Rank Theory #2

Working together, algorithm updates, interesting SERP results, a tool recommendation, and thoughts on buying domains with juice

Hello hello it has certainly been awhile.

Apparently moving is a stressful, super-involved thing? Who knew…

I’m getting settled into the new place in north/central Vermont. Here’s the view on a very pleasant day recently:

I really like it up here, but damn, moving is disruptive. I’m spending a lot of time settling in—getting all the rooms arranged as they should be, and trying to get my shit together with business/projects I’m working on (like this newsletter, for instance). I’m not quite ready to jump back in to the weekly expired domain newsletter—that’s still on hiatus, but hopefully I can bring this Friday feature back each week consistently.

A Rare Opportunity

Over the last few years I haven’t done much in the way of offering SEO services or consulting. I’ve been pretty busy first working at an SEO agency (up until the end of 2018), and since then, building, growing, and selling affiliate sites.

I sold my last big affiliate site in January, and my last small affiliate site in May… and then I spent two months moving.

So… I have some time on my hands for the first time in a long time, and figured I’d give this a try while I’m putting together a more formal SEO company (more on that in a future email).

Is there anything I can help you with? That’s right, I’m trading my time for money and looking to do some consulting and possibly some “getting my hands dirty” work.

Here are some thing I can help you with:

  • acquiring/planning to acquire a site for SEO purposes

  • implementing a 301 acquisition a.k.a. combining two sites to create a SUPERSITE

  • optimizing your content (no one is better at this fight me)

  • creative link building ideas (using micro sites/PR angles)

  • …that’s probably it TBH.

Yeah, if you’re looking for some help in your 301’ing/combining website shenanigans, or anything content related… hit me up. I’m looking to take on a limited amount of work (until I get my new project off the ground, then I will not be doing any projects-for-hire like this).

LMK and we can hop on a quick call and see if I’d be a good fit to work on your project or consult.

No pressure.

Now, let’s get into things:

Hot Algorithm Update Summer

In June Googled rolled out Yet Another Core Algorithm Update.

Still in June, Google pushed live the Page Experience Update, which is why you will find people cannot STFU about “Core Web Vitals.”

In July, everyone enjoyed OMG Another Core Algorithm Update We Are Definitely Living in a Simulation.

Still in July, Google also rolled out an update targeting SPAMMY LINKS.

At this point, it’s news when Google doesn’t roll out a new, big update.

If you have trouble keeping track, just always assume that Google hates your affiliate site, and resents you using their platform to earn money. That is pretty consistent across all updates…

I haven’t personally seen many big shake-ups even with all these updates—especially compared with previous updates like Medic or the December 2020 Death to Best Of Affiliate Sites update.

How have things looked in your niche? Holler at me—I’m interested to know what you’ve been seeing.

An Example of The Awesome Power of Backlinks That Makes You Take Your Glasses Off Like That Guy in Jurassic Park

I ran into this while I was doing some research on just how much Google hates affiliate sites.

I was looking at the Best Juicers keyword and saw that the Keyword “juicers” was even bigger (keyword volume-wise—probably “best juicers” is better to rank for if you’re selling/linking to affiliate juicers.

Anyway.

This one result really really stood out in the SERPs.

A .io, with no metadata ranking for a 47 KD, 72,000 searches per month keyword??

When you go to that site, you see that it’s a social media tool, with NOTHING to do with extracting juice from produce.

So how is this thing ranking so well for such a baller keyword (while allowing that SOME of that 74k searches/mo is looking for this tool specifically, but mostly for the appliance)?

Oh. NBD, just 15,133 referring domains, about 14,976 more than the second-most linked-to domain

👀

I’m slightly curious about what role the EMD plays in all this, but my god, it’s all about the links, man. It’s ALWAYS been about the links.

Rank Tracker Recommendation: Nightwatch

A few months ago I started using Nightwatch to track my rankings instead of Keyword.com (which had been great! But they raised the price overnight by a fucking lot and, I get it, but that is a very very bitter pill to swallow).

I pay $60/mo for 1000 keywords.

I am definitely not using this tool to its full potential (it tracks backlinks as well? I haven’t done anything with that yet). But here are some things I love about Nightwatch:

  • A robust Dark Mode feature

  • Their “keyword discovery” feature is pretty helpful (though mostly I use Ahrefs for this)—which basically shows you other things you’re ranking for

  • Daily email at 5am of recent changes in rankings, both up and down, from the previous day because I love opening that email like Russian Roulette first thing when I wake up wondering will today be filled with existential dread or dopamine hits? Let’s find out!

If you’re in the market for a rank tracker, well, this is the one I use. They’ve got a free trial and stuff, because #marketing, so check them out.

And yes, I’m going to be tacky af because it’s my newsletter and I can, here’s an affiliate link with which to sign up, because I’m addicted to buying domains and, as you probably know, that shit isn’t cheap!

Check out Nightwatch here.

A Tale of Two SEO Domain Purchases:

I’ve been putting less time into finding domains with juice expiring at the domain name auctions. It’s not easy, but worth it!

Why?

Here, I’ll let Drake explain it.

I know that’s not, like, super groundbreaking stuff.

But I would highly suggest putting some effort into hunting these sites down or creating some deal flow.

Example:

I bought a DR 70+ site last month for very low five figures. Solid domain name, amazing link profile.

Could the seller (who is a subscriber—shout out!) have sold it for more? Maybe. But it would have taken forever—if it happened at all (one thing that happens with these big older sites that I see happen is, they are not really kept fresh, and the authority drops over time).

I’m not sure why, but sites that go private or “seller” auction (vs expired) go for like 70% less money…

Anyway, I think this was a win-win. For me, the name hadn’t expired, was a live site with a robust index in Google, and was very powerful.

Contrast that with:

Yesterday, a website with a comparable link profile/amount of authority went to auction on DropCatch. DR 70+, amazing links, but there only two pages indexed (one of which was the auction landing page), no live site, and a not-very-desirable letter+word .net (as opposed to a one-word .org that I bought).

This other site? It went for $49,050.

👀💰💀

Anyway, just a little anecdote and maybe some motivation to do some outreach to older, high authority sites that are clearly abandoned. Or find a way to get yourself some deal flow…

To wit: if you have some names with juice and you’re looking for a possibly quick sale, also hit me up. I’m not only a buyer, I am connected to a lot of eager buyers. So send me any GOOD names you have with BIG AUTHORITY.

PS you can also use Juice Market to list/buy a site, but you knew that already right?

~

Well, that’s it for this week!

It’s good to be writing this again—hopefully I’ll see you next Friday, where I plan on writing about a Twitter thread from Gary Illyes of Google on the subject of “how long to 301 a domain for before it’s permanent.” I have some big thoughts on this…

If you wouldn’t mind, hit reply and LMK what you thought. Good email, bad email, what do you want to see more of, etc. I’d appreciate it!

Until then,

Sean
sem@seanmarkey.com