What’s common between Bloggingfingers, Cashquests, 5xmom, and Blotrepreneur.com?
Yep, you guessed it right. They are all “Make money online” blogs, and that they are all on sale/or sold already!
So, it’s a fact that all are eyeing on the big money and short term goals and dumping all the blame on “personal reasons”. I thought this might be the right time to discuss about things to look into when buying a website.
Honestly, I’m no authority to discuss this. I can probably give you a lecture on SEO aspects one should look into before buying a domain, but I thought it might make more sense to get advices from experts in the domain.
I went around asking all the experts about their opinions on things to watch out for before buying a blog. Let’s see.
1. Chris Garret from ChrisG says –
The main thing I would look for are verifiable details of the traffic and subscriptions. What you don’t want to find is you have bought a site thinking it gets 20k visitors a month only to see that 99% of the traffic is from one or two front page diggs and all the links disappear because they were rented.
Also be cautious of earnings claims, get details. A lot of sales show monthly earnings based on one-off affiliate deals, like new product launches, negotiated commission deals you could not continue yourself, or things Google is clamping down on such as selling links and paid reviews.
2. Daniel from DailyBlogTips says –
The first thing you need to consider is what kind of content is going on that blog. Blogs that publish too much personal stuff lose a point here. You must make sure that the readers go to that blog because they are looking for the usefulness of the information there contained, and not because they like the opinions or style of the author. If that is the case it would be very hard to keep the momentum of the blog going after the sale.
The second aspect is the monetization one, given that many of these blogs that go on sale claim that they make good money. Make sure that the revenue sources are stable and legit. If they have direct advertisers, for instance, it would be a good idea to confirm that they would stay on board even after the sale (just ask the contacts and talk to them directly). Be careful with blogs that used to generate money via PayPerPost and similar as well, because that source is not stable.
3. Amit Agarwal from Labnol, suggests -
1. Check for any traces in the archive.org database
2. Check if google ads are not banned (through Adsense preview tool)
3. Ask for raw server logs before closing the deal
4. Emma Jean from Blog about your blog says -
If I was to purchase a site I would want to know about the history. How long its been established and if the domain has ever been dropped. If its been dropped and has a PR it could be affected the next update. Therefore the value isn’t as high.
As you can see with the recent sales of blogging fingers and cashquests is the branding and the blog. People know them just by the name.. “Oh Cash Quests ya that blog is about etc.”
The most important thing I would consider is the ability to expand and earn. If you are buying a site and must pay 10 months revenue, you want to be able to earn back your investment. If you can’t it’s essentially a waste.
5. Patrick Altoft from Blogstorm says –
1. I would want access to the sites Google Analytics account. If that wasn’t possible I wouldn’t buy.
2. Also I would check as many pages as possible from archive.org to see if the site sold links or anything in the past.
3. Check every page on the site and every link using Yahoo Site Explorer.
6. Mohsin Naqi from Bloggingbits says –
Essentially, I’ll give top consideration to the blog’s niche and its earning potential before checking domain’s age, its google and Alexa rank, and other similar factors.
7. Ankesh Kothari from BlogClout says –
* Current cash flow. Is the site profitable? $$ it earns. Followed with: page views / unique visitors it gets. Subscribers / members it has.
* Future potential. Whats the current strategy of the website. Is the seller selling because of some impending legal / technical reasons or maybe because of increasing competition? Can I improve upon the strategy and the business model? How much time, effort and money will go into it? Will the site work without its current owner?
The price I would pay is 6-8 times the current monthly cash flow. Plus $1-2 per subscriber.
This changes if the site also owns intellectual property (patents / exclusive softwares). Also if the site sells a tangible product and I have to buy its inventory too.
I don’t look at the site age. Or the participation on it. Or its page rank or alexa rank or any such 3rd party ranking that has no effect on the bottom line.
Google backlash comes under future potential – which I check for (For eg: if a blog whose business model upto this point has been earning via payperpost only – then I would think about buying it. And go for it only if its price is lower than I would otherwise pay for it.).
8. Monika Mundell from Writer’s Manifesto says -
For starters I would look at the following stats:
Google page rank
Age of the blog
Blog Layout (is it designed to display ads effectively)
If the blog doesn’t qualify through this I will not go further. It would be silly to think that buying a so called established blog with no rankings and no subscribers will be justified. If the blog qualifies, then I will apply some deeper scrutiny, such as looking for income revenue. If the blog currently provides the owner with a monthly income either via adsense, direct advertising, pay per click or anything else, then my first point of evaluation would be how much income there is per month. If the sales price exceeds the blogs monthly earnings x 24, then it would be considered too expensive or over ambitious.
Example: Blog currently earns $400 of monthly revenue.
