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Content Website Buying Due Diligence – FAST 5 Minute 5 Step Checklist

There are a lot of great articles going in depth about how to do due diligence when buying a website. Many of these are more in depth than you want to do for an initial pass. After doing this quick check a lot of these deep dive articles are great to checkout put out by brokers… EmpireFlippers & FEInternational.

There are even great companies like Centurica that for a fee will do a deep dive into a site. I have used them in the past to scale due diligence and they are great.  

In this post I am going to provide the quick initial check that can be done in under 5 minutes (if all the information is available) for you to see if there are any red flags. 

In addition to the checklist and screenshots I will do a review myself on a public listing at flippa so you can watch over my shoulder. 

We use a lot of tools for this process totalling over $1k/month! If you want to save the costs and pick up a content site in the $2.5-$75k range checkout the sites listed at MotionInvest.

Here are the tools we use…

This is the quick 5 minute FAST preliminary due diligence guide. 

  1. Income Verification
    1. Images can be faked – video of earnings is best
    2. Earnings per visitor is reasonable – a joke site earning $0.1 per visitor doesn’t make sense while a high ticket focused amazon associate review site earnings that same amount per visitor does make sense. 
    3. Expenses if any are reasonable
  2. Traffic Verification
    1. 6 months to 1 year of traffic – steady growth or stable is the ideal
    2. GEO Location – Making sure the traffic isn’t all from an area that can’t be monetized or faked
    3. Time on site & Device – If the traffic is faked the time on site and the device used isn’t a normal distribution 
    4. Traffic claimed and traffic shown by 3rd party service like SEMRush are reasonably aligned.
  3. Backlink Analysis and Red Flags
    1. Check all 301 redirect – make sure the site hasn’t been moved from another location and the end result would be you own a domain with no traffic
    2. Are the links “Real” and “Relevant” links? – Simple enough but you want to make sure there are “real” links put by someone to help their audience and are from “relevant” sites. 
    3. No unusual concentration of spammy links or rate of link acquisition – See video for explanation
    4. No overuse of any single strategy (blog comments, scholarships, donations, PBN, paid links, widget links etc) – If all the links are from one strategy it is not ideal (see “real” & “relevant” rule of thumb above) – here is a more in depth backlink analysis tutorial
  4. Content Check
    1. Plagiarism Check – Running a quick plagiarism check to make sure the content is unique is great. 
    2. Quality – is the content answering the searchers queries? Maintaining content has a cost… if the starting point of that content is low then you will need to factor in a lot of updates/re-writes to that content
      1. Pro Tip – You can use MarketMuse to see the quality of the content relative to the competition. 
  5. Archive & WhoIs Check
    1. Has the site had a “colourful” past or different then what the traffic/earnings would suggest? See video for more details.  – Note I find Archive doesn’t work for some sites, here is a wayback machine archive alternative.
    2. Does the history of the domain name transfer make sense

If the site passes this FAST preliminary check it is time to do a deeper dive! The deep dive analysis will be the subject of another article… stay tuned for that.

If you are interested in Content Sites that are earning right now and have passed this preliminary a deeper due diligence process checkout MotionInvest!

What is your favourite red flag when looking at a website to potentially buy? 

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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