You won the auction, the website is yours.

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 Broken images, affiliate links that point to expired offers, out of date information, that kind of thing.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.

Dom Wells

Dom Wells

Dom Wells is the founder of Onfolio.co. He's been actively building, buying, and selling websites since 2012, and has learned from many a mistake over the years. Through Onfolio, he works with other investors to find, buy, and then operate content sites, without the mistakes.

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