One of the key elements of due diligence when looking to buy a site (especially one with a high reliance on search traffic) is understanding how sustainable that traffic might be in future. As the old investment disclaimer goes: “past performance is no indication of future performance” – same goes for traffic to a site, particularly when that source is something outside of your control. This also works in reverse – it’s important to check if a site has been affected in the past (not always obvious in Google Analytics) and if it has, trying to understand what caused that.
Beyond being just a broker, I have bought a number of sites myself over the years. I use a number of proprietary tools and checks before buying a site myself, and apply those same checks to any sites we list at FE International. I would never expect a client to invest their capital into a site I wouldn’t buy myself.
Around a month ago, we launched a free tool that will give you a good indication whether a site has been affected by a penalty or update in the past. The tool itself is simple to use, and while using third party data will never be 100% accurate, it will be very close.
You can find the tool here: https://feinternational.com/website-penalty-indicator/
It’s very simple to use. Simply enter the domain you would like to check (a site you own, a site you are looking to buy etc.), choose the database (if most of the site traffic is US, choose .com) and click “go”. If a site has been hit very recently, the tool might not pick it up (due to the lag with third party data). This is particularly relevant today, with one of Google’s latest targets being MyBlogGuest.com and (I suspect) people who have been using it.
Earlier in the year, Matt Cutts’ discussed taking action on guest posting as a means to build links. I do not believe this will affect genuine guest posting, only where the primary purpose of the post has been to gain a link or where a payment has changed hands. The first victim of this was rolled out today.
If you search “myblogguest” in Google you will no longer see MyBlogGuest.com ranking for its own name (it will if you search myblogguest.com, so remove the TLD from the end). You can read a more in depth analysis of this update on econsultancy.
If you run this site through our tool, it won’t show up as a big drop (you can see a general decline and a possible penalty in the past, but nothing in the last few days). Here’s a screenshot:
The same will go for any other sites you may have been looking to purchase. I recommend if you are looking to buy any site at the moment (whether through us or another source), do the test manually searching in Google. If you want to be even more certain, try this manual test:
1) Search the domain in Semrush
2) Look at “Organic keywords” that are ranking well (ideally 1-10)
3) Manually search that keyword
4) If the site has been hit, chances are the site is no longer ranking for that keyword
5) Manually search a few other keywords to avoid false positives
All tools have limitations so a manual check (like above) is always sensible, especially if an update is very new where third party data would not have caught up.
It is a little too early to see the full extent of the MyBlogGuest related fallout, but I have already heard of a few large sites being affected so I would recommend checking your own sites (or any sites you are looking to buy) right away.
If you have any questions, please ask in the comments.