Guest Blog Post: The Opportunity in Buying Websites

Matt M. of SitePoint.comMost affiliate marketers are already familiar with Facebook Ads, AdWords, Pay-Per-View Networks like TrafficVance and maybe even Twitter advertising with ad.ly. So what other options do you have for cost effectively acquiring traffic that you can monetize? I believe there’s an opportunity in buying good websites which are often sold for a fraction of what they are worth in the hands of someone with proven monetization skills. There are millions of websites, blogs and forums that people start as a hobby. Often times their monetization is limited to throwing up Google AdSense ads.

Because these websites are run on a part-time basis, and don’t generate much revenue, they get abandoned, or occasionally auctioned off on marketplaces like Flippa.com, WebsiteBroker and BizBuySell.com.

Imagine being able to buy a website that gets 10,000 unique visitors each and every month for only $2000? Sounds a lot more attractive than paying 20 or 30 cents per click on AdWords for that same traffic!

Established websites that have established organic search rankings, communities, email lists, and hundreds or sometimes even thousands of pages of content are ripe for monetization by experienced affiliate marketers who can sometimes increase the revenue of a website by a factor of 10X compared to the original owner by integrating better ads, higher paying offers, and taking advantage of neglected monetization opportunities.

Thankfully it’s easier than ever to find website that match your buying criteria and budget by setting up custom filters & alerts on websites such as Flippa.

What can you do with websites, blogs & forums that you can acquire?

  • Update them with better, more relevant content and keep the content fresh and updated on a regular basis.
  • Use them to build one-way links to your main property. Inbound links to your main site will improve your search engine rankings.
  • Do 301 redirects to squeeze pages that promote relevant affiliate offers. A 301 redirect tells Google that the page has been permanently moved, and will re-direct all your traffic to your other relevant web properties.
  • Re-use and repurpose the content that came with the acquired website.
  • Or just continue running the website independently, and market relevant offers or items to its readership.

What should you watch out for when buying websites? Here’s my Top 10 list:

  1. Check the WHOIS info. If it’s private, ask the seller to unmask it.
  2. Insist on Google Analytics for traffic stats. Ask for 6 months+.
  3. Check the geographic breakdown of traffic to ensure it’s monetizable.
  4. Check a sites history at ARCHIVE.org.
  5. Google the seller’s name and the name of the website.
  6. Manually review the inbound links to the domain name.
  7. Check the marketing on SEMRush.com.
  8. Talk to the seller on the telephone to ensure they are legitimate.
  9. Overlay ad network stats with Google Analytics & look for divergences.
  10. Check the robots.txt file on the domain to see if any particular pages or directories are excluded, and if so, check them manually to find out why.

Finally, make sure to ask the seller if the site has ever driven traffic to eBay via eBay Partner Network and ask for the account’s status. Also, remember that if you plan to drive traffic from the site to eBay directly rather than to one of your existing sites, then make sure you understand the site’s code, as once you are the site’s owners, you are responsible for the traffic it drives!

There are some amazing deals to be had in buying under-monetized or abandoned websites. For example, LiveCrunch.com a tech blog with 170,000 unique visitors per month and 18,000 indexed pages in Yahoo! was was only generating $600 in monthly revenue and sold for $10,000. Imagine having 170,000 monthly visitors, each and every month, for a one-time cost of $10,000.

I hope this blog post opens your eyes to the massive opportunity around acquiring high-quality website and traffic on the cheap. Find relevant websites that match the niches and affiliate programs that you’re promoting through markplaces like Flippa.com, do your due diligence, and then pull the trigger. You’ll be surprised by how much traffic you can acquire for a fraction of the costs of buying online media.

Matt Mickiewicz is the owner of Flippa and a serial entrepreneur who started his first online business in 1998. He lives in Vancouver, Canada and is an avid traveler.