When buying an Amazon affiliate website there are several little tips and tricks you can use to make sure you don't get ripped off. Because lets face it, internet marketing and affiliate marketing is full of scammers than want nothing
more than to sell you something that simply doesn't work, then close their PayPal account and run off with your hard earned cash.
Here are 10 no fluff easy to follow tips for buying an Amazon affiliate website.
While this first tip might be obvious to some, many people are unaware that there are many website brokers and auction sites that help protect you to some degree from fraud/scams when buying websites online. These brokers act as middle men between you and the seller.
So the brokers often verify the claims of the seller such as website traffic, affiliate earnings, status of the domain in Google. They also handle all payments so you don't have to hand your credit card over to a random company. This significantly lowers the risk of you being a victim of a scam.
Another advantage of using a broker to buy a website is that you can view the history of the website seller. If they've already sold 30 Amazon affiliate websites and have excellent feedback/reviews from all their past buyers then this significantly lowers the risk you are taking.
Here are the top 3 most popular website brokers and auction sites:
If you are buying through an auction website or a broker service like the ones mentioned above then they'll most likely verify some of the claims of the seller however they'll never look as deeply as a suspicious buyer will (you).
And if they are not using a broker/auction website and you are buying your Amazon affiliate website off someone from a Facebook group or an internet marking forum then these next steps are critical. Treat every purchase suspiciously.
Ask to verify every claim with responsible proof. Lets go through some scenarios.
Website claims to have high traffic
If the website you are buying claims to have high traffic don't just take the website sellers word for it. You can do your own verification. Remember screen shots can easily be forged so ask for a video of their Google Analytics, or even better ask for read only access to their Google Analytics. That way you can verify the traffic numbers without any risk to the seller of you breaking anything in the account.
Is the traffic actually real
Another little trick some scam artists use when selling their websites is to artificially inflate their traffic statistics with bot (fake) traffic. This is incredibly easy and cheap to do. You can even buy it as a Gig from Fiverr. The best way to check for this type of fake traffic on a website you are considering buying is to look at the source and behaviour of the traffic. If most of the traffic is coming directly (not from Google or social), not clicking anything then always leaving after a few seconds then its probably fake. You can dig even deeper if the seller will give you the server logs. This will allow you to get the IP addresses of the visitors and check if the traffic is from proxy IP addresses (servers people use to hide their real IP address) or from real residential (home users) IP addresses. Things are getting a bit complex now I know but my point is you have a lot of options to verify the authenticity of the traffic.
If they claim their website earns $2000 per month in Amazon affiliate commission we should verify that. While a screenshot of their earnings is better than nothing it can still be forged very easily. While its very easy to grant read only access to a service like Google analytics for potential buyers to verify stats its harder for most affiliate systems like the Amazon affiliate program. We do have other options though. We can ask for a recorded video of them clicking around their Amazon account showing their earnings and other stats or better yet ask to view a screen share and watch them through TeamViewer showing their earnings and stats.
Large email list
If they claim they have a large email list ask if its GDPR compliant and ask for a small sample set with their opt in details such as email, IP address and time. You should be able to work out from a set of 100 emails if they are valid or not. You can check the IP address types, see if the emails look real etc. Another little potential issue to look out for when buying a website with a large email list is the health of the domain with regards to inboxing. If you have a 20,000 big double opt in list of buyers thats amazing but if so many spammy emails have been sent by the seller in the past that none of the emails are inboxing (being delivered) then its pretty much useless. Fixable, but useless in that state.
Large social media following
If they claim they have a large social media following take a look at their social accounts to not just verify the numbers but check if the followers are real. You can buy thousands of fake Twitter and Instagram followers on Fiverr dirt cheap. Services like Social Blade will show you how people interact with their social media content. If they have 20,000 Instagram followers but when they publish content no one interacts with it (low engagement rate) then their followers/fans could be fake bots.
Last but absolutely not least, ask to verify ownership yourself. Give them a text file and ask them to upload it to the root of their website and see if you can access it. For example https://www.example.com/verify.txt.
So you've found your dream website you want to buy. It is Amazing, its got good affiliate earnings and a bad ass Instagram account that drives 80% of the buying traffic to the website. You negotiate a great price, think you've got a bargain and pay.
