The Nuts and Bolts Of How To Buy And Sell Websites: Part 2 of 3

Buy and Sell WebsitesIn Part 1 of this series of how to buy and sell websites, I detailed Steps 1 and 2 of the process. Those steps involved buyers and sellers coming to an agreement and the payment methods that are available to both parties to complete the deal. In part 2, I’ll detail step 3 of the process: getting the domain to the buyer and determining the hosting arrangement.

Step 3: Getting The Domain To The Buyer & Determining The Hosting Arrangement

After the buyer and seller have come to an agreement on a deal and have selected the payment method, the next thing that needs to be done is to get the domain to the buyer and to determine what the hosting arrangement is going to be. Let’s look at the options available to get the domain to the buyer.

Option 1: Push A Domain

This is the most common way to get the domain to the buyer. When you push a domain you are simply “moving” a domain from one person to another from within the SAME registrar. For example, the seller has the domain registered at GoDaddy and the buyer also has an account at GoDaddy. In this example, the seller would push the domain to the buyer within GoDaddy.

Pushing a domain has a couple advantages. For one, it’s free to do. Second, it is a quick and easy process and the “move” to the buyer takes affect almost immediately. There is also no 60-day waiting period like there can be when you transfer a domain from one registrar to another, which I’ll discuss shortly. Here is a video I put together that shows you how easy it is to push a domain:

Option 2: Transfer A Domain

The other way to get a domain to a buyer is to transfer the domain. When a domain is transferred, it is moved from one registrar to another. For example, the seller has the domain registered at GoDaddy but the buyer has an account with another registrar (i.e. NameCheap) and wants the domain transferred there. In this example, the domain will be moved from one registrar to another (GoDaddy to NameCheap).

There are a few disadvantages to transferring a domain and as such, this option isn’t used as much. For starters, the buyer will have to pay to have the domain registered at his registrar, which is usually no more than the cost of registering a new domain. If the buyer’s registrar charges $10 to register a new domain, it will typically cost anywhere from $8-$10 to register a transferred domain. Second, there are more steps involved than there is when you push a domain. Finally, you cannot transfer a domain within 60 days of registering a new domain. For example, if a seller registers a domain to build a website that he’s going to sell within a few weeks, the seller will not be able to transfer that domain to another registrar for at least 60 days. Here is another video I put together that shows you how to transfer a domain:

Should I Push A Domain Or Transfer A Domain?

This is a common question among new website flippers. In almost every case, domains should be pushed. Even if the buyer has all his current domains registered at one registrar, the buyer should still agree to a simple push. It’s free to create an account at the major registrars and it’s free to push a domain so the buyer shouldn’t have any objections. To keep the process as simple as possible, the buyer should agree to a push and then he can transfer the domain to his registrar of choice after the deal with the seller is completed if he wants to.

The only situation where it would make sense to transfer a domain is if the seller’s registrar is an unknown company and “iffy.” For example, if the domain is registered at, Bob’s Super Cheap Domains, the buyer may feel more comfortable having the domain transferred to a more reputable registrar like GoDaddy.

Determining The Hosting Arrangement

Once the buyer and seller agree on how the domain will be moved to the buyer, the domain is actually moved. While the domain is being moved to the buyer, the buyer and seller will discuss the hosting arrangement and get that squared away. I cover the hosting arrangement options in great detail in part 3 of this series but they are:

  • Option 1: Seller hosts the site via a reseller account
  • Option 2: Seller “hands over the keys” to a shared hosting account
  • Option 3: Seller transfers the site to the buyer’s web host

As soon as the hosting arrangement is agreed on, the buyer and seller will act accordingly. This is discussed in great length in part 3 of this series. The main point is that at this stage of the process the domain is moved while simultaneously coming to a hosting arrangement. After the domain has been moved and the hosting has been squared away, the deal is officially done as far as transferring everything to the buyer.

The Nuts and Bolts Of How To Buy And Sell Websites: Part 1 of 3

How to Buy and Sell WebsitesThe majority of the posts I publish on this blog are written with the assumption that the reader has “some” experience on how to buy and sell websites, or is at least familiar with the concept. I take it for granted that there are actually a lot of newbies to website flipping who are reading this blog and are being introduced to this online business model for the first time.

