[rank theory] SEO Newsletter

how to win friends and influence SEO

Published 4 months ago • 9 min read

we did it

made it through another work of

surviving the horrors

(like you do)

but this newsletter's not about that... THIS time.

it's about surviving the Google Updates (mostly... sort of).

here we go

News and Updates

Thanks for sticking with me through last week's... weird email. Lot of people seemed to like it, though. Thanks to everyone who reached out and said something nice. :)

In other news I purged a bunch of people that never opened my email or clicked on a link before sending this, so this is your reminder: if you are big on email privacy, be sure to check out these dope memes so my email provider knows you're alive.

Otherwise, last week's sale on that huge spreadsheet of domains I'm selling was pretty successful in helping me raise funds for my future coffee shop--thanks to everyone that purchased those!!

Featured Snippets

🤖 ChatGPT loses its entire mind, goes on a repetitive rant that calls back to Stephen King's "all work and no play" bit in The Shining. LOL

📢 Glen published an amazing (as usual) post on Reddit dominating the SERPs b/c users are spamming them hard (which Reddit responded to and said "nuh uh") haha. But they're full of shit, of course.

🤥 Google says EEAT is not a ranking factor, and I am not saying it is, I'm just saying Google never lies so you should take everything they say as gospel.

Sites For Sale

Of course there is my list of aged domains for sale, but you already knew about that.

There's been a few sites I posted about lately that didn't get a lot of love, maybe the market is lukewarm at the moment, or maybe you're just looking for something exponentially more expensive.


I am helping broker a name, just the name.

But: it's a one-word super premium .com and it has a very very sexy ecommerce/marketing-related authority:


Here's a taste of the backlinks--LOTS of legit ones:

I am not sharing the domain in this email, but if you are in the market for an ultra-premium .com with juice AND ALSO you have mid-six figures (literally) holler at me.

You'll like this name.


Before we get into the newsletter, please take a sec to check out this week's sponsor, and show them some big love:

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Futurama reference. nailed it

I love this post, it goes super hard.

Basically, it's a brand with a lot of skin in the "product reviews" game saying that these big media sites are saying all the right things on the review pages, but those things are shallow and easily disproven as such.

And House Fresh brought the fucking receipts:

For example, Better Homes & Gardens recommends the Molekule Air Mini+ as their best option for small rooms:

We have no idea how this device made the list considering that Molekule recently filed for bankruptcy, has active class action lawsuits for false advertising, has been recognized by Wirecutter as the worst air purifier they tested, and received the honor of being labeled as “not living up to the hype” by Consumer Reports.
When we reviewed this device, we also found it to be one of the worst air purifiers we have ever tested for multiple reasons:
It took 3x as long to clear our test room of smoke compared to units sold for a third of its price
It’s incredibly noisy, generating 88 dB when running at its top fan speed — equivalent to a leaf blower, which people use while wearing hearing protection!
The filter replacement costs A LOT ($99.99), and you need to change it every six months, so you need to spend an additional $199.98 to use this air purifier for a year
It pulls 61 watts at its top speed, which might not seem like a lot but it is considering you could buy units for a third of the price that won’t consume more than 21 watts
We could go on forever. But we can also show you actual firsthand data to back up each of our reasons not to recommend this air purifier.
Even some shallow desk research powered by Google would show that this product shouldn’t be recommended, but, hey, it’s $360, so it comes with a juicy commission compared to other better quality yet budget products.

Seems bad...

But hey, Google basically outsourced their policing of the SERPs to the top 1% of digital magazine/newspaper portfolio companies, so it's not THEIR problem, right?

Danny AKA @SearchLiason chimed in with a technicality and also this note to the author of that post:

Thank you. I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the post, and the concerns and the detail in it. I've passed it along to our Search team along with my thoughts that I'd like to see us do more to ensure we're showing a better diversity of results that does include both small and large publications.

OH SHIT, is this the first time he's heard the criticism that Google's search results are basically either for sale to parasite SEOs (you absolute degens reading this!) or just, handed over to Forbes and etc. for their internal team to write about the best CBD oil and testosterone boosters (pro tip: mix them together and get super virile but... fairly relaxed) and rank for everything.

Y'all we gotta do more to make sure Google hears about our concerns, since the main way they build their algorithm, apparently, is through listening to people complain on Twitter...