$400 x 24 months = $ 9,600 then this figure is the maximum I would pay.
Also another important step is to look at the current spending habits of the blog owner to get those $400/month. Naturally if the cost is considerably high, I would keep my fingers from it. One kind of blog I would never buy is a self branded name blog. Buying an established blog can be a great decision for any serious entrepreneur. But we mustn’t forget that the future growth of the blog will only happen if we choose the right niche for us and keep the blog
updated. It is no good spending $10,000 on a dog blog if we intend to write about cats in the future.
9. Kevin from BloggingTips suggests –
1 ) With regards to traffic. You need to see as many stats as possible. Ask for screen prints of analytics, webalizer, awstats and any other stat scripts the current owner is using. You should of course be interested in the current level of traffic however more importantly you need to look at where this traffic is coming from.
* If a lot of traffic is coming from other sites the owner owns then you need to ask if these links will remain up after the sale and if so, for how long. Likewise, if traffic is coming from an advertising campaign, when does the advertising campaign end?
* Has a lot of traffic come from social networking – eg. digg. If so, you should bear in mind that these traffic spikes were most likely due to the blog owner working hard to get posts dugg and unless you do something similar yourself you wont receive traffic in this way
* What sort of search engine presence does the site have? What sort of keywords and search terms are bringing in the most traffic? Can you improve the SE presence the blog has?
2) The most important thing you need to pay attention to is how many subscribers the blog has but I believe it’s also worth checking out the growth of the feed. An easy way to check this is to view the feedburner feed graph. Big jumps in subscribers may have been of a result of an advertising campaign or even a guest post. It’s worth noting how much the feed count grows on a ‘regular day’.
3) Make sure that the income stats the blog owner is giving you are true. Try and get as much proof as you can. Many website owners exaggurate how much money their site makes in order to make more money from the sale. This is something which is unfortunately very common. Another important factor is how is the advertising generated. Does the blog make money from direct ad sales or through a CPM ad network etc?
You should also find out how long the blog has been live and how long the domain has been live on the net (sometimes not the same) and you should think about the design of the blog – are you happy with it? If not, how long would you spend working on a new theme, or, if your not a designer, how much would it cost to get a design which suits the blogs needs.
Finally, it’s worthwhile doing a background check on the seller. Check the previous posts from the seller – is he a trusted member of the forum community? Has he sold before – if so, what did the previous buyer think about them as a seller.
10. Skellie from Skelliewag.org says –
My primary concern would be that the content is transferable or not. Sometimes a blog and its author are virtually inseparable, and people visit and subscribe as much for the author’s experiences, advice, personality and style as they do for other aspects of the content. A blog like that(with strong personal style) may well flounder if it’s handed over to new authors.
Site age wouldn’t matter much to me. Some people take three months to grow as much as another blogger might grow in a year. PPP would actually devalue a site as far as I’m concerned as it’s not something I’d personally want to pursue. As for Google backlash, I’d want to take over a site with high quality inbound links but wouldn’t be bothered about PR and that sort of thing.
So essentially, there are a few things in common that’s interesting.
10 things that you must check in a website/blog before buying it.
- Traffic is stable or not
- Had there been a Digg effect recently?
- Was the blog thriving because of the authors personal branding?
- Get the detail report of their earnings. Make sure it’s not PPP or any affiliate sales.
- Contact the existing advertisers to see if they will continue the ads if you buy the site.
- Make sure the site hadn’t got a backlash from Google because of PPP or text link ad sales.
- Check if Google ads are banned.
- Check in archive.org for recent drop in Google ranks (PR drop).
- Monitor traffic and cash flow for a longer period than specified.
- Check if you are comfortable with the blog Niche and there’s future potential to it.
Some SEO aspects you must check before buying a blog/website(Just my two cents).
- Age of the domain, from Archive.org. If the niche is promising, then you can compromise on the age, but the more the age, the better.
- Incoming links on Google, Google blog search and Technorati. The more the merrier.
- Quality of incoming links – Are they bought from link farms or are they genuine from blogger’s review?
- Recent Google backlash? Google page rank drop?
- Had the site offered PPP and paid text links?
- Outgoing links – Does it link to malicious sites(mainly from the sidebar/footer)?
- Content has duplicate content or not?
- Has it got supplemental results on the SERPS? The less the better.
- The frequency of posts to links ratio. An even ratio is better.
- Spiderability of the site. Test with a spider simulation test to see if the contents are poperly seen by Google, or else you may have to go for a template change.
If you had been knowing the website for too long all this factors won’t really matter, but if you can probably negotiate with the seller if you find something interesting here on the above factors.
So there you have it! All the factors you must check before buying a blog. Hope they are also useful for bloggers who plan to sell their sites. Because you heard it from the experts.