Buying Your First Website: A Case Study

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As the new marketing manager at Flippa.com, my first week was spent learning as much about our marketplace and users as I could. There’s no substitute for eating one’s own dog food, however; so one weekend I purchased my first website from the Flippa.com marketplace. Here’s the what, why, and how I went about my marketplace introduction.

Choosing an Auction

The website that caught my eye was pregnancyworkoutdvd.com. Why did this grab my attention? Quite simple really: my wife’s expecting so I have pregnancy on the brain (if you’re reading this darling, no, you look fine, you don’t need to workout!). The site was at the lower end of the market in terms of price so it was a good way to dip my toe in to test the waters.

Using the analogy of stocks, this type of purchase is a speculative investment. The website is young, making no money, and will need time spent on it creating more content, but it has a solid foundation and ticks some important boxes.

What follows is the due diligence and domain analysis I did that led me to my first website purchase.

Keyword Research

This website is clearly targeted at people searching in Google for the keyword phrase “pregnancy workout dvd”; so the first step is to find out how many searches are being performed on this phrase. There are a stack of keyword research tools out there, for purchase or freely available, but Google’s Keyword Tool will do the trick (it’s free!), giving me a rough indication of the number of searches being performed for this keyword phrase.

Figure 1. Google’s Keyword Tool

Google’s Keyword Tool


As you can see in the above figure, Google’s Keyword Tool suggests that “pregnancy workout dvd” receives 6,600 searches monthly. That’s 220 searches per day, which is reasonably healthy for a highly targeted niche such as this. Google results are generally on the optimistic side, so let’s round it down to 200. If I’m ranked #1 for this keyword, I might expect to receive about 56% of the search traffic (according to a Cornell University study); that’s about 120 visitors per day.

Competition Analysis

Next, we want to find out how competitive this niche is. Competition analysis is an in-depth topic, so it’s worth checking out some of the posts on sitepoint.com for more details. For basic metrics, I use Firefox with the SEO Quake Extension to display competition information, which will indicate the degree of difficulty achieving a #1 ranking for this site. The current #1 ranked site in Google’s results has the keywords in the title and a PR (page rank) of 3, but the keyword phrase is excluded from the domain name, another factor that can influence search rankings.

Figure 2. The SEO Quake Firefox Extension

The SEO Quake Firefox Extension


Another simple metric I use to establish competition is to find out how many other pages appear in Google for a phrase search. In this case there are 8,040 other pages in Google’s index:

Figure 3. Competition research

Competition research


A result of 8,040 is low. Anything under 100,000 results means that the niche isn’t oversaturated. Try some other searches and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m happy with this niche; there’s reasonable traffic available for the keyword and I’m satisfied that despite the competition, I’ll still be able to rank well for this search phrase. So how much should I pay for this website?

Website Valuation

In this particular case, the site isn’t generating revenue. The Flippa.com stats, available to the right of the auction or through a quick Whois search, tells me that it’s less than a month old. There’s no data available for the domain on SEMrush.com (another handy keyword research tool), but a basic search for the core keyword phrase on Google shows that the site is already ranking at position #8. That’s fairly good for a site less than a month old; shows that the developers know their stuff.

Other Important Items to Check

  • Copyscape—make sure the site doesn’t just duplicate content from another. This particular site lists DVDs for sale with blurbs referenced from Amazon, so I’m comfortable with a little bit of duplicated content.

  • Google Analytics Traffic—if there are no traffic stats already listed on Flippa.com, you can request them. In this case I probably should have done so, but I was satisfied with the other metrics.

  • Seller Profile—make sure the seller has a good trust rating on Flippa.com.

Being a WordPress fan I was also happy to find that this site uses WordPress, therefore making it easy for me to update and add content.

Even though I’m proficient at using WordPress and can cobble together a site, if I wanted to build this from scratch and do some basic search engine optimization, I know it would take me about 10 hours of work. That was the clincher. After all the research, $397 seemed like a reasonable price to pay for a site that would take me 10 hours to build and gain a ranking.

If you’d like to learn more about choosing a niche, developing a site, and gaining a ranking, check out The Thirty Day Challenge; it’s a great (and free) resource for learning the finer details.

What Next?

In a coming post, I’ll share some of the steps you need to take after your bid has been accepted and you’re ready to take ownership of a website.

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