How Can I Increase the Value of My Website?
Here’s the first Any Questions post. Got a question? Ask away.
“What value would you put on my website & why?”
This questions comes from
paper billionaire Andrew Mason from Groupon Rishi from Designer-Watches.org.
The site gets 50-100 visits/day and is a watches affiliate site.
Good question. But since Clinton Lee from Experienced-People.Net wrote an awesome article on this very topic, I’m not going to try and better it.
Instead, I will answer a related question…
“How Can I Increase the Value of My Website?”
The glib answer you always hear is “more traffic, more revenue”. But the reality is rather more interesting.
When I make an offer on a website, it’s based on three things:
#1. Value to me
I’m interested in what a site is worth to me – not what the owner thinks or hopes it worth. As you might imagine, there’s often a gap.
Are rankings a house of cards? Or has the site been around for 10 years & steady?
#3. Resale value
If the project doesn’t work out, how much am I likely to recoup on the project?
Fix Those Little Problems
In short: the easiest way to increase the selling price is to fix the things that is putting buyers off.
The bigger the pool of potential buyers, the higher price you can negotiate.
While you can’t do much about what a site is worth to me, you can do a huge amount about risk, resale value and a buyer’s perception of the two.
Example: I’ve had four serious approaches to buy Who Is Hosting This.com in the last twelve months.
If I ever decide to sell up – having the buyers approach you is a good starting point.
And you do that by making sure you learn…
How to Build Affiliate Sites That Don’t Suck
The term ‘thin affiliate’ is thrown about a lot.
But few people talk about how to build affiliate sites that don’t suck.
Rae Hoffman has written a few awesome posts on this very subject (see ‘Further Reading’ below).
I don’t want to cover the same ground she has, so I’m going to delve into a few specifics.
But I will borrow her term & suggest that you want to think about “building affiliate brands”.
#1. Premium Domains
…are especially desirable in saturated markets. If you’re operating in a niche where the only available-to-register domains are three hyphenated dot biz domains – you need to think aftermarket domains at Sedo, Flippa etc etc.
I know I’m always banging on about the value of quality domains for affiliates – see my post on Code.co.uk being for sale – but it’s a simple way to stand out from the crowd as an affiliate.
That’s especially true if you operate in a space full of thin affiliate sites with poor quality domains.
To take the example of Designer-Watches.org, the hyphenated .org domain makes me think thin affiliate. You’ll also be leaking traffic to DesignerWatches.org.
Can you imagine a big time brand using Designer-Watches.org as their URL?
Take a look on Sedo. These domains are all for sale:
- DesignerWatches.net – $3,388
- DesignerWatches.co.uk – Offers
- DesignerWatch.co.uk – Offers
DesignerWatch.org is also parked, suggesting it might be for sale.
The simple fact is it’d be far easier to shift DesignerWatches.com than Designer-Watches.org, so premium domains help with resale value. And that means a larger pool of buyers.
Compare & contrast with some examples like…
- Poker.org.uk (See this blog post)
Each is an affiliate site. Each tells you exactly what it does before you’ve ever clicked a link. Each is a name that you’ll remember & recall, and that means return traffic. Each means instant trust (to a degree).
(Please remember that moving domains can risk rankings – may post on this topic later).
#2. Multiple Income Streams
All revenue at Designer-Watches.org appears to come from eBay Partner Network.
That means you’re vulnerable in all sorts of situations.
- eBay could decide to kick off smaller affiliates
- You might accidentally fall foul of eBay’s T&Cs
- eBay may decide they no longer need affiliates full stop (as they did with AdWords)
Any of these would mean your site lost all income.
I’d look at other retailers to add. Amazon.com is a good fit, as well as specialist watch retailers.
If the idea of messing about with all their affiliate links makes your heart sink, take a look at SkimLinks.
#3. Defensible Traffic
I’m guessing that almost all your traffic comes from search engines.
Google’s attitude to thin affiliates is well documented, so that makes your site vulnerable.
I’d be thinking about…
- What could you add that would generate direct traffic?
- How could you get integrated with Firefox plugins & search toolbars?
- How can you build relationships with other webmaters in your niche?
- How could you become the destination site for designer watches?
And if you are running thin affiliate sites, make sure they don’t look like thin affiliate sites.
Take a look at one of Aaron Wall’s posts on Mahalo for tips on that.
#4. Defensible Rankings
I’d far rather buy a site that generates links on auto pilot than a site where each and every link is begged or bought.
Sounds obvious… but few affiliates seem to think along these lines.
- What could you add to the site that would generate links?
- What would get your competitors linking to you?
- What would make you the go to source in your industry?
I know everyone dozes off at the 156th mention of ‘quality content’ – and rightly so – but there are alternatives.
- Stock art
- Free content
- Accepting guest posts
#5. Unique content
Your site uses API/datafeed content from eBay heavilly.
Not only are you competing with eBay to rank for that content, but the other 1000s of sites running WP Robot.
Reworking datafeed content into unique content is going to work wonders for your traffic, and make the site a far more exciting prospect for a potential buyers.
If you don’t fancy writing 250,000 words about watches, take a look at…
#5. Quality Design
You don’t have to blow $1000s on a custom WordPress theme.
But even $20 spent getting a custom WordPress header will make that site look 10x better.
And pretty sites sell (although plenty of people will tell you that ugly sites earn).
Try 99Designs or the usual suspects for outsourcing.
Rishi, I’ll be checking up in six months time to ensure you’ve put my 24 carat solid gold advice into practice and are the prowd owner of DesignerWatches.com
In the mean time, check our Rishi’s blog at explicitly.me or his Twitter feed @rishil.
Got a question you’d like me to answer? Ask away or via Twitter @QualityNonsense.
- How To Survive the Affiliate Evolution – Rae Hoffman
- Examples in Affiliate Branding – Rae Hoffman
- Why Google Hates Affiliates – SEO Book
- Ranking Affiliate Sites vs Corporate Search Engine Marketer – SEO Book
- SelfMadeMinds.com for Al Carlton’s posts on building Coolest-Gadgets.com
- 10 Tips On Using oDesk to Outsource Your Life
There are sites that give you an estimate of your sites worth but I think it’s based on traffic and backlinks. Very good post!!
SEO Expert and Marketing Strategist
You mentioned “ebay could decide to kick off smaller affiliates” and that is the fear of working with any affilliate. I believe that whatever we do, we have to plan way ahead i.e. to be able to continue our business even if these “partners” change policies to try and squeeze out middle men who have actually supported them for years.
Yes, the risk as an affiliate is that you are essentially reactive.
That’s why I try to aim for sectors where you are not at the mercy of one company’s whims.
So saturated sectors are perversely a good bet, because you at least have the choice of working with many partners.
Fantastic post, Richard, and thanks for mentioning me.
I completely agree with all you’ve said on points like multiple income streams. If you are limited to just one revenue source make sure it’s a big name, well established programs that buyers are likely to see as a good long term bet.
I also agree on the secure sources of traffic. If a site relies on Google for more than 20-30% of traffic I would pay less for it rather than more. However, at the lower end of the market a different mentality seems to prevails and buyers often pay more for a well SEOed site that’s doing well with the SEs.
I just stumbled across this blog post after contacting you via the form. I was wondering how you manage all of the affiliate links on http://whoishostingthis.com/ ? Do you use Skimlinks as mentioned in the article?