This is the second article in the series on How to Invest in Websites which talks about how to generate upside from an established (revenue-generating) website acquisition. 

By upside, I mean ways to increase revenue opportunities that have been missed by the current website seller, and below are what I consider the most lucrative: 

  1. Monetization optimization
  2. Optimize existing content
  3. Content audit

As Dom Wells states, with content sites, it’s far easier to generate upside with a smaller acquisition as they have more room to grow. I personally choose to acquire non-revenue generating sites, known as starter sites, which I cover in the next article in this series. 

This article looks at what can be done when buying an established site that’s ranking well and generating revenue – let’s assume we are talking about a site that’s pulling in $1K in revenue a month. One that is making $50 for every 1,000 visits from affiliate marketing, bringing in 20K people a month with 200 pages of content. 

1) Monetization Optimization

The quickest upside you will achieve is from monetization. If you have acquired a site that is only making money from affiliate marketing then adding display advertising into the mix will often immediately increase revenue from the same amount of traffic. Using a platform such as Ezoic, you can quickly set up ad display placeholders on your site and let the machine learning to optimize networks, locations and ad sizes for you. This will typically result in an additional $5-$15 per 1,000 visitors within 30 days. You can choose to disable ads on your highest converting landing pages in terms of affiliate revenue, if you notice a drop in revenue. But from what I’ve personally seen, and heard from other people’s accounts, the overall revenue per user goes up. Likewise if you have bought a website that is only making money from display advertising, you can likely immediately add affiliate links to products on Amazon or private programs through networks such as Refersion without having to create additional review content. 

2) Optimize Existing Content

Most content sites up to $50K asset price do not have perfectly optimized content for SEO and there is often upside available by improving keyword density. My tool of choice for this is Surfer SEO where you enter the main keyword you are trying to rank top for. In this example let’s go for the subject of this series “website investing” and look at my page:

Find your page in the search results and click on Audit:

I’m currently ranking 8th for this phrase, but to better fit in with the top spots, the software is telling me to add certain phrases such as “real estate” and “due diligence”:

Another thing you can do is to look to steal competitor snippets. For this I use the tool Ahrefs, throw the top ranked results into Site Explorer and go to organic keywords and select to only show featured snippets.

Matt Diggity wrote a great post on how to steal snippets and I have an even sneakier additional step to ensure you can get them in my process templates that are available to paying subscribers of my Website Investing publication. 

3) Content Audit 

When you’re picking up a site making > $1K/m it likely has 100s of pages published and in the google index. That is unless you are getting recurring affiliate commissions, such as software review sites, where you can get to $1K/m with very few pages – I once sold a site for $100K that had only 10 pages.

A content audit looks at which pages have very little traffic and very few links. If you look at an established site with 200 pages in Google Analytics if you have access (or Ahrefs if you don’t) you will typically see that the top 100 bring in 90%-95% of all search traffic and that the top 50 typically bring in 80%-90%. As such there will be a lot of pages not performing which can negatively affect a site’s crawl budget, bringing down the overall quality in the Google index. There is a study done on how QuickBooks nearly doubled traffic by deleting half its content. Part of this is to do with reducing the amount of keyword cannibalization (similar pages competing with each other).  

Final Thoughts

If you’re buying an established, profitable site for under $50K, there is typically a lot of upside available that the seller has not identified and addressed. By implementing these three tasks, you may be surprised at the amount of growth you can get, without the need to publish more content and build more links. I break down to how generate upside in my step-by-step SOPs (part of the offering for paying subscribers) as well is in interviews with top website investors at the Website Investing publication. 

Richard Patey

Richard runs a Website Investing publication which covers the world of website investing with a weekly newsletter and podcast. He personally builds and sells software review sites and has had a six figure exit.

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