Are you thinking about buying a website but don’t know what to do? Are you worried about getting ripped off, or just getting a website that flat out sucks?
Don’t worry because in this free guide I’m going to walk you through how to buy a website that doesn’t suck, for less money, and without being ripped off or scammed.
If you’re looking for an overview video then check out my video below. I show my strategy and process on how to buy a website.
After watching my video above make sure to read the rest of my guide below. I go into complete detail on how to buy a website.
If you haven’t already you need to set the goals of your website portfolio. This is to help you reach your goals and generate more income more quickly. Make sure to read my article on the process I created: How to Build A Portfolio of Websites
Step 1: Set A Max Budget
I know that seems pretty obvious. You would be surprised though how many people don’t budget their projects. When setting up your budget on buying a website make sure it’s the maximum amount of money you’re willing to spend. The goal is to acquire a new website under the budget you set.
Once you set your budget don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if it goes over budget. Use your best judgement and don’t spend money you don’t have or can’t quickly recuperate.
The long term strategy is to be profitable and prosperous!
Step 2: Define Website Criteria
Now that you have a budget set, you need to define the criteria of the website you’re looking for. The reason having a criteria is important is because it keeps you focused. It makes finding your ideal website more simple. You’ll spend less time looking through every listing and more time analyzing the websites that fit the criteria of your portfolio.
Here is the criteria I look for in a new website:
(note: you don’t have to look for sites that have all the criteria below. You can pick a site based on 1, 2, 3 or all the criteria. Having a criteria is to help you identify sites that meet the expectations you set for yourself. It also allows you to be more focused during your research.)
Niche – If you’re looking to enter a new niche it’s easier to buy a website that’s already established. If you’re new to buying websites I suggest you stick to niches that you’re familiar with. This will make it simple to maintain and grow the website.
Revenue – If you’re buying a website based on revenue make sure it has at least 6 months of data. If the site is only a couple months old then it’s difficult to know the trends of the website. As a buyer the more data you have the more confident you can be when buying a website.
There may be rare instances that you would buy a new website based on revenue. One example is that the website is ranking for certain competitive keywords that are responsible for its revenue. In this instance you will want to study the websites backlink profile to ensure the rankings won’t be short lived.
Traffic – If website traffic is part of your criteria then you need to know the traffic sources. It’s important to get access to the site’s Google Analytics profile. One thing I immediately check is the referral traffic sources. Make sure a large portion of the websites traffic isn’t coming from spam sites. Also look to see what pages of the website are getting the most traffic.
The more you can understand about the traffic of the website and visitors behavior the better. The last thing you want is to buy a website that claims high volumes of traffic and most of the traffic sources are spam.
Social Following – This is one of my favorite types of criteria to target lately when looking for a website to purchase. For instance there are thousands of Facebook fan pages with a massive following. The problem is that the owner doesn’t have a well optimized site associated with it.
Usually you can acquire these sites and social accounts for a great price. Just make sure the fan page has the potential to make you more money. As an example you wouldn’t want to buy into a niche that focused on cute bunny pictures, but you would if the niche was fitness, gardening, survival, etc…
Another important thing to remember is to investigate the social accounts. Make sure their is an active audience. The last thing you want is to get a fan page or other social accounts that are nothing but fake fans.
Email List Size – Buying a website with an active and healthy email list is one of the best sites you can buy in my opinion. If the website utilizes email marketing make sure to optin to the list. analyze the emails and see how they are marketing the website.
Domain – Sometimes the domain alone is worth the purchase of a website. Especially if it has a lot of pagerank, domain authority, etc… Make sure to check the backlinks and make sure the domains authority isn’t being faked.
Keyword Rankings – A great piece of criteria to look for in a website is it’s keyword rankings. See what keywords the website is ranking for and analyze it’s backlinks. The last thing you want is a website that ranks for keywords with little to no buyer intent and relies on spammy link practices.
When coming up with your criteria for buying a new website it’s important to note that you don’t always have to buy a website solely on how much revenue it generates. Use your best judgement when looking at websites that meet your criteria. For example: If the website claims a lot of revenue and generates little traffic then the seller might be untruthful about the websites stats.
Step 3: Website Research Process
This is where the real work begins. Now that you have an idea on the type of website you want it’s time to start the research process.
When starting your quest to find a website to purchase always start with marketplaces. This makes it easy to quickly scan websites for sell and identify potential sites worth purchasing.
Here are the biggest marketplaces I suggest you start your research process.
