sem #3

Happy Monday!

Hope your week is off to a great start. Here it’s still cold, but at least we’re starting to get some days without the persistent inversion-fog that has been hanging around for what feels like most of 2020. Here’s a shot from a recent walk I took:

Living way the hell out in the middle of nowhere has its perks, like this view…

Anyway, on to the reason you bothered to read my email: SEO and Domains!

In This Issue:

  • Content I loved (and also wrote that you should read)

  • Update on that accidental SEO experiment

  • Domains at auction that you want to buy

Content I Loved

First Up, an article I wrote on Featured Snippets at Smash Digital.

Second: a really great video tutorial about refreshing stale content by John-Henry Scherck (a really smart SEO that I respect a lot).

Finally, VERY relevant to people who read this newsletter, John Mu talking about how Google handles site merges:

Google's John Mueller said that when you merge two sites together, the domain you are getting rid of and not using anymore will take time to go away in Google's search results. When you do a site move, like moving to a new domain but it's the same content, URLs, etc, then that is much faster.

Definitely click through and look at all the tweets in the exchange. Very interesting.

Update on SEO Experiment

Just a quick update (and unrelated to any recent algorithm shenanigans in my opinion, but one never knows), the site I undid the redirect of after 5 months of being acquired by another site—check out last week’s newsletter for more background—is doing well!

Not bad!

Here’s a view of the increasing keyword activity via Ahrefs:

Like I said in the last newsletter—nothing sketchy here, just undoing the redirect because the site I redirected this site too turned about to be a bit TOO toxic in a past life, despite disavowing links and etc.

Domains With Authority

Remember to do your own due diligence before buying, because I am not responsible for any bad/quick decisions you make. I didn’t dig deeply into any of these past making sure they were indexed and had a good link profile. All else is on you! - ends 2/12

A DR 47 domain with a lot of “general” relevance. Ranking for things like "festivals around the world" and "rarest item in the world.” Will go for high 3/low 4 figures (like 1,000-ish) but you shouldn’t pay much more than that unless you have a CONCRETE use for the site, as it’s extremely broad, and the backlink profile isn’t that impressive. Would be a great domain to test things with, if you can get it for cheap enough. - ends 2/12

A tech-focused DR 55 with a lot of really big backlinks might have you itching to bid, but the value here is balanced by the fact that the domain is not currently indexed in Google. Not an amazing buy for the domain/brand along. Currently at high 3 figures, I’d caution you on spending too much on a domain that’s not indexed, as it’s more of a risk as to whether or not it will pass all that much juice to one of your sites (or in and of itself, if you build something on it—you might just be starting at 0 despite what SEO tools say). - ends 2/17

DR 55 news site with some strong backlinks (WAPO, MIT, VOX, SFGate, etc) and indexed. Currently ranking for a few worthless keywords, but the presence of those keywords is a good sign. < 500k Ahrefs ranking means the backlink profile is big and strong, like all those milk ads from the 90s promised you’d be if you just drank a big ole glass of cow juice every morning:

A good pick-up if you’re going to invest the time into building out your very own News Site, because then you can just link out to anything you want (as long as you really invest in building out the site with a lot of legitimate, non-commercial, not-for-placing-links-only content.

Got dinged via Medic Update, it looks like, but it was probably just ranking for a bunch of shit it shouldn’t have been, so I would assume (having done ZERO research in that it’s not a risky acquisition for a build out as long as you don’t make it into a medical-themed site. - ends 2/14

University, not Musk.

I guess this is a university-specific news publication called The Pendulum. Not a big use-case for building a brand on, but I never know what someone else might find valuable, so, here you go! Currently at $500, so I guess SOMEone has a use case for it… - ends 2/13

DR 48 health/finance relevancy site, should be in demand. Ranking for a few brand-related KWs, which is a good sign, like I said above. All kinds of big, sexy links (Springer, ThinkProgress, MotherJones,, TheFiscalTimes, NonprofitQuarterly) — just keep in mind that is a live site and will probably not appreciate you using old content, so be careful how you treat any builds of this one.

