254% More Organic Traffic With “The Merger Technique”

“The Merger Technique” is a sneaky tactic to help you grow your organic search traffic.

In this guide, I’ll show how you can use it yourself and how we used it to grow a client’s organic search traffic by 254%.

What is a Merger?

Before I jump into this strategy, you first must understand what a “merger” actually is. Investopedia defines a “merger” as:

“The combining of two or more companies, generally by offering the stockholders of one company securities in the acquiring company in exchange for the surrender of their stock.”

When a merger occurs, the old brand’s website will get 301 redirected to the buying company.

What is The Merger Technique?

It is the process of 301 redirecting a relevant expired domain to your site.

The objective is to increase your site’s authority.

More site authority = easier ranking ability and more organic traffic

This strategy is no different than a big brand acquiring another business.

The Merger Technique imitates this process.

Why The Merger Technique Isn’t Just a “Buzz” Phrase

I came up with the name of this technique because my SEO agency has used it with the big brands I work with.

For example, one of our client’s acquires data centers across the United States.

So, every time they acquire a new data center, they redirect the acquired brand’s site to theirs.

Here’s what has happened:
254% more organic search traffic

Although these results were awesome, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t an isolated event.

That’s why I implemented the same strategy on Gotch SEO and several other client sites.

For my site, I took an old marketing website and 301 redirected it to a landing page on my site.

This is what happened:

Merger 2-min

I then did the same exact thing for local website:

425-growth

Okay, you get it.

301 redirects work.

But, wait a second…

Not ALL 301 redirects work.

That’s why I didn’t want to call this a “301 redirect strategy”.

What 301s Do And Why They Work

It’s important for you to understand what a 301 redirect actually does and why it even works.

In Google’s eyes, a 301 redirect is permanent.

By 301 redirecting you are telling the search engines that the site has moved.

That means the new website will inherit all the links, anchor text, and even penalties that the previous site had.

This is important for you to know because it is the reason why the old 301 redirect strategies don’t work as well.

The Old 301 Redirect Approach

Using 301 redirects for link building purposes is not a new technique.

But, the old way of leveraging 301s is not only dangerous but will likely be ineffective.

The old approach is to take ANY domain with high metrics and 301 it to your site.

There are several reasons why this is a dangerous strategy:

1. The Links Aren’t Relevant:

Google’s Penguin algorithm nails websites with irrelevant, spammy link profiles. By 301 redirecting an irrelevant domain, you are asking Penguin to slap your site.

2. The Anchor Text Isn’t Relevant:

301 redirecting an irrelevant domain will destroy your anchor text profile with irrelevant anchors.

3. You Are Confusing Google:

Let’s say you are trying to rank a page for “link building”. You then go out and find an expired domain about “kitten training” with amazing metrics.

You then redirect this domain to your site because of its metrics alone.

Now you have introduced irrelevant links and anchor text about “kitten training”.

This creates the perfect recipe for confusing Google. It doesn’t know if your page is about training kittens or link building.

A confused Google = an invisible website in the search engine

The New “Merger” Redirect Approach

Now that you know why the old 301 redirect approach isn’t effective, let me show you why the new approach works.

You Are Getting Link Relevancy: Relevant links are king. Plain and simple.

With The Merger Technique, you will only be using expired domains that have similar Topical Trust Flow topic to your site.

The reason why you want to use Topical Trust Flow topics is because it’s based on link relevancy.

For example, if you were in the “health” niche, you need a domain that has “Health” as it’s TTF Topic.

Unoptimized Anchor Text:

There is a strict criterion for anchor text distribution. More on this in a second.

Why It Works

It works because you are focusing on relevant expired domains.

Relevance is the single most important factor when it comes to effective link building.

Google can detect traditional 301 redirect tactics because the content and links are irrelevant.

The Merger Technique is nothing more than you “acquiring” another business in your industry.

How to Find Domains for Your Merger

Now you understand the difference between the traditional 301 redirect and The Merger Technique. It’s time for me to show you how to find the perfect domains for the strategy.

Before we get in, let explain some important mindset steps you need to take.

First, be patient!

You aren’t trying to build a network of websites. Take your time and don’t jump on the first opportunity you see.

