Checklist Before Buying a Website
At first sight, buying a second-hand website or domain can bring you a lot of benefits, but at the same time, you may waste your efforts and money. On the one hand, you'll have a rich link profile, and on the other – dark past with the search engine penalties.
For those of you who are determined to purchase existing domain or website, we’ve created a comprehensive checklist and a small use case for buying a website. As an example we used furfur.me domain which has stopped its activity in early 2017.
This article will be useful for SEO specialists, webmasters and link builders searching for donor websites.
Some of the parameters mentioned below are available in Netpeak Checker by default. The rest of them can be analyzed with Moz (paid access is required, but you can use its free functionality with lower amount of data and processing speed), Ahrefs, SEMrush and Majestic services connected to Netpeak Checker via API. They will be marked with an asterisk.
1. Setting Scanning Parameters
1.1. Domain Age Check and Domain Registration Lookup
The first things you should think about are domain creation and expiry date according to the WHOIS domain database. Free access to this data is provided for all Netpeak Checker users. You can also get emails of all previous domain owners. Useful, isn’t it?
To get data mentioned above, select all corresponding items on the left ‘Parameters’ panel in WHOIS section.
1.2. Security Check
- Security Issues in Google Search Console. If you are negotiating about purchasing a website with its current owner, we highly recommend you to request access to Google Search Console. After gaining access to webmasters’ console, open ‘Security Issues’ tab and check Google Search Console security warnings.
- Search Engine Penalties. Make sure that domain wasn’t blacklisted and malware-infected. Use Sucuri SiteCheck service to perform a security check. It provides free security data analytics.
- Moz Spam Score (Moz → Subdomain parameters). This metric shows how website can be penalized by search engines as a website with low value to users. It’s measured by the ratios of content to code, content to external links, external links to internal links, and several other factors.*
- Compromised Website (Google SERP → Host parameters). It indicates whether the website has 'This site may be hacked' message in Google SERP snippet.
1.3. Indexation Check
Along with security and blacklist status check, it is necessary to perform a search engine indexation check. Netpeak Checker basic functionality allows to analyze data from Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yandex SERP. To determine the website’s indexation status, select the following parameters on the sidebar:
- Indexation (SERP of selected Search Engine → Host parameters). It indicates whether the target URL is indexed by Google, Bing, Yahoo or Yandex.
- Indexed URLs (SERP of selected Search Engine → Host parameters). A number of website pages indexed by Google, Yahoo, Bing or Yandex.
1.4. Backlinks Analysis
In context of domain’s link profile, we are interested in several things: number of backlinks, natural links, and backlinks’ anchor list. Netpeak Checker allows you to get data from several different services (Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz, and others):
- Backlinks (Ahrefs → Host parameters).* A number of external ‘live’ backlinks linking to the target URL according to Ahrefs.
- External Links (Moz → Root Domain parameters).* A number of external links to the target URL including nofollow links according to Moz.
- External Backlinks (Majestic → Host parameters).* A number of external backlinks to the target URL according to Majestic. Make sure that you’ve chosen a proper Majestic index of backlink data (Settings → Services → Majestic). You can choose ‘Fresh’ (past 90 days) or ‘Historic’ (past 5 years) index. We’ve used the second one for furfur.me backlink analysis.
- Dofollow Backlinks (Ahrefs → Host parameters).* A number of dofollow backlinks linking to the target according to Ahrefs.
- Nofollow Backlinks (Ahrefs → Host parameters).* A number of nofollow backlinks linking to the target according to Ahrefs. This parameter also plays a key role in backlink analysis because natural backlink profile must contain not only dofollow, but also nofollow links.
- Edu and Gov External Backlinks According to Majestic (Majestic → Host parameters).* Government and educational domains have high authority and trust scores, so if they are linked to your website, you can get higher search engine trust level.
- Gov Backlinks and Edu According to Ahrefs (Ahrefs → Host parameters). This parameter is similar to the previous one. It shows total number of backlinks (including images and nofollow links) from government and educational websites.
- Sites Linking in (Alexa). A number of websites referring to this domain according to Alexa.
- Root Domains Linking (Moz → Root Domain parameters).* A number of root domains with any pages linking to the target according to Moz.
- Mentions (Google SERP → Host parameters). A number of the pages from other websites that contain target exact match.
- List of Backlinks’ Anchors and Donor Websites. To get a full list of backlinks with anchors, you need to use Serpstat online service.*
1.5. Traffic Analysis
Website traffic analysis is interesting for number of reasons. First and foremost, analytics data clearly demonstrate if there were any suspicious traffic spikes in the website’s history. And, secondly, it will help to predict potential amount of traffic in future.
- Traffic Overview.
The easiest way to get information about website traffic is to ask current website owner for a Google Search Console access.
If this is not possible, perform an analysis with two tools: Serpstat module* in Netpeak Checker (Serpstat → Root Domain parameters → SE Traffic) and free version of SimilarWeb service.