Sometimes it takes a flood of emails from folks asking specific questions on how to buy and sell websites to realize I may have been overlooking the basics and ignoring those new to this industry. For that, I apologize for being a knuckle head and will strive to be more balanced with the topics I’m writing about.

With that said, I am going to write a three-part series that covers the nuts and bolts of how to buy and sell websites. Specifically, I’m going to cover the actual process of the deal itself. Here are the basic steps of the process and what I’ll be covering in each part of this series:

Step 1: Buyer & Seller Agree To A Deal
(Part 1 of the series)

Step 2: Buyer & Seller Agree To A Payment Method
(Part 1 of the series)

Step 3: Getting The Domain To The Buyer & Determining The Hosting Arrangement
(Part 2 of the series)

Step 4: Handing The Keys Of The Site To The Buyer OR Transferring The Site
(Part 3 of the series)

Step 1: Buyer & Seller Agree To A Deal

When you buy and sell websites, the first step of the process is obvious – buyers and sellers have to agree to a deal. The seller puts a website up for sale and a buyer steps forward and agrees to buy it. This can be done through a public marketplace like Flippa.com, or it can be done directly via a private deal. The bottom line is, the buyer and seller agree to move forward with a deal.

Step 2: Buyer & Seller Agree To A Payment Method

After a deal has been made, the buyer and seller need to agree on a payment method. There are essentially two ways for the buyer to get the money to the seller. One way is to use an escrow service and the other way is to do a direct payment via PayPal, bank wire, or even check or money order.

Using An Escrow Service

For deals over $1,000, I strongly advise using an escrow service. The most popular escrow service for website flipping is Escrow.com. The company has become so popular that it is now even integrated into the Flippa marketplace. There are some that argue Escrow.com isn’t the best option for website transactions but I disagree. I’m not going to get into that debate here as that would be another post entirely. The point is, you should use an escrow service you are comfortable with. I prefer SafeFunds.com myself because they are much cheaper than Escrow.com. I have used both services with success and I have never had an issue with either service.

Regardless of the escrow service you choose, you will need an account at the escrow service you’re going to use. It’s quick and easy (and FREE) to create an account at Escrow.com and SafeFunds.com. I can’t speak to the charges and the processes involved registering an account at other escrow services so you’ll need to do your own leg work if you’re not comfortable with these two companies. Whether you’re going to be flipping one website per year or several, you should have an account with the escrow service you are comfortable before you do any deal so that you can familiarize yourself with the service.

How The Escrow Process Works

Every escrow service will have its own process but for the most part, they are all very similar in how they work. Here is a diagram that outlines the escrow process:

The Escrow Process

Escrow Process

Let’s tackle the process in greater detail. For the purposes of this post, I am going to assume Escrow.com or SafeFunds.com will be used. Here are links that outline the Escrow.com process and the SafeFunds.com process. After an escrow service has been selected by the buyer and seller, they will enter into what is a called a “transaction.” Both Escrow.com and SafeFunds.com allow either party to initiate the transaction. The buyer and seller will just need to discuss who will initiate the transaction. It will be that person’s responsibility to then initiate the transaction and to detail the terms of the deal.

After the transaction has been initiated and the terms of the deal have been outlined and agreed upon by both parties, the buyer will fund the escrow account. Both escrow services offer different methods to fund the account. You’ll note that the seller hasn’t transferred anything to the buyer at this point!

After the escrow account has been funded by the buyer, the escrow service will verify those funds. If the funds come from a bank wire or electronic transfer, the funds are instantly verified when the money arrives. If the account is funded by a check, then the funds aren’t verified until the check clears. Once the funds are verified, then and only then will the seller proceed to transfer the domain, website, and anything else to the buyer.

After everything has been transferred to the buyer, the buyer will essentially notify the escrow service that everything has been received as per the terms of the deal. At that point, the money held in escrow will be released to the seller. The seller will then be able to get the money via bank wire or check from the escrow service.

Dispute Resolution Process

In the event the buyer doesn’t receive all the goods as per the deal, the buyer can file a dispute via the escrow service’s dispute resolution system. Both parties will attempt to resolve the dispute and if it is, then the transaction will move forward and the funds will be released to the seller. If the dispute can’t be resolved, the transaction will be canceled and the goods and money will be returned to the respective parties.