Second, follow this criterion when looking for a domain to “merge” with your business:

  • 1) the site should have a Topical Trust Flow topic similar to yours
  • 2) the site should have a Trust Flow above 15
  • 3) the site should only have quality links (editorial, earned links)
  • 4) the site should have at least 20 referring domains (more is better)
  • 5) the site should have unoptimized anchor text and a high percentage of branded anchors
  • 6) the site should be indexed in Google
  • 7) the site should not have been used for spam in the past

Domcop

Using the criteria above, you will now go into DomCop and try to find a domain for your Merger. For the demonstration below, I will show how I would look for a Merger site if it were for Gotch SEO.

Step 1: Go into DomCop

Scroll through the list and look for sites with a similar Topical Trust Flow topic to yours. Within seconds, I found one that is relevant to Gotch SEO:

Step 2: Fact check with Majestic

If you click the Trust Flow metric below the domain it will take you to Majestic. Run the prospective Merger site through Majestic to make sure the Topical Trust Flow topic is relevnt, the Trust Flow is above 15, and there are at least 20 Referring Domains:

Majestic Check-min

Step 3: Check the anchor text distribution

You will see the sample below that 18% of this domains anchor text is for “FLV player”. This is a red flag. Compare this to its branded anchor text which only comprised 3.47% of its anchor profile.

Personally, I would have eliminated this domain after seeing the anchor text distribution.

I will continue on through the other steps to show you what domains you should NOT get.

Anchor Text-min

Step 4: Check the link quality

The steps above will take you no more than a few seconds. Now you have to actually analyze the domains link profile. Click the “Backlinks” tabs and check out the links:

This is a critical step in the process for you to see.

Remember when I said I would have discredited this domain because of the anchor text?

Well, that would have been a big mistake because the “FLV player” anchor text was natural and coming from quality pages like this one:
Domcop - Sample Links-min

With this discovery, this domain would be back on my “good” list.

Then I scroll down and see a foreign anchor text…:

Chinese-min

Any type of foreign anchor should raise red flags. But, you shouldn’t immediately classify it as spam.

Popular websites get foreign anchors all the time because they have global recognition.

With that said, you need to investigate the foreign anchor text to make sure it isn’t spam.

Go to the site and use Google Chrome to translate the page:

Translate-min

If you have the Moz bar installed, use it to highlight external links:

Link Found-min

After translating this site, I can conclude that it isn’t spam and there is no reason to worry about the link.

There is a big misconception in the PBN space that a foreign anchor equals low quality. That’t not always the case and that’s well demonstrated in this example.

Step 5: Make sure the site is indexed

Grab the URL and toss it into Google:

Domcop -Deindexed-min

Uh oh… everything was going so well up until this point. The site isn’t indexed.

You should run this check BEFORE doing all the steps above. I just wanted to give you a complete demonstration. It’s hard to say why this domain isn’t indexed, but there is no point in stressing over it.

Just move on to the next opportunity.

Step 6 (if the domain is indexed): Check the domains history

If the domain in this example was indexed, we would want to check its history.

Go to Archive.org:

Archive-min

In an ironic turn of events, this site has been used for redirects on many occasions.

This domain is disqualified because A) it isn’t indexed and B) it’s already been used for the purposes we want.

Showing you what domains NOT to buy is the best way to show you what you SHOULD buy. I won’t go through another example, but just make sure you follow the steps above.

The domains need to qualify based on every single step above if you want this strategy to work.

In addition to using DomCop, you can also look for domains using FreshDrop.

Use Flippa

Flippa takes The Merger Technique to a new level. That’s because you can get a relevant domain AND qualified traffic to your site. This is the perfect equation for growing the authority of your site.

You will need capital to use this strategy, but it is by far the most effective. The only problem with using Flippa is that it’s challenging to find a domain relevant to your niche (and that follows the Topical Trust Flow topic rule).

The first thing you want to do is go to Flippa. In the search bar, search for your main keyword. Flippa will show you all the domains with your keyword in the URL. For this reason, you need to make sure you search multiple variations.

In the example below, you will see that I searched both “SEO” and “marketing”.

Search Keyword

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.21.41 AM

Follow the same exact process you did when looking for expired domains. The only difference here is that you want to verify traffic.

There are a lot of scammers on this site, so make sure you ask to see the traffic and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions.

The most important part is to make sure you are buying a domain that has qualified, relevant traffic.

Registrar vs cPanel 301 Redirect

There is a lot of debate in the SEO community about the effectiveness of a cPanel redirect vs a registrar redirect. I have used both and there is no difference (as far as results).