- Flippa – This is the biggest marketplace online for buying and selling websites. You can find some great deals here if you spend the time to research the websites that meet your criteria. The biggest issue with Flippa is the amount of sites available for purchase. A good bit of the sites for sale are beginner sites or just flat out scam. Make sure you do thorough due diligence before making a purchase.
- Empire Flippers – This is one of my marketplaces marketplaces for buying or selling websites. They actually screen every website before listing it for sale. This gives buyers much more confidence when purchasing a website. The websites here are usually much more expensive and reserved for those that have more money to spend. If you don’t have $5,000 or more to spend then this won’t be the market place for you.
- Free Market – This is a newer marketplace similar to Flippa. The same rules apply as they do to Flippa. The key here is due diligence. Make sure you spend ample amount of time researching every website you plan to purchase.
If you want to streamline the process of scanning multiple marketplaces then I suggest using a tool like Flip Filter. It allows you to look at multiple website listings from multiple marketplaces from one dashboard. This is a great tool if you plan on buying and selling multiple websites. It’s also very reasonably priced that anyone can afford.
There are many other places and tactics to find websites for sale. Most of these other sites are website brokers and they only deal with high end website purchases. So if you don’t have a good bit of capital to work with I wouldn’t waste your time looking.
I do have some alternative methods of finding great websites to purchase websites at affordable price points. I’ll save these methods for another article 😉
Ok, so you find some websites that meet your initial criteria. What do you do?
Add Websites To A Spreadsheet
That’s right! Start adding websites that meet your criteria to a spreadsheet. You can use Microsoft excel, Google Docs, Openoffice or anything equivalent. The point of doing this is to start tracking stats of these websites. It allows you to track important metrics and prioritize which websites to purchase first.
Here are the main metrics you need to analyze:
- Pagerank/Domain Authority
- Avg. Monthly Traffic
- Traffic Sources
- Avg. Monthly Revenue
- Social Accounts
- Email List Size
- Keyword Rankings
These are the core metrics to start tracking. This will help you tremendously while doing due diligence on the websites you plan to buy. Many times while doing this process you will see stats that instantly raise red flags on the validity of the website.
For example: If the website owner claims a majority of the traffic is coming from Facebook and their fan page has little to no engagement that should instantly raise a red flag. You have to use your best judgement and keep notes of anything that raises red flags. That way you can bring them up when you speak to the seller.
Website Due Diligence
The most important step while purchasing any website is due diligence. This is your chance to validate stats, and identify anything that raises suspicion. Here are the steps you need to take while doing proper due diligence on a website.
Some of these tasks can’t be done until you reach out to the seller.
Here is What I do while doing due diligence:
- Verify Site Owner – This process is pretty simple. You need to identify the person that owns the website. Once you know who owns the website you can research their name and look at other websites they run. You can also look to see if this person has a history of scamming people in the past.
- Verify Site Traffic and Sources – The easiest way to get this data is to ask the seller if you can have access to their Google Analytics account. If they grant you permission you can look at the traffic stats for the website. If they don’t use Google Analytics or other forms of traffic analytics software then it should instantly raise red flags. One example is if the seller claims a majority of the traffic comes from organic search. Make sure you verify their rankings if they don’t supply you access to their analytical data.
- Verify Site Income and Sources – The safest way to do this is via Skype. While reaching out to the seller have them share their screen to show income stats. If they refuse to do this then see if they will produce a video that shows them logging in to their accounts verifying the income. Use your best judgement and extreme caution of websites that make unrealistic claims.
- Verify Website Expenses – One thing many website sellers don’t disclose properly is the websites expenses. You need to understand all the expenses associated with the website. Such as advertising, hosting, outsourcing, etc…
- Analyze Site History – An easy way to analyze the sites history is to use Archive.org. This will allow you to look at the websites history. Make sure the website wasn’t used for porn or anything out of the ordinary.
- Analyze Site Backlinks – Make sure you analyze the sites backlink profile. Make sure the site doesn’t have a bunch of spam links, improper link profile, and anything that gives off signs that the website will be penalized from Google and other search engines in the near future.
There are some great services available to take care of the due diligence for you. I highly recommend Centurica if you plan on spending $15,000 or more on your next website purchase.
Step 4: Seller Out Reach
Please Note: You don’t have to wait until this point to have initial contact with the seller. It’s always a great idea to start a conversation with them ASAP.
Once you’re confident on a website you want to purchase you need to setup a meeting with the seller. This is your chance to have any questions you have answered. It’s also your opportunity to validate any stats or revenue claimed by the seller. Make sure you have a list of questions prepared before your meeting.
