An Issue With the Domain Sale I Did Not Forsee

If you’ve never been in a negotiation to sell a domain, you may not know how it works. I’ve sold several domain names over the years an here is what typically happens. You’ll receive a respectful but short email from a GMAIL account asking if a particular domain is for sale. The email has zero ties back to the identity of the buyer. The person negotiating the domain acquisition may even be a third party.

That person’s role is to be both serious and get a fair price. They do this by not disclosing their intent. If a price is agreed upon, the trust component is handled by a company such as Escrow.com. They validate the authenticity of both parties and handle the payment. The fee is paid by the purchaser.

When someone wanted to buy criticalmas.com, I was puzzled. Why would anyone want that name? They didn’t want any content. Just the domain name. I asked some tech friends and the 3 biggest theories were:

  1. It was a tech company that wanted to compete with criticalmass.com.
  2. It was criticalmass.com and they wanted to redirect mistypes to their site. Perhaps a few clients mentioned on conference calls they were seeing my blog and not their domain.
  3. It was somehow related to the bicycle activist group Critical Mass.

At the start of the purchase, I saw the name of the acquiring party. It had Technologies in the title. Mystery solved, right? Nope.

Yesterday, in a post-sale email exchange with the buyer regarding Bing Webmaster site verification, he mentioned that my site was purchased because of the strength of the backlinks.

Oh no.

Crap.

I checked criticalmas.com to discover that it now redirects to a diet product website. Not just the home page, but every link. It wasn’t a tech company. They were in the health space. All the links are now 301 redirects to their product, which I know nothing about.

Now, I have a dilemma. Although I was fairly compensated for the domain name, the people that trusted me over the last decade that linked to my site now are linking to a website they did not endorse. And their readers, many of whom are looking to solve health and fitness related questions, are going to find themselves on this diet site.

I take meticulous care of the links on all my websites. I have a broken link checker running all the time. It not only informs me of internal and external broken links but also redirects. When I get time, I check in on the redirects to confirm they still resolve to what the user expects to see. If the redirect has been hijacked, I correct it immediately.

My next move, which I’ve already started, is to reach out directly to the heavy-hitters in the health blogosphere that linked to my site and request they update their links to me. It not only benefits me and their readers but also them in the event this diet site turns out to be low-quality.

A friend of mine pulled a report of 9,800 backlinks to this blog. I think I can widdle this list down to 100-300 links, hosted on 20-30 sites. If I can get half of these bloggers to respond, then I’ll feel better about what happened.

The traffic isn’t even important to me on this site, which is one of the reasons I sold. Before the sale, I was seeing 900-1000 unique visitors a day. I expected that number to tank and then slowly build up over a year. I’m already at 550 uniques after 3 days.

If you did link to this site over the years, thank you! And I hope you can update those links to the new CriticalMAS.org domain. All the paths remain the same. More details for WordPress bloggers.

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MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.

2 thoughts on “An Issue With the Domain Sale I Did Not Forsee”

  1. @MAS
    The good news is, the purchaser site appears to be well-intentioned. Their posts appear to provide sane nutrition and exercise advice (although not necessarily in line with those of your site). It looks like they make their money from a premium service, selling supplements, and affiliate links. So, if some links do not get re-directed, (as best I can tell) at least people aren’t being sent to some crazy scam site.

  2. @Jim – True. It could be worse.

    I did spend many hours this weekend reaching out to websites for updated links. Several have already made changes on their end. More I believe will soon.

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