Dangers of Purchasing a Website

For any potential purchaser of a pre-built website or online business, there are two words that need to be emphasized – “Buyer Beware”. Today I will cover all of the website metrics that can be falsified and how they are faked. Websites are commonly bought and sold on marketplaces such as Flippa, DigitalPoint, BlackHatWorld and the Shopify Exchange Marketplace.

One of the frequently used metrics to determine a sites popularity and valuation is the Alexa ranking. Some sellers will brag about this stat, however it is easily faked. There are many bot traffic sources as well as sellers offering Alexa specific services on Freelancer and Fiverr.

The next stat that can be easily faked is the Similar Web referring traffic records. If you see a site for sale that uses it’s traffic sources as a selling point, you must also proceed with caution. Services such as Fake Referrer can mask bot traffic to appear as if the sites main traffic source is reputable; such as bot server domains that show up as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and others.

Another metric that be commonly faked is social media profiles that are related to the website. These social media profiles are often included in the sale of a website. If it appears that the online business for sale already has a large following on social media such as Twitter, it is a huge selling point. This is another area that is hard to verify, because for example, if a FaceBook page for the website is included, the followers on that page might also be fake bots to falsify the value of the website sold.

The last item that is commonly faked is falsely inflated sales in ecommerce sites such as Shopify sites. Some store creators create many purchase order logs, of them buying their own items. This is to be used in deceiving the buyer with showing higher then expected/realistic revenue numbers.

The moral of the story is, always be extremely cautious when navigating the mine field of sites for sale. Always unapologetically demand as much proof as possible and do a very close inspection. Also feel free to consult experts before making a purchase. A website salesman can make a used car salesman appear saintly.

Josh Garber

Studied online ad networks for 10 years and conducted dozens of case studies. Formerly an e-mail marketing specialist for an ecommerce business, where I proudly helped keep 50,000+ customers up to date for 5 years. Currently expanding into developing & monetizing video games with in-game advertising. Last but not least, I am also an eBay marketer.