wayback Machine snapshots only become available 6 to 18 months after they are archived.

So if you’re buying a website that claims to be established, check out the history with the Wayback Machine.

  • Ivan

    Unfortunately a lot of established sites don’t get archived. Works great when a site has though. This is also a great way to check out what your competition has done over time.

  • SEO

    From my experiences it’s far away from being accurate. It’s a great tool, no doubts, but only to get an idea, not stress the seller.

  • Often a search for “ +expired” on google also helps

  • There is another issue to understand with Wayback. If it doesn’t have a snapshot of a site it doesn’t mean that site didn’t exist. Many canny webmaster block access to the archive’s bot and will therefore never have their site appear in the wayback archive.

    FruitMedley Post

  • Thanks for the comments guys, all good things to keep in mind when using Wayback for due diligence. Just goes to show you should never rely on any one tool to look into the history of a domain.

  • I agree with the comments above in that not every site will appear in the archive but whether it does or doesn’t, deciding to buy on that basis alone would be foolish. If a site is listed then it’s simply another piece of data to cross reference with.

    As an aside, my very first site build is in their archives and it’s embarrassing. Darn machine! Lol!