It can be exciting deciding to flip a website in the same way that you flip a house or a room. If you do it right you can turn a profit, and you get complete creative control. However it’s true that there are so many different dimensions to website, and a website that is failing is sure to have its share of hidden problems. No matter how much research you do, you must be confident that you have a website you can turn around for profit. If you’re not ready for all of the hard work and dedication, buying a website will lose you a lot of money in the end.

Fortunately, there are a few tips you can keep in mind when looking to buy an existing website. The most important thing is that you find a website with potential. There are a few website trading sites that you can find online, but looking for a website on your own may get you the best deal (and of course, you can’t forget about SEO).

5 Things to Consider before Buying a Website

To get started, type a subject into Google and click past the first few pages; then begin looking for a website with a few of these key characteristics:

  1. Targeted Traffic vs. Highway Traffic.

I like to use the term “highway traffic” to describe the types of visitors who visit a site with no intention of coming back. No one likes traffic on the highway, and you shouldn’t like website visitors who just want to “get out.” Visitors who come and go on a site are better than no visitors at all, but it’s best if a site has targeted visitors.  Talk with the current website owner and check out its social media channels to determine if anyone is really interested.

  1. Check out the Competition.

Little, unsuccessful websites often have little, unsuccessful competition. This is one thing that certainly works in the favor of someone looking to flip a website for profit. Consider buying both website and merging them together to help eliminate some competition. After all, there is a good chance someone else will snatch up the other website and then cause you a lot of problems in the future.

  1. Past Publicity.

Some websites are simply missing the importance of advertising. If you find a site that looks too good to be true (good layout, good content, etc.), look into what it did in the way of advertising. If you find that it was ignoring the website and not advertising, then your job won’t be too difficult. These are the best types of websites to find if you’re looking to buy.

  1. Domain Name.

Some people see a domain name (or URL) that seems to have potential. This usually happens when a buyer can predict future trends. For example, if you think that someday soon Apple will come out with a product called “ISync,” and you see the domain name for sale, you may want to take it. This will make you a lot of money someday if the name takes off. This is best for someone looking to buy and immediately sell, not develop.

  1. Early Stages.

It’s sometimes easiest to find a website that is practically new. Even if a website doesn’t have any visitors or great content, you will be able to mold the website into your own. This is still easier than starting from scratch and works best for the buyer looking to flip a website quickly.

What about SEO Considerations?

After you’ve done all of the preliminary research above, you can start to do the second phase of your research—SEO. Sometimes websites are not ranking well because their SEO is a mess. If you acquire a website you acquire the SEO with it (meaning that domain has SEO factors attached to it), and it can be incredibly difficult and expensive to clean up bad SEO.

A great way to check out the SEO of a page is to use Open Site Explorer and check out the backlinks that are associated with that page. If the backlinks are full of spam, that’s not a good sign. You’ll have to go through and remove all of the backlinks and disavow them, which you can learn more about here.

The second thing you may want to do is use the Broken Link Check tool to check for broken links. Again, too many broken links can mean a lot of work and poor SEO as a consequence.

The Takeaway

Finding an already existing website is great for a lot of reasons. You will likely have at least some audience to work with, the site will already be indexed with search engines, and you will not need to deal with trying to keep your website out of the spam category (something Google often does with new websites).

Many websites started with one or two people (for example, Mashable) and grew to be a major force in the website industry. In other words, if you’re up for the challenge and follow a few of the tips listed above when shopping around for a website, you could find yourself creating an entire career. Although it’s hard work, it will likely be worth it in the end.

Have you ever flipped a website? Let us know about your experience and your thoughts in the comment section below.