Three years ago, I entered the world of making money flipping websites. The reason was straightforward: COVID-19. My contract ended just before the pandemic, and my company, just like any other companies at that very time, was not hiring.
So, I decided to turn to website flipping as a way to make money. And for the last two years with a lot of hard work, it has been my bread and butter, supporting a family of five, and making quite a lucrative full-time income.
Today, I can definitely say websites flipping (or blog flipping as people also refer to) is a profitable online business model for those who know how to properly evaluate and create value in the digital realm. However, website flipping has its own set of risks and rewards that must be carefully reviewed before investing in it.
The primary goal for any successful website flipper is to maximize the value of a website before reselling it. And as for the interested buyers, they want to purchase a website with the least amount of risk and highest potential return.
How to Value a Website for Flipping: A Comprehensive Guide
In this article, I will be breaking down the step by step process of how you can properly evaluate a website before investing in it.
Whether you’re new to this world of digital real estate or looking to hone your skills, I truly hope this comprehensive guide will help you get the most out of your investment.
Key Metrics for Website Valuations
Understanding a website’s value starts with assessing its critical metrics. Here are some most essential factors to consider when evaluating an existing website for purchase or sale:
1. Website Traffic
Obviously, a profitable website with high monthly traffic is more valuable than one with minimal visitors. Analyzing the sources, geography, and demographics of the traffic can also provide valuable insights into potential revenue streams.
However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the value of a website is determined by its potential rather than existing traffic, especially for new website. For example, if a website has low traffic but is receiving organic search traffic from high-value keywords with not much competition, the website could still be worth investing in.
In such cases, look for any promising niche sites or audience that could benefit from the site’s content and/or services. You can also see what kinds of ads or products would be well-suited for the site in order to generate more revenue.
2. Backlink Profile
Backlink is one of the most important SEO parameters, so it is always a good idea to check a website’s backlinks before making an investment.
A strong backlink profile, characterized by high-quality links from reputable sources, indicates greater domain authority (DA) and better search engine performance. This, in turn, leads to increased organic traffic and improved value.
If the site has used PBNs (Private Blog Networks) in the past, it is best to steer clear. PBNs are considered black hat SEO and can lead to a manual penalty from Google. If you identify any spammy links, they must be removed immediately.
3. Domain Authority
Domain authority, or DA for short, is a metric developed by Moz, which measures the likelihood of a site ranking highly on search engine result pages. On a scale of 100, the higher the DA score, the greater its chances of appearing on the first page of search engine results.
In addition to improving overall website value, a high domain authority also serves as an indication of trustworthiness. A website with a higher DA is perceived to be more credible than one with a lower score by both users and search engines.
In short, a website with higher DA score indicates better search engine visibility, making the website more valuable. But again, that’s not always the case. Some websites have high DA just because they have been there for a while, while the content is outdated and lacks relevance. And that happens more often than you may think!
4. Page Ranking
Websites with higher rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs for short) such as Google, Bing, etc. attract more organic traffic, which is highly valuable.
Although page rank is not the end-all be-all of website value, it does serve as a reliable indicator. A higher ranking means more visibility and greater chances of converting visitors into customers or subscribers.
Improving page ranking can be achieved by optimizing the website’s on-page and off-page SEO factors. These include improving the site’s content, creating more backlinks, optimizing images and videos (if any), and so on.
5. Key SEO Metrics
Metrics such as keyword rankings, organic traffic, and domain rating (DR) can provide useful insights into how well an established website performs in search engines.
By researching the keyword positions and tracking organic traffic, you can get a better understanding of how effective the current SEO strategy is. A website with higher DR scores indicates greater domain authority, which is beneficial for increasing visibility on SERPs.
Overall, monitoring key SEO metrics can help you identify potential opportunities and areas that need improvement. This will help you get a better idea of the website’s worth and whether or not it is worth investing in.
6. Technical Health
Technical health refers to the overall performance of a website from an engineering point of view. This includes aspects such as page loading speed, broken links, mobile-friendliness, outdated software and code, proper security measures (SSL certificate), etc.
