I’m Purchasing a Website — Which Questions Do I ask?
There are many questions that can be asked when establishing an accurate assessment when purchasing an established website. Which questions do I ask a seller?
A “1st round” of audits can be completed with the tools and questions below. All of this research can be completed on your own.
Here is the typical “1st round” of questions/audits we answer/accomplish when beginning to deep dive into potential acquisition;
- Is the traffic truly from SEO? Tool to use: SEMRUSH (check serps)
- Is the traffic white hat? Tool to use: SEMRUSH (check Google for live serps)
- Is the SEO strategy scalable? (If it’s article based, then yes.)
- Is this tech driven or human driven? (Do we need to hire a writer? Is new content being pulled from somewhere?)
- Will the website grow by itself by following their formula? (If it’s clear there is a writer involved then the strategy can be duplicated with a niche knowledgeable writer.)
- How is this website monetizing? Tool to use: Builtwith.com (Find monetization sources)
- What platform is being used? Tool to use: Builtwith.com (Find CMS/Platform after you type in the url)
- What is the domain age? Tool to use: SmallSeoTools Domain Age Tool(enter domain in url field)
- What is the domain history? Tool to use: Domain History Checker (enter url, costs $)
- Which site technology is being used? Tool to use: Builtwith.com (enter url, see all tech, plugins, etc.)
- Check Archive.org — Get a feel for the UI history, and how the website has evolved.
- Where is this being hosted? Tool to Use: Whoishostingthis.com (enter domain name in url field)
- If you are on a Marketplace, check the seller’s history.
(i) If all of the above answers you’ve collected deem qualified, then move onto interviewing the website owner.
Here is our “2nd round” of questions we ask the seller via email, when continuing to dive for information to supplement the acquisition;
- Can you add me to Google Analytics? [Analytics Email Here]
- How did you build your links? Can you guarantee these links will stay live after acquisition?
- How are you monetizing the website?
- Can you send revenue proof? Screenshot or video?
- What are your total costs to run the website? Can you provide a breakdown?
- Who creates your content?
- How much does your content cost?
- What is the workflow established for updating the website?
- Are there any paid tools or plugins we need with the website? Are they transferable?
- Are there any social media profiles included in the sale? If so, which and how many followers/fans for each?
- Which marketing strategy is used when a new piece of content is set to live?
- If we acquire your website can you assist us with the domain and website transfer?
- Do you have any references in the online business? Please list 2 references. Name and Email.
- What is your asking price?
If you follow all of the steps above, you will have gathered a great amount of intelligence on the website you’re considering purchasing.
If all of the information gathered validates to your requirements, then the last step would be a phone interview.
✔ In the phone interview you can go over all of the above, if the seller is motivated enough they will have the patience to cover each and every question you’d asked. Do not be afraid to put the seller on the spot. A phone interview is the last true way to ensure you aren’t getting scammed.
✔ After a successful phone interview, consult with your legal team on filing the proper paperwork for the acquisition.
✔ Use a service like Escrow to handle the monetary portion of the transaction.
✔ Execute the domain transfer, hosting, and file transfer in the proper order so there is little to zero downtime.
✔ Most major hosting companies will now assist with website migration/acquisitions.
I hope you’re able to take away some valuable information with this post. I created this quality and assurance workflow because, when younger I purchased a network of websites where the traffic was cloaked to look like it was coming from Google. Everything seemed fine, revenue was coming in. Then poof, after a month the traffic completely stopped. Lesson learned. Due your diligence, it’s worth it!
Triface Media will be providing an audit service to do all of the above q&a steps for you!
This service will include a full report of the above questions + our overall opinion, as well as a video review.
Alex Pachan is a Linkedin and Google featured SEO. He has 15 years of experience with being an SEO Expert. He also collaborates with non-profits, and generic domain/keyword partnerships.