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Buying a complete website: what is there to know?

Buying a ready-made website means purchasing an already functional website and everything that comes with it: domain, design, content, traffic, and rankings. In doing this, you take on responsibility for the website, and usually the web hosting contract as well. You can keep the contract as it is or change to another provider. But buying a ready-made website does not mean that you will start earning money straightaway and you can just sit back and relax. Be aware that after you buy the project, it has to be customized to fit your strategies and ideas.

Buying a ready-made website – pros and cons

Buying a website is a good way to further your own online project. Whether the aim of your website is to represent a company, shop, or a blog, getting a pre-existing website means you don’t have to start from scratch. Through this method, you save time and effort when it comes to the development and set-up of your web project. The website comes with a developed customer base so you can rest assured that the site will get traffic. The more successful the website, the faster it will become profitable and you can develop it further with your own ideas and concepts. In the end, buying a ready-made website is an investment that saves more than just time: it also smoothes out the site’s operation if the purchased website is well structured.

It’s not always advisable to buy a website since the purchase does come with risks: you need certain venture capital to invest in a pre-existing website, which is considerably higher than it is for a new project. Additional money, as well as time, should also be factored into customizing the website. The complexity of the task depends on how much your planned design differs from that of the original. If you change the style of the website a lot, it could have a negative effect on the existing customers and ranking given by the search engines (e.g. Google). You should be aware that you’d have little opportunity to apply and expand your own knowledge if you buy a ready-made website rather than create your own.

Furthermore, you have to deal with copyright issues regarding existing images, texts as well as user-generated content (e.g. comments). If you blindly accept this content, you’re taking on a risk that could come back to haunt you one day. Before you buy the website you should have its value appraised. Even after you’ve carefully examined the website, some analysis results could turn out to be inaccurate or even fake, so there’s always a residual risk.

Evaluation criteria for websites

If you want to buy a ready-made website, you should first check the basic information and performance value:

  • Domain values: how well does the domain name match your project and what is the domain worth on the market? You can have the value of the domain estimated on sites such as siteprice.org or sedo.com
  • Performance: current visitor numbers (traffic), search engine rankings, backlinks, etc., can be analyzed with (mostly) free tools like similarweb.com, alexa.com, or sistrix.com. There are criteria to show you how much work there is to do in order to reach your target group

  • Design/layout: is the structure and look of the website suitable for your project? Can the design be adapted to different screen sizes (responsive design RARENxxxx)?

  • Site infrastructure: which scripting language and database is the website that you want to buy based on? Does it load quickly? You need this information in order to estimate the amount of work needed to develop the website. The cause of long loading times can be determined by using tools such as Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool

  • Content: examine the texts and images on your website. It’s possible that visitors to your website might have questions concerning the copyright of these elements. If you’re unsure, it’s best to create new texts and images from scratch, or buy them
  • Revenue: the owner can reveal how much turnover and profit a website generates. Estimations can be deduced from the traffic and other performance values

How much does a website cost?

There are many different ways to buy a website. There are special online marketplaces that offer and auction off established websites. These marketplaces are easy to find if you search for them. Domain packages, meaning internet addresses, can also be bought if you don’t want to buy a complete website. Alternatively, you can write directly to the website owner to let them know that you’re interested in a sale. Check the contact details for the best way to get in touch with the site owner.

The online marketplaces give a good insight into how much money should be invested when buying a website. The price depends on the type of website (store, community) as well as its technical sophistication and performance (visitors, search engine ranking, etc.). The prices range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Since websites are usually bought in order to be further operated and developed you should consider additional costs on top of the initial purchasing price. These additional costs include web hosting, the domain, e-mail, and other useful features.

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