I’ve recently branched out to buying websites as an investment. I’m reasonably fortunate to have a fair bit of spare time on my hands. In between training for chess and track and field, I decided to combine my affinity for SEO (more like an obsession with keyword rankings) and blogging to purchase profitable, established websites as an active investment.
So far, I’ve dealt with motioninvest.com (not sponsored) with my purchase of thekeeblog.com. And I have to say their team was pretty helpful. I’ve failed to find another convenient broker that deals in websites in my price range. They price sites at fair value and also weigh up the pros and cons, which is quite buyer friendly.
What do I need to know before I buy a website?
You do need a smidgen of technical nuance to be able to set everything up- You need to have a basic idea of how to transfer the domain and host the site. Motion Invest migrated all of the files for me which was handy. Once I received the site I needed to apply for a new amazon affiliate account, change the API settings in the plugins, apply to networks like adsense or ezoic (which I am not currently using).
One problem was that some of the existing affiliate links were hardcoded. I worked around this by using a find and replace plugin to change those affiliate links to my own. Genius links were the biggest stitch up though, as there was no obvious way to change these automatically.
My initial strategy was to try to improve the pagespeed score of the website, and improve the layout of the site. I am constantly tinkering with the theme, but I managed to crack the code in terms of what plugins to use.
How to evaluate the finances of a website
Motion invest, as a marketplace/middleman usually lists sites at between 25-37 times earnings per month. So a site that makes 100 dollars a month at a 30x multiple would cost $3000. That’s actually relatively attractive, as that should theoretically return roughly 30% per annum. That’s much higher returns than the stock market. The only problem is that many of the sites are tanking in the keyword rankings.
It is important to be aware of trends, and conduct due diligence with tools such as semrush.com. It would be unfortunate if the site is on a downward trend and experiences lower traffic than it has previously.
Here’s a screenshot from thekeeblog’s weekly earnings. As you can see, it made $11.79 in commissions through amazon. It does utilize a few other affiliate programs as well- making $5-10 a week. This is about what I expected to be earning based on the valuation and past performance of the website. My goal now is to improve thekeeblog’s keyword rankings so that I can receive more traffic, and hopefully clicks.
Keywords to generate organic traffic
Established sites will carve out keywords, usually targeted, within a niche. This is usually done by creating articles containing those keywords. Keywords with less competition are considered to have lower difficulty, and new content will rank more easily. Keyword rankings can also be boosted by SEO factors such as page speed, the content within the articles (whether it contains rich media like images) and the structure of the content. Usually when you buy a site, it’s most cost effective to look at ways to optimize existing content on the website.
Improving Monetization of a website
I try to think of ways the monetization of a prospective investment site could be improved. That is, I plan what I’m going to implement strategically once it’s under my control. If I can’t come up with a plan I like, I will not buy the site.
Website Monetization strategies
I’m personally not a huge fan of running ads, because they can throttle your Pagespeed, and are quite horrible usually for user experience. My least favorite ads are the ones where you have to click to close a full screen popup while changing pages. I usually try to replace ad income with affiliate links in the hope that the user experience and speed make up for the lost revenue- but this isn’t always possible.
What are the best affiliate networks to utilize on your website?
These are not sponsored but I do use these services.
You can try networks like sovrn.co– which has a broad range of brands and allows you to integrate a link engine to automatically affiliate links to their brands. Leaddyno can be useful for adding affiliate links for a specific brand you want to partner with in your niche.
Amazon.com is the tried and trusted network for affiliates. Sometimes their commission can be pretty low though depending on your niche. But I believe this may be balanced out by high conversion rates, and the 30 day cookie (if a customer purchases something within 30 days without overriding your cookie by clicking on another sites link, you will receive the sale).
Quality of Content on your website
You will see many articles written in slightly broken English that isn’t the best to read. Surprisingly, these articles can rank OK in google search- many writers are able to target keywords very effectively even though their content might not be particularly enjoyable to read.
Two potential problems emerge from lower quality content- one, the bounce rate might be affected as people are less likely to want to read more. Sites with mind blowing content such as waitbutwhy.com probably have a much lower bounce rate/higher engagement rate than an article written by someone using google translate.
Two, readers might not view your content as authoritative, and might be less likely to trust your opinion when it comes to affiliate products. Therefore, it’s possible such a site might experience impaired affiliate earnings. On the flip side, it could hypothetically be possible you actually experience more outbound clicks as people desperately try to escape!
Additionally this lack of authority and share-ability would greatly impact the chance of acquiring high quality backlinks, as bloggers and webmasters prefer to refer to well put together, interesting resources.