A few days later you get the websites hosting details but where are the login details for the Instagram account? You contact the seller, who says it wasn't included in the sale! You double check the listing on Flippa and it mentions the the account but it doesn't actually say its part of the sale!
I've seen this countless times. People buying a website to find that the email list, the Twitter account, the Facebook group, the Instagram account, the private blog network are not included in the sale. Make sure you discuss in detail with the seller what assets are included in the sale. If you are unsure just ask, and remember to keep screenshots of your conversation if its conducted outside of a website buying/selling marketplace such as the ones mentioned earlier just in case you need evidence when raising a buyers dispute via PayPal.
As we discussed earlier if you are buying through a broker/auction/marketplace you should be able to see the history of a website seller and if they have no history the broker should offer you some level of protection. It's still a good idea to ask for the exact domains they've sold recently though. Then you can reach out to the sellers recent buyers and ask how their experience went when buying from that particular seller.
If you feel this is a little intrusive you can just check out the sold website's traffic with SEMRush or ahrefs. If you see their traffic drops post sale then you know something is up. We'll cover shortly what some of these traffic dropping risks might be.
If you are not buying through a broker or marketplace then you can try to obtain the history and authenticity of the seller in other ways. Lets go through some more scenarios.
So you see someone on a Facebook group trying to sell their website. As mentioned above ask for past websites, if they don't have any make sure you Pay though PayPal and keep screenshots of all the terms you agree. A formal contract would be even better. Ask for screen shares of all the traffic stats and earnings. Check the sellers Facebook profile, does it look real and aged. Often scammers who sell websites will setup a facebook account, sell
SEO/Internet marketing forum
So you've meet someone on an internet marketing or SEO forum who wants to sell their Amazon affiliate website. First, how established is the seller on this platform? Are they a senior, trusted and well respected member of the forum. Or are they a brand new account setup very recently. If so alarm bells should go off. Often scammers setup forum accounts, sell their website then revoke access (we'll cover this shortly) or ask for payment first then deliver nothing and disappear. If they are an established member you should have no problem looking through the members past posts and sales and asking around the forum about them.
When buying an Amazon affiliate website make sure its had its first payout already. A website is no good if its got $5,000 monthly earnings but its yet to get its first payout. Often Amazon affiliate websites will not get their first payout if they are found to be violating the Amazon affiliate programs terms of business in any way. The account maybe even get banned.
The same goes for Adsense or any payment gateways that might be in use.
Stable evergreen niche websites typically sell for around 2 years of their predicted income. If the traffic is growing and the niche is booming then the seller might know the potential and ask for 3 years worth. If the traffic is steadily declining he might only ask for 1 years worth for earnings.
When buying directly from a seller negotiation is always an option. Make a list of all the flaws and risks in the website and how much each one will cost to fix and ask the seller to reduce the price of the website accordingly. Lets look at some examples.
We'll cover this in more detail below but if you believe the sellers website is using grey hat or black hat links to rank and drive traffic then show the seller how much it would cost to replace these links with safe white hat links. If the website recevies a Google penalty for unnatural link building it will be next to worthless. Trending items
If the website you are buying specialises in one niche or maybe even one item will the demand for that niche/item decline imminently? If so ask the seller to reduce the price accordingly. Fidget spinners are a good example.
In my experience the best types of Amazon affiliate websites to buy are the ones that are simply unloved and the seller is selling them not with the sole aim of making a profit but simply because he/she doesn't have time to grow them anymore. If the webmaster was passionate about their niche the content will be great and great content attracts links and good safe organic growth. These types of hobby websites are often often ran by people who are not Amazon affiliate pro's so there is normally plenty of room of SEO optimization, Click Through Rate improvement and copy improvement.
The Amazon affiliate program can be rather strict about the type of traffic you are allowed to monitise. The first two things to do is to simply ask the seller what type of traffic they are earning commission from then the second thing to do is check the Amazon affiliate programs terms of business to see if this traffic is safe or not. Once the seller has told you what type of traffic (SEO, Social, Paid, Email) they are driving to the website they are selling you need to verify this. Websites like SimilarWeb allow you to view a websites traffic sources for free.
