For buying a website I have closely monitored offerings from two online business brokers: FEInternational and Empire Flippers. Reads my website broker review to find out whos's the best among…
I Buy a Website: My Strategy And Results
Finally, I bought a website! In this post, I will tell you what I bought (without revealing the URL, of course) and how I chose it.
Disclaimer: I am still very new to it and I am no way being an expert in the subject of buying websites.
However, I want to share my experience with you as well as keep a record of my actions. It is very possible that in the future I will get back to the post and update it according to a new knowledge about what’s working and what’s not and whether my investment was successful.
My Criterias Of a Good Website To Buy
I decided to stay away from complicated business models like dropshipping, e-commerce and to stick to simple ones: Amazon Affiliate, AdSence.
I wanted the website to have as smaller a PBN footprint as possible (ideally zero) or at least have a good PBN backlink profile.
I was aiming to buy one bigger website rather than a few smaller ones. Each website requires a maintenance, and I did not want to disperse myself between too many of them.
In addition to all this, I wanted my first website to be a simple money generator. I did not want to bother with regular updates, keeping a fan base, email lists… I know that such websites have a bigger growth potential, but I really wanted to concentrate on building my other websites while having a steady passive income. The real one.
How I Do a Due Diligence
It is very important to do a proper due diligence when buying a website. Nobody but you is responsible for acquiring a sustainable business, and of course after finishing the deal you cannot go back to the broker or seller asking to return your money if something goes wrong.
Here is how I do a due diligence.
It is possible to learn a lot about a website just having its URL.
Most of the time, I use these tools to find out the truth about an online business from its URL:
- SemRush (an affiliate link);
I really like SemRush. It is my primary investigation tool. It shows so much information: the top 5 keywords, organic competitors, organic / paid traffic, backlinks, etc. The free version allows to make 10 requests each day and check 10 results for each report. Usually, I look at 2-3 websites at a time, and the free daily quota is way enough. The only disadvantage is that the tool does not show the most recent (1-2 week old) changes in the metrics.
- FEInternational penalty checker;
A great free tool from an online business broker I wrote about in my previous post. The tool shows the organic traffic in relation to the major Google SE updates. The only disadvantage is that the tool does not show the stats for the last month.
- Google Trends to verify the keyword sustainability and seasonality;
Nobody wants to invest in a shrinking niche – unless the price is super good 😉 But I tend to avoid such niches.
Knowing the keyword seasonality helps me to find out whether the website evaluation was done after high season thus making the website price inflated.
- SEO SpyGlass for an easy link penalty checking and revealing PBNs;
It is a pretty good tool for a backlink research. The free version has all the capabilities of a the paid one apart from saving projects. With SpyGlass, I do a detailed research of the website backlink profile to get the info about a PBN if any used, its quality, and potential backlink penalties.
Another due diligence “tools” I use is a plain simple access to the traffic analytics of the website. Usually, it is Google Analytics, and sometimes it is some other tool. Once I have access to the traffic, I carefully investigate it and use the other main “tool” of a due diligence…
…which is asking the seller questions. Why did the traffic change? Did you use any backlink selling services? Did you use PBN? If so, what are the URLs? By this time, I already know (or at least I think I know 😉 ) the answers to many these questions, but it is always good to confirm the conclusions using multiple ways.
Buying a Website Is Scary!
It is really scary and nerve wrecking to buy a website for the first time. What if I missed something? What if the price is still too high? It is almost like buying a place to live.
Before committing to the last offer, I tried to buy a website twice. Gosh does EmpireFilppers love their buyers. I was probably the worst buyer they ever had! 🙂 🙂 🙂
This happened before I finalized all my criterias of a good website to buy. Many of the criterias came from reflecting about why I did not want to buy this particular website.
It was a website in my higher price range (>= $18,000). It was a less than one-year-old affiliate (not Amazon) site specializing in a particular kind of underwear. It was powered up by an owner used PBN with other backlinks coming from Fiverr gigs.
I liked the niche and at the beginning I did not pay much attention to the backlink profile.
I did not have enough money on my account to buy it right away, so I needed to wait several days until the missing funds become available.
I negotiated a good price with the seller, and we started waiting for the money to arrive. The website was not yet marked as sold; this is a precaution EmpireFlippers uses to protect the seller against an unfair buyer or the one who likes to change their mind. Like me.
While waiting, I was thinking about the website’s chances of being punished by Google. Since the Fiverr backlinks are considered one of the worst backlinks to have, the backlink profile of the website itself and its PBN looked worrisome.
A few days after making the offer, I realized that the decision to buy it was not the best one.
And I simply pulled out.
EF politely asked me what was the reason and then annulled the deal.
The website was never sold and eventually was pulled off the EF marketplace.
The second attempt happened right before I made the last (successful) attempt.
At that point, I really wanted to buy a website and the atmosphere of rush which characterizes Empire Flippers (I wrote about it here) was not helping to think straight.
I saw a website in my lower price range (< $10,000), and in the description it was said that there is zero risk. It was an affiliate website (but not Amazon), so I just called my bank to do the wire transfer without doing any due diligence. After that, I still requested the URL along with the initial information about the website.
Turned out that the location of the owner was very important for that the website. Of course, it did not match mine.
I revoked my offer and kept the money on the EF side. I eventually used it for my third and the last attempt.
Third And The Last Attempt
Finally, I found a website in my middle price range ($10,000 – $18,000) which has a stable organic traffic and no PBN. The revenue is diversified and comes from AdSence and Amazon. The niche is growing, and the website has some potential to grow further.
This time, I was not in a rush. I did the due diligence, calculated a price based on the keyword traffic from the previous year… took one week to think about it… negotiated it with the seller…
And then jumped into the stormy sea! Now this website has a mighty nickname Elephant 🐘 that reflects its power in bringing in revenue (see what nicknames my other websites have here).
How a Sale Happens
After the both parties agreed on the price and the money was received, the EF transfers the website to the new owner. It includes transferring the domain name, the website content, changing the affiliate codes, etc. It is all done by the EF technicians and may take up to three weeks.
After the affiliate codes are changed, the new owner has to confirm that the revenue, as well as the traffic, matches the expected numbers. Until that, EF keeps the money on their side without releasing it to the seller.
For my new website, I was able to confirm the AdSense numbers and the traffic soon after the sale.
Confirming the Amazon numbers took much longer.
I ran into troubles with Amazon, because my application was declined (I will write about it soon).
I reapplied with the website I bought. We waited for one more long slow week until the first sale happened. Then Amazon reviewed my application and approved it.
I was able to confirm the Amazon revenue and finally the sale was finalized.
I plan to leave the website sitting there for a few weeks “as is”. Then I will try to optimize the most popular posts and pages to increase the revenue.
The website has one risk, though. Potential trademark infringement in the domain name. The rest of the website is fine. It is clear that this is a personal blog and not an official site. It has a proper disclaimer and does not use any trademark logos or proprietary pictures.
I may change the domain name eventually. On the other side, the website is already one-year-old, and it has not got into any troubles (yet?)
I will keep you updated! Stay tuned 😉
Photo Credit: Chris Parfitt