- Expected Organic and Paid Traffic. (SEMrush → Organic Traffic and Paid Search Traffic). Purchasing a website with some history gives some benefits for its new owner. You can check it (of course, we’re talking about traffic) using several SEMrush metrics integrated into Netpeak Checker.*
1.6. Website Trust
Website Trust is a complex indicator which shows search engines’ level of confidence in your website. It is calculated by a complex formula which takes a lot of factors into account: from domain zone to donor websites’ content quality. Netpeak Checker allows you to analyze it with several different indicators from Moz and Majestic:
- MozTrust (Moz → Root Domain parameters). Score (measured from 0 to 10) indicates trust of the target URL according to Moz.*
- Majestic Trust Flow (Majestic → Host parameters). One of the Majestic Flow Metrics calculated according to the number of clicks from a seed set of trusted sites to the target URL.*
- Majestic Citation Flow (Majestic → Host parameters). One of the Majestic Flow Metrics calculated according to the number of websites linking to the target URL.
- Majestic Topical Trust Flow (Majestic → Host parameters). Score between 0-100 showing the Trust Flow for the main category according to Majestic.
Trust metrics should be assessed in the context of website history. They can help you determine tlink profile quality in case when a website has a lot of backlinks and they require comprehensive evaluation.
1.7. Internal Links Analysis
Internal Links and Their Anchors’ Analysis with Netpeak Spider. An inspection aiming to detect suspicious links or spammy anchors.
1.8. Calculating Website’s Ranking Scores
- MozRank (Moz → Root Domain parameters). A score (measured from 0 to 10) to indicate link popularity according to Moz.
- Domain Authority (Moz → Root Domain parameters). A score that indicates how the website will rank on search engine according to Moz.*
- Ahrefs Rank (Ahrefs → Host parameters). Rank of the target дописать based on the size and quality of its backlinks profile according to Ahrefs.*
- Ahrefs Domain Rating (Ahrefs → Host parameters). Domain position in domains ranking based on their organic search traffic value according to SEMrush.*
- SEMrush Rank (SEMrush → Host parameters). Rank of the domain according to Ahrefs.*
- Alexa Global Rank (Alexa). Global website rank according to Alexa.
- Alexa Local Rank (Alexa). Website rank in a certain country according to Alexa.
1.9. Archived Content Overview
Before making a conclusion based on current website content, you should ‘go back in time’ and make sure there wasn’t any suspicious activity before. The easiest way to do so is to use Wayback Machine, one of the biggest web archives.
You can check website’s archive on your own, but if you’re trying to choose between many different websites and want to automate the process, you can do it with Netpeak Checker. It allows checking archived status automatically. The software provides the following types of WM data:
- Indexation. Indicates whether the target page is indexed by WM.
- First Crawled. Date when the target URL was first crawled by the WM.
- Last Crawled. Date when the target URL was last crawled by the WM.
- Last Captured URL. Last copy of the page URL captured by the WM.
- Indexed URLs. A number of website HTML pages indexed by WM.
2. Received Data Analysis
2.1. Scanning Launch
In the first part of analysis we use Netpeak Checker with Majestic, Ahrefs, Serpstat, SEMrush and Moz modules integrated via API.
- In the main menu of the program choose ‘List of URLs’ → ‘Enter manually’ to set URL (or a list of URLs if you’re interested in several different websites) for analysis.
- In the ‘Parameters’ sidebar select all parameters you’re interested in. Netpeak Checker allows you to use all groups of parameters by default, except Majestic, Ahrefs, Serpstat, SEMrush, and Moz that require paid access and API connection.
- Launch scanning. Export results by clicking on ‘Export’ button placed under the main menu bar.
2.2. Receiving Registration Data and Archived Content Overview
According to the WHOIS data, furfur.me was registered in the July 2013.The first archive record in Wayback Machine was created six months later. And to make sure there was no suspicious activity on this website we opened Wayback Machine and found first website’s archived content. It matches main concept of the website, so we don’t have any concerns.
2.3. Security Check
Website’s security check with Sucuri SiteCheck service did not reveal FurFur’s presence in any blacklist. Unfortunately, Sucuri has detected malicious code on some pages of this website.
According to the Compromised Site (Google SERP → Host parameters) parameter, a website doesn’t have 'This site may be hacked' message in Google SERP snippet.
Scanning process revealed that furfur.me has got only 2 from 17 Moz Spam Score points. It means that website has insignificant chance to get search engine penalties.
2.4. Indexation Check
According to the Netpeak Checker data, the website was successfully indexed by Google, Yandex, Bing, and Yahoo. Bing has the smallest number of indexed URLs (15700), while Google has the biggest (80600).