Doing A Direct Payment

When you buy and sell websites, I don’t recommend a direct payment unless both parties have flipped at least one website and have a great deal of trust with each other. Even then, I personally won’t do any deal over $1,000 directly. That is my personal comfort level but you may have your own.

If you decide to do a direct deal, I advise using PayPal as it’s the easiest way to transfer money online these days. If you do elect to use PayPal, be sure to read my post about how to protect yourself when selling websites via PayPal. You can also do a bank wire, personal or certified check, or even money order.

The process of a direct payment deal is similar to using an escrow service except there is no dispute resolution option. As a result, there is little to no protection for either party. The buyer and seller are doing the deal strictly based on trust and hoping nothing goes wrong.

As for the actual process of doing the deal directly, the parties will ideally draft a contract that will be agreed on and officially signed. For big money deals, I consider a notarized signature an “official” signature. At the very least you want both parties to sign off on a written contract – with or without notarized signatures.

The contract doesn’t have to be written by a lawyer either. Remember, you should only be doing small money deals directly anyway so there is no need to involve the expense of a lawyer. You just want to outline, with as much detail as possible, what each party will do and what each party will get in the deal.

After the deal as been officially agreed upon, the buyer will send the money to the seller. Once the seller receives and verifies the funds, the seller will proceed to transfer everything to the buyer. Since there is no formal dispute resolution option when doing a deal directly, I recommend a 50/50 payment structure. Under this arrangement, the buyer sends 50% of the money upfront and the seller transfers “some” of the goods. For example, the seller might transfer the domain only and some files associated with the website. After that has been completed, the buyer sends the remaining 50% and the seller transfers everything else.

Now that you understand the first two steps of the deal when you buy and sell websites, it’s time to move on to the next step of the process – getting the domain to the buyer and determining the hosting arrangement. Continue to part 2 of this series…

Does PageRank Matter When Flipping Websites?

PageRank QuestionI got this question the other day from Dee, one of my loyal subscribers. Thanks, Dee, for the question because I’m sure you’re not the only one who wants to know the answer.

PageRank does play some role – particularly if the buyer is inexperienced and new to Internet Marketing. The importance of PageRank is over-hyped and unfortunately, newbies buy the hype hook, link, and sinker.

For any buyer with experience, however, PageRank is just one small piece of the puzzle that carries little weight in the overall value of a website. Having said that, all things being equal, “site A” will have more value than “site B” if site A has a higher PageRank. No two sites are ever equal, however, so it’s a moot point.

Having a high PageRank is great when you’re ready to sell – especially if you’re selling to a newbie, but experienced buyers will look right past it. They will be looking for more important things such as traffic and revenue trends, number of backlinks, keyword rankings, etc. PageRank will be one the last things experienced buyers will be looking for (unless they are a text link broker, I suppose). Otherwise, it will be the last thing an experienced buyer will consider when determining the value of a website.

If you want to know more about PageRank – including how to check fake PageRank if you are buying a site solely because of its PageRank – read the detailed post I wrote about it here.

FlipFilter: The Best Research Tool For Website Flippers

FlipFilterWhat if you could easily search for websites for sale across the major marketplaces with one simple tool?

Well now you can thanks to a relatively new research tool called FlipFilter. Not only can you search the major marketplaces, you can also get statistics, site valuation, and mail alerts. It’s an incredibly amazing tool for website flipping and the best part is it’s free – at least for now.

I had a chance to interview the creator of this exciting new research tool. After you read the interview, head over to FlipFilter.com and take it for spin and see what you think. I’m confident you’ll become a big fan.

FW: Justin, you and I have been following each other’s progress for a while now. It’s been fun getting to know you and to be one of the first users of FlipFilter. I’m glad to finally have the chance to interview you and to introduce my visitors to this awesome application. When did you first begin developing FlipFilter and what sparked the interest in developing such a tool in the first place?

Thanks Travis. I began development back in Feb this year. I’d had a fair amount of experience in selling websites but was mostly unaware that marketplaces such as Flippa and Digital Point existed. I remember the week I discovered Flippa – I think I racked up like 4 hours a day just studying the types of sites being sold and running the numbers in my head. I was like a kid in a candy shop.