A slow website with a lot of technical issues can negatively impact the user experience and hinder potential growth. Poor technical health also affects SEO ranking and prevents search engines from crawling the website properly.
It is important to assess the technical health of a website before investing in it, as it can be costly and time-consuming to fix any existing issues.
For many websites, monetization is the ultimate goal. This could come in the form of advertisements, subscription plans, affiliate partnerships, or eCommerce sales.
It’s important to look at the current monetization opportunities and assess if any potential improvements can be made. This could include adding new revenue streams or adjusting pricing structures to make the website more attractive.
In addition, it’s also important to look at potential competitors and how they are monetizing their website. This can give you ideas on how you can increase revenue from your own website.
However, not all websites sold are monetized, and still, they were sold for a good price. That’s because of the potential for future monetization and growth. Those new sites may be in a profitable niche and have a lot of potentials, yet the previous owner couldn’t capitalize on it.
In this case, buyers should look at the website’s market and competition to assess if they can turn things around and start making money with the website. They should also consider adding new monetization opportunities or improving existing ones. If you’re lucky, you can find the right website with great potential at a bargain price.
8. Conversion Rate
The conversion rate, or CR for short, is a metric that measures the percentage of visitors who convert into customers or subscribers. This is an important metric to consider when assessing the value of a website, as it indicates how successful the website’s marketing efforts are.
Analyzing the current conversion rate can help you understand what works and what doesn’t in terms of content, design, layout, etc. It can also help you identify areas that need improvement, such as improving the site’s usability or including more attractive CTAs.
9. Maintenance Requirements
Owning and running a website requires regular maintenance to keep it performing at its best. This includes updating content, fixing broken links, adding new features, etc.
Depending on the size of the website, this could take anywhere from a few hours each week to full-time work, especially with eCommerce sites due to its ever evolving nature. The maintenance requirements should be factored into the overall cost of running a website, as it can quickly become time-consuming and expensive.
Now that we’ve gone through the key metrics that buyers should consider when assessing the value of a website, let’s take a look at some of the most common valuation methods.
Valuation methods are methods used to estimate the approximate value of a website, and they are based on different criteria such as traffic, revenue, number of users, etc.
Common methods include the income approach (based on the website’s earnings), market approach (based on comparables) and asset approach (based on tangible assets). Each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to consider all of them before making a decision.
The most accurate way to value a website is by taking all of these methods into account and using them in combination to get a better understanding of the website’s value. Ultimately, the final price should be based on your own calculations and experience, as well as market conditions.
1. Multiples Method
This is one of the simplest and most widely used website valuation methods. It involves multiplying either monthly or annual revenue by a predetermined multiple to arrive at the website’s estimated value.
For example, if a website earns $1,000 in monthly profit and the multiple used is 3x, then the website’s estimated value would be $3,000. At the time of writing this article, the most common multiple used is 24-36x of the site’s monthly earnings.
So, let’s say your site’s monthly income is $200, you can expect to sell it for $4,800 to $7,200 or even more, depending on the other factors mentioned earlier.
2. Discounted Cash Flow Method
The discounted cash flow method (DCF) is a more complex approach compared to multiples and involves predicting the future of a website in order to estimate its value today.
Personally, I don’t have any experience or expertise in using this method as I prefer using simpler methods like the multiples method. However, if you’re looking for a more accurate approach and have the time to research and calculate everything properly, then this is one of the best methods you can use.
But for those of you who are comfortable with financial modeling, the discounted cash flow method is an important tool that should be considered when assessing a website’s value.
When using the DCF method, you will need to make assumptions about future revenue growth and cost structure in order to arrive at an estimated value for the website. You will also need to factor in risk and consider how likely it is that your predictions are accurate.
3. Comparables (Comps)
Similar to real estate valuations, comparables involve researching the sale prices of comparable websites in terms of revenue, niche, and performance, to get a better understanding of the current market value.