But there’s a lot of value in this one if you can find a way around the “Fierce” part of the brand (which, honestly, I’d be concerned to try and build a lasting brand on). - ends 2/13

Hmm, really interesting opportunity here.

DR 49 site ranking for hundreds of long tail keywords. Site used to be a WiFi Watchdog app, helping you find the best WiFi spots when you traveled. It also had a blog full of commonly asked question. Here’s a shot at what kind of stuff is ranking:

I could see a really slick rebuild of this site, with all its long tail articles that funneled people back to router or other tech review pages. So you don’t compete on the “Best X” product keyword, but funnel semi-ish interested traffic throughout your articles. Not quite as valuable as if people came to your site searching for “Best X” but also not as competitive. I don’t even know what kind of stuff you could sell… 4G hotspot devices? CPAs for Sprint or something?

Opportunity for someone with some hustle to grab this and get a site up ASAP to start capturing traffic… - ends 2/17

Used to write about tech stuff (javascript or something blah blah) a million years ago in 2008-ish. Probably been offline for a while, I didn’t check, but you should ( Has some big juicy tech links (, ThemeForest,, Moz, SmashingMagazine) but could be a bit of a risky acquisition given how stale the site probably is.

A good acquisition if you don’t have to spend too much on it (currently $12) as whether it does all that much for you remains to be seen… - ends TODAY! NOW!!

DR 66 with big tech/coding links (CNN, CNet, Wired,, Oreilly,

At $1.5k at the time of writing, but will definitely go for more because of that link profile. Due your due diligence before bidding! - ends 2/14

WHO = World Health Organization.

DR 54, strong medical and India-related link profile. A good pick-up if you need to juice one of your other sites. Probably a terrible brand to build any kind of site on…

Domain to Build a Brand On

Nothing really here this week. GoDaddy’s NameCon auction really muddied the waters, and made finding domains that were valuable brands but NOT at auction with a reserve hard to find. Annoying. But… I’ll look again next week!


That’s it for issue 3. Happy to hear any feedback/thoughts/etc. you have. Thanks to everyone who responded last week re: done-for-you service interest or possible consulting interest. Still chewing on it all.

Have a great week!

- Sean

sem #2

seo/domain name acquisition experiment | domains at auction:,, and more!


Here’s another email full of stuff like an SEO experiment and domains that are expiring that you can buy, and what you might possibly do with them.

A big fat reminder to do your due diligence before pulling the trigger on these—as I have not spent an hour deep-diving into each name to make sure it’s spotless, so make sure you do before spending a bunch of money. I’m not responsible for any bad decisions you make!

RE: SEO News Section From Last Week’s Email: I didn’t really like writing about SEO news here so formally, so I’m not going to. I actually do that at another site… a weekly column kind of thing. I’ll put the link here for next week’s(ish) newsletter so you can read about SEO if you’re interested.

In this week’s edition:

  • some meta thoughts about this newsletter

  • a really interesting SEO/branding/domain experiment I’m doing

  • domains at auction

Meta Thoughts About Future Offerings in this Newsletter

I have recently been thinking about offering some extremely limited consulting spots for helping someone/some company find domains that will help grow traffic/authority, help consult on how to actually USE these domains to build the brand, and maybe possibly a done-for-you service.

I dunno. Nothing formal. I’m not start a consulting company or anything (for now). But if you’re potentially interested in paying for this kind of help that I am very clearly knowledgeable about, please shoot me an email—I’d love to chat about possibilities.

Another thing I’ll be trying is posting some domains/sites I’ve acquired or built out here to see if anyone is interested in purchasing. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’ll have something in March for this.

Also, if you end up buying a valuable domain here or getting some good tips (or even just being entertained), throw me some money @ PayPal like a finder’s fee. If you want.

Experiment I’m Doing

Is it possible to buy a real live site with lots of ranking and traffic, then 301 it to a newly acquired domain that’s 10,000 times a better brand but has a history of the dirtiest garbage-water-tasting spammy exact match forum links so that all that traffic and all those rankings go to zero, and then UNDO that 301 and recover some or all of your original rankings on the live site you bought?

I dunno, but I’m gonna find out.

