How to Buy a Website on Flippa Without Getting Scammed
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How to Buy a Website on Flippa Without Getting Scammed


Throughout the past 10 years, I’ve built and sold websites in various niches. Some I’ve built from scratch, but more recently,
I’ve been picking up developed websites, driving more traffic and sales, and then flipping
them for a profit. Now, when you find a good website, it can
save you a ton of time and money, which in my opinion, can beat building one from scratch. But how do you know if a website is worth
its asking price? I mean, sellers want to make as much money
as possible and as a buyer, you want to get it at the lowest cost. The simple answer is to find undervalued websites
so both parties are happy. And in this tutorial, I’m going to show you
exactly what to look for and how to buy a website that’s worth the investment. Stay tuned. [music] What’s up marketers? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that
helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors, and dominate your niche. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of sites like Flippa
and GoDaddy Auctions. And these are just a couple of places where you
can buy domains, developed websites, and businesses of all kinds. But the problem with buying these is that there are
a lot of people inflating traffic and reported revenue. In fact, many of these people will go as far as buying
fake clicks to manipulate their Google Analytics data. Now, the last thing I want you to do is get scammed,
or even feel like you got the short end of the stick. So today’s tutorial is all about finding and buying
undervalued websites so you can save time, money, and get a head start to more traffic on the cheap. But first, we need to discuss what “undervalued” means. And full disclosure, this is just the way
that I do it, so watch the video and let me know if you agree or disagree with me in the comments. Let’s get to it. First, let’s talk about commerciality of the niche. On sites like Flippa, you’ll often find websites
about jokes or downloading illegal content. To me, this automatically disqualifies sites simply
because they’re not easily monetizable or legal. So you generally want to look for websites
that have commercial value. And this is somewhat subjective depending
on what you plan to do with the site. So use your best judgement. Second, is understanding a little bit about
the value of a website. And I think it’s obvious to say that in general, the more
profit a website generates, the higher its value. But again on the buy side, the more profit
a website generates, the more it’ll cost you. Now, even though a website doesn’t generate any
or much revenue, it doesn’t mean it’s worth nothing. So personally speaking, I like finding websites
that have potential to drive a lot of traffic based on data and are not generating a ton of revenue. Now, it’s important to note that there are
additional layers that most professional brokers will look at like EBITDA and discounted cash flow. But I feel like talking about these would
only confuse or even mislead some of you. Afterall, we’re talking about super-
undervalued websites. And for that reason, I’ve purposefully left
out additional details that I don’t think would add much value to this tutorial. Alright, the third thing we need to talk about
is the type of traffic you should aim for. Greg Elfrink from Empire Flippers, a company that buys
and sells online businesses, said in a blog post: “High-quality traffic is good, regardless of its source. I always urge people to diversify their traffic
sources to gain several marketing mediums, thereby producing quality leads and sales
for their businesses.” He goes on further to say: “While Facebook Ads can be awesome, SEO traffic
is almost always better from a selling perspective. The reason why buyers love SEO is that unlike
most other marketing channels, you don’t need to monitor the campaign actively. Once you rank in Google for your chosen keywords,
there’s not much more for you to manage, aside from going after other keywords.” So to add on to our definition of “undervalued,”
I personally look for websites that don’t have a ton of search traffic, but have the
potential to drive a ton of SEO traffic. And I’ll touch on this so-called “potential”
in like five seconds. Now, if you’re a beginner to SEO, two of the
biggest things that help you rank in Google are high-quality content, which is easily outsourceable. And the second thing are high-quality backlinks, which have shown to correlate with higher rankings,
time and time again. And that’s the “potential” I’m looking for. So the agenda for the rest of this tutorial is
about finding these undervalued websites that have decent link profiles. And then we’ll look for low-hanging opportunities
to increase organic traffic with much less work than if you were building a site from scratch. Let’s start hunting. Step 1 is to scrape a list of sites. So for this tutorial, I’ll be using Flippa. So I’ll go to their website, change this dropdown