This method is particularly useful for websites in competitive niches, where it can be difficult to determine a website’s true value. By looking at what other similar sites have sold for, you can more accurately estimate the fair market price of your own website.
4. Return on Investment (ROI)
To evaluate based on potential ROI, divide the estimated annual net income by the asking price to determine the anticipated annual return. The more favorable the ROI, the more valuable the site.
This method is quite similar to the multiples method, but it takes into account the cost of acquisition and other related expenses, such as maintenance and hosting. The ROI method is especially useful for websites that have been around for a while and are generating consistent income.
5. Asset Valuation
This method involves estimating the worth of the website’s assets, which may include the domain name, content, design, backlinks, digital products (if any), and email list. Asset value can be used as a starting point to negotiate price.
From my own experience, I can see this method will make more sense when it comes to starter sites that have not yet begun to make money. Knowing the asset value of a website will also allow you to invest in it and increase its growth potential and value with time.
Ultimately, understanding the various website valuation methods is important when it comes to selling or buying a website. The final price should be based on your own calculations and experience, as well as market conditions. At the end of the day, the value of a site is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for it!
Cost Considerations for Intrinsic Value
Website design, maintenance, and marketing are some of the costs to consider when determining a site’s value. The reason behind this is simple — the price of a website is often determined by its potential to generate income, and those costs can affect a site’s earning potential.
For instance, if a website requires extensive design updates or additional marketing efforts to attract more visitors, prospective buyers will take that into consideration and adjust their offer accordingly.
It’s also important to remember that the price of a website is highly subjective — what one buyer may consider a great deal could be too expensive for another. It all comes down to the buyer’s individual needs and budget.
Ultimately, when valuing a website, there are many variables to consider. Here’s a brief breakdown of each aspect and how it impacts the overall value of a website:
1. Website Design
In the world of mobile devices and UX and UI designs, a website should be intuitive and visually appealing to draw in users. An attractive design can also help boost conversions, which is why it’s important to consider when assessing the value of a site.
2. Maintenance & Hosting
Websites need to be maintained in order to keep them secure and running smoothly. This can include everything from server and hosting fees to regular software updates to backups and security checks.
3. Content Creation
Content is key to the success of any website. It’s important to consider the cost of creating regular, high-quality content when determining a site’s value, as well as how ongoing content management might affect the bottom line.
If the current content isn’t up to par, it may be necessary to invest in additional content creation or editing services. Then, this cost can be factored into the overall valuation.
Normally, the website owners writes the content themselves, making it relatively inexpensive. However, sites with high-quality content and a lot of traffic will be more likely to have a team of writers or content strategists, making them more expensive to maintain. If that is the case, buyers will need to factor in the cost of additional content services when determining the site’s value.
4. SEO & Marketing
In order for a website to rank well and bring in traffic, it must be optimized for search engines and marketed effectively. Both of these efforts can be time-consuming.
If the current site owner has a small team of VAs and social media managers, for example, to help keep up with SEO and marketing, buyers will need to factor in the cost of those services when determining the value of a site.
In some cases, the new owner may want to have an SEO audit for the site, which can be costly. Agencies and freelancers charge anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars for a full SEO audit, so it’s important to factor that in when calculating the website value.
Due Diligence & Risk Management
Whenever I start a conversation with potential buyers, the very first thing I ask them to do is due diligence. I urge them to read through the listing and review all aspects of the website, its content, analytics, and all other relevant data before starting the negotiation process.
This helps buyers understand what they’re getting into, as well as any risks associated with the site. Knowing this information allows buyers to determine whether or not the website is worth the price they are offering. Plus, it saves our time — both the sellers and the buyers alike — by eliminating any need to renegotiate the price.
Then comes risk management. Every website has a different set of risks associated with it, and buyers need to be aware of them before they commit to buying the site. This includes assessing the potential for cyber threats, spam and inappropriate content, as well as any legal issues that could arise from running the site.
