Buy An Existing Website – A Good Idea?
Are you considering a change of career moving to the internet or do you already work on the web? For the former, we have some advice for you regarding website acquisition. If the latter, perhaps you would like to expand your empire with additional websites. To save time, are you seriously thinking about acquiring an existing website versus starting one from scratch?
There are many opportunities found at services specializing in selling (and buying) already existing E-commerce businesses and websites, and they operate much like agencies selling real estate. After all, websites are the internet’s property. To determine if this is a good idea for you and your business, continue reading!
Key Points to Verify Before Your Purchase
Sometimes some websites appear to be an attractive domain because it is filled with valuable keywords, but will the website’s visibility still be relevant after the sale?
1. Make Sure the Website Hasn’t Been Penalized by Google
An unscrupulous seller has no qualms about selling you a penalized site. To avoid being sold a website like this, which will be virtually useless to you, ask the seller to share access to Google Webmaster Tools so that you can verify that the domain name has not been deemed penalized due to weak links, aggressive spam, cloaking and other black hat tactics!
Then, your next task entails an algorithm filter and is much more tricky to pinpoint. Check to see if the site is experiencing negative results from “Penguin” or other manual spam action from Google such that there are key phrases used that involve the goal of targeting sales for the business. It’s not easy to identify if a site has certain filters applied to it by simply looking at it. You must dig deeper. There are certain clues to help determine the penalty:
- When you type the name of the domain in Google, the website doesn’t show up on the first page;
- If you type a complete html title tag title in Google, the site’s article it corresponds to does not appear. Use a long, unique title title to perform this test.
- if you see a “manual action taken” message in Google Search Console (you must have access to Google’s Search Console, previously called Google WebMasterTools).
2. Confirm That The Domain Name Has Not Been Trademarked
This is an issue that could truly make your life miserable if it’s not taken care of properly. For example, say someone tries to sell you a website called, “Snapbacks” located at the URL “snapbacks.com”. On paper, it sounds ideal but in practice, the business or individual who owns the trademark by the same name, could ask you to cease all activities using their trademarked name unless you plan on acquiring the name in its entirety. Avoid this situation at all costs because it will bring you more harm than good.
To make certain that the domain name has not been determined a registered trademark, check with the patents and trademark associations. Be sure to do a search without the domain extension.
- Check The Numbers!
This makes perfect sense but it doesn’t hurt to emphasize the importance of verifying the accuracy of the numbers reported to you by the seller. That is to say, determine that the stated web statistics and sales numbers are spot on. ( It’s fairly easy to generate fake web visitor statistics ) so scrutinize these stats. Also, do not hesitate to request services from a certified accountant to re-crunch the numbers and double-check all accounts. Remember, this is your livelihood, so be particularly thorough on all accounts. Additionally, ask for the original sources for traffic acquisition in order to know exactly how much it will really cost, given the necessity to spend on AdWords advertising or for Facebook campaigns, to name a couple of examples.
Finally, if all goes well and you’ve successfully bought the domain, remember to ask for the webmaster’s contact information in case you’d like to perform modifications on the site, and of course, request the information for the current SEO consultant in the case that you do not want to change an already winning team!