Buying Websites for SEO - Richard Kershaw - #BrightonSEO


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Chances are you invest thousands of pounds in your search campaign, might it turn out to be more cost effective to buy a website that is already ranking?

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  • My name is Richard Kershaw. My company is called Quality Nonsense Ltd. I'm going to explain exactly how I buy websites, and – more importantly – why you should be doing the same. Unless we compete in similar sectors, in which case it’s a beautiful day outside on the seafront…
  • First up, let's consider why you should be buying sites. In short: buying websites can help solve some of the biggest problems we face as SEOs. For example, gaining lots of on-topic links fast. Or skipping the Google sandbox. Or ranking page #1 overnight. But best of all: now is the time to be buying sites.
  • Secret number one: how to get started. There’s good news and there’s not-so-good news. Firstly, any serious SEOs already has many of the skills you need to find sites to buy. There are some expensive tools, but these are optional. Finally, an economic downturn is a good time to be buying sites. People are selling, and sites are often priced to sell. There’s also some not-so-good news. One, many quality sites won’t sell up. Not to me, not to you and not to Lord Alan Sugar. Owners are not always rational. I understand that the owner of turned down £250,000 for the domain. Why? Because she used it for her personal email. Two - Many owners have crazy site valuations. These are often based on either nonsense ‘website valuation’ tools or pub- bound advice. The answer is a lot of tenacity & relationship building. Some of these tricky prospects will get back in touch. Probably when they realise they aren’t going to sell their $100/mo MFA site for a million dollars. Finally, you need a little money behind you to start buying sites. I'm afraid you’re on your own with this one.
  • I mentioned a moment ago that there are opportunities everywhere – even in super-competitive sectors. Each of these sites has either sold or been listed for sale in the last year. Each has either traffic, backlinks or both in a highly competitive sector. Travel, gold, poker, gambling, voucher codes… You get the idea. You simply need to know how to find them.
  • Warren Buffet is often dubbed the world’s most successful investor. He has described his investment style as looking for undervalued stocks, not cheap stocks. Basically, Buffet looks for good prospects for growth. In our business, that means don't buy cheap websites, but undervalued websites. I apply the same logic of looking for good long term prospects that I can leverage these for links or traffic. To do that, you need to know what a site is worth to your business. What is the value of a visitor? A link? Or a mailing list? Now’s the time to be crystal clear on where the value is for your business.
  • How to find the right sites? Finding undervalued websites that will sell up is tough. But it is possible. Most online marketplaces suck - except, which has loads of other buyers. Your best bet is to do the detective work yourself to find quality sites for reasonable prices. Here's some of the techniques I have used… * Look at who already ranks – then buy them. * Google for giveaway footprints (Eg, 'last updated 1996') * What’s popular on social media? Lots of Diggs = lots of traffic. * Directories - DMOZ is Shangri La for crusty old websites. * Snoop on competitors' backlinks for hub sites in your niche * Look out for bankruptcies. I approached KPMG to buy when they went bust. * Tools – more on that later. Finally, there are private forums & mailing lists for site buyers.
  • Often, the biggest challenge is contacting a site's owner. WHOIS data is fake, emails bounce or letters are returned to sender. I almost never name a price at this stage if the owner doesn't respond, you've no idea if they are busy, insulted by your offer or didn't get the message. I try to use custom emails to show I'm not spamming a million sites. Stick with it. Some of my site buys have come through months or years after first contact. So it really pays to build relationships. Donald Trump mentioned in the Art of the Deal how he’d check in with people months or years after they declined his offers. People change their minds – especially if you’re offering the money. Remember that a potential seller has to trust you to reply to your approach. So I usually include a full name, a phone number, postal address, etc. You need to look legit. Finally, tenacity is the secret. The bottom line is this. “ Throw enough balls at enough coconuts, you're going to win a goldfish.”
  • Before we start making offers, you need to understand the current owner & their motivation. Domainers care only about domain value. Hobbyists are usually interested in the hard graft they've put into a site. Once you know who you are dealing with, you can tailor your approach. Since we need traffic/earnings data to decide an offer, you need to appeal to the owner's self-interest to get it. Tell them, for example, that you require detailed earning/traffic figures to name your best price. Then I make a firm offer in their local currency. I give a deadline to allow them time to consider an offer, but not enough time to find alternative buyers. Finally I make clear that I will make the transfer quick, painless and profitable for them.
  • Sooner or later, someone will try to scam you. You need to do your own due diligence. These are all lines I’ve heard in the past. I've been asked to Fedex cash to the former Eastern Bloc. One Russian webmaster demanded payment twice because PayPal “closed his account”. We might find that traffic figures will make no sense given the backlinks. Or revenue figures will have one zero missing. The bottom line is: trust but verify. The important thing is we don’t get suckered into valuations based on the owner’s ‘say so’. Remember: we’re calculating what the site is worth *to us*. Not what they wish it was worth.
  • Not everyone is honest. How do we not get scammed? Firstly - I always use an escrow service. act as a trusted third party while money and domain change hands. I use a standard contract to handle the sales. IAMNAL, but my understanding is NDAs are unenforceable under British law. But they make for a great prop if you must disclose your own business interests. Be ready to pay pronto before the seller can back out. Finally, trust your gut feeling. If someone seems shifty or dishonest, then my advice would be not to do business with them.
  • I use lots of tools & sites to help find sites to make offers on. I haven’t got time to go into these now, but I’ve put together a list of tools & background reading. If you drop me an email… Brighton seo at quality nonsense dot com … then you’ll get an autoreply with the list. I’ve also lined up a couple of free trials for some tools, too.
  • I realise there's a lot to take in. But if you only remember three things from my talk: #1: Work out what you are buying & why. 100,000 visits a month might be great. Or it might be junk traffic that doesn’t convert. #2: What’s a site worth to you? #3: Be like Buffet "Don’t buy cheap websites, buy undervalued websites" #4: Build relationships. People will get back in touch in future. #5. Be tenacious. “ Throw enough balls at enough coconuts, you’re going to win a goldfish”
  • Finally, since I very seldom do talks like this, I’d love to hear any feedback. If you’d like that list of tools and background reading I mentioned, please email me at with one thing I could change to make this presentation better. Finally, I’ll answer any questions.
  • I never do talks like this, so I’d love to hear any feedback. If you’d like that list of tools and background reading, please email me & let me know one thing I could change to improve this talk. My contact details are on the screen. Finally, I’ll answer any questions.
  • Buying Websites for SEO - Richard Kershaw - #BrightonSEO

