BuSo - I'm thinking of buying this site and wanted to get your opinion

RiverStyx

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Hey guys, so I'm looking at investing in a content/affiliate site. It was doing fairly well bringing in about 3-4K in profit per month, then it got hit badly by the Dec 2020 core update and is now in decline and is earning 1-1.5k/mo.

I'm a technical SEO by profession and have been in this game since '07 so I have a very good idea of what is needed to recover the site and estimate that in 3 months time I should be able to recover the lost rankings and earnings.

BL profile is clean, its just the huge drop in rankings since Dec that are hurting it. What would you pay for a site in this condition?

I'm in negotiations and fact finding with the seller now and they're willing to drop the price to less than 1/3 of the previous asking price. I just wanted to get some outside opinions on taking on a project like this.

Other facts: built on an expired domain in relevant niche, current site age under 2 years but more than 1 year.
 
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Without seeing the site it's hard to tell you what to do.

However, I'm only buying sites that I know, almost guaranteed, that I can double the income. Ideally triple in a short time, in ~2 months. If I don't see quick wins, I'm not buying.

Things I do when I take over the site:
- Technical SEO. Fix site speed and any errors I can see on the website. I run different audits on it to fix everything. This can be completed in max 1 day usually.

- Run SurferSEO or any other on-page optimization tool on the top20 pages which get the most traffic. GSC can be helpful too if you know how to use it. Fix all the issues (stuff the text). Improve internal linking as much as possible: ahrefs + google queries will help you. This can be completed in max 1 day again.

- CRO. Improve intros. If they don't have tables, add them at the start of the articles. Make sure you are talking only about what the audience cares about. Benefits work well. Make sure the tables are mobile responsive.
Pro Tip: Check the last 3 months sales data and promote in the articles the products that had the most sales. There's a reason why people are buying those and you need to push those, HARD. The top 3 should be the most recommended products that had many sales in the last 3 months.

On one of my websites, I improved the tables in the first week of January, and even though my traffic decreased 20% this month, earnings per visitor are 30% higher compared to December. And we all know December is the month when people spend a lot. I still need to make the intros better.

- If possible add products that pay higher commissions.

- If the site doesn't have display ads consider monetizing it with those too/

I think that's about it, these are the first steps I do. If I see improvements, later I add more articles, buy links and whatnot.

If I don't see a 2-3x possible from the steps I shared above, I'm not buying.
Does the site that you want to buy have those? Are there quick wins?
Just hoping that you will be able to fix what caused the drop is not enough IMO, because that might or might not work out.

Do you see quick wins?
 

secretagentdad

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@OP I think you have opened a rabbit hole. Get ready for some absolutely spaztastic ramblings and some pure genius line items. This community was designed to eat bait threads like this one and churn out pure epic builder society asd$.

To borrow from @CCarter I think @The Engineer 's trap card is about to go off spectacularly.


Builder societies core lurker community is weird technical nerds flipping websites, with more opinions on this specific topic than butt coin itself. I think we might see some interesting text walls here that end up making people money. You've come to exactly the right place to start this thread.

I bet if you picked a few community blow hards and shared the details they'd be happy to leave your keywords alone and probably write up some cool posts that would give you a few good ideas for quick value adds and the rest of us some great reading material.


When it comes to sites its all about price. Everything else is noise.
If you think you can improve the revenue or strategic position then you probably have a deal.
Just a matter of making sure the mid point you agree on is fair to all parties.
"now and they're willing to drop the price to less than 1/3 of the previous asking price"
This isnt relevant. The only thing that matters is the price. Sounds like some dumb borker crap.

For a site with the numbers you posted you should be looking at just under 10k unless its got a little something tangible of strategic value.
Would really have to see the site to tell you more.
Whats the price and the site? I pinky sware not to steal your deal.
 
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RiverStyx

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Builder societies core lurker community is weird technical nerds flipping websites, with more opinions on this specific topic than butt coin itself.
Lol, nice one. To answer any questions in terms of content and general layout the site is fine, it's got some good articles that are still ranking, it just has an algorithmic penalty on it due to lack of EAT. I'm fairly confident that I can get it back to it's prior state in 3 months or so. I may flip it later on or I may keep it for a nice income stream - that is TDB depending on the tax situation (capital gains etc).

