Skip to main content

Don't Buy a Website Without Asking These 5 Questions

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family physician with experience in affiliate marketing as the owner of a successful website.

Questions to ask before buying a website

Questions to ask before buying a website

Are you debating whether to start a website or buy an existing one? Buying one lets you avoid the lengthy time it takes to rank and get traffic to a new website. However, buying an existing site is a big investment and if purchase a cheap one, you could end up with a clunker that you abandon due to low traffic. It's a decision you shouldn't make without careful consideration and research.

Here are some questions to ask before buying a website.

1. Is It in a Niche You Understand and Can Dominate?

An effective way to determine if a website is targeted toward your needs is to look at the dominant keywords and phrases on the page. Having that information will help you understand how easy it will be to successfully rank the site, build traffic to it, and make it more profitable.

Although you can be successful with a website you know little about, it's more challenging. For example, if you buy a site about boating and you've never been on one, you won't be able to write sophisticated articles that will satisfy a more knowledgeable audience.

Instead, you'll need to hire writers to write good content for your site, at least until you learn about the topic. One of the strongest ranking factors these days is in-depth content and unless you understand your website topic, you'll need to outsource. That's an extra expense.

Also, you need to know who your direct competitors are and compare their websites against yours (and hopefully beat them). You can use tools like Ahrefs to find out who the site's competitors are and how they rank against the site you're considering.

If you're buying a website to make money from it, traffic is important.

If you're buying a website to make money from it, traffic is important.

2. Where Does the Site Get Traffic?

If you're buying a website to make money from it, traffic is important. If there are no links pointing to a website or its pages and posts, you may not get visitors to your site until other sites link to you. Although backlinks are less important as a ranking factor than quality content, they still count.

There are various sites where you can check how many backlinks a website has. Be sure to do that before purchasing a website.If a website has lots of links from sites with a high domain authority (DA), you're more likely to rank well and get traffic.

How much traffic comes from social media? Traffic from social media can be misleading. For example, you could have Facebook likes of 50,000 but many of them may come from click farms or people who aren't interested in your niche.

When looking at a website's social media traffic, examine the numbers with a discerning eye. Understand the type of visitors the site gets and make sure it's organic traffic from search engines. Don't buy a website that gets mostly social media traffic but little traffic from Google.

Also, use a tool like Ahrefs to see how much traffic is organic and how much is paid traffic. Don't invest money in a site that only gets visitors through paid traffic or through social media accounts, like Pinterest.

A healthy website should also show a gradual rise in traffic over time. If traffic is staying the same or declining, pass on the site unless you have enough insight into the industry that you can turn it around.

3. Why Is the Website for Sale?

If you're buying a website for $100,000 and the seller wants to sell it within three months, there may be a reason they're in such a hurry. Maybe the site isn't doing well, or maybe they've already started a new venture and want to sell this one. The danger is you'll end up investing your money in a website that isn't worth the asking price. Be suspicious if they want you to close the deal quickly and won't answer questions.

It sounds obvious, but ensure you know who the owner of the website is. You can use any domain tool to find the owner's name. Make sure that's who you're talking to. The anonymous nature of the internet makes it easy to scam. Then, research the reputation of the individual or company who is selling it. The more you're paying for a website, the more important this step is.

4. What's Your Impression of the Website?

Sometimes people fail to do the obvious. Visit the website and spend lots of time going through the content and articles:

  • Are they well-written?
  • Are they at least 1,000 words in length?
  • Are they relevant to the website's niche?

Look at the design of the website too. Does it have a dated feel or look like it needs a revamp or update? If you'll have to do a major overhaul to get it up to date and competitive with other sites, factor the time or money necessary to do this into the cost. Make sure you can do what you need to to keep the site competitive. Know how much time and money you can commit to it.

It's also helpful to have a few people you know and trust look at the site and give their impression of the content. It's especially helpful if you can find someone who understands that topic the website covers.

5. How Old Is the Website?

Another factor to consider when before buying a domain is how old the domain is. In the eyes of Google, an older, more established domain is less likely to be spammy.

Plus, you'll be buying a site that already ranks in the search engine listings. That's important since it can take months for a new website to get out of the Google sandbox and into the rankings.

An older website will also likely have more backlinks, although you should ensure the backlinks are from high-quality sites and are relevant.

Although an older domain may be more valuable than a newer one, research the domain to ensure that Google didn't penalize it in the past. If it has a history of penalties, it will be harder for it to rank.

You can use a keyword tool like Ahrefs to do a look back and see if the site has had penalties. If it does, walk away and find another option.

Do Your Research

Now you have a better idea of what questions you should ask before purchasing a website. Buying an established site is often expensive, so do your due diligence before parting with your hard-earned money. However, if you pick the right website, it can be a source of income for you for years.

Sources and Additional Resources

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.