I spent a lot of time looking for undervalued sites but found the Flippa interface a little awkward, and the Digital Point format (being a forum) even worse.

Initially, the project started as a way to simplify things for myself, and was just a pretty ugly backend with a few links to the database and a very crude site so I could check everything on the go. A few colleagues began to use the mobile page I’d delivered to stay up on listings they we’re following so I figured that it would be useful to a wider audience. Subconsciously, I was probably looking for a way to get back into IM and get the excitement of a new project, so it kind of grew into a service from there.

FW: I know for a while you were in Beta. Is it officially launched now?

I’ve used the term ‘we’re coming out of beta’ in the past because people understand this as a milestone, but technically I don’t believe we’ll ever be out of beta. We change the app daily and I’m constantly trying to make it more useful to the people who use it so I don’t think there will ever be a ‘final version’. We did a soft launch back in June, which I guess was our out of beta, but this was more front end changes like allowing people to openly register to use the service.

I’m a massive fan of people like Jason Fried (37 Signals) and Eric Reis (Lean Start-up – Lessons Learned) who essentially preach that the conventional way of doing things isn’t necessarily the correct way and there’s always another way that works best for you in that particular situation. I’ve taken a really informal approach to this project, simply because I don’t know all the answers yet and we’re adapting things so quickly there’s no way of telling what the finished product will be in say one year’s time. I only know it will be much better than what it is now and more relevant to the people that use it.

FW: What has the response been so far from users of the tool?

So far so good. The app is almost ‘crowd sourced’ as most of the features are suggestions that we’ve had from users. I’m great at seeing the big picture but often miss smaller things that should be really obvious like implementing a text search feature (credit to Michelle Adams!).

About 55% of people use the app on a fairly regular basis so I spend a fair amount of time trying to find what I can do the make the other 45% use it more. From experience, it’s usually down to usability and not functionality.

FW: What has been the most challenging aspect to developing this application?

There are so many moving parts it’s unbelievable! Each marketplace collects different types of data in different ways, so the challenge is to normalise this in a way that makes sense to humans and not just computers. A big challenge came from indexing Digital Point listings as not only did we have to find a reliable way to extract the data from a forum, but we had to do our best to eliminate all the junk. We still haven’t got this perfect but it’s getting better. Most of the work we do is behind the scenes stuff like developing more sophisticated ways of matching patterns to eliminate the ‘market spam’ and making everything consistent.

I’m also more of development person, and realised that whilst I’m capable at Blogging and SEO, these definitely weren’t the parts I enjoyed doing (and still find myself putting these off to this day!). I’ve got a great new web marketing project that’s been in ongoing development for a while, but now I won’t even think about releasing it until I can find a partner to look after these bits.

FW: What marketplaces does the application pull data from and how current is the data?

Flippa, Digital Point, Website Broker and Webmasters Marketplace. The application updates its data every few minutes so it’s as close to real time as you can get. As soon as a listing hits one of the marketplaces, you’ll find it on FlipFilter and subscribers to our Mail alerts have a list of new sites that fit their criteria within the day.

FW: I think the advantages for buyers using this application are obvious, but what would you say are the main advantages?

– You can search for sites by various criteria not available on the marketplaces themselves – anything from domain age to MRM (monthly revenue multiple). For marketplaces that have hidden gems but lack a reliable search function (such as Digital Point) this is invaluable.

– Although we only started in March this year, we’re beginning to gather a lot of information on website sales and their sellers. For any website that you look at, FlipFilter will give you information on previous sales (in any marketplace), transaction amounts and seller data. As well as helping to prevent fraud and assess the credibility of sellers, this can also help you to assess a site’s value.

– We supply a ‘valuation’ of any site you look at alongside its financial details, and have a free tool for valuing your own site. The valuation is not technically a valuation, but a calculation based on all of our historical data on sales for sites with similar criteria.

FW: That’s awesome. If you had to give some tips to first-time users of this application, what would they be?

I’m a stats junkie like you, so I’d advise everyone to do their research thoroughly before even thinking about spending any cash. Use the statistics section to find out what sells; not just the sites that gross the highest amount but the sites that attract the most bids too as it will always be easier to sell a ‘popular’ site if this is your end game.

