Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Internet Marketing
You don’t need a brick and mortar storefront to do business anymore. There are thousands of businesses all over the world that only exist online (and maybe in someone’s home office) which means that every day pre-existing domains are being sold like any other storefront, retail or office space. And just like when you buy a restaurant, beauty parlor or landscaping company from someone else, when you buy a pre-existing domain you have to take the bad with the good. If you are looking to purchase a pre-existing domain or business from someone keep in mind that you are about to inherit its SEO in whatever state that may be.
Once it’s your domain it’s your problem so before you sign on the dotted line here are 3 things to consider:
1. Why is this person selling?
Just like an offline business, it can take years before an online business starts turning a real profit. After all the blood, sweat and tears you have to put into it, why would someone want to sell their domain? Are they the habitual entrepreneur that is always looking for a new challenge? Did they underestimate how much work on online business would be? Are they someone who “flips” websites (meaning they buy pre-existing domains whose hosting wasn’t renewed), fix them up a bit and try to resell them? If a website is doing well and making money for the owner why are they looking to get rid of it? Knowing their motivation can help you understand what you’re getting yourself into with that pre-existing domain.
2. What kind of link portfolio do they have?
Did the site suffer from an algorithmic or manual penalty and that’s why the site owner is looking to unload the domain? Just like you’d ask to see the books before buying a physical business, make sure you get a good look under the hood and conduct a link audit on the site. Maybe they haven’t been penalized yet but is their site heading that way? At one of the most recent SEO training workshops I met a woman whose husband had recently purchased a pre-existing domain, only to find out that it had been de-indexed by Google! That’s not an uphill battle I would ever want to build my new business on. If her husband had been a little more SEO minded and not just looked at the revenue, but what the site’s link profile looked like, they might not have decided to invest in that site.
3. Is buying a pre-existing domain better than starting fresh?
As I keep trying to bring up, when you buy a pre-existing domain you are going to inherit its SEO baggage. Now this can be both bad and good. Older domains tend to be more trusted than brand new sites, which can work in your favor. And even if the site’s existing link profile it’s perfect it does have some value, which can also be used to bolster your own efforts. Does that pre-existing domain also come with a blog, social profiles or other internet property that might make it even more valuable?