The design is ass but again that's no big deal, I can reskin easily.
 

secretagentdad

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The design being ass would make me more interested.
You can't fix and flip something with nothing to fix.
Sounds like its a candidate for some content removal and consolidations to leverage what it does have.

Really comes down to price.
If you can share that later it would really help people respond.
Its just the most important line item.

I'd really like to encourage you to journal this if you pull the trigger.
Would love to lurk that thread.
 
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RiverStyx

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The design being ass would make me more interested.
You can't fix and flip something with nothing to fix.
Sounds like its a candidate for some content removal and consolidations to leverage what it does have.

Really comes down to price.
If you can share that later it would really help people respond.
Its just the most important line item.

I'd really like to encourage you to journal this if you pull the trigger.
Would love to lurk that thread.
Sure, if I end up buying it I can do a journal on the progress. I agree the terrible design and the high bounce rate are actually factors in favor as I can add some real value there. The competitons sites are also fairly horrid so there is some space to dominate the niche.

Current discussion is around the 20K mark for a sale price but given the continuing decline there is room for negotiation.
 
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it just has an algorithmic penalty on it due to lack of EAT
How can you be sure it's only that? Serious question.
Is it in one of those YMYL niches?

This last update was about so much more than EAT. I saw websites that didn't have enough relevance about 1 topic drop, but the rest of the pages (that had enough topical relevance) stay ranked.
I saw websites that had weak link profile dropped too because they were focusing only on "great content".
 

Ryuzaki

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What would you pay for a site in this condition?
The multiples are increasing in the industry across the board but big time for content sites. I've seen them reaching 40x the monthly earnings (past 3 months, past 6 months, whatever).

I would be willing to pay the lowest multiple possible and I'd try to argue even lower, maybe 18x - 20x of the current low earnings because you're assuming tons of risk on a site with a negative trajectory.

it just has an algorithmic penalty on it due to lack of EAT.
I'd be careful with this. I can already guess the vertical, I think, since it tanked in December. It's a vertical that previously didn't have EAT involved, right?

I've never seen a site "recover" from not having enough EAT. When all this landed and people were guessing into the wind about what it might be about... all of that guessing became gospel because Google kept tweaking the algorithm and people seemed to recover, while everyone selectively ignored the people that already had the "new stuff" in place lose visibility too.

I don't buy into any of the discussion about "have your articles reviewed by a professional" and all these other things. I don't think Google is creating author profiles again. It's a good thing to let guide you as a webmaster, but I don't see it playing into it. There's very basic ways to show "expertise-authority" and "trust" that lots of sites don't do at all.

It's the "trust" part of the equation I think they're using to manipulate the SERPs to block out spammers. Same way they've always done it... here's my own acronym: TBL = Time, Branding, Backlinks. And of course topical authority and all of the non-EAT stuff. And then simple signals that provide trust, like having an author box at all, a solid about page, an address and contact information, having social profiles that have content on them, etc. There's very basic stuff that lazy webmasters aren't doing that are much more easily measurable on a very broad scale.
 

RiverStyx

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How can you be sure it's only that? Serious question.
Is it in one of those YMYL niches?

This last update was about so much more than EAT. I saw websites that didn't have enough relevance about 1 topic drop, but the rest of the pages (that had enough topical relevance) stay ranked.
I saw websites that had weak link profile dropped too because they were focusing only on "great content".
Just based on my research into the site and its glaring lack of social proof, lack of authorship, lack of schema and just general lack of anything that gives authority to a site. The BL profile is fine, but not super strong either, it could use building up. The content is all original and well written in English, it's also well silo'd.
 

secretagentdad

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Just based on my research into the site and its glaring lack of social proof, lack of authorship, lack of schema and just general lack of anything that gives authority to a site. The BL profile is fine, but not super strong either, it could use building up. The content is all original and well written in English, it's also well silo'd.
I used to rank fine with basically none of those things.
Keyword used to* - you might have a valid point, just not sure if its 20k valid.

If the backlinks are only ok why are you even thinking about this deal
For 20k it better include backlinks that are impossible to replicate or have some clear brand volume recognition and an offsite channel or 2 built out.