When you do find something that peaks your interest, check out the guide price – this is calculated as an average of recent sales for similar sites and is usually (but naturally not always) quite accurate. This may also help you assess whether it’s worthwhile to pay a Buy It Now price or to hold out for the auction. See if the site has been sold or listed previously, and find out which other sites the seller has sold.

I’d also subscribe to a mail alert to ensure you get the first drop on any new that fits your criteria. What you look for will depend on your strategy and what type of sites you buy. Currently the two searches that work best for me are:

Price-> Revenue pcm multiple (BIN) = 1 – 5 (great for a quick list of potentially undervalued sites at the BIN)

And

Remove all providers except Digital Point (additional filters)
Page Rank greater than 2
Uniques per month greater than 1,000
Primary Domains only (.com, .co.uk etc)

This search provides potential sites for market arbitrage (i.e. buy on Digital Point, sell on Flippa).

FW: How about for sellers, what’s the main advantage for sellers using this tool?

For sellers it’s all in the research. Our statistics section gives sellers data on everything from average sale prices in a particular category, the listings that receive the most bids, through to the average time a listing runs for. There’s a section that reports on the top sellers and shows their sold sites, prices, categories etc. This works as a learning tool for new sellers but also a convenient way of spying on your competition:)

FW: What features do you have planned for FlipFilter in the coming months?

There are a few features in the pipeline I’m quite excited about. The first is an upcoming iPhone / iPad app which has been half developed for a while. It will allow you to check new listings on the go, and see the status of all the sites in your portfolio. Pending permission from the marketplaces, you’ll also be able to check and place bids directly through the app (meaning no more creeping back to the computer at midnight to avoid missing out on a deal 🙂

I also have a few new modules in the pipeline that make better use of the data to help people make a decision. In one of them, using a combination of AdWords data, the amount of revenue a site currently earns per unique visitor and an analysis of a site’s main keywords, we’ll be able to recommend sites that are under monetized, or even sites that could potentially scale using a PPC campaign. For example, if a website earns approx $0.50 per unique US or UK visitor (maybe a CPA or promo codes site) and we find out that you can buy traffic to this site for $0.32 per unique, the rest is just simple mathematics. You would be surprised how many flippers overlook using PPC to scale a successful site.

FW: Right now the tool is free, but will you eventually be charging for it?

The drawback to a data driven project is that the data will make the application; the more data you collect, the higher its value so I’ve definitely got a more long term strategy in mind for this that will only pay off should the industry expand in the way which I think it will – it’s almost like a huge three year gamble! We’ll start charging over the coming months but right now we haven’t decided on a specific monetization model.

Justin, thanks for your time. And I wish you all the success with FlipFilter!

Visit FlipFilter.com and take it for a test drive. Enjoy the ride now while it’s still free!

How To Strike Back If You’re a Victim of a Website Flipping Scam

website flipping scamWith any marketplace there is going to be good and bad buyers and sellers. Unfortunately, some argue there are more bad players in the website flipping marketplace these days than there are good ones.

What recourse do you have if you’ve been burned on a deal? If you buy and sell on Flippa, you could report it to Flippa but that isn’t going to help. Their stance is they are strictly a marketplace that brings buyers and sellers together – period. They take a hand’s off approach when it comes to dealing with any deals going bad. Here is a direct quote taken from one of their help pages:

Flippa can’t oversee the payment process or the exchange of property. Unfortunately, we’re unable to offer assistance in cases where an exchange doesn’t go as planned.

Nice, ey? Kind of makes you feel good you’re paying $19 listing fees and 5% success fees, doesn’t it? The only option you have if you’re a victim of a website flipping scam on Flippa is to leave the other party negative feedback. Gee, thanks.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could scream to the world, “Don’t do business with this guy, he’s a scammer!” Well, now you can. The site is called IDontGiveAScam.com. If you’ve been scammed on a deal as either a buyer or a seller, all you have to do is “file” your grievance on this page and it will be prominently posted on the site.

Before you buy or sell your next website on Flippa, stop by this site and see if there are any complaints filed with the person you’re about to do a deal with. And make sure that you are an honest buyer or seller or you may find yourself called out on IDontGiveaScam.com!

