Whether you've discovered Flippa for the first time recently, or you've bought multiple websites through them, it can be both daunting and discouraging! Here are some tips from a veteran in the website development and small business development industry to help you locate and buy a website that is legitimate and worth an investment.
Note: I realize some of these are basic or obvious, so be sure to read through all of the points before you judge!
False Data - One of the major weaknesses of Flippa.com is their limited verification of data. Thankfully, there are some tools and tactics I'll recommend to overcome this but as a general rule of thumb if the seller isn't willing to provide proof or verification: don't trust them. At the same time, not all sellers are experienced sellers and may not have considered certain aspects of verification. They may honestly believe the numbers they give you are accurate even though they're not. So don't
Spam in Google Analytics - If they don't have some basic Filters applied in Google Analytics "Views" then it's probable the majority of the data coming from it is spam. This effects everything from overall traffic to page views, bounce rates and beyond.
Bounce Rates - Assuming Spam filtering is in place, you want to avoid websites that have high bounce rates. There are exceptions to this rule, but if you can't think of any exceptions then you don't need to worry about it for now. I look for sites with a bounce rate below 40%.
Verification of Followers - Just because you can see their Twitter account (or any social account) has X followers doesn't mean they're real, or relevant. There are some automated verification services out there (such as TwitterAudit.com), but generally here's how you can tell whether or not the Followers are likely to be legitimate:
Number of Tweets
Date of Last Tweet
Ratio of Followers to Friends
High Bounce Rates = Bad - Generally speaking a high bounce rate is bad because it means people leave key pages without going to other pages before leaving the site entirely. I look for websites with a bounce rate between 15-
Content Marketing - Unless you're planning on writing the content, you should expect to pay wages to an author per article, a content editor per article and researchers by the hour. Personally, I expect to pay roughly $5,000-10,000 per month for such services whether you hire in-house or not. I, however, have worked in small and medium site content marketing teams so I'm basing this off of my observations of their time and costs.
Repurposing - Just because a website is one thing doesn't mean it can't be used for another purpose. For example, if they have an email list, you may be able to contact those people to solicit other services. I don't spam, and I don't encourage it, but I believe people appreciate advertisements when they're timely and relevant. So if you see a website that reaches an audience that may be interested in other products or services you, or other businesses you own are interested in, then go for it!
Profiles - This is probably an obvious one for most of you, but sometimes when I'm scanning through dozens of sites I forget to check this so I have it on a little checklist I use before I place bids on sites. Check the profile of the seller! If they're "new", obviously they could have a bad rep and starting over, but you can usually do some Google searches for their name / username / email and read up on them to get a feel. It's not a perfect system, but it should get you started.
Important Questions to Ask
Do they have a record of their customers first and last names, and email addresses? This is important because we can re-use these leads to solicit them for other things or just sell them all together!
Do they have a thriving blog? If they have a blog, then we can write articles about our other companies in the blog, thus generating sales through the other sites.
Not all sellers are experienced. Thus, they don't all realize, or know, that they need to provide verification for various things. Sometimes this looks like an honest person who believes they provided you verification, when in reality it wasn't properly verified. Other times this looks like someone who fails to provide verification initially