Don't get to carried away with handing over all of the strategic value of where you think you can take it to the old owner. The work / resources you put into improving the site are part of the price.
Make sure you're comparing to a par value of spending 20k on a brand new site and putting in the same amount of time not 0.
For 20k you can buy a pretty sick domain, a few influencers and some knock it out of the park quality content. Is this actually the way you want to deploy your capital? Turning around a site with a year 2 dip and a mediocre backlink profile.

If you're really confident in your ability to make improvements and jack up the traffic / revenue fast you it might be worth it. Everything's worth it if you can do that though.

This sounds a bit on the high side to me for a site that is tanking and not old enough to even have year over year revenue history. Only reasons I could see to justify it would be brand recognition and following or some quality hard to get links.

Valuations on these sites are a bit inflated. Its a tough market especially in the low end.
Multi year valuation models on sites that arnt multiple years old never works out well in my experience.
Still feel bad about some of the adsense sites I dumped on people back in the day before the black and white animals came.

*
If the site has something special about it AKA gimmicks, content or branding that's naturally acquiring backlinks or mentions at a measurable rate. All of the above is out the window. Take the deal and build on the foundation. 20k is a steal for natural growers. Doesnt sound like you have this though.
 
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RiverStyx

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The multiples are increasing in the industry across the board but big time for content sites. I've seen them reaching 40x the monthly earnings (past 3 months, past 6 months, whatever).

I would be willing to pay the lowest multiple possible and I'd try to argue even lower, maybe 18x - 20x of the current low earnings because you're assuming tons of risk on a site with a negative trajectory.


I'd be careful with this. I can already guess the vertical, I think, since it tanked in December. It's a vertical that previously didn't have EAT involved, right?

I've never seen a site "recover" from not having enough EAT. When all this landed and people were guessing into the wind about what it might be about... all of that guessing became gospel because Google kept tweaking the algorithm and people seemed to recover, while everyone selectively ignored the people that already had the "new stuff" in place lose visibility too.

I don't buy into any of the discussion about "have your articles reviewed by a professional" and all these other things. I don't think Google is creating author profiles again. It's a good thing to let guide you as a webmaster, but I don't see it playing into it. There's very basic ways to show "expertise-authority" and "trust" that lots of sites don't do at all.

It's the "trust" part of the equation I think they're using to manipulate the SERPs to block out spammers. Same way they've always done it... here's my own acronym: TBL = Time, Branding, Backlinks. And of course topical authority and all of the non-EAT stuff. And then simple signals that provide trust, like having an author box at all, a solid about page, an address and contact information, having social profiles that have content on them, etc. There's very basic stuff that lazy webmasters aren't doing that are much more easily measurable on a very broad scale.
Another thing that is likely affecting the site is stale content. The articles there haven't been updated since the summer and there hasn't been regular publishing to the site. All the articles need updating right now.

And all the simple signals that provide trust are non-existant on the site. So those are the main things that I believe led to it tanking in Dec.
 
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Just based on my research into the site and its glaring lack of social proof, lack of authorship, lack of schema and just general lack of anything that gives authority to a site. The BL profile is fine, but not super strong either, it could use building up. The content is all original and well written in English, it's also well silo'd.
2 sites making me thousands monthly don't really have any of those... just saying
Maybe it's the niche, but I only have an author box at the end of the article.
 
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Beware x40 multiples on broker sites. I have even seen some content sites published x50.

In reality buyers will start the bidding for large sites around the x32 in my experience. Happy to be corrected but the market simply does not support x50 yet for content sites.

SAAS maybe. Content, not yet.
 

RiverStyx

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Right now the multiple assigned to this site is up in the air. I do not think that the good performance it had before the core update is relevant anymore so really I'm looking at just the last two months of sales data as I think that more accurately reflects its value. Jan was a terrible month for the site with earnings of only $300 so that's made me reconsider the sale price a lot. Right now I'm thinking for avg revenue of only about $900/mo over the last two months and the fact that its still declining....prob not worth 20K.

