While you can purchase a brand-new domain name and build your website from scratch, it’s also possible to get a head-start by buying an already existing website.
There are a number of advantages to buying an already established website, such as starting out with better search engine rankings and pre-existing visitor traffic to your site.
Additionally, you can buy websites, improve them and then sell them for a profit - a tactic known as flipping.
Buying a website to keep for yourself or to flip for a profit is easy through marketplaces such as Flippa, Empire Flippers, FE International and more. But before starting, there are some things you should know about selling and buying a website:
- Is the domain name worth the money?
- What platform is the site built on?
- What's the history and reputation of the site?
- What's the existing visitor traffic?
- What are the maintenance costs?
And to find answers to all of these questions, we must begin at the very start...
Why Buy An Existing Website?
If you’re used to creating websites from scratch, the idea of buying a fully developed website, domain name, content and all, may sound strange to you. But there are a number of important advantages that come with having an established website.
For example, the website may have strong name recognition among its audience base or a domain name that would be easy to market going forward.
In addition, a website that has been around for a while and that has been optimized for SEO may rank much higher in search engine results than any similarly named new website would.
Finally, an existing website may already have a stream of visitor traffic and you may see opportunities to monetize that traffic beyond what the existing owner is doing.
One important thing to keep in mind is that buying an existing website is not usually a good way to avoid the hard work of building and maintaining a site.
While purchasing a site will eliminate the need to start from scratch, you’ll still need to maintain the underlying web platform (such as WordPress, Joomla, or another platform). Also, if you plan to monetize the site you’ll likely need to expand the content, which can be just as much work as building a new website.
So while buying a website eliminates some of the hard work in SEO, it's not an immediate shortcut to success.
Where To Buy Websites?
There is a number of marketplaces you can explore that list websites up for sale. Some include:
- Flippa - A marketplace aimed at buying and selling online businesses;
- Empire Flippers - A reliable platform of business listings;
- FE International - A platform concentrated on selling high-end successful businesses;
- Freemarket - A domain and website marketplace;
- WebsiteBroker - A platform for buying and selling websites and domains at various price points.
Most of these sites offer basic information about the history of the site and visitor traffic along with the list price, as well as allow you to ask the seller questions and negotiate on the price.
What To Consider When Buying A Website
Of course, buying an existing website costs significantly more than simply buying a domain and building a site yourself. In order to determine the exact value of a website, you’ll need to do a deep-dive into that website’s history, visitor traffic, costs, and potential profit.
This is especially important if you’re looking to flip a website since you’ll need to be able to improve on the website's visibility and the amount of money that the website makes from its visitors in order to turn a profit.
Is The Domain Name Worth The Money?
The domain name of a website can play a big role in how high the website ranks in search engines and how easily visitors can find and remember your site.
If you only want a domain name and not a whole website, you can find domain names for sale at domain auction sites.
What Platform Is The Site Built On?
If you’re planning to maintain the website yourself, you’ll need to be familiar with the platform it is built on. That may be WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or another web platform. It’s also worth checking which of these platforms have a ready supply of experts you could turn to for help with developing the website.
The development platform can also make a big difference in how much it will cost you to maintain the website since some platforms are free while others charge monthly fees.
A website might be great - but if it's built on an old, or a very complex platform, it can be an issue.
If you plan to use a website to sell goods or services, make sure the development platform also has eCommerce capabilities. While migrating the site to another platform is possible in some cases, that can be just as much work as starting from scratch.
What's The History and Reputation Of The Site?
Understanding the history and reputation of a website is essential to knowing whether you can increase visitor traffic and monetize the site.
Websites that have been around for a long time typically rank higher in search engines and are considered more reputable by potential visitors.
You can also check for online reviews of the website, which will give you an idea of whether that website is embraced by its users.
Importantly, watch out for any websites that have been blacklisted by search engines for SEO or content violations. Once a site has been blacklisted, it is nearly impossible to reappear on search engines even if you drastically change the content of the site. There are a number of tools to check the history of a website, such as Domain Tools and Who.is.
What's The Existing Visitor Traffic?
One of the most important aspects of any website up for sale is its existing visitors. Sites that have fewer visitors will typically be less expensive than sites with large numbers of visitors. You’ll want to make sure that you can identify specific, fixable reasons why visitor traffic is currently low before investing in the website.
If a site with high visitor traffic is priced at a bargain, that may be a red flag that something else is not quite right about the website.
The quality of the visitors using a website is also important.
Are these visitors spend a lot of time browsing the entire website? Or are they only using a single page?
This can give you an idea of the type of audience the site is reaching and how you might be able to create new content to further appeal to that audience.
Also consider whether you will be able to monetize the site through selling goods and services to the current visitors, or whether they will continue to use the site if you place content ads.
How To Flip A Website
Although you can buy a website to develop a steady stream of income, you can also flip websites using website marketplaces. Flipping websites typically requires buying a website that is underdeveloped or mismanaged at a bargain, fixing it up to improve search engine rankings, visitor traffic, or the amount of money that visitors are spending on the site.
Then, the website can be sold for a profit.
Flipping websites can be a risky investment, however. Not all websites will be worth more than what you bought them for, even after you put a lot of work into developing the site.
If you are looking to get into flipping websites, it is extremely important to go into a purchase with a clear idea of why the site has not developed to its full potential and how you will improve the site to make it more profitable.
In general, it is a good idea to start flipping websites by purchasing low-value sites and working your way up to higher-value sites as you sharpen your buying and selling strategy.
Buying A Website: Final Thoughts
Buying a website is a way to take over not only an existing domain name but the entire website, including content and web platform underneath it.
There is a number of marketplace sites that connect website buyers and sellers, but it’s important to do your research on any website and have a clear idea of how you will improve upon it before heading into a negotiation.
And with all of that in mind, you should have a basic understanding of this business. Hope this guide gave all the help you need!