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Buying or Selling a Website? How to Analyze Your Options

You can buy/sell cars, houses, home goods and even websites. While ten years ago you might not have expected to find websites that were up for sale, today it’s becoming increasingly common to find domains and fully-developed websites up for grabs to the highest bidder. Today the Internet is extremely popular — with an estimated 700,000 new Internet users hitting the web daily. Therefore it only makes sense to invest in today’s trend: the Internet.

 Why Buy a Website?
Most of the websites for sale are usually established. These sites could have fully-functional ecommerce interfaces, have a solid reputation with Google and even be high-ranking. In some cases websites are being sold because the owner no longer wants to operate the site or business. In other cases the owner needs to liquidate for funds. No matter the reasons the website is for sale, buying a website can be profitable when it’s done correctly.

 The issue with purchasing a website is the valuation. It’s easy to put a value on an offline item, such as a couch or vehicle, but it is another to determine the value of a website. Also, because buying and selling websites is still relatively new — when you compare it to other investments — it’s hard to decide what a good return on your investment is.

The return will be smaller at first, but in the long run a website might be a better investment than purchasing a local business or investing your money in real estate, especially when you factor in that real estate usually takes 8.3 years to accumulate real profits.

Exercising Caution
Buying a website can be profitable, but it can also be a way to lose money. As with any investment, you should do your due diligence and evaluate the websites for sale before making the purchase.

 Consider Your Expertise
Some websites are easy to operate while others are more complex. See what it will take to run the website you’re considering and if you have the technical know-how to operate it. Some websites might require MySQL or JavaScript, which means you might need to hire a professional to help you run the site — and that will take away from your profits.

Review the Site’s Traffic
Ask the website owner for monthly and annual traffic reports. To ensure they’re accurate, have the website owner use Google Analytics on the site and give you access to the account to review its traffic. While a website doesn’t have to have 10,000 viewers a day, you do want a website that gets traffic.

Review the Site’s Earnings
You should know how much the website makes before you purchase. Just like buying a real business, you want to know the probability of profits. Ask for reports and screenshots or video casts to see those reports yourself. If you can, ask the website owner for tax records to verify the earnings.

How Established Is the Site?
Some websites for sale aren’t established. The seller bought the domain one day, designed it quickly another, and put it up for sale at the end of the week. You could purchase these new websites, but the benefit of purchasing a website that is already built is that you don’t have to establish yourself on the web. To verify you’re purchasing an established site look for:

  • The age of the domain
  • How many pages Google has indexed
  • The traffic and revenue the site generates

 You’ll also want to make sure the websites for sale you’re considering haven’t been blacklisted by search engines. These sites can be very difficult to recover, especially if you don’t thorough search engine optimization experience.

Where to Find Sites
There are forums online where website owners can post their websites for sale. Visit a forum or webpage that specializes in the type of website you want to purchase. For example, if you want an ecommerce website, you’ll want to visit ecommerce forums.

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