I'm personally thinking an 8x multiple based on last 2 mo data, which would be only about 7.5K. I can afford to lose that tbh if for whatever reason I can't recover the site. I've got another meeting tonight with the seller so I'll see how desperate they are to unload this site. They know its in a shit place right now so I may be able to negotiate fairly hard.

Also, at the end of the day, I don't have to buy it. So, I feel I'm in a pretty strong position. Thanks for all the advice so far everyone!!!

Update: had a deeper dive into the BL profile and found some worrying info. According to monitorbacklinks.com the majority of the dofollow links to the site are a bit problematic. This is a new tool to me - anyone here used it before, do you consider it reliable?
 
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RiverStyx

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No but I got a free shitty version.

Https://backlinkshitter.com

I think you got a 6-9k deal here.

Anything above that is broker pump.
You know what - after talking with you guys here, diving deeper into the backlink profile and looking at January's shitty performance I agree with you on that pricing. My mental valuation has been dropping steadily the more I investigate the site and I was thinking 7.5K as of this afternoon.

If the seller agrees to the 6-9k range I think we'll have a deal, otherwise I'll keep looking.
 
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Update: had a deeper dive into the BL profile and found some worrying info. According to monitorbacklinks.com the majority of the dofollow links to the site are a bit problematic. This is a new tool to me - anyone here used it before, do you consider it reliable?
That's why I was trying to push you to look harder under the hood and had a feeling this is not -only- about EAT.

My suggestion: before you even consider buying this site, get access to GSC and look at the links.
Most people do a very bad job at hiding the PBNs and only hide them from the popular tools like ahrefs, moz, semrush. I have some PBN links that no tool will find...

Check the website's backlinks with openlinkprofiler , pulno backlinks (these tools usually find some backlinks that other big tools won't) and GSC. If you find PBNs, I wouldn't even pay $5K for the site. What's your guarantee those links won't be removed soon? If the buyer is very desperate to get rid of it, I would be even more careful.

Would love to hear about more underground tools to find hidden PBNs if anyone knows any other tool.
 

RiverStyx

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That's why I was trying to push you to look harder under the hood and had a feeling this is not -only- about EAT.

My suggestion: before you even consider buying this site, get access to GSC and look at the links.
Most people do a very bad job at hiding the PBNs and only hide them from the popular tools like ahrefs, moz, semrush. I have some PBN links that no tool will find...

Check the website's backlinks with openlinkprofiler , pulno backlinks (these tools usually find some backlinks that other big tools won't) and GSC. If you find PBNs, I wouldn't even pay $5K for the site. What's your guarantee those links won't be removed soon? If the buyer is very desperate to get rid of it, I would be even more careful.

Would love to hear about more underground tools to find hidden PBNs if anyone knows any other tool.
Thanks for the advice! I have access to GSC already but I will check out the site on the other tools you mentioned as well. I'm leaning towards not going for it at this point and instead taking the money and investing in my own content/aff site - which is already built and getting impressions. I just need to work out the content strategy/publishing schedule and do more kwr on it.

Another bit of info: the seller has admitted to buying guest posts from guestpostoutreach.com earlier in 2020 and when the May algo update happend the site was hit then as well. He disavowed those links and by July the site had fully recovered. He claims he's done no other BL building since and also claims that there is no PBN - but who knows. The hit on the site in Dec was more severe than the hit it got in May and oddly it's still declining - I would have thought I would have stabilised by now....

-----

After an even deeper look at the bl profile I'm not seeing a pbn but what I am seeing is that all the dofollow links are to what the site was about before this dude built his aff site on an expired domain. The problem here is that none of these BL's are related to the current niche of the site, they're related to the OLD niche that this URL used to have content for.

Opinions on a BL profile comprised entirely of mid-range to low value links from an unrelated niche? Could this be contributing to the site tanking do you think?
 
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There was another update in January. Oddly nobody talks about that one. It started around January 10-12th and my keywords stopped dancing ~2 days ago.
I lost 20-30% of the traffic for 1 website in this one, but the majority of the keywords I lost I shouldn't have been even ranked for.
I was #1 for keywords like "subwoofer" "dashcam" and similar ones outranking the real brands + amazon LOL.