Traffic means sales, and the best way to get SEO traffic to an Amazon affiliate website is to build, buy or earn backlinks to your content. Because of this many website owners will take short cuts. They will use the types of backlink building that the Google webmaster guidelines prohibits. Which if we're going to be honest is any back link building where someone doesn't link to you of their own free will. Many website owners build whats called a Private Blog Network or they buy backlinks from whats called a Public Blog Network.
These are networks of expired domains that businesses no longer require. Once these domains have expired website owners buy them, slap some low quality content on them and point links from them to their Amazon affiliate websites. This results in more backlink juice flowing to them so they get more Google rankings and in turn more traffic.
Now there are two major problems when you buy a website that makes use of these types of links.
Removal of backlinks
If the seller is boosting their websites rankings with their own private blog network then after the sale the seller might simply remove all these powerful backlinks and the websites rankings and in turn traffic then earnings could drop significantly.
Risk of Google penalties
Websites being boosted up Google by private blog networks run the risk of penalities from Google but websites being boosted up Google by public blog networks have a much greater risk of being penalised and deindexed by Google because they are typically of a lower quality. They often use spun content (automatically generated) and link out to very black hat niches such as adult and gambling. All this makes it very easy for Google to find and deindex websites receiving backlinks from them.
A healthy and balanced backlink profile is essential to survive all future Google updates and avoid backlink based penalties.
We've covered how risky backlinks can get your newly purchased website deindexed. Now lets look at how risky website content can get a website deindexed. The risks below should all be considered when buying an Amazon affiliate website.
Check that the websites content is actually unique to their website and they simply haven't copied it from other affiliates. Amazon has often banned low quality websites that have simply copied content from other websites.
Amazon has strict policies about the type of websites that can make use of their affiliate program. If you are looking at buying an Amazon affiliate website that has adult, illegal or misleading content you risk getting your account banned by Amazon.
Once you've paid for your new website remember to revoke all access so the buyer can no longer access it. A good buyer will make sure you do this. For your sake but also for theirs so they can't be accused of making any unauthorised changes to your website.
Here are a few common services and types of access they should handover and you should revoke access to.
The administrator account is the big obvious one here but remember to check for other accounts within WordPress.
Revoking FTP is essential so they can't upload their own files and modify your website.
This is another god mode access type. If they retain SSH access they can do anything to your server. However not all hosting packages come with SSH access.
If they are handing over the hosting as well as the domain then the access to this account will also need changing. Remember to change the email and password reset details as well as just the password itself.
Domain registrar login
Remember to change the registrar login if its separate from the hosting package.
If its WordPress like most Amazon affiliate websites are remember to check which plugins are in use and potentially change any logins for these.
Amazon affiliate account login
If they are handing over the amazon account its self remember to change the login, email and password reset details.
You know that saying "live by the sword, die by the sword"? It's the same for black hat SEO and marketing techniques. Its your choice if you use them but you need to be aware of what they are and their dangers so you can spot if a website you are considering buying is making use of them.
We've already covered this one but if you are buying an Amazon affiliate website with a black hat backlink profile then be aware you risk getting the website being deindexed and losing all traffic.
Sometimes website owners use sophisticated software to clone websites in real time and insert their own affiliate links into the clone websites content. While this might work short term it will eventually get deindexed or banned by Amazon.
Websites that make use of doorway pages are websites that show one thing to Google and other to the user that visits the website. Again they normally get deindexed eventually.
Amazon click jacking
This is when users click one thing on a website not related to Amazon and it automatically opens an Amazon affiliate link with the purpose of dropping the Amazon affiliate cookie. This will get your Amazon account banned.
Asking users to click a link through to Amazon for some sort of incentive will also get your account banned.
Amazon cookie stuffing
This is where as soon as you open a website it opens an iframe or automatically redirects you to Amazon to drop their affiliate link. This will also get your Amazon account banned.
When you are buying a website you should check and see if any of these black hat techniques are in use.
We hope you've enjoyed reading these tips to make sure you get the smoothest purchase possible.
We'd really appreciate a share if you have.
Remember to conduct your due diligence and proceed with caution.
It's true there are some scammers out there but there are also some great sellers and websites waiting to be purchased.