Buying and selling websites is becoming commonplace. It’s just like buying or selling a home.
While this is a routine occurrence in modern times, it’s relatively new. These deals take place a lot differently from the way they used to, especially with so many people interested in making money online.
Like with any big transaction, it’s important to make sure you’re safe and secure throughout the process.
1. Familiarize Yourself with Common Scams
Things like unreliable payment methods often ruin website sales. If you don’t know a buyer very well, using sites like PayPal may not be a good idea. There’s nothing stopping the buyer from filing a dispute and claiming they never received their digital goods, obtaining a refund via PayPal.
Another common scam is misrepresenting statistics of the website being sold. Only buy sites from sellers that use a reputable tool like Google Analytics to track stats. You would be able to read these figures and keep track of them for a few weeks (or even a month) to be sure that you’re seeing the truth.
2. Know with Certainty What a Website is Worth
Offers need to be fair for people on both sides. The best way to determine a website’s worth is to have an expert valuation done.
There are plenty of resources, like Digital Exit, that provide valuation tips for websites. They’ll come up with an objective figure, and all offers made or accepted should take that objective valuation into account.
There are other factors, such as how quickly someone is looking to buy or sell, that might make an impact. Just be sure that everyone is rooted in reality.
3. Thoroughly Research the Person You’re Working With
What if someone is trying to sell you a website that doesn’t actually belong to them? What if you’re trying to sell your website to a buyer whose company is completely made up?
Google everyone you ever intend to do business with – especially if you aren’t conducting that business face to face. Make sure you’re getting proof of ownership, and well as some secondary proof of the identity of the person you’re working with.
Things like active professional social media profiles with meaningful connections are good indicators that you’re dealing with the person you think you’re dealing with.
4. Make Sure the SEO Checks Out
The website you’re trying to buy ranks third on Google! What could possibly be wrong with it? The short answer: a lot of things. Bad SEO is everywhere, and it takes many damaging forms.
Some people use shady tactics to deceive or confuse Google’s algorithm, making it believe that their site is far more useful than it really is. Never take a site’s ranking at face value.
If you purchase that site and shortly after, Google penalizes or blacklists it for its shady SEO tactics, you’re not going to be very happy. Google checks all the time, and they aren’t very understanding when it comes to practices they’ve labelled unethical.
5. Always Sell Securely
If your website is worth top dollar or you’re about to spend a lot of money purchasing someone else’s website, you need that transaction to be as secure as possible. Always exchange funds and access through a reputable escrow service that offers protections on both sides. If the person you’re working with is against using escrow, that’s a surefire sign that they didn’t plan to pay fair. Any reasonable buyer or seller would want to utilize the same protections that you do.
Above all else, trust your gut. If something doesn’t look or feel right, don’t go ahead with the deal. It’s better to pass or wait than it is to find yourself on the receiving end of a scam – especially if there’s a chance that you won’t be able to get your money or your website back.
Having background in communications and management, Amber Brunning often writes about small business and budding entrepreneurs. When not working, you can find her online chatting with her friends or reading industry blogs. Connect with her on Twitter.