Readers Question – Things to check when buying a site

A reader question was sent in that I will discuss today and if you have anything to add please do so in the comments.

I’ve been to Sitepoint to have a look around but I don’t feel comfortable in evaluating the different opportunities.  Are they priced right? Are they really THAT passive? Are the traffic truly real? etc. I’m writing to you in the hope that you could either give me a few good hints or maybe point me in the right direction.

ShoppingSitepoint is probably still the largest and most active website buying/selling marketplace with more choice than ever before, more than that there are also many more buyers with budgets than there were a few years ago so the chances of making a sale are better even if it’s a high budget.

First you have to consider the motive for selling, for me I would not be interested in selling a zero maintenance website for 12 to 24 times the net monthly income so why would anyone else? Usually the main reason is either

  • They know the website has a shelf life and want out before it slumps
  • They need a quick injection of a large amount of cash for debt or investment

 So a major worry when buying a site in my eyes would be to satisfy yourself the subject matter is not a fad, not  a popular TV show forum that is getting cancelled or a technology that will soon be dated, if you can do your homework and feel secure that the reason for selling is genuine and the subject matter has longevity next up you need to weigh up whether the site is right for you and value it.

Jeremy did a great post on valuations so I won’t double up – the main thing to take from valuations is that webmasters never factor in time needed to run the site when working out net profit, so if the site truly is zero maintenance then your good, if it isn’t you need an exact list of what is required to keep it going and growing.

Pointers – Things I would look for if looking at a website on Sitepoint

Is it theirs to sell? – Lookup the whois and contact the domain owner and confirm the site is for sale, also try contact through the website itself, if both checkout then you know they have the power to sell the site and transfer it, there have been a lot o stolen domains this year sold to unsuspecting buyers.

Can I grow it, are there missed opportunities to increase traffic or sales so that he website can pay itself back quicker, I bought a site last year for 24 x monthly income and it is on course to pay for itself in 12 months -so look for poor SEO and evaluate what you can add to what is there is anything to grow the site.

Inspect the goodsIs it really zero maintenance? Some claim they are, often saying a couple of hours needed at most, it’s human nature for many sellers to give their website a glowing report when selling, try to do your talking by email rather than through the comments system – most of the time others will ask the obvious questions for you on Sitepoint, if you need more detail ask the seller through email as they tend to be more truthful through email than they would be through the comments system which they know may put of other potential buyers.

Are the stats real? Many webmasters use Analytics which is free, if they don’t you can ask that it is added for a test for a few days to confirm traffic, if they do install Google Analytics they can add your email address so that you can login and have complete access to view the traffic to check the figures. Screenshots are ok for low value deals but if your spending a few thousand you want to know your buying the real thing so get ACTUAL ACCESS to the stats and check the source of the traffic to ensure it isn’t from their own network or friends or paid adverts they forgot to tell you about. Even if they use their own stats program get complete access or confirm they agree to that as a condition of the sale before money is transferred.

How can I get the site after purchase – ensure you know what hosting requirements and bandwidth the site uses and that you have or can find a suitable host for the website, will you need any special help to get the website moved and if so will the buyer agree to help?

Payment – Will the buyer accept Escrow, a few sites offer Escrow like Escrow.com, Sedo and Moniker, most are just geared up for domain sales but can do websites, make sure the money is safe especially when dealing with figures or more than a couple of thousand dollars. Paypal is not your friend.

……….. If you have a question you would like discussed please contact us.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Some great pointers Scott thanks. I’ve been looking at sitepoint myself for a site thats right for me, but so far have been too nervous about making an offer. Some of the sites for sale seem too good to be true, and of course some of them are damned expensive, so this is a post thats come along at just the right time for me.

  2. Too many variables in the active website sales market for me. There could literally be tens of reasons why the site could bomb straight after it was purchased. The fact that the seller knows about the Sitepoint marketplace and they are actively wanting to sell their site would lead me to believe that they know the scene and they wouldn’t be selling unless it was very much in their interests to do so.

    I’d stick with buying domains as there are defined metrics that can be ascertained which can give a decent appraisal of worth. Or if your reader definately wanted to buy a site, I’d approach someone that isn’t advertising thier site for sale, make sure it was highly informational and not running any form of advertising… you know the rest.

  3. One thing I learned from a recent purchase is that stats may be real, but they may only be representative of the pas few months. In my case this was the most popular time for the site, being a holiday. So yes, I’m growing the site, but so far only to the level it was at in the stats.

  4. I have bought two sites at DP. I have been lucky. But the other day I was almost ripped off. Need to be very careful. Never tried at Sitepoint.

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