In today’s extremely competitive online marketplace, buying an already established website can be one of the best ways to break into just about any industry. You don’t have to put in the time and effort it often takes to create a website from scratch, and you typically don’t have to wait until your SEO and other marketing efforts pay off to start drawing visitors to your site. After all, a fully developed website should already have a steady amount of traffic and revenue stream to go along with it, right?
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Even if everything appears to be going well on the surface, once you begin to dig a little deeper, you may find that the website you’ve been looking into is nothing more than a dud that the owner is simply trying to unload onto someone else.
If you’re looking to avoid this scenario, it’s important to ask the right questions. Here are some questions to ask when buying an already established website.
When Did You Create the Website?
Typically, it’s not a good idea to purchase a website that is less than a year old, even if it has experienced significant growth over that time. A year simply isn’t long enough to determine if the website is going to sustainable in the long term. And, if an owner is trying to sell their site within a year of starting it, there’s a chance that they don’t think it’s going to be sustainable either.
How Much Profit is the Website Currently Making? Can You Verify it?
Of course, you want to know how much money the site is currently making, especially if it comes with a hefty price tag. Be careful, though. The seller may say that their site is making $10,000 a month, but unless you have a reason to completely trust their word then it’s best to get verification. They may just be telling you what you want to hear so they can make a quick sale.
Ask for all financial documents pertaining to the website, including tax returns, bank account statements, and credit card processor statements, before moving forward with the sale. Also, check out the extent of any loans and debts – if they’ve been losing a lot of money on site-related costs, then you may not want to waste your time.
What Kind of Traffic Has the Site Seen Over Time? Where Does it Come From?
Part of the appeal of buying an already established website is that it should already be seeing a decent amount of traffic, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long to start seeing a return on your investment. Remember to ask where the traffic comes from, too, as you want to see a certain amount of traffic diversity. That way if one source fails for one reason or another, you’ll still be able to count on your other sources for traffic.
However, this is another situation where you may not want to just take the seller’s word. Ask the seller for their analytics data to verify traffic numbers, sources, and conversion rates.