I just realized it has been 2 months since the last post in this series.  I’m glad you are all patiently waiting.

In Part I, I explain why it is advantageous to buy aged/neglected sites directly from the original owners.

In Part II, I show you how to estimate a site’s traffic to help you get an idea of the value.

In this post, I’ll be showing you how to essentially short-list all the sites on the internet to just the ones that you might want to acquire.

Warning: This is a highly theoretical post.  There are MANY ways to build this list.  I programmed it myself in PHP/MySQL.  There are definitely other ways to do it.  Also, this is not a programming class.  There are a billion resources on the net if you want to learn how to program.  You’ll have to Google it.  Don’t ask programming questions here.  If you’re afraid to learn how to program, you can always find someone on Odesk or Freelancer to do the programming stuff for you.

Find Every Domain that Might be Worth Something

There are over 200 million domain names currently registered.  It wouldn’t make sense to manually estimate traffic and visit each one.  We are going to get a list of domains, and build a robot to create traffic estimates for every single one.

Start with the Alexa Top 1,000,000 domain list: http://s3.amazonaws.com/alexa-static/top-1m.csv.zip

Next, grab the Quantcast top 1,000,000 domain list: http://ak.quantcast.com/quantcast-top-million.zip

There will definitely be some overlap between these two lists, so you’ll want to build a script to somehow remove duplicates.

Narrow Down by TLD

At this point, you have a database of over a million unique domain names.  Each domain must have a morsel of value since it made it on either the Alexa or Quantcast top million list.

The first problem is that there are probably a bunch of international domains that you don’t want to waste your time with.  Or maybe there are international domains that you want to focus on.  Build a script to narrow down your list to just your target TLDs.  For example, I just focused on domains ending in: .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, etc.  I removed any with the ending .cn, .se, etc.

Collect all Traffic Indicators for Every Domain

In terms of programming, this is probably the most difficult.  You are going to want to build some sort of web scraper/API puller/etc to get data on every one of the domains remaining on your list.  Your final goal will be a database full of information about every single domain that is on your list.  There are probably 800k websites still on your list, so doing this manually is an epic waste of time.

The info you should have on each site should be:

Domain Age

The year that the site was registered is sufficient.  My script would look up each site in WayBackMachine and pull the year that the first copy was archived.  I’m 100% positive there are a dozen better ways to do this, however that is for you to figure out.

Alexa Rank

I built my script two years ago, so I believe things have changed.  You can get an API to pull Alexa information, but it looks like it is not completely free anymore.  I’m sure there’s a way pull the alexa rank for each site for free if you keep working at it.

Check out: http://www.alexa.com/siteowners/data

SEMRush Data

You could get away with just grabbing the Organic Search Traffic estimate, but it you might want to save more than just that in your database.  For example, if you also save the SEM data, this will tell you if the site is currently paying for ads on Google Adwords.  If a site is still paying for ads, it is a tell-tale sign that it is NOT neglected.

Check out: http://www.semrush.com/api.html

Compete

You’ll also want to gather the Compete Estimated Traffic figures for each and every site on your list.  From what I remember, I was limited to 1,000 API calls with the free version.  I set up a cronjob to make sure I got my 1,000 API calls each day, and I might have only grabbed Compete data for sites that already had decent ages, alexa rank and acceptable SEMRush data.

Check out: https://www.compete.com/developer/

Quantcast

From what I remember, I simply could not figure out how to get this one to work.  I figured I had enough data about each site already, but it definitely would be nice to also get a Quantcast rank for each of the sites in your database.

Again, I built my script about 2 years ago.  Today, you might want to check out: http://www.quantcast.com/learning-center/guides/quantcast-silverlight-api-guide/

Other Info Worth Gathering

If you can already fill your database with the above stats, you’ll have a great resource to really narrow down a list of 20-80k sites that would be worth buying.  However, there is a ton more info you can scrape from each site to help narrow down your list further:

  • Adsense – If a site already has adsense on it, odds are that the owner will know roughly what the income potential is, and therefor not be willing to sell it super cheap.
  • Guestbooks/Webrings/Frontpage – If you come up with a list of archaic web buzzwords, you could automatically check every site to see which sites on your list still have these words present.
  • Whois Contact – It would definitely keep things organized if you can gather the contact info for every single site on your list.

Complete Your Database in a Timely Manner

My database is 2 years old.  It is pretty much useless at this point.  Things change quickly on the internet, so you’ll want to either complete your database quickly, or program your scripts in such a way that everything is always auto-updating.

Using your Database to Identify Potential Acquisitions

Your database will help take you from a million target domains down to a much more manageable number.  This will eliminate the 900k sites that don’t receive enough traffic to justify an acquisition.  Even when have a list of 50k potential targets, this is still WAY too many to try and contact every single owner.  In the next post, I’ll show you my method of streamlining the manual review that should take place before deciding to target a site.

 

After doing the Reddit IAmA, and a guest post on Flippa, I’ve been receiving quite a few emails asking questions about my business.  A few are excellent questions – clearly the person asking the question has researched the topic, read through the posts on my site and would like to get my opinion on it.  However, most fall into the “stupid questions” category.  Your elementary school teacher might have told you that there are no stupid questions, but I can prove them wrong with some of the emails I get.

Most emails do not get a response.  I simply don’t have time to tell each person why their question is stupid, so I simply don’t respond to their email.  If you didn’t get an email back, here are some possibilities as to why:

You are asking a question that has been already answered in my blog.

This makes up approximately 50% of the emails that I get.  ”How do you make money online?”.  ”How can I start my own online business?”.  If you aren’t going to take the 5 minutes to read through my public writing, why would I spend any of my own time to personally respond to your message?

You are asking for personalized help.

“Hey, I just started the website CuteDoggiePictures.com and I’m trying to get more traffic and revenue, will you look at it and give me feedback?”.  No.  Not to sound like a jerk, but I don’t have the time to give personalized feedback on your website.  Part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is being able to figure things out on your own.  Also, I’m not a consultant, so I’m not interested in taking your money to look at your website.

You are asking me if you can ask me questions.

“Hey, I’m thinking of building a website because I don’t like my job and want to make money online.  Will you be my mentor?”.  No.  Especially because you haven’t even lifted a finger yourself.  I know way too many people who are always saying they want to start a website.  They talk about it for years and years and simply never take action.  I’ve wasted tons of time coaching friends who are like this, and definitely won’t waste time coaching strangers.

Your question is either way too vague, or the answer is simply “It depends”.

“Do you think that I should advertise on Facebook?”.  How am I supposed to know?  Facebook ads obviously work for some industries/website and not at all for others.  I’m not the all-knowing-Zeus of websites.

You want to do business with me, but have nothing to offer.

My business is extremely niche, so odds are that you really have nothing of value to bring to the table, especially if you explicitly state that you are a complete newbie.  If you want to start a website with me, the answer is no.

Blog comments are MUCH more likely to receive a response.

Again, I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, I’m just being efficient.  I do receive plenty of good questions which I use to help shape some of my informative blog posts.  If you read a post and would like further clarification on something, just post a comment!  I’m much more likely to answer a question publicly where it can help hundreds of individuals rather than privately emailing one individual an answer.

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The next post in the series of finding and buying aged/neglected sites is still under development!  There is a lot of info in there and it is taking me a while to compile everything I want to say about the strategy.