What To Do When Taking Over A New Website

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You won the auction, the website is yours. But what do you do to ensure success when taking over a new website?

You completed your due diligence and you’ve managed to figure out the escrow and migrate the site to your possession. 

You’ve changed the links over, and you can see money is coming in. 

Awesome!

NOW what do you do?

That’s what we’re going to cover in today’s article. I’m going to share the steps we take every time we onboard a new website. These steps are usually done in two phases.

Phase one is all about figuring out what is broken or needs improving.

Phase two is all about capturing that upside and growing this bad boy to new heights.

Now, some of these things you will ideally have already done during the due diligence phase, especially if you used our upside-checklist, but there are other things you won’t be able to do until you actually have the keys to the castle.

To keep this article more comprehensive, I’ll cover everything we do, and let you know whether it’s doable in the earlier stages or not.

Step One – The “What’s Broken” Audit

This is something we do as soon as we have full control of a site. Make sure you have the following:

  • WordPress login details (assuming of course it’s a wordpress site)
  • Search console 
  • Google Analytics
  • Hosting 

So basically… everything. If you don’t have these then you’ll need to get them anyway.

You’ll ideally also have a third-party tool like ahrefs for checking backlinks.

Once you’ve got everything sorted, you want to run a technical audit. You can use something like ahrefs, sitebulb, or a few others. 

What you’re looking for when you acquire a new site are basic things like broken links, indexing issues, bad site structure, and of course, speed issues.

You should also do a plugin audit. Half of the plugins on the site probably aren’t being used anymore, or can be replaced with a lightweight version. 

Someone like Alejandro Meyerhans can help with this type of audit too by the way.

When it comes to speed, there are a ton of guides out there for improving speed, so I won’t go into details of the specific, but you’ll definitely want to run an audit of your site’s speed and work on improving it.

I don’t think we’ve ever audited a site and NOT found something we can do to improve the speed.

You should also do an “eyeball” audit. Go through the top pages based on traffic in Google Analytics, and see if there is anything obvious that needs improving. Broken images, affiliate links that point to expired offers, out of date information, that kind of thing.

Backlinks are something that you should audit before you even pick up the site, and again, teaching you how to do this is outside the scope of the article (check this guide out though).

However, now that you’ve got control of the site, you can submit a disavow file inside search console if necessary. 

You obviously want to double check there are no errors or manual actions inside search console too (though you should check for manual actions before you buy).

Step 2 – Easy Improvements

Next up, we focus on some on-page improvements. Essentially, what can we tweak to get results fairly quickly?

For this, we look at our pages/keywords that are already ranking well, but could rank higher. In other words, those keywords that rank in position 3-20 or so. It used to be hard to figure out the best ways to optimize those pages, but now you can use tools like surferseo to compare your article to the rest of page one, and see if you’re an outlier. 

Maybe your article is 500 words and the others are all 2,000, or maybe you don’t use the right keywords. Surfer makes it easy to figure this out and go through your articles optimizing them all.

This is also the stage where we look at our money pages (the ones that bring in the most affiliate sales) and see if we can improve them. Can we add a comparison table or some more “check the price here” buttons? Can we make the opening paragraph more enticing and the article quality better?

We usually start with the top 10 posts on the site, or any posts that get over 1,000 visits per month, and work through from there.

There won’t always be some big wins here, but you absolutely want to check anyway. 

Since most sellers will share Google analytics with you in advance, you can often identify some of these easy wins before you even purchase the site. 

Step 3 – Longer Term Growth

The final step is where we focus on the longer term growth. This could be any or all of the following things:

  • Improving the rankings by doing more off-page SEO
  • Adding more content to the site
  • Finding more monetization techniques
  • Growing an email list
  • Better monetizing the email list
  • Building out other traffic sources (hello pinterest!)

Again, this is something Onfolio can help you identify in their upside checklist, which is free to download here.

Since most of the longer term growth isn’t what we’re covering in this article, my recommendation would be to start by doing extensive keyword research. 