2.5. Link Profile Analysis
In process of analyzing the website link profile Netpeak Checker provided the following information about furfur.me:
|1||Exact mentions (Google SERP)||99600|
|2||Number of external links to the target URL (Moz)||266586|
|3||Number of root domains with any pages linking to the target URL (Moz)||603|
|4||Number of external ‘live’ backlinks (Ahrefs)||556596|
|5||Number of dofollow backlinks (Ahrefs)||523714|
|6||Number of nofollow backlinks (Ahrefs)||32398|
|7||Number of .edu backlinks (Ahrefs)||122|
|8||Number of websites referring to this domain (Alexa)||922|
|9||Number of external backlinks according to ‘historical’ index (Majestic)||1617540|
To find out how natural current site’s link profile is, we used Serpstat and its ‘Link Analysis’ tool.
The most natural anchors usually contain naked links, brand name, and common generic words or phrases like ‘click here’. Based on this, we can say that furfur.me anchor list looks absolutely natural.
The second part of backlink analysis consists of backlink donor analysis. In our case, an overwhelming majority contains Look At Media group websites. Among other donors we’ve found a lot of personal blogs, online media websites and online stores with no signs of spam.
2.6. Traffic Overview
Before making a decision about purchasing a website, you need to know the amount of its organic traffic and get an estimated number of visitors in the nearest future. For this purpose, we used Serpstat (current traffic) and SEMrush (estimated traffic) tools integrated into Netpeak Checker via API.
|1||Organic Traffic – SEMrush (google.ru): Host||98794|
|2||Organic Traffic – SEMrush (google.com.ua): Host||1967|
|3||Organic Traffic – SEMrush (google.by): Host||1939|
|4||SE Traffic – Serpstat (google.ru): Root Domain||882079|
|5||SE Traffic – Serpstat (google.com.ua): Root Domain||264613|
|6||SE Traffic – Serpstat (google.by): Root Domain||88638|
2.7. Internal Links Analysis
To perform analysis of website internal links and find some signs of spam, we used Netpeak Spider. We have analyzed internal links anchors of selected pages’ trying to find anything inappropriate or spam-looking.
We analyzed a list of external websites that FurFur was linked to in the same way and didn’t find any pages with suspicious or spammy content.
We’re also interested in external links number. It must be mostly lower than a number of backlinks. Otherwise, the website supposedly was making money by selling links.
For accurate calculations we launch full crawling with Netpeak Spider and turn off all unnecessary parameters, except for ‘External Links’. After completing the crawling we need to export a table with scanning results, remove duplicates and repeating social links, and summarize external links number.
2.8. Trust Score Calculation
MozTrust relative index (Moz → Root Domain parameters) was chosen as a key metric for measuring website trust. FurFur was rated as 4.95. It is a good rate for such websites. To make a comparison, we took several niche media websites with a similar audience. Their MozTrust rates varied between 4.19 and 5.64 out of 10.
2.9. Ranking Scores Calculation
The main website ranking scores include metrics from Moz, Ahrefs, Alexa, and SEMrush described in paragraph 1.8. We received furfur.me ranking data using their functionality within Netpeak Checker.
|1||Domain Authority – Moz: Root Domain||51.43 / 100|
|2||MozRank – Moz: Root Domain||4.95 / 10|
|3||Rank – Ahrefs: Host||230635|
|4||Domain Rating – Ahrefs: Host||61 / 100|
|5||Global Rank – Alexa: Host||62592|
|6||Local Rank – Alexa: Host||5 414|
|7||Rank – SEMrush (google.ru): Host||2725|
|8||Rank – SEMrush (google.com.ua): Host||3896|
|9||Rank – SEMrush (google.by): Host||3896|
Moz Domain Authority metric is a 100-point logarithmic scale for measuring website's popularity, so it is fair to say that every subsequent ten points require more efforts than previous. In case of FurFur this metric is a bit higher than 50 points. It is above the average niche media websites with a similar audience (Wonderzine.com: 49.36, Comma.com.ua: 30.31). Domain Rating, a similar metric from Ahrefs, has the same scores.
You can also use SEMrush Rank to calculate website’s position in global domain rating. It depends on selected search engine (we took three Google regional versions: Google Ukraine, Google Belarus, and Google Russia). Indicator value is interpreted according to the principle ‘the closer to one the better’. The highest positions were found in Russian Google SERP.
Local and global rankings are measured with MozRank, Alexa Global Rank и Alexa Local Rank (for the main website’s region according to Alexa).
MozRank, just as well as MozTrust, accepts values from 0 to 10. In case of furfur.me this indicator is 4.95. The average value for niche varies from 3.94 to 5.84.
After completing furfur.me comprehensive analysis, we can say that this website is a steal :)
Evaluating existing website or domain for further purchase requires comprehensive analysis according to several groups of indicators:
- Domain history, its creation and expiry date
- Security issues
- Search engine indexing
- Link profile
- Organic and paid traffic
- Domain trust level
- Internal and external links analysis
- Ranking scores analysis
To perform such analysis, you need to use several tools including Netpeak Spider, Serpstat and Netpeak Checker with Moz, Ahrefs and SEMrush parameters integrated via API.
What instruments do you use for website evaluation? Which metrics do you trust more than others? Share your experience with us! We’ll be glad to add your recommendations and make this checklist even more useful.
And of course, our team is ready to answer all your questions in the comment below.