Setup Your Meetings on Skype
I recommend setting up your meetings via Skype. Not only is this service free, but allows the seller to share their screen and share valuable information with you. Especially if the seller is claiming revenue. You want to make sure you get as much data from the seller as possible. Including updated stats on the website.
If the seller is hesitant or tries to avoid questions you ask then this should be a red flag that the seller is trying to hide certain stats from you. It’s usually easy to determine the legitimacy of the seller after a brief conversation with them. If you have any discomfort about the website and the seller can’t address your issues then it’s best to skip the website and move to another website.
I also recommend you have an offer built ready to email to the seller once you’re finished with your chat. More than likely the offer will change after the conversation.
Step 5: Make An Offer to Buy The Website
A good rule of thumb when making your offer is always start at 50% of your Max Budget. You can adjust your initial offer depending on the website. It doesn’t matter if the seller rejects your first offer.
IMPORTANT: I highly recommend you negotiate over email. In some instances it’s good to get on the phone. Especially if you’re good at closing on the phone. I usually do a mix of both as I’ve done this several times. If you’re new to this I recommend sticking to email.
The Goal is To Acquire The Website Lower Than Max Budget
If I have $5,000 to spend then I’ll start the offer at $2,500 and negotiate to my max budget if needed. The goal is to acquire the website for less than your budget.
This will give you extra funds to invest into the website after it’s purchased. I usually average 25% less than my budget.
Here’s an example:
You: Hi Seller, I’m willing to offer you $2,500 for bigbluebunnies.com. Here is how I came up with that price….. etc… etc…
Seller: Sorry, I’m not willing to sell my amazing website about big blue bunnies at that price.
You: Sorry to hear that seller. Do you have a price in mind?
Seller: Yes! I’m willing to sell my website for $7,000. That is the price I’m comfortable with.
You: hmmm… That is out of my price range. Your website only “blank”, “blank”, “blank”. I wasn’t expecting to do this, but how about we meet in the middle at $3,500. At that price I’m already spending $1,000 more than I anticipated.
Seller: The max I can let this site go for is $4,000 (at this point you can accept the counter offer or try and get the price down more.)
You: I understand. At that price it really pushes the limit of what I want to spend. I’m going to have to do “blank”, “blank”, “blank” to maintain and grow the website to get my money back. I can do $3,800.
If they don’t agree to that price you have a couple options.
1.) You can accept the $4,000 offer or
2.) Tell them that you need time to think about it. This allows the seller to really think about your offer. Sometimes you get replies back soon after that they want to accept.
Another important thing to consider is whether or not the website is in an auction. If the auction is very active then you’re less likely going to get a seller that can be haggled down.
Step 6: Close The Deal
After you and the seller agree to a price all that’s left is wrapping everything up. You just have a few more steps until you have you’re new website. You still need to agree on deliverables, take care of legal work, and agree on a payment method.
The first thing you have to do is agree on the deliverables. These are the actual things and services you are purchasing from the seller. You might even want these defined in a document to protect you in case the seller doesn’t deliver what was promised.
Define Expected Deliverables From The Seller
Here are Example Deliverables:
- Domain Name
- Website Files
- Copy Rights
- Social Accounts
- Other Accounts (Aweber, Clickbank, etc…)
- Post Sale Support
- Access to Assets (Writers, PBN’s, Ebooks, etc…)
- Website Transfer
Take Care of Necessary Legal Work
Once you’re confident on the deliverables. The next part is to take care of any legal work. Like signing Non-Disclosure Agreements and Non-Competes. If you’re unsure what you should do make sure to consult with a Lawyer.
If you’re spending $10,000+ on buying a new website I highly suggest you hire a lawyer that specializes in buying and selling online businesses. The more money you spend, the more risk involved, and the more steps you need to take to protect yourself.
Agree on Payment Method
My favorite way to purchase websites is with a service called ESCROW. I’ve done over $500,000+ in website transactions with them to date. It’s a great solution for both the buyer and seller.
If you’re making a smaller purchase of $3,000 or less you can get away using something like PayPal. They’ve gotten better about seller protection in the last couple years.
Start Website Transfer and Final Checks
Depending on your agreement with the seller now is the time to start the transfer of the website and all deliverables. Don’t release all your funds to the seller until you have everything you agreed upon.
Make sure to double check everything and all is in good order.
Step 7: You’re Done! You Bought A Website
Congratulations! You just purchased a website. Not only did you purchase a website, but you got what you wanted and hopefully for less than you budgeted.
You’re journey is just getting started. Now you have to try and grow the website to meet your website portfolio goals.
Do you have any questions about buying a website? Let me know in the comments section.