to “Website,” and run a blank search. Next, we’ll need to set some filters like: A price range of 0 to $20,000 or whatever
your maximum budget is. I’ll also set the “Age” filter to at least one-years-old. And this will weed out a lot of new domains
that haven’t had much time to build links or have likely manipulated their link profiles with
low-quality backlinks. Finally, I’ll run the search. And since we’re looking to analyze a lot of these
domains, let’s set the maximum number of results to 250 per page. Now, we’re going to scrape a list of domains. To do this, I’ll be using a Сhrome extension
called Scraper, which is completely free. Once you have it installed, right-click anywhere
on the page and choose “Scrape similar.” Now, enter this piece of XPath code in
the selector section. And for the Columns, we’ll just enter a period. And I’ll leave this code for you in the pinned comment. So I’ll copy all of these to the clipboard,
and paste them into a Google sheet. Now, I’ll go to the next page and do the exact same
thing and continue to do so until I’ve scraped all websites within my filter parameters. By now, you should have a nice list of websites
worth analyzing. So let’s move on to the next step, which is to
get the SEO metrics for all of these websites. To get these metrics, I’m going to use Ahrefs’
Batch Analysis tool, which lets you bulk analyze up to 200 websites, subfolders or URLs in
a few seconds. So I’ll paste our first 200 domains from our
spreadsheet, and click “Analyze.” Now, there are two ways I’ll look at this data. First is to sort it by organic traffic. And this way, you’re going to find websites that are
already generating a good amount of search traffic. Now, the caveat is that these sites may already
be priced high, they might be in a different language where
competition is lower, or they may be targeting super low-competition topics
in various niches like jokes. The other and often more reliable way is to sort
by Domain Rating, which is an Ahrefs metric representing the overall strength of a website’s
backlink profile. Now, at this point, you just want to skim through
the domain names because this should give you a decent idea of what the website is about. So this one seems to be about WordPress themes,
which might be interesting. I’m not sure what understrap.com is, but seems to
be branded, so I’ll quickly click through, and it’s another WordPress themes website. And this one is on polo shirts. And I only wear t-shirts as you can clearly tell. Torrentz.io is illegal so no, thanks. And then snoringcanada.com, which is in the
larger industry of health or sleep, seems kind of interesting for me personally. The last one I’ll look at for this tutorial is
typely.com, which looks like a decent brand. Let’s go to the site. And it looks like they have a free proofreading editor,
which doesn’t seem to have a paid plan of any sort. So at this point after checking 200 domains,
I have 4 that I might be interested in. Rigorous themes, Understrap, Snoring Canada
and Typely. Now, run the SEO metrics for all sites, and we’re on to the next step, which is to spot-check these link profiles. So from the Batch Analysis report, I’m going to click on
the number in the Dofollow referring domains column to see which websites are linking to these domains. And what we’re looking for here are linking domains
that look like they would be relevant to the business. And since we’re just spot-checking, we’ll
also look at the DR of these linking websites to assess “overall quality.” It looks like Rigorous Themes, has good followed
links from sites like WordPress, secureserver.net, Access Themes, Template Monster, and more. Understrap also has some good links from WordPress,
Dreamhost, SitePoint, and Comcast. Snoring Canada has links from Bustle, Goodmenproject,
Sleep Phones, and Women Daily Magazine. And Typely has some decent links from G2, The Book
Seller, Educators Technology, and Baltimore Post. Now, how do I know these are all decent links? Well, some of them are recognizable and
reputable sites, and others seem like relevant domains to each
respective niche. Remember that this step is just about spot-checking,
and not doing a deep dive, because we’ll do that later. So all seems good, so let’s move on to
the next step, which is analyze traffic trends and organic keyword rankings since we’re already
in these reports. Just click on “Overview” in the left sidebar menu. Then I’ll click on the “Organic search” tab to
see the traffic trend for the website over time. Looking at Rigorous Themes, they’ve had some
spikey traffic. So consistency hasn’t exactly been on their side. And I tend to see this often with sites that haven’t
really optimized their website with SEO in mind. For example, not targeting keywords intentionally
that are related to their site. So let’s go to the Organic keywords report,
and you’ll see that their rankings are lacking. And from initial glance, it doesn’t look like