    1. 1. Buying Websites for SEO: Ten Insider Secrets Richard Kershaw My Email: [email_address] My Blog: @QualityNonsense
    2. 2. Why Buy Websites for SEO? <ul><li>Grow larger, faster </li></ul><ul><li>Carpe Diem </li></ul><ul><li>Instant backlinks </li></ul><ul><li>Instant rankings </li></ul>@QualityNonsense
    3. 3. Secret #1: How To Get Started <ul><li>The Good News </li></ul><ul><li>Use existing SEO skills </li></ul><ul><li>Expensive tools optional </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities everywhere </li></ul><ul><li>The Not-So-Good News </li></ul><ul><li>Quality sites hard to find </li></ul><ul><li>Owners always over-value </li></ul><ul><li>Capital required </li></ul>@QualityNonsense
    4. 4. Secret #2: Opportunity Everywhere “ The big players earn $30k/month in this niche” “ Receiving a Google PageRank is no easy task” @QualityNonsense
    5. 5. Secret #3: Know What to Look For <ul><li>What are you buying for? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Links </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mailing list </li></ul></ul>“ Don’t buy cheap websites, buy undervalued sites” <ul><li>What’s the value to your business? </li></ul>@QualityNonsense
    6. 6. Secret #4: How to Find the Right Sites @QualityNonsense
    7. 7. <ul><li>#1. Make contact </li></ul>@QualityNonsense #2. Don’t talk $$$ yet #3. Build relationships #4. Appear open & trustworthy #5. Be tenacious
    8. 8. Secret #6: How to Negotiate <ul><li>Understand the owner </li></ul>@QualityNonsense <ul><li>Traffic, earnings, costs </li></ul><ul><li>Give a deadline </li></ul><ul><li>Make firm offers </li></ul><ul><li>Make it easy </li></ul>
    9. 9. Secret #7: Lies, Damned Lies & Due Diligence <ul><li>“ It's the next Facebook” </li></ul>“ What paid links?” “ I turned down $100k last month” “ The big players earn $30k/month in this niche” “ I’ve no stats, I decided to close my AdSense account” “ Receiving a Google PageRank is no easy task” “ Site valuations are always 10x annual earnings” @QualityNonsense
    10. 10. Secret #8: Don’t Get Diddled <ul><li>Use Escrow </li></ul>@QualityNonsense <ul><li>Contracts / Paperwork </li></ul><ul><li>NDAs </li></ul><ul><li>Move quickly </li></ul><ul><li>Follow your instincts </li></ul>
    11. 11. Secret #9 Tools Of The Trade <ul><li>Get the list by email… </li></ul>@QualityNonsense
    12. 12. The 5 Golden Rules <ul><li>#1. What are you buying & why? </li></ul>@QualityNonsense #2. What’s it worth to you (not the seller)? #3. Don’t buy cheap, buy undervalued #4. Build relationships #5. Be tenacious
    13. 13. <ul><li>Finally… </li></ul>@QualityNonsense
    14. 14. Secret #10: I Hate Public Speaking <ul><li>Get free stuff: </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Read My Blog: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>@QualityNonsense