Monday, July 10, 2006

Expanding Your Empire: Website Buyers Guide

You have a small blog and are starting to gain recognition. Your advertising budget has grown to $100 per month and you have a $1,000 set aside for development. In the past you have leased long term organic text links and that seems to be working quite well. Even though your text link campaigns are yielding profits you aren’t entirely comfortable spending your development money on links.

First you look internal to see how you can expand your existing site. You feel you already have a grip on SEO and the site is optimized fairly well so you reject that idea. Then you think about having your blog expanded into a network to hire on a few more bloggers. The idea really sounds tempting but your not sure if you have the time to maintain a network or the money to support it in the short run. So you leave that idea on the drawing board for now. The only other internal idea you can think of is to hire on a few temporary freelance content developers but you would really rather provide all the content for your core blog.

After ruling out all immediate internal solutions you start looking external. Perhaps you could purchase an entire website. You could then spend a little time optimizing and cross promoting. Then you have a long term source of revenue and advertising space. This is an idea well worth pursuing but it does require two things, patience and knowledge.

The patience part of website shopping.
It’s very important to realize that the ideal site is not simply going to fall in your lap. It could take days weeks or even months to find the right fit. This is your investment, do not squander it on a second rate site.

The knowledge part of the equation.
There are a lot of small things to consider before making a bid. If you don’t do your homework you could end up with an improper fit or worse yet a lemon!

1) Check the sites age…
Doing a simple whois check will bring up the age of the domain. If the domain is under 3 months old raise the caution flag. A lot of people buy domains and spend 4-5 hours putting up a shell of a website before putting it up for bid. Having said that there are also solid opportunities buying new sites. Some webmasters will pump hundreds of hours into a new site then realize they are still a long way from where they want to be so they dump it off for a fraction of its value.

2) Don’t take the sellers word for it!
Realize that you are not working with a colleague here. Many times a seller will stretch the truth or outright lie in order to fetch top dollar whether the site is worth it or not.

3) Is the website related to your network?
Remember one of your primary motivations for buying a site? (cross promoting) If you are blogging about fish eggs how are links from an interior decoration article site going to help your blog? I’m not saying those links would be worthless but they are certainly not as valuable as they could be.

4) Is the content unique?
An increasing trend is for webmasters to develop sites with a massive amount of free content from website such as Initially you might find yourself drooling over the sheer volume of content. Snap yourself out of the haze and thing logically. If an owner has volumes upon volumes of content why are they selling for a couple hundred dollars? That’s because the site is probably worth a fraction of that. A growing trend in search engine marketing is the dropping of value in pages containing duplicate content. Every page on the site is very likely republished on hundreds of other sites so they are all competing with each other for the bottom of the barrel.

You can easily check to see if the content is original. Simply copy the first paragraph of several articles and plug that entire phrase into google. (enclosing the paragraph in quotes gives better results) If you are seeing other sites publishing the content then raise the red flag.

5) How much maintenance is required?
Don’t overlook the maintenance requirements. If you are simply looking for a site you can optimize, cross promote and let it do its thing then stay away from community type sites. You are probably not going to want to filter out the spam or accept new submissions on a daily basis.

6) Is the site established?
Check the msn link popularity of not only the home page but individual content pages within the site. You are looking for links from related sites and blogs not random link exchanges from webmasters plugging links into the back end of their sites.

7) Does the seller have a large network of sites?
If they are already cross promoting through their network then drop the links after the sale you might find a significant drop in revenue over a 1-2 month period. You can ask the seller if they are cross promoting but you wont always get a straight answer so keep your eyes open while checking link popularity.

8) Take everything into consideration.
Individually assess and value the domain, design, concept, content, optimization and link popularity. Then add up your assessed values and compare that with the asking price. After all, it’s about how valuable the site is to you not the seller.

Article courtesy of W3 Appraisals.


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