There is a lot of money to be made buying websites, whether you are buying to generate a regular income or buying to eventually sell for a profit. The main marketplace for buying and selling websites is called Flippa and it is the safest way to go around this type of business. Unfortunately, there are risks, as with any business, with various scams and going about it the wrong way. This article will hopefully give you enough information to use the Flippa marketplace to buy websites with minimal risk, helping you to generate good revenue in the process.
First of all you will need a Flippa account, if you haven´t got one already, you can sign up for free here and immediately start bidding on websites or list your own for sale. The following 10 points will help you decide if the website you are buying is worth the risk.
1. Check the age of the website.
If you are looking for a starter website, this is not important, however, if you want an established business that is already generating income, you should go with something proven that is at least 1 year old. Any website for sale on Flippa will list the age of the domain but it is important to see how long the actual website has been in business. The domain name may be 10 years old, but if visitors have only starting coming to the site in the last month or 2, it is not an established website, the visitors could die off as soon as the website is purchased and handed over to the buyer.
2. Check the traffic and sources.
There are 4 different sources of traffic that matter, in order of importance, Organic, Social, Referral and Direct. The only genuine way you are going to get access to view the traffic is through Google Analytics and the seller should grant you access to his/her Google Analytics stats by adding you to their account. If a seller refuses to add you or has the excuse, “I don´t use Analytics”, run away fast, they are probably either lying or hiding something.
Organic Traffic is visitors actually searching for the website and landing on it from search engines. This should mean that the website is ranked well and most of the hard work is already done to generate genuine targeted traffic. The organic traffic should be over 60% of all traffic for it to be genuine.
Social Traffic is visitors coming from social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. If there are a lot of visitors from social networks, it means the website is popular on social networks and will possibly be quite viral. Social traffic should be around 25% of the overall traffic.
Referral Traffic is visitors from other websites through back-links, advertising and promotion, however, referral traffic can also be scam sites, traffic generating sites or spam links. Check where the referral traffic is coming from and see how much is actually coming from a good source, ie, sites related to the niche of the website. Anything other than niche related referral traffic might not be good traffic, this is why referral traffic should be at the most 10%. The seller could be spending a fortune on advertising, do you want to buy a website and from day one see a huge traffic drop and have a large advertising cost to generate the same traffic?
Direct Traffic could be visitors going straight to your website from a bookmark which is good, however, it could also be traffic from Analytics being setup incorrectly. Direct traffic could be from the www. to the non www. of the homepage to inner pages of the site, thus making it look like a higher amount of traffic than it should be in the analysis. Around 5% of the entire traffic source should be direct traffic at the most, if the analysis shows incorrect redirects from the same website URLs. Direct traffic could also be fake traffic from bots or computers setup to deliver hits to the website URLs.
3. Is Adsense Banned?
Depending if you are looking for a passive income site automatically generating revenue from advert clicks or whether you are looking to generate revenue from sales will depend if an Adsense ban is important to you. Adsense is the best CPC publisher network you can use, far higher revenue per click than any other publisher network, so if this is your intention, check if the website is banned from Adsense or not using isbanned.com. Many websites for sale on Flippa will advertise that you can use Adsense as a revenue source, however, many of these sites break Adsense terms so read the Adsense terms to make sure the website is in compliance with Adsense before making a bid.
4. Is the content copied from another source?
Check to see if the content on the website is original or copied from another source using copyscape.com. Enter as many URLs from the website into copyscape.com and make sure all of the content is original. If it is not original, you could face a DMCA takedown or a Google penalty in the near future.
5. Check for a drop in traffic.
If you have access to Analytics, check for a sudden drop in traffic nearer the latest date. If there is a sudden drop in traffic, it could be a Google penalty.
6. Check the domain pagerank.
Pagerank is the authority of the domain and can be faked using tons of .edu and .gov backlinks built up quickly which is asking for a Google penalty in the very near future. If a domain name has a pagerank of 4 or above and is less than 2 months old, its either fake or only just been transferred to the new owner recently. If it has only just been transferred, the chances are the website content is new and the pagerank may drop. Although pagerank is important in some cases, many sites have zero pagerank, are years old and have tons of good traffic.
7. Check the sellers feedback.
Flippa has a feedback system for all buyers and sellers. Always try to deal with sellers that have a high positive feedback and a lot of sales to their name. If a seller is new and you really want to buy the website, make sure you have a good conversation with the seller before bidding, basically make sure their reason for selling is genuine.
8. Check backlinks.
Check the domain name back-links using Ahrefs.com and make sure that all backlinks are related to the website niche or come from highly respected websites. There could be thousands of backlinks from link farms or spam sites that will eventually give you a Google Spam penalty that will be almost impossible to recover from.
9. Does the seller accept Escrow?
Escrow is a service that you should use and Flippa offers an Escrow service for free. Basically, the buyers money is held in a Flippa account until the buyer and seller are completely satisfied with the deal. Never pay for a website before you have the website on your server and the domain in your registrar account.
10. Do your research on the website.
So there you go, 10 tips to help you buy websites with minimal threats of becoming scammed. Follow the steps and only bid if you are 100% sure. You may lose out on some fantastic websites, however, the loss will always be less than what you gain. Any business has a risk, especially online businesses but if you do it right, you can be set for life with good revenue and financial security.