There are a few differences you have to consider. With a cPanel redirect you will have to continue paying for hosting. While with a registrar (GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc) redirect you don’t.

The other difference is from a technical standpoint. A cPanel or .htaccess 301 redirect will redirect all pages from the site to yours.

This isn’t always a good practice. That’s because you only want the pages that have link equity redirecting to your site.

In most cases, the homepage will hold the majority of a site’s link authority.

With that said, you just need to do your research on the domain.

To see what pages are strongest on a domain, go to Ahrefs and enter a domain:

As you see in the example, it would be a HUGE mistake if you only redirected the homepage in this example.

You won’t be buying domains like Moz, but it’s still an important reminder. Always check the link equity across the entire site and act accordingly.

Plus, if you invest in a strong domain, then you might as well spend the $12 to put it on hosting. That way you know you are getting the most bang for your buck.

Here is how you can perform a 301 redirect through your cPanel:

How to Get the Most Out of The Merger Technique

The point of using The Merger Technique is to grow your site’s authority. When your site is more authoritative, it is easier to rank for your most important keywords.

When you do this strategy, you must make sure that your on-site optimization is strong.

Make sure you have a nice base of keyword-targeted SEO content and your site is well-optimized for your target keywords. Using this strategy without an optimized site won’t be as effective.

Another important point is to avoid going crazy with this technique. Don’t abuse it because it will likely land you a penalty. If you focus on getting the best domain(s) for your merger, you won’t need to use many redirects.

Conclusion

The Merger Technique is the single best way to skyrocket your site’s authority. Remember that this technique by itself won’t be enough to grow your organic visibility.

Yes, it’s one of the strongest techniques you can use, but your on-site optimization needs to be strong, you need to have keyword-targeted pages, and you need to continue acquiring other niche relevant links.

You should always look at the big picture when doing SEO.

About the author

Author
Nathan Gotch

Nathan Gotch is the founder and SEO director at Gotch SEO. Listen in to our new podcast, The SEO Life or watch some of our actionable SEO training videos on YouTube!

Comments

  1. Hi Nathan,
    Thanks for the great article. Since you said that the merger technique worked for clients you had that acquired/merged with other companies, I assume this means the SEO Merger Technique works with domains that are not expired as well?

    My question/concern is, won’t it look suspicious to Google if only some of the website pages are 301 redirected to another site? Wouldn’t that be a signal to Google that someone has cherry-picked the stronger pages of a website for the purpose of manipulating the search ranking of the “receiving” site?

    I have recently acquired a domain and website (not expired and still online) that passes all the tests. Among other things, the site is highly relevant, had a single owner (whom I know) and has never had any SEO or marketing done on it/with it.

    Let’s say there are 30 pages in the site. If I 301 redirect only the pages with the strongest Trust Flow to the highly relevant pages on another site of mine (a new domain/site) won’t that seem suspicious to Google? If the older site were truly just linking to good content on another site (as Google looks for,) why wouldn’t they just put links in their content instead of doing 301 redirects to some of the pages on the new/other site?

    Does it make more sense to put content links in the old/acquired site than it does to redirect a handful of pages? Or is a 301 redirect “stronger” than a content link from a highly relevant website?

    Does your Merger Technique recommend “closing down” the old/acquired site after setting up 301 redirects from individual pages on the old site to individual pages on the newer site by having just an .htaccess file with a series of redirect urls in the hosting account instead of a full website with only a portion of the web pages being redirected?

    1. Hey Alex,

      Yes, of course! It can work with any domain that is relevant and has authority. What you’re describing can seem more “suspicious” but it probably won’t have negative effects on a small scale

  2. Nice article Nathan. I loved the details you give.

    I wanted to ask 2 things.

    1) Redirecting an expired domain is PBN + Black Hat SEO?

    2) The anchor text phase blacked out my mind when it was stated

    “Now you have introduced irrelevant links and anchor text about “kitten training”.

    AND by Manish “Hi There, thanks a lot for the article. In regards to anchor text, if I were to find a domain that is niche relevant and had all the good metrics, with an anchor text profile as domain name, naked URL (domain), etc. In this case if I 301 the expired domain with a branded anchor text profile to the money site then the money site would end up have an anchor profile containing brand name of the expired domain. In this case would it not look fishy or would it be okay to do.”

