The selling of websites on the Internet is very similar to the movement of traditional real estate in the real world, property is bought and sold for specific address and location. In terms of the Internet, locations and addresses go up in value if the Internet name has the potential or proven track record to bring in reader traffic. As a result, websites are sold for different prices, some going for pennies while those with specific names that include what people would generally look for can sell for thousands of dollars.
Buying a website today
As a result of the Internet’s proliferation and mainly the demands of business, involves buying an existing website from a previous owner. This kind of transaction can either be direct between private parties or brokered through a third party such as a domain seller or broker. Unfortunately, there are no clear rules of what a website owner must promise when selling a site. Unlike real property which has rules of disclosure in most states, website can be sold as-is or with exaggerated marketing. As a result, buyers have to be careful and do their own research on the true value of prospective website.
Questions are the critical tool the buyer has in his favor. Some simple but important questions can help determine if the value asked for on a sale is reasonable or completely outlandish. These questions include:
• Why is the website for sale? Clearly, the motivation for putting a website on the block needs to be considered. Sometimes, the reason is obvious – the money potential is attractive. However, many times the issue has more to do with the original owner wanting to get out of the business of running the site. The particular reason can often dictate the true value of a site.
• Does the address for sale have a reputation online? What’s the point of buying a website if nobody knows about it? A buyer is far better off just creating a new site with his own address and building awareness to that site. What makes a website valuable is how many people know about it and use it on a regular basis. That in turn becomes valuable real estate online since that traffic can be turned into business.
• Can you take over the website’s business? Many valuable websites have such a value because the site serves a given function. That may be a blog, a community, a business or some other reason for why people use the website regularly. The buyer needs to be willing to continue the same function to maintain the value of the website, or the reputation and traffic will disappear quickly when taken over.
There are plenty of other valuable questions such as how well it is linked already to other websites or if the previous owner will help with transitional support after the purchase. The key point to remember when buying is to be as informed as possible before actually putting any money down on the deal. More than ever the saying “caveat emptor” or buyer beware matters in buying a website.