An easy example of risk management is performing a background check on the website’s current owner. This will help buyers identify any potential red flags, such as previous legal issues or charges related to the site. It’s also important to ensure that the site has been adequately protected from cyber threats, as well as any other potential risks associated with running it.
By taking all of these factors into consideration, both parties can lay the groundwork for a successful flip that leaves everyone satisfied with the outcome.
Though the process may be complex, understanding how each element impacts the value of a site will help you make an informed decision when valuing and purchasing a website.
Where to Find Websites to Buy
Once you’ve determined what factors to consider when evaluating a website, the next step is finding websites for sale. Like many other online businesses, there are risks of scam and fraud when looking for websites to buy. This is why it’s important to be extra cautious when searching for potential sites.
A great way to find high-quality, reliable sites is by researching online marketplaces like Flippa, Empire Flippers, and FE International. These marketplaces make it easier to find vetted sites that are up for sale at fair prices.
Then we have private brokerages. These firms typically have access to a vast network of buyers and sellers and make it easier for buyers to find the perfect website according to their criteria. They also offer services such as escrow, due diligence, legal support, and more, making buying a website much simpler and safer.
I’ve been working with Chelsea Clarke from Niche Investor since 2020 and can highly recommend her as a broker. She is licensed and insured, which helps ensure that the process of finding, evaluating and buying a website goes smoothly.
Another website broker I can highlight is Motion Invest. One of its co-founders is actually Spencer Haws from Niche Pursuits! They have a wide range of listings, both content sites and e-Commerce sites. I haven’t work with Motion Invest, but for some of my future deals, I will certainly give them a try!
How to Sell Your Site for the Best Price
Website valuation is a tricky process. But it’s important to understand how the different factors can impact the value of your website so that you can maximize your profits when selling it.
The first thing I recommend is to keep up with the work you’ve put into the website. This includes making sure that all content is up to date, all plugins are running properly, and any other maintenance issues have been taken care of. You should also update its SoMe handles, if, and make sure to optimize its SEO. This will help boost its value before putting it up on the market.
You should also consider adding new features such as a membership option or a newsletter to increase your website’s potential earnings. As an added bonus, this will show buyers that you are constantly improving the site and can help you get a higher sale price.
Finally, make sure to create comprehensive sales materials such as the website’s financial statements and other documents that can be helpful in convincing buyers. This will also help them understand what they’re actually buying and why it is worth the asking price.
Speaking from my own experience, I once sold a website for 20% more than what I had expected by keeping working on it as if I would never sell it. The traffic still came in, the affiliates still sent commissions, and the final sale price was much higher than I expected. My efforts paid off in the end and the buyers were very happy with their purchase.
But of course, my blog flipping venture also comes with pitfalls. The other time I wanted to get rid of a site so badly that once it was listed, I stopped working on it. As you can imagine, that mistake cost me a lot of potential earnings that I could have gotten.
This had a negative effect on the sale price since potential buyers saw that no work had been done, no traffic was coming in, and the sales just dropped. It took the site forever to finally find its new owner, and you bet, with a lower price tag too.
So, my advice for anyone who’s looking to sell their website is this: never stop working on the site until it actually finds its new owner. This will ensure that you get the best possible sale price and increase your chance of a successful flip.
At the end of the day, selling a website is similar to any other business sale process. Knowing what factors impact its value and taking steps to improve them can help you get a higher sale price.
The Bottom Lines
For me, being in both worlds of website buying and selling, I have come to learn that valuation is a complex process. And sometimes, I learned it the hard way. But anyway, just like any other business venture, website flipping comes with its own set of rules and regulations.
In the end, no matter how much experience you have in website buying and selling, it’s important to know all the factors that can affect a website’s value before negotiating a price.
Experienced website flippers understand that website valuation is an involved process. It’s important to take into account all the factors that can affect a site’s value, such as content quality, search engine optimization and marketing efforts, due diligence and risk management.
By taking all of these elements into consideration, buyers can make sure they are paying a fair price for a website. And sellers can be sure they are getting the most value out of their investment.