Buying an Old Generic Domain Vs Registering a New One
It all depends. It all depends on the new domain name you are considering. If you have discovered a high quality generic new domain name that no one else has had the sense to register, then by all means, snap it up. However, the odds that you shall stumble upon an unregistered high quality generic domain are stacked against you. It can happen, nothing is impossible, but the chances are extremely slim.
It is best to look for an old high quality generic domain and buy it. There are number of reasons why buying an old domain beats registering a new one. To begin with, it is possible to get a high quality generic domain name that fits your purposes exactly. With old domains, you can get a domain name that comprises the keyword(s) you are targeting, that is short and not hyphenated. It is also possible to find an unforgettable generic domain name that will bring visitors to your site in droves.
Search engines will probably already have indexed an old domain especially where a previous owner may have developed some content. If you are operating in the same niche, this will be very advantageous since all you need to do is to make improvements. Investment in terms of time and money in Search Engine Optimization and building back links shall be at a minimum.
However, the most important reason why you should consider purchasing an old high quality generic domain is the phenomenon that has now come to be known as The Google Sandbox. The Google Sandbox begun being observed by webmasters a few years back. The way the Sandbox works is by taking a new domain off the radar by excluding it from search engine results for up to 8 months. This is irrespective of any search engine optimization efforts, navigability and content. Google denies it exists but one of their senior managers admitted in an interview that some aspects of their search engine program (algorithm) may be perceived as a Sandbox. Thus, despite the denials, it does exist. Some industries are more affected than others especially the highly competitive niches. The only way known to webmasters to beat the Sandbox is by acquiring an old high quality generic domain. Such domains have “aged” sufficiently and are no longer Sandboxed. You can therefore build a highly successful website from such domains by getting ranked highly right from the onset.
A word of caution though, Google is an enigma. Their ability to come up with a system to beat this new route taken by webmasters cannot be underestimated. Google became a domain registrar in 2005 in an effort to gain knowledge of domain ownership. By becoming a domain registrar, Google is incrementally gaining information about domain name ownership. Thus, if you buy an old domain registered with Google, the potential to be Sandboxed exists. For now though, an old high quality generic domain is still your best bet.