If you have purchased or are thinking of purchasing a pre-built website, then you need to read my guide on this subject.
As someone who wanted to purchase a pre-built website to make a little extra cash, I searched Ebay and found what appeared to be a good website for sale in a popular niche. The sales page from this Seller explained how much money you would be making from the instant you purchased and how valuable the Domain Name was. The appraisal value being $7,000 to $10,000 for this 'Rare Domain Name'!
After purchasing this site I then became aware that this website was a clone of many other websites which were already sold by this same Seller.
The only difference being the Website (Domain) Name and Home Page image.
Many months on and having gained allot of knowledge on Blog Websites and Internet Marketing, I now know how naive I was in purchasing this website. After 4 months, this website has made a total of $0.00's.
I have applied some 'SEO' (Search Engine Optimisation) and 'Traffic Getting' techniques to get a good Google Ranking. The clicks, although small, are there. There are people actually coming to the website.
The problem lies with the website design. From the statistics on this website that I now have, 90% of people reaching this site stay less than 30 seconds.
99% of the remaining 10% stay less than 2 minutes.
There are 2 reasons for this:
1. People do not like what they see on the landing page which is home page, and they leave.
2. This page has allot of free videos from YouTube.
If you double click on any of these you are immediately taken to YouTube. Thus negating any need for the person to stay on my website.
So, the seller of these websites has a number for sale in a few different niches. All of them are clones of each other except for the things I stated before.
If you don't want to throw away your money, then here are a number of things to look for when purchasing a website:
This not only applies to Ebay but you should apply this advice no matter where you are purchasing from.
1. Check the Seller's reputation.
If Ebay, read the Feedback! Try to contact previous Buyers. Not recent Buyers but someone who purchased a few months before. A Seller can have great customer service but have a bad product. You will not know till a few months down the track...
2. If Ebay, check if the Seller has current or previous listings as 'Private'.
Meaning you cannot see what was sold previously and for 'how-much'. This should immediately tell you that there might be something to hide.
3. Contact the Seller and ask if you can contact previous Buyers for a reference check on his/her products.
Ask for contact details such as the email address or phone no. Emailing someone and asking questions is not classed as 'spam'.
If the Seller has something to hide then I would be surprised if they gave you any contact information.
If they don't, then you would ask yourself why? Do they have something to hide or are they not proud of their past products which should be doing well if the product lived up to the Sales Page.
If they do, then ask the Buyers some pertinent questions relating to the profitability of their website/s and some feedback on the Seller such as 'after-sales support'.
4. If Ebay, watch out for Items that have Listings with a very 'short' time span. This could tell you that the Seller doesn't want the listing to be public for very long. This should sounds some warning bells.
Two 3 day listings will cost double what a 7 day listing will cost and have less exposure to potential Buyers. So why would a Seller do this?
5. Read the Sales Page for the website very carefully.
a) Hidden Costs - Transferring Domain Name or website to your own hosting provider. This should be free. Read my other guide on this subject.
b) If Ebay, Check the Sales Page with references to 'Old Feedback' - Feedback should be current as the websites may have changed over time. What you are buying now may be different to what someone purchased 12 months ago.
c) Incorrect Details in the Sales Page - Any image such as 'Traffic' or 'Earned Income' can be digitally manipulated or altered and may not be true.
Ask the Seller to give you access so you can check any statistics for yourself.
d) Domain Name Appraisals - The Sales Page for my website stated that the Domain Name was a 'Rare' name and as such was appraised by Swift Appraisals to be worth $7,000 - $10,000.
Well, I have found out, and you can too, by going to Swift Appraisals. This website is a 'self appraisal' website.
Swift only provide you with an Amount based on what YOU say the Domain is worth. If you tell them it is 'Rare' then they will appraise it with a high value.
I did a truthful appraisal of my Domain Name and the value was $270 - $350. And I was very conservative. If I had been harder then the appraisal might have been $30 - $50 value. A long way off $7-10K. Tells you something about the Seller...
e) Monetisation or Income Potential - An image such as an 'Adsense Keyword Tool' image showing the websites Keywords can be very misleading.
The image I was shown for my website showed the keywords as having 'High' Monthly search Volume (clicks). One might think, WOW, look at all the people who will land on my website because I have these Keywords in my Title or Meta Tags.
There are at least 2 problems with this:
1. You also need to look at the 'Keyword Competition'.
If there is High Competition for the same Keywords then it is extremely difficult to get a good ranking on Google or any other Search Engine.
If you don't have a good ranking (1st or 2nd page of the search results) then you won't get visitors.
As a Side Note: For those who don't know about 'Keywords', these are the 'words' or 'phrases' a person types into a search engine such as Google, to find websites pertaining to those keywords.
2. You also need to look at the 'Other Website Competition'.
That is, how many other websites will you be competing against. If this Seller has sold 100 or even 1000 websites exactly the same as yours with everything to do with SEO such as 'Keywords' exactly the same as your website, then how do you think you can compete, and make money. After all, this is why you are purchasing.
Not only this, how many other websites are also competing either in the same Niche or for the same Keywords. Sometimes you might be competing against 10,000 other websites for the 1st or 2nd page of the search engine. Think about it. Without a good website that is properly designed with good SEO setup and plenty of 'backlinks' to your website, if there is a huge amount of competition then you will rank very poorly (if you are on page 167 of a search result, don't expect any clicks with a SE).
As for my website... Now that I am a bit more experienced, I am thinking of changing the name and doing other SEO and 'Traffic' tactics so that the website can rank better in the search engines.
Even if this website was ranked #1 on Page 1, because of the design, I really don't think the website would make any money.
I now have it hosted for free (see my other guide on this subject) so it is only costing the price of registering the domain name each year, but it is
definitely not paying for itself.
My advice, 'Buyer Beware'.
Some last advice. Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can before outlaying any cash. You may think that you MUST buy now or you will miss the boat. Let me tell you... there are many boats. Just get on the right one.
Hope this gives you some good information to help you in the future.
If you need to know more on anything in this guide, please feel free to contact me as I would be glad to pass on any information you need to know.
Warning About Buying Pre-Built Websites
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11 February 2011
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