Watch How This Blogger Made $180,000 Flipping Websites Part-Time

Today’s post should be very inspiring to you regardless of your experience flipping websites. This post is actually a video from Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs-Journey.com. The video is of Yaro’s presentation he gave at a 2009 workshop where he was invited to discuss how he made $180,000 flipping websites part-time. It’s almost 90 minutes long but it’s pure content. There are no sales pitches, optins, or anything.

The meat of his presentation starts at around the 00:09:45 mark so start the video there. Enjoy:)

In the video, Yaro provides various case studies where he shares the exact websites he flipped and how much he made on each one. He talks about how he monetized the sites, how he created content for them, how he managed them, and ultimately how he added value to them so he could flip them for generous returns. This video is a goldmine of information and I’m surprised Yaro shared it for free. This type of information would normally be packaged up and sold as a product. Thanks Yaro for being so generous and sharing this information!

Who is Yaro Starak and Why Should You Watch His Website Flipping Video?

For starters, who cares who Yaro is! The information in the video is awesome stuff and you’ll learn a lot regardless of who he is. However, if you’re the skeptical type who will only spend time to listen to someone you know and trust, let me give you his brief bio.

Yaro is a successful entrepreneur and professional blogger who resides in Australia. He got started building, buying, and managing Internet businesses in 1998. As shown in the video above, he has made $180,000 alone flipping websites part-time and his blog, Entrepreneurs-Journey.com, makes well over $20,000/month. His blog boasts over 25,000 readers per day! To learn more about Yaro and his successes, visit his About Yaro page.

I’ve been following Yaro for several months now and his blog is one of the few blogs I visit daily. It’s a must read. What I admire most about Yaro is that his general philosophy is the same as mine when it comes to developing and managing websites – whether you flip them or not: provide QUALITY content and build websites that are assets you can be proud of! I encourage you to add his blog to your list of “must reads.”

Don’t Get Scammed – Check Fake PageRank Before You Buy

check-fake-pagerankWhy should you check fake PageRank before you buy a website based on its PageRank? Because it’s not too hard to fake as you’ll soon discover. Before we dive into that and before I show you how to check fake PageRank, I want to provide a brief primer for those who may be new to Internet Marketing or who might want a quick review of the subject. It’s important you understand what PageRank is, what role it plays with Google, and how to check PageRank as many sellers highlight their websites’ PageRank as a selling point.

What Is PageRank?

PageRank, also known as PR, is a numeric value that Google assigns to a web page. In theory, the number tells us the importance of that web page on the Internet. The values range from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest and most important. For example, a PR6 website is “more important,” or has more authority, than a PR5 website. In addition, each level of PR is ten times higher than the next so that same PR6 website is ten times higher than the PR5 website.

How Is PageRank Calculated?

Don’t ask! Seriously, unless you are a math geek and really get into algorithms you don’t want to know. If you insist on knowing, then click here to read an indepth explanation from WebWorkShop.net. For the rest of us, let me explain it on a very high level.

When one page links to another, Google sees that as a “vote” for the page being linked to. The more links it gets, the more important the page must be in the eyes of Google. The number of links to a page isn’t the only thing that matters, however. The importance of those links themselves also plays a role in Google’s calculation of PageRank. The importance of the page providing the link, in other words the PR of the page linking to another page, will determine the importance of the link. Google then takes the number and importance of the links to a page to determine its PageRank.

Confused yet? The bottom line is this, the more links you have pointing to your web page from other “higher” PR pages, the higher PageRank your page will be!

Is PageRank Important?

Yes and no. It matters to some extent because it is one of many factors that Google uses to determine your page’s ranking in the Google search engine. However, it is a minor factor in determining the ranking. You see examples of this all the time. It’s not uncommon to see PR0 pages rank very well for various keywords while other higher PR pages don’t rank well at all for the same keywords.

Google itself says PageRank isn’t that important. It was not only removed from Google Webmaster Tools in 2009, but Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Susan Moskwa, said this in an article on WebProNews.com, “We’ve been telling people for a long time that they shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much…” There was even a push to remove the PageRank indicator on the Google Toolbar but as stated in the same article, Google wouldn’t remove it because it was too much of their branding.

Based on all that, you would probably conclude that PageRank isn’t such a big deal after all and you’d be right. However, until Google officially says PageRank is dead and no longer supports it, it will always play an important role in the buying and selling of domains and websites. That being the case, it’s important you know how to check fake PageRank so you don’t get scammed.