Most people don’t do enough keyword research, even when building a site from scratch, so doing this will be a great way to identify new areas for growth, and also any areas your site is primed to rank quickly for. The Ahrefs content gap tool helps here.

So to summarize, the first things you want to focus on are fixing anything obvious, next you focus on your quick wins, and after that, buckle up and settle in for the longer term growth.

Step 4 – Migration

Things That Get Forgotten During Website Migration

Migrating a site can be confusing, and there are a lot of moving parts. Whether you do a manual transfer, get help, use a WordPress plugin, or close your eyes and teleport the website with your mind, transferring the website is just the first step.

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It’s also the thing everybody is focused on, which means other things often get forgotten.

In this article, I’m going to ignore the actual website/server migration part of the transition, and focus on some of the other frequently forgotten items.

Some of these are more critical than others, but you ultimately want to make sure you do all of them.

Google Analytics – Admin Access

Most people receive “view only” access to Google Analytics as part of their initial due diligence, and this often never gets updated to admin access. 

It’s also not that simple that you can just say “Hey make me Admin now”, because many sellers have multiple sites in the same Google Analytics account.

The main thing is that there are “Accounts” and “Properties”, all within the same master GA account.

You want admin access to the “Account”, so that you can control user access, but if the seller has other “Properties” in the same account, you’ll need to get them to create a new account first, migrate the property to that, and then give you admin access to that account. You can then remove them.

See the images here for a better understanding.

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  1. Within your master account, click the cog in the bottom left to get to admin settings. 
  2. The left column is the “account” that particular site is in. 
  3. The middle column is the “property”.
  4. If the seller only has one property in that account, you can have them add you as an admin in the “Account User Management” part of the left column. You can then navigate to this section and remove them.
  5. If they have multiple properties, they’ll probably have added you in the “Property” section instead. 
  6. What they need to do is click the blue “Create account” button, and then inside the “Property settings” of the original property, click “Move property” and move it into the new account. 
  7. They can then give you Admin access to the new Account, and you can remove them. 
  8. This prevents you getting access to the original account with all their other sites, but it allows you to take full admin ownership of the site, without losing all the historical data by starting a new GA account.

Search Console

It’s much easier to transfer ownership of Search Console, and you basically need to just become a “verified owner”. There are a few different ways to do this, but the easiest is to upload a new meta tag to replace the previous owner’s tag. Once done, you’ll be the new owner and can remove the old owner.

Many people also just create a new search console account for the site, but doing this loses the historical data, including the ability to see if the site has had any penalties in the past.

Email Address

If you’ve moved the server, you’ll probably need to re-create the email address on the new server, otherwise the site contact forms might not go anywhere.

If the seller has a Google Apps for Business account, you’ll be able to just login, change the billing details, and keep the original email without having to create a new one.

Social Media

They always get forgotten, but Twitter, FB pages, and Pinterest accounts are an important part of the deal! 

Make sure you get full access so you can avoid the accounts getting shut down in the future, or avoid traffic dipping if they are sending reasonable amounts of traffic.Don’t forget about social media accounts when migrating website ownership. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, SnapChat, and many more accounts are of vital importance for the deal!CLICK TO TWEET

Affiliate Links

It seems obvious, but many people don’t change over all the affiliate links right away, and end up forgetting them.

The best case scenario is you can just take over the seller’s accounts, but most of the time this isn’t possible if they have more than one site. Instead, you’ll need to create your own accounts and replace their links with yours.

With Amazon, you can use a find/replace plugin if the seller has used the long version of links, but if they’ve used the shortened amzn.to links, you’re going to have to manually replace every link, which takes time.

To make sure you’ve caught all the links, use something like amzwatcher.com to scan the site. It will identify every link on the site and tell you which Amazon tag is being used. 

The best thing to do is get a list of every link on the site in advance, so you can make a plan to change them as soon as you get access to WordPress.

It’s Just A Case Of Planning

With correct planning, you can create a checklist of everything that needs to be done post-purchase, and then you won’t miss anything. 

I usually get the seller to create the list, because they’re the ones who actually know everything that is in place (plus I can see how well organized they are, or if they try to hide something).

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