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Buying an existing website or online business can be an excellent investment with high ROI, but there’s also the potential to lose some or all of your investment if things don’t go as planned. The period immediately following the acquisition is important, and there are some specific steps you should take to start making progress right away.
This article guides you through the crucial steps you should undertake after buying a website or online business. These steps will ensure a seamless changeover, minimize potential disruptions, and set you on the path toward achieving your objectives.
1. Complete the Transfer and Stabilize the Business
Of course, the first step is to complete the transfer from the buyer. Many acquisitions involve an escrow service like escrow.com, which protects both the buyer and seller.
If you use an escrow service, follow their instructions carefully to complete the transfer process smoothly. You’ll need to ensure you have received all the assets and details from the seller, including domain name ownership, website files, products (digital or physical), account logins, documentation standard operating procedures (SOPs), etc.
After you’ve received everything and confirmed that it’s in good and working condition, you can release the funds to the seller, which completes the transfer process.
Once the transfer is complete, it’s essential to stabilize the business as soon as possible. This means ensuring all functions and processes are running smoothly. If the website was moved to a new host as part of the transition, you’ll need to test and ensure it works as it should.
2. Complete a Site Audit
Completing a full site audit is important because it helps you identify issues that must be addressed. And since the website will be new to you, the audit will help you become more familiar with the site and its content while improving issues.
Semrush is my favorite tool for completing site audits. A free audit is available, but you’ll get much more in-depth information if you have a paid plan.
Identify and Fix Technical Issues
A website’s technical issues can negatively impact user experience and search engine rankings. Some common technical issues include broken links, 4xx errors, 5xx errors, redirect loops, and more.
Semrush’s site audit tool will identify these issues for you, and then you can start working on fixing them. Fixing these issues can be time-consuming, depending on the site’s size and the number of issues found. However, it’s an essential step because it ensures the foundation of your site.
Improve Page Speed and Core Vitals
In addition to technical issues, another crucial aspect of a site audit is assessing the website’s page speed and core vitals. These factors greatly impact user experience and can also impact search engine rankings.
With Semrush, you can check the website’s page speed and core vitals and get recommendations on how to improve them. Depending on the situation and your experience/skills, you may need to hire a web developer to help. If you don’t already have a developer you work with, you can find developers on Upwork who specialize in page speed optimization.
Identify and Fix SEO Issues
Lastly, a site audit can also help identify SEO issues that must be addressed. This includes checking for duplicate content, missing meta descriptions, missing alt tags, and more.
You may also choose to do a full audit of the site’s existing content. This involves evaluating each page individually to determine if it should be kept as is, updated and improved, or removed from the site.
While a content audit is another time-consuming process, the results can more than justify the time. Content-based websites can become bloated over time, and if the content has not been pruned and updated, the site may have a lot of content that doesn’t provide value to visitors. Cleaning up these issues can help all of the site’s content perform better.
From my experience, a full site audit is possibly the most important part of acquiring and improving a website. When I buy a site, the content audit helps me set a plan going forward. After the audit, I have a big list of pages that need to be updated or re-written. For me, updating existing content usually takes priority over creating new content.
3. Implement Quick Improvements
One of the keys to successful website flipping is identifying simple ways to increase a website’s profitability. Hopefully, you’ve identified a few possibilities before acquiring the site, and now it’s time to put them into action.
The specific details will vary depending on the site, but here are some common possibilities:
- Put ads on the site. If the site doesn’t currently include display ads (for example, if it’s monetized only through affiliate programs), you can probably get an immediate boost by putting ads on the site.
- Move to a better ad network. Premium ad networks like Mediavine and Raptive typically outperform AdSense and smaller ad networks by a wide margin.
- Include product comparison tables. Affiliate and e-commerce conversions can be improved by creating comparison tables with tools like Lasso or Affiliatable.
- Include promo boxes with content. You can easily get more visibility for e-commerce or affiliate offers with attention-grabbing boxes created with Lasso or Affiliatable.
- Negotiate higher affiliate commissions. Many affiliate marketers overlook the possibility of negotiating higher payouts. Reach out to the affiliate managers and see if you can negotiate a higher payout.
- Ad more calls to action. Many websites underperform simply because there are not enough calls to action. Adding calls to action can drastically improve conversion rates.
These types of changes don’t take a lot of time to implement, and they start producing results immediately. With a relatively small effort, you may be able to increase revenue and profit significantly.
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4. Operational Analysis
After you take over a new online business, it’s worth evaluating the current processes and procedures. This analysis allows you to identify areas for improvement, streamline operations, and potentially reduce costs.
Consider the following questions:
- Are there any recurring expenses that can be reduced or eliminated?
- Are there tools or software that can automate or streamline certain tasks?
- Is time being devoted to the most important tasks that generate revenue?
- Are there any bottlenecks in the current processes that are causing delays or inefficiencies?
You don’t have to continue running the business the same way that the seller ran it. You can optimize the business to run more efficiently and profitably by evaluating and making necessary changes. After an acquisition, it’s the perfect time to evaluate the daily operations and identify any areas that should be improved.
5. Organize Your Team
If the seller had employees, contractors, or freelancers in place, chances are, you’ll want to continue working with them at least for a while to ensure a smooth transition. However, you may want to adjust some roles, add more team members, or replace team members who aren’t a good fit.
It’s essential to clearly define each team member’s responsibilities, objectives, and expected deliverables. Communication is crucial during this transitional period. Make sure you communicate regularly with your team members and keep them informed about any changes or updates.
6. Address Accessibility Issues
Another critical aspect to consider after an acquisition is the website’s accessibility. This includes ensuring that the site is accessible to users with disabilities.
Make sure the website meets WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards and follows best practices for accessibility. accessiBe offers a free site audit that provides a detailed report on your site’s accessibility. accessiBe also offers a very simple and affordable way to ensure accessibility and compliance.
It’s very possible that the website you purchased may have accessibility issues. As the site’s new owner, you’re now responsible for any issues, so it’s important to address them promptly. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it can also help you avoid potential legal issues.
Accessibility compliance can be complicated, but accessiBe makes it easy. Simpy install a small piece of code on your site or use their WordPress plugin, and accessiBe takes care of the rest. You'll get regular audits and certifications to keep your site compliant.
7. Establish Your Marketing Plan
Once you’ve addressed any immediate issues and optimized the website’s operations, it’s time to focus on growing the business. Developing a marketing plan is crucial for driving traffic, increasing revenue, and building brand awareness.
Consider your target audience and determine which marketing channels will most effectively reach them. This could include social media ads, content marketing, email marketing, or influencer partnerships. Set specific goals and metrics for each marketing channel, and regularly review and adjust your strategy based on the results.
Acquiring an existing website or online business can be a smart and profitable investment. However, taking the necessary steps after the purchase is essential to ensure a smooth and successful transition. By implementing quick improvements, analyzing and optimizing operations, organizing your team, addressing accessibility issues, and establishing a solid marketing plan, you can set yourself up for success in growing and profiting