Here’s the graveyard of some page one rankings (with Featured Snippet for a bit!) the site had AFTER the redirect, when Google murdered it:

death emoji

knife emoji

That second one was a very very valuable buying keyword with lots of monthly searches.

There was really nothing fishy with this one, I legitimately bought a live site whose domain I hated, and tried to move it over to an AMAZING industry-relevant one word domain that unfortunately had a history of really shitty link building (before it expired and I bought it).

After everything went to zero I tried disavowing some obviously trash referring domains, but after a month or two of nothing happening, I pronounced the site truly dead for good.

But then I though F-it, I’ll just try and undo the acquisition and redirect. The Algorithm loved the site once, maybe I can resurrect this corpse help it and Google find Zombie-on-Algorithm love.

The Results:

It’s still early, but some interest stuff is happening:

This is the rank-graph for the site falling from #3-ish in early September because I redirected the site to the second site, and the site starting to come back after the redirect was removed. This is for the lucrative buying keyword.

This one came almost all the way back—a long tail review keyword.

And here’s a section of the keywords I’m tracking, and their rankings (which last week were all non-existent because of the redirect/acquisition).

Mostly I’m amazed at how quickly the keywords started ranking again.

Not anywhere close to where they were before, obviously, but a promising start!

I’ll update you on how things go in the future (probably). If you have specific questions aside from what URL is this and if it makes sense I’ll answer them in next week’s(ish) newsletter.

Domains With Authority

Buy these sites to start a new content/affiliate/ecommerce whatever site. Let someone else’s poorly executed good idea be your new well-executed website. You’ll need a GoDaddy auction account or a NameJet account to play.

Do your own due diligence. I’m not a lawyer and not your SEO consultant, so not responsible for your purchases and I don’t guarantee your success. /legal disclaimer - ends 2/3
DR 51 | 1.35k RD, Links from: NYTimes, The Atlantic, Forbes, TheGuardian, WAPO, WSJ

Okay, a few things you should know before going after this.

Yes, it is a DR 51 and that’s a sexy number! But the last time this site had significant traffic/rankings (according to Ahrefs, at least) was at the end of 2015.

The site, when it was live, was focused on China.

But do you have to build a Chinese-focused site on this to make it work for you, if acquiring? No.

Here’s an interesting thing: the site currently ranks in the top 100 (just took a big dip because the site was offline when expiring) for “tea leaf.”

Shepherd” is just Sheep Herd smashed together! No. I mean, TEA AUTHORITY SITE.

There it is. The link profile is mostly from ginormous news sites linking to news pieces about China. It has over 2,000 links from NYTimes and over 700 from TheAtlantic.

Do your due diligence and blah blah etc., but wow, what a killer link profile and brand for a tea-focused site.

If you end up buying this to build a tea site, shoot me an email I’ll share a few thoughts with you on a Skype call (but don’t buy it JUST for that call, you’ll be super disappointed).

Expect to pay a few thousand for this one… - ends 2/4
DR 33 | 545 RD, Links from: NYTimes, BBC, WAPO, Wired, NewYorker, RollingStone, PasteMagazine, NME,

If you’re a bit of a domain collector, you might be interested in this one. It was a website set up for Prince’s triple album released in 2009:

From Wikipedia: an announcement of a new interactive website (, proclaiming it would allow fans to "listen, watch and buy" music and videos featuring Prince and guest artists.

Because this is not an obvious slam dunk acquisition, it’s flying extremely low under the radar with zero bids, and just over a day left. Not sure how valuable it’d be as a business play—the site isn’t indexed in Google or anything, but it’s a neat little acquisition if you’re a collector and/or Prince fan. - ends 2/4
DR 26 | 300 RD, Links from: WAPO, TheAtlantic, BuzzFeed, FoxNews,,, Cosmo

If you like your niches super specialized and hot-dog flavored, you’re gonna love this one.

Looks like it used to be THE authority site on competitive eating, and has some really amazing links.

