Motion Invest is one of the most popular brokers of profitable content websites. They have dominated (and revolutionized) the market with primarily content websites priced in the $1,000 to $50,000 range.
I am a fan of what Motion Invest has done by opening up the industry to buying/selling smaller-priced sites. However, the question that most website buyers have is how well have the sites that sold through Motion Invest performed after a 6-month time period.
We reviewed the AHREFs traffic data for 49 websites that were listed on the Motion Invest marketplace from October 2020 to March 2021 and looked at how the traffic has performed 6-months later.
This report covers the following:
- Insights from 49 listings
- Raw listing data (without URLs)
- Major insights from the listings
- Quality control of listings
- Potential risk factors
- Vetting process overview
- Case studies of successful listings
Let’s get into it!
Data Analysis of 49 Motion Invest Listings (After 6 Months)
We reviewed 49 Motion Invest website listings from October 2020 to March 2021 that were priced over $10,000.
How We Collected Traffic and Ranking Data
For this study, we collected the AHREFs organic traffic estimate on the last available date of the month prior to the listing date. Then we compared this to the organic traffic estimate 6 months after this date. A similar process was done to obtain the number of keywords ranked on the first page.
For example, for a website listed on Feb 19, 2021, we collected the AHREFs organic traffic estimate from the last available date in January 2021 and the last available date in July 2021.
This is what we tracked for each listing:
- Listing date
- Listing price
- Traffic Trend
- Organic traffic values (#) and change (%) from list date to 6 months later
- 1st page number of keywords (#) and change (%) from list date to 6 months later
Raw Data for 49 Motion Invest Website Listings
Below you will find the analysis of organic traffic change (%) plus the change in the total number of keywords on the first page (%).
You can view the full raw data in this Google Sheet.
Organic Traffic: 20 Sites Increased, 24 Sites Decreased
Here are the findings:
- 20 websites had an increase in organic traffic,
- 24 websites had a decrease in organic traffic, and
- 5 websites were flat (less than 10% change)
Major Traffic Changes: 12 Sites Decreased, 12 Sites Increased
Here are the findings:
- 12 websites had an increase of over 50% in organic traffic (4 of these websites had an increase of over 100% in organic traffic).
- 12 websites had a decrease of over 50% in organic traffic (4 of these websites had a decrease of over 90% in organic traffic).
1st Page Ranking Changes: 5 Sites Increased, 10 Sites Decreased
Here are the findings:
- 5 websites had an increase of over 50% in keywords ranking on the first page of Google
- 10 websites had a decrease of over 50% in keywords ranking on the first page of Google (3 of these had a decrease of over 90% in keywords ranking on the first page of Google).
3 Major Insights From The Website Listing Data
1. 8% of Sites Had a Large Decline, 8% of Sites Have Doubled Traffic
Some websites listed on Motion Invest have had a major decline after 6 months with organic traffic decreasing by over 90% according to AHREFs.
One website that declined, had a starting price of $92,560 and lost over 97% of its organic traffic according to AHREFs. Another website had a starting price of $132,800 and lost over 88% of its organic traffic according to AHREFs.
Conversely, a website priced at $93,060 had an 87% increase in organic traffic which likely resulted in a strong increase in earnings and valuation.
2. More Websites Decreased in Traffic than Increased in Traffic
Based on this sample of 49 websites priced over $10,000, 49% had a decrease in organic traffic, 41% had an increase in organic traffic, and 10% were flat.
When you purchase a website at a 36x multiple, the hope is that you can earn back your initial investment in 3 years or less. If traffic decreases, it will take longer than 3 years to break even.
3. 75% of Aged/Expired Domain Sites Declined Significantly
Of the 4 known aged domains or expired domains in the sample, 3 of them had a significant traffic decrease of more than 60% (two of them at 90%). One of the domains did very well and increased traffic by 200%.
Here are the findings;
|6 Month Traffic Change (%)||6 Month 1st Page Rankings (%)|
|Aged Domain 1||+204%||+21%|
|Aged Domain 2||-98%||-94%|
|Aged Domain 3||-58%||-62%|
|Aged Domain 4||-92%||-89%|
Due to the small sample size, it is difficult to conclude whether an aged domain is riskier than a website built from scratch. A common denominator of the aged domains that declined in our sample was that they were previously websites about small businesses (e.g., a restaurant or bar) and were converted to an affiliate review website.
3 Insights from Motion Invest’s “Quality Control”
In general, the quality of the websites listed on Motion Invest is good but they do have their risks because these are often newer websites at relatively low prices.
1. Some Listings Have Poorly Written Content
While Motion Invest does vet the websites, some listings have content written by non-native English writers. These websites may have grammatical errors and poor sentence structure. It is recommended to evaluate the content quality during your due diligence process.
A potential risk of buying a website with poor quality content is that there could be a traffic decrease from ranking changes if Google receives poor user experience signals for the website. If you want your visitors to have a good user experience, you may have to rewrite a lot of content, which can be expensive.
2. Unrelated Niche on an Aged/Expired Domain
We found a handful of Motion Investment listings that are built on aged/expired domains on an unrelated niche.
An example was a listing for an audio equipment review website built on the aged domain of a Miami bar that went out of business.
If the content added to an aged domain is significantly different from the original content, there can be a major change in Google rankings and a decline in organic traffic. We have seen examples of these types of websites losing over 90% of their organic traffic according to AHREFs data.
