SEO from the ground up can be a VERY daunting task, especially when site owners have been set the wrong expectations after seeing offshore companies guaranteeing to get them on Google page 1 after only one month. Most SEO consultants (including myself for the most part) refuse to even work with a site that has not been indexed and doesn’t have a Pagerank of at least 2 or 3 (and when I say “for the most part”, I’ll accept the project if the customer is ready to pay for a year of SEO services because that is at least what it will take). So if you’re looking to start a website from the ground up, have your wallet ready.
Or, why start new? There are plenty of resources (check the Websites for Sale links under my blogroll) available for you to utilize in order to buy an already established website. Here are some things to check for when looking to buy an established site:
1. The current position for designated keywords. It’s funny reading some of the descriptions for sites for sale. One I came across was titles “Miami site for sale #1 position on Google” and was only $250. I opened it out of curiosity, and come to find out that the keyword that it was ranking number one for was actually M-I-A-M-I. I didn’t check the numbers but I’m pretty sure I can count the number of people who do Google searches for “M-I-A-M-I” on a daily basis on one hand.
2. How long the site has been established/Pagerank. To be completely honest, Pagerank doesn’t hold a lot of meaning in my book, it doesn’t affect your site’s position at all. But it can tell you how important Google thinks the site is, and more importantly how long the site has been around. Stay away from anything without a Pagerank or anything under a 2/10 (and that’s being nice).
3. Traffic. See how many vistors the site is getting, but also try to get a detailed analytics and Alexa report if possible. Sure the site may be getting 17,000 views per month, but what is the click-through and conversion rates? Are the visitors just coming and going, or are leads or revenue being generated on a high percentage? Also try to find out where the sources of traffic are from.
4. Revenue and expenses. Is the site making money from Adsense, advertising, or affiliate programs? Is the site currently paying for authors of content, hosting costs, or any other expenses? This is good information if you plan on financing the purchase of your website because if revenue is already being generated from the site, it can help with any monthly payments you may need to make to a lender when you make the purchase. Just make sure that you have a plan of action to make the site more profitable, whether it be by generating more leads for your business or whatever other plans you may have.
5. Reputation. Do a Google search on the site address or current company name and see what people have to say about it. Don’t buy a website with bad customer reviews. It’s not like a gas station where you can throw up an “Under New Management” banner and expect people to think things have changed. If the negative reviews have already been posted and indexed by Google, they’re not going anywhere.
6. Transition. Will the current owner help you in the next month or two if necessary to make the transition (hosting company change, FTP access, content management, etc.) go as smoothly as possible?
7. What is included? I’ve seen sites for sale that includes all current content and domain name, but the site is a blog that uses a special WordPress skin that the owner had to pay for the rights to.
These are a few but probably not all of the questions you should ask when looking to buy a website. I’m sure I’ll add to this as time goes on, and if you have any questions or need help with your purchase I’m always an e-mail away.