Pick this one up if you want to revive it and own the competitive eating niche, or if you want to cannibalize all that link authority and build some kind of food-related affiliate site (but honestly, I think this one is wasted if you DON’T recreate and build the competitive eating authority this was and can be again.

poetry in motion… - ends 2/9
DR 43 | 493 RD, Links from: (read below)

Don’t see a lot of AI-themed sites coming through, so putting this in the mix incase you’re desperate but CAUTION! Many of the links coming to this site are being redirected from, which is no longer forwarding to this site (doesn’t resolve at all), so many of the juicy links you might find will eventually go away.

However, in my experience, the site will still benefit from those links for a while yet to come—maybe long enough to get your whatever AI site up and getting some traction. - ends 2/9
DR 40 | 1k RD, Links from: NYTimes,, Wired, All Wikipedias,,

Kind of a timely site since the world is starting to fall apart re: Corona.

Tons of links from big news sites, wikipedia in all languages, health/science sites, and universities. Use this one to lend some E-A-T authority (if you follow this particular Spiritual SEO path) to a YMYL site.

Way under the radar with one bid, but many days left for people to discover it. - ends 2/7
DR 33 | 1.41k RD, Links from: TheGuardian,, Ycombinator, Slashdot, MacRumors, BleacherReport, TreeHugger

Won’t come with a lot of specific authority. I guess this was a site similar to Wikimedia, which just hosted a bunch of public domain or CC licensed images. Pick this site up if you’re gonna do some SEO testing with expired domains (recommended!) or if you’re looking to build something very general or image/media focused. Should go fairly inexpensively (currently no bids). - ends 2/5
DR 35 | 1.68k RD, Links from: Boingboing, Snopes, Slashdot,

Meh. Not the best looking link profile and some cuckoo content about government mind control (from what I can tell from some of the anchor text), but is seeing some action @ GoDaddy (+10 bids so far), but I’m not sure what’d you do with this thing.

Maybe a build out that pushed all kinds of conspiracies to just vacuum up links from big media sites and then 301 to one of your sites that you don’t care much about?

Maybe I’m missing something with this one… when I Googled “mind control” a bunch of marketing articles came up, so, maybe that’s your angle? - ends 2/5
DR 35 | 2.17k RD, Links from: NYTimes, MentalFloss, ScienceBlogs,,

Has a few bids. Not an amazing link profile, but some nice niche-specific relevancy if you own a good Hawaii-related domain and are interested in doing a build out.

Again, if you end up buying this and want to flip it over to a high quality domain you own, shoot me an email I’ll share some thoughts with you on how I’d pull it off.

Domains to Build a Brand On - ends 2/8

Over $10k already. Gonna go for WAY more. A fantastic one-word brand. - ends 2/7

Good use of .org, just begging to be a racquetball affiliate site or, if you can pull it off, a racquetball official association website (or as close to that as you can build). But probably best use here is a high quality authority site. Really like this one for a build out. (Domain has a little bit of authority, but nothing amazing).

No bids @ NameJet, reserve between $500 and $1000. - ends 2/5

Great name for a marketing/PPC agency (esp. one that specializes in retargeting). - ends 2/5

Cool name for a general brand. Amazing name for a bakery or candy shop. - ends 2/6


I really like this one as a marketing brand/email newsletter company or service provider—yes, even though it has a slightly negative connotation. I think there’s room to build something really valuable here and kind of change that association (at least insofar as this brand is particularly concerned). I know many others will disagree with me and that’s fine. How’s it feel to be WRONG? I mean, to each their own.

A big name with a big price tag (currently just under $14k with a few days left). - ends 2/8

On the one hand, duh. Honey from bees. But on the other, a really solid and easy to remember brand. Good brand for selling honey (start a site that sells honey, contract with some honey producers, drop(ship) it like it’s hot) or just as a brand that is Honey Bee but reversed. Not a home run, that last one, but a viable brand option. I really like this one as a honey ecommerce store that sells honey, wax/honey-based skin products, etc.

$500 with a few days left, probably goes for a few thousand. - ends 2/4

Speaking of collecting domains, here’s a fun one with a lot of history.

Not sure what’d you actually do with it because trademarks/copyright/whatever, but you know…


That’s all for this time!

If you have any feedback etc., shoot me an email.

