4 Tips for Buying Websites

By Daniel Scocco

Over the last couple of years I bought a handful of websites, every time thinking I could tweak and optimize things around to make it attract more traffic, grow over time and consequently make more money.

Sometimes I got it right, other times I screwed up, but I learned some lessons either way. Below you’ll find some of them:

1. Focus on a single niche or sector

I always liked technology, and most of my sites are related to that. I guess it’s no coincidence that when I bought websites inside the tech like, like one about the iPad or one about Android, they ended up growing and generating a good ROI. When I bought websites on other niches, mostly because they seemed more profitable, the results were not as good.

What does this happen? For many reasons. First of all by focusing on one niche you can cross promote your sites. Second, you’ll be able to use your existing network of contacts, since they will own websites on the same niche. Third, you already have experience regarding the type of content and marketing ideas that work on that niche.

If you buy websites on niches all over the place you’ll lose all the benefits above.

2. Implement changes gradually

The biggest mistake you can make after you buy a website is to start changing a lot of things, all at once. This will probably confuse Google and other search engines, so your rankings will take a hit in the short run.

Not only that, since you are changing many things at once you won’t be able to identify which changes had a positive effect and which had a negative one.

A better approach is to change things gradually, one at a time. After each change let the site be for a month or two at least, so that you can track the results.

3. Never change structural elements

I wouldn’t recommend making structural changes to the site, because you might end up hurting your search rankings and traffic irreversibly with those.

The two most important factors you should avoid touching is the permalink structure and the title tags. Google trusts websites that are stable in regard to those factors, so play it safe.

Other factors that are tricky to change are the H1 or H2 tags around post title, the internal link structure and the structure/order of your HTML elements (for instance, putting a sidebar above the main content could hurt your rankings in the short term).

4. Don’t neglect the content

Remember that at the end of the day content is still one of the main SEO drivers, so don’t neglect it.

More specifically pay attention to the frequency that the website was updated before you purchased it, and try to main that. Over time you can also increase it if the revenues justify, but avoid decreasing it.

Second, try to keep the same style going. This includes the length and structure of the articles, as well as the topics covered.



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10 Responses to “4 Tips for Buying Websites”

  • Movie Film Cool :)

    Never thought about buying a site, never planning on doing so πŸ˜€

    But, tip #3 and #1 explain the odd things my previous blog went through.

    I changed the structural elements, removed description at top, changed pages and my traffic… well, there was no more traffic (like it was high to begin with) πŸ˜€

    The change of theme from tech to movies, actually, had a positive effect on SEO and people liked movies more, much more. Which is why, I made a new blog related only to this specific niche. πŸ™‚

  • David Maurer

    Hi Daniel,

    Good overview. Especially post number one is I think a keystone principle for all online business. I have certainly learned that you have to go for your passion, no matter what it is, and forget about the money part or you are in for a rough ride.

    I have been buying websites for sometime as well, and just started a blog to share some things I have learned.

    Best of luck,

    David Maurer

  • Gaurang

    Ya, I completely agree with your point of making changes in the newly bought website instantly. One should make amendments gradually after purchasing a new blog.

  • Jamie Northrup

    #2 is as true for websites as it is for businesses in general, you can’t just overhaul everything and not expect to lose people along the way. Take the time to do changes one at a time (or several small ones) and explain what you’re doing and why to the loyal visitors if there are any when you bought the website.

  • Daniel

    Some very practical advice.

    Not playing around too much with a sites structure, especially making any drastic changes, would be the best way to go.

    Also, sometimes we do things impulsively. I am sure many people get the desire to start up a new blog or website, or purchase one, based on a sudden urge.

  • Richard Ng

    I am not into buying any website yet but these tips come in handy whenever I am ready!

    My comment: I think the existing pagerank and age of the existing site are important factors to consider too whenever buying a website

    Thanks for the sharing.

  • elmot

    I never bought a website before though i experienced selling some of sites in the past.

    Indeed, it is right that whenever you want to buy a site, the site should be focused on just one niche and not containing so many other contents that will mess up the whole blog.

  • jeff

    Hi Daniel,

    This is a great tip. I have never bought any website yet nor sold anything. But in the future this will be my direction.

    Thanks for sharing this very useful tips. It will come handy pretty soon.

  • steve

    #3 is sooooo true! Ever since I changed my categories and redirected some of the links, my traffic went down like crazy! it was a free fall. Don’t change because you want it to look nicer and add stuffs. It’s so hard to get the traffic back!

  • Dave Doolin

    I’m rebuilding my main site gradually as well. In part, because I don’t spend a lot of time in PHP any more. So it works out well all around.

    It’s interesting watching the blogging market change. Sub-niches are turning into niches of their own.

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