Buying an established website can save time and money and provide a fast return on investment.
-An article presentation from Portfolio Management Group
However, a purchaser must be sure they know what they are getting. A website with a poor brand reputation, low-quality content, and toxic backlinks could be more trouble than it’s worth. Here are ten things to check to ensure that the website you buy is a sound investment. Remember, these are only the initial, general things to check. Once you decide to move forward with a purchase, it is important to have a detailed due diligence plan.
- Domain Age and Ownership
The best place to start your due diligence before buying a website is with a Whois lookup, which will reveal the basic information about the domain. A Whois lookup will tell you when the web domain was first registered and the renewal date. The lookup will also reveal where the site is hosted and who owns the domain, but only if the registration is not private.
- Content Quality
If you plan to keep the content intact, it would be advisable to audit the quality of the existing content. You will likely want to amend the content to suit your purposes. And you may want to improve search engine optimization. Still, you probably don’t want to rewrite every page. So it is best to proofread a sample of pages, check that keywords are not over-optimized, and run a few pages through a grammar checker to highlight mistakes.
- User Experience
It would also be a good idea to assess the useability of the site as it stands. A few improvements may not be a big issue, but a major overhaul will take time and cost money. One of the benefits of buying an established website is that you can hit the ground running. However, that will not be possible if the content needs rewriting, site navigation is poor, and the overall user experience is substandard.
- Proof of Income
If you are buying the website as a going concern, it will be best not to take the seller’s word regarding projected income. Instead, ask for proof of prior income and assess the projected future income yourself. An eCommerce business will have accounts that the seller should be willing to share with you. If it is an affiliate marketing site, the seller will have commission statements or other evidence of earnings.
- Brand Reputation
It would help if you also looked off-site to assess the value of a website you are considering buying. Search for the site on review platforms, for example, to discover user comments and reviews. Researching brand mentions on social media will also give you an insight into the site’s reputation. Online tools such as Falcon, Brand24, and Talkwalker will help you find and assess online brand mentions.
- Security Issues
Before you part with any money, it would be best to ask the seller for access to the site’s Google Analytics and Search Console logins. Access to these analytics tools will provide a range of helpful information and help you identify any issues with the site. The search console, for example, will reveal if the site has any security issues raised by Google. You can further check the website’s security with tools like Sucuri SiteCheck, which will show if the site is malware-infected or blacklisted by Google.
- Traffic Analysis
Existing traffic is a significant benefit of purchasing an existing website. The most straightforward way to assess traffic is Google Analytics. Google Analytics will also enable you to analyze the source of traffic, bounce rates, and the site’s most visited pages. Tools like SEMRush will provide further traffic analysis and forecasting and enable you to conduct an SEO audit of the site.
- Website Ranking Metrics
You can use a range of website metrics to assess a site’s ranking on search engines. These ranking metrics include Moz Domain Authority, Ahrefs Rank and Domain rating, and SEMrush Rank. Each of these indicators will provide a means of comparing the website you intend to buy with competitors and other similar sites.
- Backlinks Profile
Backlinks play a crucial role in a website’s search engine ranking. However, backlinks created by blackhat techniques, such as robots, are likely to have only a temporary benefit and may eventually lead to a site receiving a Google penalty. Therefore, it is advisable to check the backlinks before purchasing a website. Tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, and Majestic, will help you discover and analyze the backlinks pointing at a website you are considering purchasing.
- Keyword Ranking
You will probably hope to rank instantly for some keywords when you buy a website. However, it is best not to assume that because a site is relevant to a niche that it ranks for the profitable keywords. Instead, check the keywords the site is ranked for with the tools provided by SEMRush or Moz.
The crucial point to take away from the above is not to rush into buying a website. Take your time reviewing the site and analyzing the metrics to ensure that it fits your purpose. If you don’t do thorough due diligence, you could wind up with a site that requires as much or more effort as a new site.
If you want to buy a website and need an operational or digital due diligence plan, contact Portfolio Management Group or email Craig Daley directly for a free consultation. We have the expertise and experienced people to ensure you are getting what you are paying for.