After an even deeper look at the bl profile I'm not seeing a pbn but what I am seeing is that all the dofollow links are to what the site was about before this dude built his aff site on an expired domain. The problem here is that none of these BL's are related to the current niche of the site, they're related to the OLD niche that this URL used to have content for.

Opinions on a BL profile comprised entirely of mid-range to low value links from an unrelated niche? Could this be contributing to the site tanking do you think?
That's a pretty big issue IMO. The most important thing in a link is the power. However, I tend to see especially lately that if it's a link from a topically related site it tends to give a bigger push. IMO relevance will become a lot more important as time goes by.

At least there should be a page-level relevance IMO. Relevance is important and I think that's the reason why forum posts links somewhat work for me. They don't have much power, but they are niche relevant.
I would be very concerned if all the links are unrelated.
 

RiverStyx

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There was another update in January. Oddly nobody talks about that one. It started around January 10-12th and my keywords stopped dancing ~2 days ago.
I lost 20-30% of the traffic for 1 website in this one, but the majority of the keywords I lost I shouldn't have been even ranked for.
I was #1 for keywords like "subwoofer" "dashcam" and similar ones outranking the real brands + amazon LOL.


That's a pretty big issue IMO. The most important thing in a link is the power. However, I tend to see especially lately that if it's a link from a topically related site it tends to give a bigger push. IMO relevance will become a lot more important as time goes by.

At least there should be a page-level relevance IMO. Relevance is important and I think that's the reason why forum posts links somewhat work for me. They don't have much power, but they are niche relevant.
I would be very concerned if all the links are unrelated.
Yeah, every single one of them is unrelated. I can't see any that are relevant to the niche the site is in right now. Plus a number of them are from blogspot/wiki type pages.
 

Ryuzaki

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After an even deeper look at the bl profile I'm not seeing a pbn but what I am seeing is that all the dofollow links are to what the site was about before this dude built his aff site on an expired domain. The problem here is that none of these BL's are related to the current niche of the site, they're related to the OLD niche that this URL used to have content for.
Yep, I agree with @janky. This is a huge issue. I've seen it many times, including very recently. This method stopped working well many years ago, but people keep trying it. I'm sure it still works here and there but eventually some relevancy calculations are going to happen... and you get exactly what you're seeing.

I've mentioned it several times recently on the forum with the same example: building a Wedding site on a Bicycle domain. It's simply not going to pan out, and it's going to actively hurt you once Google has no clue what your domain's topic is about.

At least there should be a page-level relevance IMO.
Agreed. Google is a page-level algorithm with considerations about the domain-level, but at the end of the day it's a page-level algo.

One way that interacts is "does the page-level content match the topical categorization of the domain-level site?" It doesn't have to. There's plenty of general sites out there doing just fine. But there's a huge difference between "general across dozens of topics" and "backlinks are one topic, content is another".

I'd also mention that it works one way for ranking the pages and another way for passing page rank and relevancy. After all, Google is a page-level algorithm...

Plus a number of them are from blogspot/wiki type pages.
Wiki's are nofollow 99% of the time. They may not pass page rank, but do they pass relevancy? It's a good question to ask. It can explain why @janky is saying forum links (which are typically nofollow) work for him.

The blogspot / web 2.0's on sub-domains kill me. They're mainly garbage but so many of the SEO tools out there will assign the power of the top-level-domain to the sub-domain instead of seeing them as completely worthless. And then the metrics get all out of whack. No disrespect to the person I've been talking to about this privately, but I've been working with a site that's like DR70-something on paper but that's because all these web 2.0 sub-domains are getting miscalculated. But then the site owners may think they're qualified to be in SERPs with DR70+ competition. It can lead to costly and time-wasting mistakes.
 

RiverStyx

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Thank you everyone for weighing in on this! I have decided not to purchase the site and instead am investing in my own content/aff site with a decent budget now for content creation! I'll start a thread in the lab about that project soon so anyone interested can follow along.

My goal for my site is to grow it white hat/organically. I am not expecting any revenue at all for the first 6 months at least, maybe 9, but I'm hoping with persistant work within 18mo I should be looking at a site I can either sell on for 6 figures or simply keep for the monthly passive income - it all depends what life looks like in a year and a half!

Many thanks, you guys are great!