they rank for any meaningful keywords. For example, “ryan lackey swimmer,” which
is from one of their theme demo pages, doesn’t provide any value for them as a themes business. Now, this to me isn’t a horrible thing. It just seems like a sign of the website not
using their link profile to its maximum potential, considering it has over 3,500 referring domains
and a Domain Rating of 83, which is quite high. So I’ll leave this on my list of sites to analyze further. As for understrap.com, they also have solid
domain-level metrics. And looking at the Organic traffic graph,
they’ve had slow but steady growth. And quickly looking at their Organic keyword
rankings, you’ll see that they rank for relevant terms and have built a decent demand for their brand name,
which is tough to do. Let’s add them to our list of sites to analyze further. Next up is snoringcanada.com. They have decent domain level metrics, but
look at their Organic traffic chart. If we hover over the graph, you’ll see their
traffic got smashed in August 2018, which may have very well been from Google’s Medic update. Personally, I’m not passionate about the topic
of snoring so much that I would care to play with this kind of volatility, so I’ll actually rule this
website out and not bother looking further. Finally is typely.com. They’ve had some decent traffic growth over time. Looking at their Оrganic keywords report,
they rank high for competitive keywords like “free online proofreading tool,” and several variants. Now, that we’ve spot-checked the main metrics
for these domains, let’s move on to the next step, which is to analyze the backlink profiles of
the remaining websites. To see the backlink profile of the website,
go to the “Backlinks” menu in the sidebar. Next, set the link type to Dofollow to only see
the value-passing links for the website. Now, the first thing that I notice is that
the top backlinks are all from homepages. And if you look at the far right side, you’ll
see “similar” links, which are links with the same anchor text and surrounding text. This is usually a sign of sitewide links. And as Google states on their “link schemes” page, “Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites may be classified as “unnatural links.” Clicking through to this domain, which has
4,900 similar links, you’ll see that it’s from a sitewide footer link that gives attribution
to the creators of the WordPress theme. And since almost all of the links seem to
come from sitewide links just like this, I would personally devalue the link profile a bit. And because I don’t feel like gambling today,
I think I’ll remove this from reviewing further. Next up is understrap.com. And since they’re a theme site too, it appears as though
they have sitewide links from people using the theme. As you can see for this link, they’re using
the anchor text, understrap.com. Let’s go to the referring page and search for it. So I’ll do a find for their domain name, understrap.com,
but nothing appears. Long story short, it’s because Understrap
actually hides their link using CSS, which is a hard pass for me as this is bad practice. You can see that if I remove this bit of CSS
code, “display: none”. And you’ll see the link at the bottom of the page. So with the somewhat shady link building practices that
are going on here, I’ll pass right away on this domain. Finally is typely.com’s backlink profile. It doesn’t seem like they’ve done a lot of link building, but have some relevant links in addition to scraper
links which is for the most part, out of their control. But if you remember, they’ve had some growing
traffic and are ranking for some hyper-relevant and competitive terms. Plus, by buying the site, you’d also get access
to the code for their product. So this is about the only site I’d look at further. So from here, you should do a manual review
of the backlink profile, try and spot unnatural links from places like PBNs, and make an educated
decision from there. As a last measure, I’ll go to the Anchors
report, which will show us all anchor texts and the distribution that are used on backlinks
pointing at the website’s pages. As you can see, the majority are using branded
anchors or naked URLs which is likely a sign of natural link growth as opposed to link manipulation. This is ideally what you’d want to see from a site. Alright, the next step is to analyze the website
for low-hanging places for improvement. At this point, we want to see if there’s a way
we can improve the website’s traffic without a significant amount of effort or resources. So the first thing I’m going to do is run
a website audit using Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool. This will automatically search for over 100 predefined
technical SEO issues. So as that’s running, let’s see if we can identify
areas for improvement. So I’m going to go back to Site Explorer and
this time, I’ll go to the “Best by links” report, which will show us the pages that have