Until next week… party on, Wayne!

sem #1

seo & marketing news | interesting things | domains at auction:,, and more!


Welcome to the new incarnation of my newsletter. If you’re getting this email, you either signed up previously for my newsletter and you haven’t heard from me since I switched to a paid newsletter when you didn’t sign up (no hard feelings, bro), or you were subscribed to my paid newsletter (because you’re an OG) and haven’t heard from me in a week or two since I pulled the plug on it.

Either way, thanks for being a subscriber. If you’ve changed your mind, it’s easy to unsubscribe at the bottom.

Quick word about what to expect with this newsletter (and why I cancelled my paid newsletter):

The paid newsletter was cool, but never got the traction needed to justify the amount of work and time it took to produce. As it was paid, I always tried to go above and beyond, delivering as much value as possible. That was fun, but not sustainable, as it left no time for growing the subscriber list of that side project.

With this not-paid version I don’t feel that pressure. I’ll produce these when I have the time, and when there’s interesting things to share. Shooting for once a week, but who knows!

This newsletter will feature the best names at auction each week(ish), along with some of my thoughts about the names. I will do less research and due diligence (that’s on you now). I’ll also include some occasional SEO news and branding thoughts, because that’s why I spend all my time thinking and reading about.

So if that sounds good, cool. Welcome! If not, no worries.

Hit reply with any questions/thoughts.

In This Issue:

  • SEO/Marketing News

  • Interesting Things

  • Domains at Auction

SEO/Marketing News

There were actually several big pieces of news from Google in the last week:

January 20th Algorithm Update.

The biggest news is the 1/20/20 algorithm update, which Google announced via its @searchliason Twitter account. The impact and specific targets of this particular update are not yet known, and take a few weeks to analyze. That said, several SEOs are seeing some big early movement:

I’ll share any in-depth analysis and takeaways in the future when I read about them.

Google Rolls-out Favicons in the SERPs and then Promptly Rolls Them Back

Here’s how it looked:

The main criticism was how having the favicons beside the URL introduced a kind of blindness to the “ad” label, making the search engine ads look like legitimate results, increasing the CTR, and making ads more profitable.

Of the roll back Google says:

We’re dedicated to improving the desktop experience for Search, and as part of our efforts around this we rolled out a new design last week, mirroring the design that we’ve had for many months on mobile. The design has been well received by users on mobile screens, as it helps people more quickly see where information is coming from and they can see a prominent bolded ad label at the top. Web publishers have also told us they like having their brand iconography on the search results page. While early tests for desktop were positive, we are always incorporating feedback from our users. We are experimenting with a change to the current desktop favicons, and will continue to iterate on the design over time.

Uh huh.

The cynic in me says:

Expect to see favicons permanently in the (desktop) SERPs eventually. They’ll keep iterating on it until they take a stock hit because profits didn’t grow enough or whatever stock lingo (advertising makes up 85% of Google’s revenue) and then they’ll just make it permanent, as that’s what will have ads performing better.

Huge Update to the Featured Snippet SERPs:

I agree this change makes the SERPs a bit less cluttered, but as someone trying to take up as much SERP real estate as possible with one site, it’s kind of a bummer. Basically, if you “win” the featured snippet (FS) your organic result gets move OFF of page one, usually to the top of page two (a.k.a. #11) but that isn’t guaranteed. All that’s guaranteed is that if you get the FS, your site isn’t on the first page twice.

It was a really alarming time looking at the rank trackers before I heard about this change:

I’ve seen a lot of back and forth on Twitter about whether it’s better to be in the #1 spot or to have the FS, but that’s a topic for another day (or whenever I write about it)

Interesting Things:

Top Level Domain Name Bias in the SERPs -

This was an interesting experiment where the author used a made up word to rank a bunch of different TLDs to see how Google treated them. Highly recommend the entire post, but here’s a few interesting takeaways:

  • Despite no hreflang tags or language declaration, Google assumed the .co website was Spanish and the .de site was German.

  • .XYZ was crawled most aggressively by Google.

  • .Org had the lowest number of pages indexed.