What's next, the 42069 update?

What's next, deprecating the webmaster forums for Twitter polls?

What's next, a real-time algorithm update that responds to sentimentality as measured across the aggregate tweets of SEO Twitter, boosting sites into the top 10 or burying them on page 7 depending on how much drama is happening on the timeline?

Okay NOW I'm done.

"We get it, Markey, the SERPs are fucked right now--super low quality shit, and Google can't really do anything about or doesn't want to..."

Okay, cool. That was my whole thing, basically.

Causation Correlation Blah Blah You Get It

I also love this post, and am a fan of small-data-set studies that make big conclusions that really resonate with observed reality.

No really!

So Cyrus looked at 50 sites that gained/lost traffic big time during the recent barrage of Google updates and tried to paint a picture of the things that seemed to matter--in one direction or the other.

And here that is:

My takeaway:

Good. I hope sites that pack the ads on the page like all that extra underwear you stuffed in your carry-on luggage for your trip to Philadelphia, and any site that has autoplaying video ads get thrown in the garbage, and then that garbage is shot into space where it orbits the sun for a period of several decades before finally succumbing to orbital decay and falling towards the surface of the sun to burn up in the superheated plasma.


Probably the most interesting part of this is:

Interestingly, while the data doesn’t reveal a single “smoking gun” that’s 100% correlated with lower or higher traffic, the effects seem to be additive when sites combine features together.
For example: sites that combined a fixed footer ad, scrolling video, and a lack of personal experience had an 83% chance of being in the “losing” group.
On the flip side, sites that used a high number of first-person pronouns and didn’t use stock images had an 83% chance of being in the “winning” group

I've been on the "first person pronouns" thing for a while, I think it (when used naturally in the wild) is a more honest content approach--especially with what Google SAYS it wants.

But the idea that these things stack is pretty great, and something I would suggest clutching hungrily toward if your site got rocked off its foundations and slid into the ocean last fall with the HCU.

There's no real... definitive advice on how to recover from that tsunami-generated-deep-in-the-ocean-floor, but if I had a site that suffered I'd just say "fuck it" and go hard on this list.

What have you got to lose that you haven't already lost?

In all honesty, though, my second piece of advice is do nothing and see if it comes back, cuz... sometimes they come back (title of your ghost story) and that's a valid approach. One or the other, pick one.

And give this article a read. It's good stuff.

Stupid SEO Drama On Twitter Is Actually Good SEO Advice

First, Joe Davies posted this:

Then Jono Alderson quote tweeted:

And then both sides piled on.

If you're bored or you just love drama unapologetically, click through and read the various threads. Bit of a brawl...

But here's the answer, in my opinion:

These two things are in no way mutually exclusive, LOL.

Embrace, you Capulets and Montagues--you're both human and you're both as dramatic as teenagers dramatically drinking fake or real poison.

If you're looking for an SEO strategy and don't have one, just do both of these things.

You're welcome.

Work With Me

Hey. Hello.

It's me, that guy whose newsletter you're reading.

This is just a quick to note to say that the way I keep funding important things like

faberge egg 7 rolex watches a studio apartment in manhattan paying my bills buying cat food (for my 5 cats) is by delivering absolutely amazing SEO with my biz partner Matt.

Now YOU TOO can have it all.

Just book a call with me here and let's talk about your biz, see if we're a fit to work together.

We've been helping sites in the ecommerce, HR, data/AI, and proxy niches lately.

Yes we CAN help you. Engagements start at 5,000,000 50,000 $5,000 and go up, depending on what you (or your site) needs BUT IT'S TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Book a call! I'll try not to be too socially awkward...



here we are at the end of another newsletter--I hope you got something out of it.

if you have a minute please hit reply and give me a shout, LMK what you thought--love hearing from people.

and if you're looking for SEO help I got you dawg, see above.

but if you're hunting for Red October I can't help you, talk to the other Sean (Connery) -- he's in heaven tho

until next week...


[rank theory] SEO Newsletter

Sean Markey

the world's grumpiest SEO lifts you up each week with inspiring SEO content. Rank Theory is a twice-weekly newsletter containing emerging theories, illuminating experiments, and occasional sh*tposting, as well as a special weekly domain-focused Friday edition.

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