What Is The PageRank of a Given Page?

The easiest way to check PageRank for a web page is to have the Google Toolbar installed on your browser. The Toolbar has a “PageRank” indicator on it that will tell you instantly the PageRank of any web page you visit. Alternatively, there are a number of places online that you can check PageRank. One website that I always use is PRChecker.info.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The PageRank you see isn’t entirely accurate. The PR of a web page is always in flux but Google only “officially” releases the PageRank data periodically throughout the year so the PR you see is technically old. Furthermore, the PR shown doesn’t tell you if it is fake or not.

Check Fake PageRank

It is amazingly simple to fake PageRank of a given web page. What these scammers do is redirect a domain to a higher PR domain. The PageRank shown then for the lower PR domain actually reflects the higher PR of the domain being redirected to. As simple as it is to fake PageRank, it is equally as simple to check fake PageRank. Here is how you do it:

Go to Google.com and enter:

info:www.DomainYouAreChecking.com

You should also check the non-WWW version as well:

Info:DomainYouAreChecking.com

If a different domain name appears in the search results then it usually means the domain has been redirected and the PageRank for the domain is fake. Take a look at this example: www.PodcastingProfessionals.com is a domain with a supposed PR8 for sale on GoDaddy auctions at the time of this writing. However, if we check fake PageRank for it we see this:

check-fake-pagerank

Notice the domain that shows up in the search results isn’t PodcastingProfessionals.com. Instead what shows up is Twingly.com – a PR8 domain:)

You should now have a solid understanding of PageRank and how to check fake PageRank. Armed with this information you will now be able to make better buying decisions whether you are buying aged domains or websites.

How To Setup Real-Time Flippa Alerts

As a website flipper you know the largest and most popular marketplace to buy and sell websites right now is Flippa.com. If you’re looking to buy websites, Flippa is the first place you’ll want to troll for potential buys. What’s the easiest way to stay on top of the latest listings on Flippa that match the criteria you’re looking for?

Some flippers will just check the Most Actives periodically. Others will concentrate on the Featured Listings. Those are certainly valid ways of keeping current on potential websites to buy, but what if you have a very specific set of criteria for the type of websites you’re looking to buy? For example, what if you’re only interested in websites that have a net profit of at least $500/month? How would you go about keeping current on those types of websites listed for sale?

Right now on Flippa you can create custom searches and then save them. At that point you can then either periodically login to Flippa and run your custom searches (a major pain), or you can have your custom search results emailed to you once a day. While the latter option is more convenient, it’s not the best solution either because you could miss some websites that are listed in between your daily emails.

The best way to stay current on websites listed for sale that match your criteria is to create your own real-time Flippa alerts that are displayed right on your Firefox browser! This video shows you how to setup your own real-time Flippa alerts.

How To Buy Websites For Sale That Aren’t Listed Publicly

Buying websites for sale from well-known marketplaces like Flippa.com and the Digital Point forum is an obvious first step but there are other ways to buy websites for sale that nobody else even knows about. The advantage of buying sites privately is that you avoid competition from other buyers. And while that doesn’t always mean you’ll get a screaming deal, it does mean that you’ll at least get the first crack at the website.

Even if a seller offers to sell you a website privately for $10,000 and you know it’s worth every penny of that or more, you’ll at least get a chance to buy it. Contrast that experience with the scenario at Flippa. That same website listed on Flippa may sell for more than $10,000. And even if the seller lists it with a Buy It Now of $10,000 it will likely get snatched up very quickly. You’ll have to be fast on the draw to get it as there may be hundreds of buyers interested. The best way to avoid this feeding frenzy is to go where the other buyers aren’t and that is to buy websites privately.

How do you find these private opportunities? As my father used to tell me, it’s not what you know but who you know. This means you have to network. Learning how to network among website sellers and buyers is beyond the scope of this article, but what I’m going to show you is a fast and easy way to uncover websites that may be for sale privately.

The first thing you’re going to do is browse through the websites currently for sale on Flippa.com. You are looking for quality websites being sold by reputable sellers. In other words, conduct your searches as usual. This isn’t a shotgun approach to finding private sales. We want good websites and we want to deal with professional sellers.

