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Buying a website rather than building it from scratch saves you a lot of time and effort as a webmaster. You are able to see the website in its ready-to-use form, and a good website for sale will already have SEO and marketing tactics in place, as well as an established and high-quality demographic.

However, as with all practices and purchases, it is strongly recommended for all would-be website buyers to perform their due diligence and thoroughly research the website under consideration. With that in mind, to help you avoid getting ripped off when buying a website, here is a list of possible scams to look out for, and ways to avoid them.

What are some factors to consider when buying a website?

There are many things to watch out for when you are considering purchasing a ready-made website, but they typically fall under three categories: design, money, and security. Having a good idea of what makes a high-quality website means you can maintain your own websites for any possible, future sales, and you will also be informed for other website purchases.

Website Design

Any website that you are considering purchasing should be designed in such a way that it is easy for you to maintain and for your customers, visitors, or clients can simply navigate and use. Before you buy the website, you should make sure to check out the website’s coding, its user interface, SEO tactics, and so on.

A poorly designed website will only discourage your visitors from making any purchases, clicking on ads or affiliate links, and performing any other actions that would normally serve as a source of revenue. Additionally, a poor design will deter these visitors from returning to the site and from sharing your site with others who may be interested.

Coding

Whether or not you intend to maintain the website yourself or hire a professional to do this for you, you should be aware of which coding language the website is built upon before purchasing a website. Some coding languages are more difficult than others, and oftentimes there are errors in the code leftover from previous changes made to the design of the website.

These errors may prove fatal to your business, as they may make it difficult for visitors to navigate the site, or for you to access it. Additionally, this may also prove costly to fix, increasing your investment, and with no promise of return.

UI/UX

User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are some of the most important factors when it comes to attracting and retaining visitors to your website. When you visit a website, you are encouraged to stay longer and return to it for information, products, or services, if you are satisfied with your experience and the website’s design.

Before finalizing your purchase, make sure to visit the website yourself and make note of your own experience using and navigating the site. Ask the vendor the following questions, but also make sure to vet the website yourself as well.

Is the website slow to load? If you find there are any issues with the loading speed, check out the google metrics.

Does the website have a good mobile version? Does the mobile version load quickly?

Is the website design attractive? The landing page of the website is extremely important to consider here, as it will determine whether a potential customer or client will stay to read on, shop, etc., or leave right away.

For example, a minimalist design will inspire a feeling of calm, whereas a very busy design may make the visitor feel somewhat claustrophobic and stressed. In addition, the use of flattering tones and color schemes is recommended.

Is the website easy to navigate? Is there are menu, legend, header, or footer where the user can easily find what they are looking for? Is there a search bar?

SEO

The website should be search engine optimized (SEO), which means the posts and articles are written and designed in such a way that they are easily found through Google searches. It also means that the website will be ranked highly by search engines, so those who are looking for similar products or services will be recommended to visit your site.

In general, you should ensure that the content is high-quality, but check to make sure that any posts with substantial amounts of text are using buzzwords or phrases that people commonly search for. For example, if you are purchasing a site which sells dog grooming accessories, you might expect some keywords to include: “best dog shampoo,” “pet grooming tips,” “how to keep your dog healthy,” “easy to clean dog brushes,” and so on.

Money

Evaluate the website in terms of how much it will cost, but also whether it will be profitable. After all, you want to make sure your investment is sound, both in terms of the initial amount and your return.

Price

If a website is too expensive or too cheap, you should be wary of a scam. The website may not be in good condition, or the seller is looking for someone willing to pay much more than it is worth.

Revenue

Ask the vendor for a list and analysis of all the revenue streams on the website. These may include, but are not limited to, sales of products and/or services, affiliate links, and advertisements. You should look for websites that have more than one revenue stream, and for a website that has had a consistent or increasing trend in their revenue.

Don’t even think about buying a website from sellers who refuse to share this information with you. Furthermore, be wary of websites whose revenue history is rocky and goes through periods of dry spells. Listen to your intuition; if your gut tells you that the future projections for revenue seem too high, then you’re likely correct.

When you are considering the return on your investment, you should also look into the target demographics and the current/past marketing tactics. If the website does not do a good job of marketing itself, has earned a bad reputation, or has been penalized by Google, you should reconsider the purchase.

Maintenance Costs

Ask for a report of the website’s maintenance. If the website has been built on or hosted by a platform that makes the maintenance very simple, then you may not need to hire a professional. However, if it was created by a website designer, you will likely need to hire someone to perform periodic maintenance for you.

Also, ask how often maintenance was required in the website’s past. It is inadvisable to purchase sites that have many issues which occur very frequently.

Security

Of course, you should ensure that the website’s design and coding are secure against any attacks or hacking attempts. Ensure that the website has adequate protection or firmware in place against malware, phishing, etc. You should also check to make sure that the website’s copyright is up-to-date, and/or that the website’s content does not infringe upon others’ copyrights or patents.

Another thing to consider is the security of your payment. An easy way to avoid any type of scam, including those below, is to go through a website broker. However, if you intend on completing the payment process without a broker, we still advise the use of an escrow service. These services will negotiate on your behalf, resolve any issues, and take over communication with the vendor should any disputes arise.

Conclusion

Don’t skip out on researching the website, its data, and its history when you are considering a purchase. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the seller for any necessary statistics or documents when you are negotiating or bidding. The chances are that if the website is of good quality, there is nothing to hide.

Karen Evans is a former college student who, after making real money learning how to build and scale niche blogs, decided to go full time and hasn't looked back since. After seeing so many people waste time and money trying to learn how to create websites that make money she decided to create the ever-popular StartBloggingOnline.com. So far over 9,500 new blogs have been created using her guide! When she isn’t blogging, she enjoys spending time with her family, which usually involves finding some water to cool off in!

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