the most backlinks. The first thing I notice is that they have links to both
the https and http version without a 301 redirect. In fact, they have the same issue here on
the secure and unsecure www version. And if I click on these URLs, you’ll see that indeed,
they do not redirect. And if I check the source code, they don’t
seem to have a canonical tag either. This isn’t the end of the world for the site, but it’s
a super-easy way to fix a technical SEO issue. Another thing you’ll notice is that they don’t
really have any links to their blog. And by looking at the titles and slugs, they
don’t seem to be making intentional efforts with their keyword targeting or on-page efforts. In my opinion, this is probably the weakest point
of their website, and one of my greatest strengths. So this seems super-attractive for me to help
the site get more traffic, and exposure for the tool. Finally, I want to get an idea of the organic
search competitors in the industry to know who I’ll be up against. So I’ll go to the Competing domains report, to see other websites that are ranking for similar
keywords as Typely. And a few that I immediately recognize are
Slick Write, Hemingway App and Grammarly. Now, since Typely doesn’t have a ton of backlinks,
I see this as a growth opportunity to get more links, traffic, and increase the value of the site in 6-12 months. The last check I’d do here in Site Explorer
is to go to the Broken backlinks report. And it doesn’t look like Typely has any issues here,
so that’s too bad. But to illustrate what I’m looking for, I’ll show
you on the rigorous themes site from before. If you go to the Broken backlinks report, you can see
all links pointing at the broken pages on the site. And you’ll see a couple here which you could redirect
to another relevant page or recreate the page. This is a really easy way to funnel link equity
back to pages that could use them or to redirect them to other relevant pages on your site. The last and final thing I’ll do is go to the finished
website audit and see what low-hanging technical SEO fixes I can make. From the Overview page, I’ll scroll down
a bit until I hit the “issues table.” This will show you all technical SEO issues
that were caught. To learn what these issues are, you can click
here, which will pull down a description. And to actually apply fixes, just click on the number
beside the issue to see the affected pages. So let’s say that after all of these checks,
I was happy with what I saw. An opportunity to grow a website past what
the previous owner was able to do. So the last thing I’ll do is look for areas
to better monetize. On a monetization note, they aren’t monetized yet,
so there’s a ton of potential here. A couple ideas that come to mind are to create
a premium tool or to improve their API which is currently in beta. At this point, I’ll go to flippa.com and search
for typely.com. And I’ll go to the listing details. From here, you’ll need to read through the
listing, where the seller will normally explain what they’ve done and their ideas for growth. And they say: “Users are begging for a premium version with
more features like a browser extension and mobile integration. I received many requests to sell API access
to the tool and integrate more checks. I have a list of ideas that I’m happy to share
with the buyer.” Now, remember, these are all just ideas. So rather than dreaming about becoming the next
billion-dollar company, you need to do market research, and evaluate whether you have the funds, knowledge,
and resources to grow the company. Now, if everything looked good to you and you
were ready to take on giants like Grammarly, I would recommend contacting the seller, verify traffiс
and revenue if any, and begin the negotiation process. Now, the reason why I like to go through these
kinds of steps is because when I buy a website, I’m looking for growth and longevity. My greatest advice to you would be that if
it doesn’t check all or most of the boxes that are absolute must-haves, then be patient. The last thing you want to do is sit on
a site that you have no desire to grow. And I can tell you that money alone won’t
be enough motivation to get it going. So to conclude. Even though there’s massive potential in
a relatively untapped industry, I don’t think I’d buy this site simply because I don’t have
the technical know-how to improve the product, nor am I interested in proofreading software. But someone out there is. Bottomline: if you’re going to buy a website,
trust no one. Instead, dig into the data, assess points of weakness,
and buy it for a price that’ll be a shortcut to growth and a nice tradeoff for your time. Now if you enjoyed this video, make sure to
like share and subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials. And let me know in the comments if you would rather
build a website from scratch or buy one and improve it. So keep grinding away, always do your due
diligence and I’ll see you in the next tutorial.

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