As you’re browsing through the listings, I want to pay close attention to the auction descriptions. You’re looking for sellers who indicate in their descriptions that they are in the process of selling some (or several) of their websites. You may also find descriptions where they are selling a specific website because they have, “too many to manage.” You’re essentially looking for some kind of indication that they may have other websites for sale for whatever reason – they are too busy with other projects, they need to raise cash NOW, they only want to focus on one website right now, etc.

You’ll usually find this information in the description where the seller explains why they are selling-but not always so be sure to read the entire description. What you’ll do then is send these sellers a private message. Do not spam these sellers! Take the time to send a personal message. Here is an example of an email I sent to a recent seller:


Hello! My name is Travis Van Slooten. I’m a regular here at Flippa as a buyer and seller of websites. I was looking at your iPhone Apps website for sale. While it doesn’t fit my portfolio of websites, I noticed you mentioned in your listing that you’ll have more websites for sale.

Can I ask you what those websites are as I may be interested? If you’d rather wait until you actually list them, I completely understand. If that’s the case, can I ask you what niches they’re in and when you’ll be listing them?

Thanks!
Travis Van Slooten


A message like that will almost always get you a reply of some kind. The seller will either tell you about other websites they own that they would consider selling to you directly or the seller will at least let you know what types of websites they’ll be listing. If that’s the case, you can add them to your Flippa seller watchlist so you know immediately when they list their websites.

You can also use this technique on websites that have sold or that have ended unsold on Flippa. You’ll just want to change your message to the sellers accordingly (i.e. you are contacting them because you found one of their websites that sold). By employing this quick and easy technique, you’ll be able to dig up your own private gems.

Do You Know Of Other Ways To Buy Website Privately?
Please Share Your Tips In The Comments Below!

iPadAccessories.com Sells for $9,000 But Was It Worth It?

FlipWebsites.com is all about buying and selling websites so normally I wouldn’t write about a domain-only purchase. However, the purchase of iPadAccessories.com recently on Flippa.com can provide a lesson for website buyers. The lesson being that you should be very careful about buying websites (or building and selling websites for that matter) that have a trademark in the domain.

The domain auction on Flippa.com for iPadAccessories.com ended on February 3, 2010 with 42 bids and a sale price of $9,000. You can view the auction listing here. I’ll give the seller props for being forward-thinking and for being a very shrewd speculative domain investor. He likely snagged the domain for less than $10 and made over $8,500 on the deal after his listing fees. However, I’m not so sure the buyer did so well in the deal.

TechCrunch.com reported on January 7, 2010 that Apple had filed a complaint with the ICANN UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) back in November 2009 against Daniel Bijan, who owned 16 domains with Apple trademarks in them. One of the domains Bijan owned was iPodAccessories.com. On January 6, 2010, Apple won the rights to all of his domains.

Do you see where I’m going with this? What are the chances that Apple will file a complaint against the “lucky” buyer who purchased iPadAcessories.com? I don’t know about you, but I’d be sick to my stomach if I lost $9,000 over a simple domain name. I hope the buyer doesn’t get nailed but I’m not holding my breath.

How does this apply to website buyers? As I wrote about in my due diligence 101 article, you need to tread very carefully when buying websites with trademarks in the domain. Unless you have explicit written consent from the trademark owner that you can use the trademark, I would avoid any website with a trademark in the domain.

At the very least, you should do some digging around the Internet to see if the owner has a track record of pursuing people who use their trademarks in domains as Apple clearly does. I would also be looking to see if there are a lot of other websites ranked in the top ten on Google, Bing, or Yahoo! with trademarks in them. If there were, I would check to see if they were owned by the trademark owner or not.

Personally, after my experience buying a website with a trademark in the domain I would never do it again with or without written permission. Owners of trademarks can change so even if you have permission today, there are no guarantees for tomorrow. Imagine spending a couple years building up an authority site on a domain with a trademark in it only to find out down the road that you can no longer do that. You could potentially lose everything overnight!

The best thing to do with trademark domains is to stay away from them no matter how tempting they are. I hope the buyer of iPadAccessories.com never hears from Apple but I won’t be surprised if he or she does. I just scratch my head and wonder why anyone would take a $9,000 gamble on such a risk in the first place.

Would You Feel Comfortable Buying This Domain?
Sound Off In The Comments Below