    I am really sorry why I am blacked out here 🙁

    1. Thanks for the comment Adeel!

      1. No, it’s not. A PBN is a private blog network, which means you create a website with the sole purpose of hosting a backlinks. Redirect happen all the time, naturally.

      2. I’m just saying that you should avoid expired domains that aren’t relevant to yours.

  3. Hi Nathan,
    Extremely valuable knowledge, thank you for sharing! The only thing I don’t understand is that should I point the expired domain to my money site homepage or to a special landing page with content that is relevant to anchor texts of for this strong expired domain?

    Best,
    ST

  4. Hi Nathan,

    If the blog has been previously used for PBN but the spam score is 0, can I still use it to start an authority niche blog?

  5. Hi Nathan,

    My site is about headphones and I found a domain about music with the metric as below:
    DA: 26
    RD: 37
    TF/CF: 4/10
    15 page was indexed by google

    Can should use this domain for redirect 301 to my headphones site?

    Please advice me.

    Thanks,

    1. Hey Alex,

      Those look like pretty solid metrics, but it’s important to analyze the link quality as well

  6. Nice Post Nathan. Really loved it!

    I have a tech where I sells pc accessories. And By doing some research I found 4 domains related to my niche.

    But I want to know should I redirect them to homepage or create new post and redirect them to that post.

    I have found domain for an app which was discontinued. But that domain has links from inc, forbes,cnet and other websites.

    Should I redirect that to mytechblog.com to myfoundapp.com or mytechblog.com/foundappname.

    Please Help me with this confusions.

    And again thanks for this awesome post.

  7. I am interested in the ” Merger Technique” for my website my website Moz DA -14 and PA -19, Trust Flow 10 Citation Flow 8
    I find 3 expire domain same niche and they qualified as per expired domain vetting checklist
    1. domain – Moz DA 29 PA 39, TRUST FLOW 39 Citation Flow 32
    2 .domain – Moz DA 27 PA 25, TRUST FLOW 30 Citation Flow 25
    3 .domain Moz DA 28 PA 24 TRUST FLOW 30 Citation Flow 25

    which is the best option for me if I use this 3 domain use for Merger Technique at the same time?
    or any one of this domain use for use for Merger Technique?
    how many qualified domains we use for Merger Technique without the negative effect on SEO.

    1. It’s hard to say without me seeing the actual link profile. Metrics are just the baseline, but you need to make a decision based on the quality of the links

  8. So if you did the Flippa method–and you had a lot of similar KWs-and they were on page 1/high page 2 for say 20+ or so pages –would you still do root level? Would it be better to take articles (at least top one) and 301 to new URL with the best ranking article? Maybe merge some and 301 others. And 301 to relevant articles where I already had the better ranking? Anything not ranking or where the fit is bad–301 to root

    1. Hey Andrew,

      Good question and thanks for the comment. That approach would be best in such a situation. The only annoying part is that you would need to get hosting for the domain

  9. After I redirect 301 domains, do I need to maintain it on hosting? Or just maintain domain name registration? If you say that 301 redirects the entire backlink profile, including anchor text, etc … Is it suspicious if my backlink profile includes the brand name of another domain? (Of course, it’s a relevant domain to my topic, but I’m talking about anchor text )

  10. Hi Nathan, I lost a domain to a squatter. Two years later I was able to retrieve it. It was for an old blog that I am now going to resurrect (as the old domain had huge authority). Two issues: The blog was built on Blogger (blogspot domain) which has authority and links pointing to it. my current domain also has links and authority. My old URL (the one the squatter took) still retains its authority which is greater than my new URL. I hope that you are still with me.

    Oh, and I want to change platforms to WordPress…

    What’s the best way to squeeze the most out of the redirects? Also, should I be redirecting old pages to their new equivalents (rather than bulk redirect to the home page)? If you could let me know I would hugely appreciate it! Thanks Paul.

  11. Hi. We have an opportunity purchase a recently expired domain with very strong authority and trust and a great (relevant) link profile. Unfortunately, the domain expired several months ago and the former site went down when that happened. Google has already dropped the site out of their index because it was down for so long.

    Question: Why do you recommend that you only purchase domains where the (former) site is still indexed? If we purchase and redirect will Google not give us value for the links because they know the site was pulled down prior to our purchase?

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