3. Watch Out for AI-Generated Content
While we have not seen examples of AI generated content on Motion Invest listings yet, it is something to watch out for on any marketplace.
AI generated content is becoming more prevalent in the publishing industry. This content is generated by AI tools like Jarvis.ai, which can produce a lot of content at a low cost. Some website builders may use this as a shortcut to add a lot of low quality pages to a website quickly.
Verdict on Quality: Motion Invest vs Empire Flippers
Overall, the content quality of Motion Invest websites is lower than other marketplaces like Empire Flippers. This is mainly due to the fact that Motion Invest aims to sell websites under $50,000 while Empire Flippers typically sells websites priced at $50,000 and up.
This makes buying a website from Motion Invest more accessible for beginner website investors, but the risk of smaller websites tends to be higher.
Based on reported numbers, Motion Invest appears to be less selective than Empire Flippers for the websites that are approved to be listed on their marketplace. According to co-founder Spencer Haws, Motion Invest rejects over half of websites that apply to be listed while Empire Flippers reports that they reject 88% of businesses that apply to be listed.
3 Potential Risk Factors of Buying Websites from Motion Invest
It can be assumed that newer websites with fewer links will be more volatile and more susceptible to a large decline in traffic and rankings.
1. Average Website Age is 2.72 Years
The average age of Motion Invest listings in the first 8 months of 2021 was 2.72 years, which is relatively low.
Older websites that have accumulated a lot of links over time tend to have more authority and trust from Google’s perspective. Google’s algorithm can be more certain that the content quality is good and the website is providing useful information to searchers.
High rankings on a newer website may be temporary while high rankings of an older established website tend to be more stable. Google is constantly testing and rearranging search results, so a new website may be more susceptible to ranking changes as Google receives more data. When a webpage ranks #1 for a long time, it tends to attract links that help it maintain its high rankings.
2. Minimal Niche-Relevant Quality Links
Google’s algorithm may be less certain about the content quality of a newer website with few niche-relevant links. High rankings may be adjusted downward as Google receives more data from user experience signals like dwell time, bounce rate, and organic click-through rate.
It is important to review the quality of links as well as the number of links. Motion Invest provides a downloadable Excel file for every listing that includes all the links from AHREFs.
The number of total links may be inflated due to spammy sites (often on Blogspot domains) that scrape content and link to many sites. These links are probably ignored by Google so the number of linking domains may appear high when the number of quality links are low.
3. Check for Hidden PBN Links
We always recommend checking for any hidden PBN links (private blog network) although these are usually disclosed in the Q&A section of the Motion Invest listings.
One sign of a PBN is a homepage with many random blog posts that link to different niches (this tactic is used because the homepage usually has the most link equity).
Is the Vetting Done by Motion Invest Good?
Motion Invest vets all websites before they are listed and they approve less than half of submissions.
On their website they state: “Our sites are fully vetted with our time-proven personal due diligence process so when you buy from us you know you are getting a quality site that won’t drop off a cliff after purchasing.”
The Motion Invest provides some details of their vetting process on their website buying guide. Additional information about their vetting process is provided in an interview with Jon Gillham on the Niche Pursuits Podcast.
Some items checked include:
- Verifying domain ownership
- Ensuring the domain name is not spammy looking
- Checking the history of the domain in Archive.org
- Verifying income with Loom video screencasts
- Checking bounce rate and session duration to check if traffic looks “real”
- Ensuring traffic isn’t concentrated on just a couple pages
- Verifying traffic by comparing Google Analytics with SEMRush
- Checking backlinks
- Checking for copied content with Copyscape
- Checking images for copyright issues
Overall, the team at Motion Invest does look at the major factors when performing due diligence. The team is top-notch with seasoned website investors. In short, they do a good job of vetting sites.
However, Motion Invest is a marketplace to bring forth sites for sale. Ultimately, a site that does not pass your website investment criteria may pass someone else’s and thus as a marketplace, they will list a variety of websites to cater to all audiences.
As a savvy buyer, you must do your own due diligence on each deal.
3 Case Studies of Successful Buyers
Some buyers of Motion Invest websites have experienced strong growth in traffic.
The Niche Pursuit Podcast has some excellent interviews of people who have bought sites from Motion Invest and have been able to increase traffic and monthly earnings.
- Rich Howard bought a website in the kitchen niche for about $21,000 that was earning $600/month. He 301 redirected a lot of the pages to his main website, MealPrepify. This has allowed him to grow MealPrepify to about $6,500 in revenue per month.
- Yoyao Hsueh bought a website for $2,000 in mid-2020 and he grew it from $20 per month to $6,800 per month. It then fell back to $3,000 in earnings in March 2021.
- Jared Bauman bought a website making $250 per month and grew earnings to about $1,100 per month in 9 months. Part of the revenue growth came adding display ads from Ezoic.
Motion Invest provides a consistent deal flow of profitable websites that are typically priced between $1,000 and $50,000. Bar none, they are one of the best brokers out there run by A-class individuals.
Due to the relatively low domain age and a low number of quality links on many Motion Invest listings, there can be a higher risk of organic traffic decline (compared to more established websites with higher authority).
If you plan to buy and hold a website from Motion Invest without making improvements, there is a risk that traffic will decline. This risk can be mitigated by diversifying across multiple websites with a portfolio.
Note, however, that newer websites can provide a great starting point if you intend to add significant content, links, and other improvements over time.