A recent discussion I had with the owner of an Australian domain forum inspired me to begin to write this post, it revolved around processes for domain appraisals but is it more complex to value of an entire website based on aggressive Google algorithm updates so I thought I would start there.
If you are investing big money in buying a pre-built site you want to ensure you correctly value the site as is also easy to fake signals and overstate revenues and traffic numbers. If I was looking at a website to purchase these are the types of checks I would be running before dipping my toe in the water.
1. Check for Link Signals
There is no reason you should not be using more than one backlink data source as there are several tools available these days and most offer a basic freemium access to get most of the information you will need for this step.
Some of the main ones I’ve recommend to use include LinkResearchTools, OpenSiteExplorer, Hrefs and MajesticSEO. You are looking to judge their authority signals based on inbound links but also understand if their link profile is built like a house of cards due to spam, paid or toxic links.
It’s fairly apparent very quickly looking at their inbound links and anchor text diversity if you should look further.
2. Spam Check with Detox Tools
One big thing is that many of the main SEO backlink tools don’t currently highlight if their website might be somewhat toxic due to their backlinks.
One of the additional tools that I suggest you look at adding to these data set is the Link Detox reports from Cemper.com, do a quick sample of their top 10 competitors and see how their toxicity profile compares. There is no point risking your investment if the website sites far above the competitor’s average toxicity score.
3. Crawl the site for Issues
4. How Many Pages Indexed?
While there are quick and dirty solutions such as site:searchnewscentral.com to test how many pages are in the index, this figure is often inaccurate. I have found that Sheer SEO presents the best data as it shows both primary and supplementary index. If you need to bulk check a number of websites products like SEOTools for Excel make it scalable to measure hundreds of websites at once. If you’re buying a website consider pushing for access to their Google Webmaster Tools so you can get a snapshot of Index Status that will show any potential hits from Penguin/Panda updates.
5. Is Their Content Spun or Stolen?
If you are looking at purchasing website you want to ensure they are not scummy content thieves and also with Panda algorithm update the sites value will continue to degrade over time. There are several tools I suggest using such as Copyscape, Similar Page Checker and many more as you don’t want to be at the end of a torrent of DCMA requests once you become the new owner. If they have built a churn and burn website you don’t want to be throwing good money away on shit content.
6. Readability Score
While these are not perfect they are a good way to get a gauge on how their content compares against competitors, if a majority of industry blogs have a reading age of 5 and you are a 9 you might be missing the mark. This is also important if you are trying to attract quality content partners and high paying advertisers you should have some idea about your content, but just remember that there are several readability indices that you can be measured against.
It’s also worthwhile measuring what is the fine line in readability scores between what you can produce easily and what gets the most comments, shares and eye balls.
7. Number of Pages
Again you want to know the potential size of the site to understands it’s potential value if you are buying and calculate the potential traffic each piece of new content produces.
If you know they get around 10,000 visitors a month off 100 pages you can roughly calculate each new page is worth an extra 100 visitors/month so you can estimated how much content you should be producing to grow.
Evergreen content is great but to grow your audience you need to be planning a range of regular new content pieces once you purchase the website.
8. Frequency of Posts?
It depends on if you are looking to purchase a website that has a constant stream of fresh content/news or one that relies on evergreen content. Frequent post encourage both visitors to return and subscribe to your RSS feed but also ensure Googlebot visits more often.
9. Any Spam Comments on Posts?
One of the updated Google Webmaster Guidelines that has been removed for now addresses if you are being pro-active in removing obvious spam and highlights possible penalties for failure to remove such spam.
Does the site have a history of being hit hard by scrappers and spammers you may want to consider adding in a security layer like CloudFlare to protect your website from a majority of bots and known spammers.
10. Any Social Signals?
One of the coolest new toys to play with is Social Crawlytics and allows you to quickly compare the website against its competitors and measure their social signals. This can also show what types of past content proved popular on social media for future content topics but also what content competitors are producing is proving most popular. If the website has decent traffic and has good content you should have some social signals, if there is nothing then something is suspicious or artificial.
11. Are their social signals authentic?
Now we can see if they have social signals linked to their website but if you are buying their whole business including social media channels you need to understand are those 100,000 followers on Twitter genuine?
There are a number of tools such as Fakers that allow you to review their twitter account attached to their website and estimates what portion is authentic, inactive and fake.
Also a great thing is that you can also do most of these tasks at scale to pre-qualify a list of websites before you even invest the time and effort in negotiation process. When seeking a website to buy you want to weed out of the crap and spam before you waste your time as efficiently as you can.
If there are any other factors you suggest should be included please include them in the comments below.