Advanced Link Reclamation Tactics -

Not just asking journalist or site owners to link to your god damned site if they mentioned it, but asking them to switch the link from the homepage to a money page/other landing page, as long as it’s relevant and should have been linked to in the first place.

Good tactic to keep in mind.

Why Medium Lost Half of its Search Visibility -

This could also be titled: Why You Should Hire a Few Good SEOs For Your Big-ass Company.

Some of the things on this list are def. cringeworthy:

  • homepage cloaking

  • low-relevance, indexable URLs

  • broken priority pages (a page referenced/linked to by hundreds of other pages but 404s

  • terrible sitemap logic

And a bunch of other things! A nice what-not-to-do article.

Domains at Auction:

These domains are going to auction this week and would make good brands/good domains to build an affiliate site on, etc. Just remember to do your OWN due diligence before buying. - ends 2/1
DR 43 | 1.1k RD, Links from: SierraClub, ThinkProgress, All Wikipedias, many .Edu sites

The old page title tells you a lot about what the site was about:

Earth Policy Institute – Building a Sustainable Future

Could be an affiliate play to push sustainable products with a solid .org brand. Here’s how I’d do it:

  • Create a bunch of non-promotional content to rank for all kinds of long tails, such as news-y posts, some evergreen education content about climate change, etc.

  • Create a few guides like “how to reduce your carbon footprint” (how to reduce your carbon footprint - 2.9k searches/mo with a bunch more long tails: keyword difficulty hard but you have some domain authority to flex at it). In these guides you can link to the following promotional pages.

  • Pick 3-4 categories of “Best X” product review. Just a few. Point links from your guides to these pages (make sure they are related!) and then build some links. - ends 1/31
DR 41 | 520 RD, Links from:, Moz, TheAtlantic, PCWorld, AdWeek

I think it used to redirect to, which is still live (but ugly and does not give a good user experience).

A good ad/marketing name with a lot of relevant referring domains. From the context around referring domains, looks like it was some sort of influencer type of site. I checked the trademarks for Adly and they’re all dead, so you may not run into any issues there (but Damnit Jim, I’m a sexy SEO not a sexy lawyer, so don’t take my advice).

If I picked up this site (currently at $3.3k, so I won’t), I’d build the best marketing resource on the net and then lead-gen the shit out of visitors.

My strategy would be to build some statistic-driven pages (like this, from Siege) around ads, marketing, etc. Aside from some on-going news or whatever content to keep the site fresh, I’d hammer these pages with links and get them ranking for phrases that people writing articles about this niche would search for to get those statistic-source links.

Then I’d have prominent forms on major pages and sidebars like:

“Hey! Need help with <marketing things>? Hit us with your name, email, quick summary of your biz, marketing budget, and one of our partners will get back with you soon.”

(or whatever the good version of that is, I have no actual experience building lead gen sites) - ends 1/29

DR 27, but nothing too impressive. Amazing home decor affiliate brand, though. - ends 1/31

Low price. Sports betting is obviously going to continue to grow in popularity, and this “<sports concept> + bet” name is probably as good as any others you’ll find. - ends 1/31

Finally you can build that hotel industry market research firm you’ve been dreaming about (but seriously, that’d be a solid play here, if you had the resources to get the data.—the global hospitality industry is a $500 billion industry and good market research is worth the big money that the players here would totally spend).

Either way, this is a super solid hospitality brand. Short, memorable, rhymes! - ends 1/29

I love this name. It’s out of my price range for a “nice to have,” but it’s an amazing brand for a broker, site sellers, web design agency, etc. - ends 1/31

What a knock-out brand. It works well for a .org, and is such a positive word, whether talking about money or just life in general. Not sure the best way to play this business-wise, but just buy it now and figure that out later. Solid.


That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!

Please like and vote or whatever Substack offers so I can get internet points that validate all my bad decisions.

Also, if you’re at Namescon hit me up! I, too, am at Namescon (Mon - Saturday). You can reach me sem AT (use your secret decoder ring to figure that email address out—this post is public)!

Finally, I will do a bonus edition probably in a day or two about the SEO value of the domains in the Namescon auction, so stay tuned for that!

~ Sean Markey

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