Buying Sites for SEO

Jun 3, 2008 - 7:06 pm 9 by

Buying Sites For SEO - Forget the debate over buying links. How about buying entire web sites to gain success in search. This session looks at how to find the gems out there, criteria to consider, ways to negotiate and how to best leverage your new purchase. Tips, tricks, success stories, and painful lessons learned will be shared.

Moderator: Stephan Spencer, President, Netconcepts

Q&A Moderator: Eric Enge, President, Stone Temple


Gab Goldenberg, Owner, SEO ROI Todd Malicoat, Internet Marketing Consultant, Stuntdubl Jeremy Schoemaker, CEO, Shoemoney Media Group Jeremy Wright, CEO, B5 Media

Buying Sites For SEO at SMX

Shoemoney isn't here. He had a prerecorded presentation that we're watching.

In 2004, he was listening to some guy named Chris on a panel and all these domains were out there that expired but were linked to by .gov and .edu websites. Most of you should know that these are pretty valuable links. They're generally more trusted (at least in '04 and '05). A lot of people didn't take Chris seriously at the time. He built a spider to find these sites and checked them against the Yahoo directory and DMOZ directory. After doing 1.5 months of work, 1500 domains were out there in the wild that had amazing links.

Google had given weight to the age of links and not so much the age of the domain, as he saw. He disagrees that age of domain is the important thing; linkage is more important. (On a side note, I, your liveblogger, have some new sites that are just a few months old that rank very well probably because of the inbound links.)

He made a blog about Joe Lieberman and it ranked #4 for Joe Lieberman. Then he switched it over to a niche site (like Joe's BBQ grills). It was completely delisted in Google after that. There's something going on about categorically and niche zones It's not as easy to throw random content on them and hope that they rank as well.

There's a limited shelf life on these strategies.

Now, it's harder to do the domain name game. But his blog ranks #3 for really competitive poker terms because he took a lot of domains that were related to poker links and expired and then 301'd them to his domain name.

So now we're evolving into buying more domains for branding and not so much for SEO. The value of SEO has fallen a little bit from year to year (as he says). Try not to focus on spammy word domains and more on branding. and are domains he bought for considerable amounts of money; the keyword matching is there.

Jeremy Wright is the CEO of b5media. And he's here. Sweet.

He talks about metrics he uses to buy sites.

They own and operate 700 sites with 10 million readers, 30 million pages, 35million pageviews per month. It's established itself as one of the top 5 blog networks in the world.

The biggest blogs in b5media are Problogger and Copyblogger. (My note: If you haven't heard about these, that's not good!)

Capturing value. - We buy sites for revenue, he says. "We're a media company, damnit!" - Potential or specifically unrealized potential - Core metrics: existing traffic, uniques, revneue, feed subscribers, and Google PageRank - Secondary metrics: age of site, stability, age of domain, amount of content, existing SEO metrics, staleness - Tertiary questions: Is it or can it be a blog? Does it cover a unique area? Does it add non-core value we can put a number to?

Tools used: - Blog valuation calculator (internal tool which is available on - Compete - PageRank - Another internal tool called Search Depth calculator Business Blog - 6k visitors per month, no real revenue, PR7 - Blog valuation calculator: 5k - Search Depth calculator: 2.5x Valuation: Low 6k, medium 12k, high 18k, offer 13k, bought for 12k

He talks about other sites, like and

Mistakes you can avoid - Always verify traffic with analytics and omniture or sitemeter - Don't believe the potential someone pitches you on. Arrive at your own - Don't deviate from your playbook - write one - Don't be afraid to buy partners early if you see success - Avoid properties that depend on specific personalities being bought in, for the site to retain its value to you - Watch out for inflationary schemes (buying traffic, bought traffic, stuffing revenue, etc) - Buy early, buy often, admit faulure quickly About SEO - we believe in networks. We believe in ad networks and consolidation and advertising buckets. We believe that small publishers face the challenge of SEO. We want them to make money back. Any idiot can buy sites for 2x yearly revenue but can you define it as a model that gets you success?

Working with b5media: - We're looking for ad networks, international joint ventures, people who are interested in playing with stuff. - We're not interested in your widget or brand search engine

Gab Goldenberg is up next.

Buying sites for SEO is a bit like climbing Mount Everest. He thinks it's a historically challenging climb if you get into it. Do you research and plan things out ahead of time. You want to protect your plan and changing conditions along the way, and you want to have a good base camp to start from (like a good domain to work off of).

What are some of the principles of buying sites for SEO? What might you like to research? Given recent developments at Google, for example, what will you look at? Protect sites from getting its SEO value reset (like Joe Lieberman's site being reset - getting total control without any risks) Then he'll tie it in with a case study

If you go around to site buying marketplace, you'll find that content is undervalued. If you consider the value at a replacement cost, you can pay a journalist for a feature length piece. You can compare that with online content, it's really undervalued. You want to look for indices for high quality websites. Google looks for deep content that isn't linked to. How do you find sites that are trusted like this by Google? You can do site: search for the website. Look for a footprint - an identifying characteristic that many websites share. Look at a CMS and see their footprint. If it ranks for these terms, then you know that the site has good quality. That's why Wikipedia,, and a lot of other sites get ranked well - because of domain strength.

We want to buy a site. Now if you change the whois and the hosting, you can get the site value reset to nothing. How do you protect your investment? Use a trust. It's a legal mechanism whereby one person (the trustee) holds legal value to the property and a beneficiary holds beneficial value to the property.

inurl:"blog/index.php?s=" + "powered by Wordpress"

How do you make a trust? This is legal information; speak to a lawyer. The three things you want to make sure are in your contract: - Intent to create a trust - Certainty over the property - anything that's important in the domain (including hosting) - Beneficial title for the site

At the end of the day, the single greatest value you're buying is the domain. One case study he shows is that he launched a piece of content about a Mercedes car dealership in his city. It was a post that ranked well for car dealership which gets 1000 clicks for a top listed ad. If you're buying a domain, you need to consider the strength.

Last up is Todd Malicoat.

He is apparently very reticent, according to the reticent Stephan Spencer.

There's a lot of opportunity to buy old sites.

- Finding old sites Think like an old site. If I was an old site, where would I be, and how would I find that site? Creative queries Automation

- Contact site owners: Be credible Be brief Be lucky.

- Valuating a site: Domain, age (more of the links rather than domain), links, themes, traffic, revenue

- Negotiating and closing a site purchase Lowball, but don't offend Get a price Counter Agree Sign agreement Escrow service Transfer - file and WHOIS


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