Website Acquisitions

A website acquisition is when one webmaster decides to sell his website to
an interested party who will acquire the site, usually for money. While most
website acquisitions go smoothly, some sales are fraudulent and the buyer
gets the short end of the stick.

For example, it is common for unscrupulous sellers to alter traffic or sales
stats to drive up the perceived value of the website. So how do you know if a
seller is really being honest? First and foremost you must always do your
homework.

Here are some valuable tips to ensure you don't get ripped off when buying a
website:

1. Avoid Ebay Don't buy a website on Ebay. These websites are usually
promoted as failsafe 'business opportunities', but in reality they are
overpriced glorified templates with zero traffic or sales. You won't be earning
thousands of dollars as the promoter is claiming, but will have wasted your
money on a template you could have probably downloaded for free.

So where should you buy a website? Buy websites on reputable webmaster  
forums such as the Sitepoint Marketplace, for example. Most fraudulent sales
are quickly debunked by knowledgeable forum members.  Also,  Sitepoint
charges a $10 listing fee which helps weed out most of the clutter.

2. Ask lots of questions An honest webmaster seller won't hesitate to
answer your questions because he has nothing to hide. A suspect seller
may either avoid your questions or dance around the issue. The most
important questions you should ask are:

How many unique visitors? Daily? Monthly? (request screenshots)
How many impressions? Daily Monthly? (request screenshots)
Where does the traffic come from? (Request screenshots of referral stats)
Monthly Sales/Revenue? (request uncropped screenshots)
Expenses? (Advertising costs, etc)
Total profit? (Revenue minus Expenses)
Why are you selling?

3. Do a WhoIs search on the domain This is important because you can
determine how long the site has been around and if the seller is the real
owner of the domain. For example if the seller requests you send money to
'Mark Hamilton' yet the whois reads 'Ted Roberts' as the owner of the
domain, the seller has some explaining to do.

4. Watch out for 'black hole' traffic. This is where a seller lists a site that
may only be a few weeks to a month old that is generating 'thousands of
uniques a day'.  This is used to justify a high selling price. But the details as
to where the traffic is coming from are very vague or illogical. Often the seller
will simply say 'links' or 'PPC' since the site probably hasn't been completely
indexed by the search engines. Let dissect these explanations.

Links Unless you have a prominent link to a very high traffic website, you
typically won't get thousands of uniques a day from the link as the seller is
claiming. Simply ask the seller where the links come from and visit the said
website to see if the link actually exists and if the link is prominent. A link
buried at the bottom of the 'links' page with a dozen other links won't get
thousands of uniques.  

PPC  If you are generating 'thousands of uniques' with PPC you either have
to have a very large budget or an efficient way to monetise those visitors.
Lets see..even at .05 a click on Adwords times 1000 equals $50 a day or
$1,500/month. Unless you have a way to generate $50 a day you will go in
the red quickly. An free music video code site or image hosting site isn't
going to break even under those circumstances.

                                                                                                                  
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