You have spent countless hours over the last couple of years growing your website into a profitable online business, and now it is time to say “goodbye” and get ready to start your next adventure. If you are like many website owners who are getting ready to put their “baby” up for sale, you have probably discovered that it is not worth quite as much as you thought.
You may not be in the market to sell but feel something is stopping your business from reaching its highest potential but cannot pin point the obstacle. You may be able to pin point the obstacle but lack the experience, knowledge or creative solution necessary in order to realize the full potential of your business.
If you are in any of the above situations, read on. While it may take a little longer for you to fit all of the right pieces in this puzzle the rewards to gain are tremendous. They will make it well worth your while when you put your website up for sale or see the increase in traffic and income, ultimately increasing the value of your business.
Easy Steps to Increase the Value of Your Website
All of these steps will probably not apply to you, and that is actually a good thing. The less you need to do to increase the value of your website the faster you can make it more profitable, sell it faster, and start your next project. If you need to apply all 20 of these steps your website may not be ready to sell, unless you simply do not want to deal with the daily stress and frustration that comes with being an online business owner. Here are some easy tips and steps that will help you increase your website’s value to its full potential.
Improving the Business Side of Your Website
1. Increasing profitability
It is extremely important to remember that potential buyers want to see actual profits and not the website’s potential.
Your website should show a steady profit for at least six months before you consider putting it up for sale. There are several ways you can improve profits that can be as simple as cutting unnecessary spending and streamlining your business’s expensive account. Even taking a simple inventory of your current stock and streamlining purchasing can help improve your business’s bottom line, and have the added advantage of having the current financial information already close at hand when you are ready to sell.
2. Add reoccurring revenues
This is one of the easiest ways to increase the value of your website. A reoccurring revenue agreement is simply a source of income that is always dependable. It can include guaranteed revenue from an advertiser to a set monthly contract with a customer.
The more instances of recurring revenue you can show the easier it will be for you to attract a buyer who will be comfortable paying your asking price.
Reoccurring revenue will also give the new owner a sense of security knowing that there will be money coming in while they are learning all of the details about their new online business.
3. Keep operating procedures simple and easy
It is important to remember that while you may know every detail about your business, a new owner will probably only be familiar with the basics. During the selling process prospective buyers will look over your website’s operating procedures to see how simple or complicated the procedures are. Unless you’re lucky enough to be the proud owner of a “hot” commodity and are making a large enough profit that buyers won’t care how complicated the procedures are you will want to keep it simple and easy. This will also make it easier for your employees to follow and can increase the overall value of your website.
4. Train and keep skilled employees
Your employees are the backbone of your online business, even if you only have content writers, and this is one of the aspects prospective buyers look for.
Having well trained employees will not only make your business run more smoothly it also increases the overall value of your website.
To ensure the website’s value stays high during the selling process many online business experts recommend encouraging your key employees to remain with the company after the sale. This will give the new owner a little more time to adjust to the new business, along with making it easier for you to get the price you are asking for.
5. Keep services and products different
Even though chances are your online business is not the only one of its kind, you can still find ways to keep it fresh and different from the competitors.
Showing prospective buyers that you do have something different to offer can substantially increase the value of your website.
It can be as simple as promoting any patents your website might hold to a key employee that is breaking all sales records. Having a unique product or service tied in can keep your website new and fresh and attract qualified buyers who are willing to pay the full value for your website.
6. Clean up any loose ends
First impressions are important, and this is especially true when it comes to a potential buyer determining the value of your website. The first aspect a buyer will see generally is the business structure and well organized operation. Contracts that are not completely filled out and signed, along with invoices that are not properly filed, collected on, or filed can all be seen as a warning sign that your business may not be entirely ready to sell. A buyer is generally looking for a company that is already established and functioning professionally so all they have to do is come in and start collecting the profits.
Taking a few minutes to clean up any of the loose ends can make a huge difference in the price you are able to get for your website.
Improving the Business Brand
This is just as important as the business side of your website, and it will also help determine the value. These tips are quick and easy to implement, and you will be glad you did when the money from the sale finally goes into your bank account.
7. The domain name
Your domain name is extremely important and there are a few things you will want to consider that can help increase the value of your website. This can include the age and length of the domain name, along with how difficult it is to remember or simply type in. Older ones that are shorter in length are generally valued higher, and this can increase if the domain name is also simple and easy to spell.
Remember, you want your visitors to be able to quickly type in your domain name so they can easily find your website and not a competitor’s.
8. Number of followers
Websites are also valued on the number of followers it has, which is why it is important for you to continually update your business’s social media accounts. The type of follower is also important, and you want to be able to show that your website is being commented on, shared, and retweeted, if applicable. You also want to be able to show that your site is being bookmarked, which helps to prove that your followers are quality and not simply filler. In some cases this might require you to hire a temporary or permanent copy writer who has the time and skills to keep your website’s social media sites updated, informative, and entertaining.
Chances are your website is not the only one in its niche, which means your rankings are extremely important in establishing the value of your website.
Online businesses that have higher Google rankings are generally considered more valuable than ones at the bottom of the list.
The higher you site ranks on Google, the easier it is for customers to find it and spend the time and money that will increase its overall value. To increase your Google rankings and the overall value of your website it might be necessary to hire someone that is familiar with keywords and how each one is used to rate a site.
10. Website design
This tip can be a little touchy for some website owners, especially those who spent countless hours on the design and overall appearance.
What looks great to you may not be appealing to potential buyers, and if you are wondering if you need to tweak your website’s design simply check the amount of traffic.
If traffic is slow or your visitors do not stay long enough to click on a separate page, you might want to consider redesigning your website. Color is always a good idea, along with simplicity. You want to entice your visitors to stay and click around for awhile, instead of scaring them off with a cluttered or complicated design.
This tip can be applied to the business and the brand to increase the overall value of the website.
An agreement between your website and an advertiser can increase your profits and the overall value by providing the new owner with a guaranteed source of revenue. While ads are a great source of extra income for your website, you also want to be careful who and what you choose to advertise.
It is also important not to go overboard and clutter your site up with ads that can end up having a negative effect on the website’s overall value.
One or two paying ads is generally enough to satisfy potential buyers that they can make a profit if they purchase your website, and the extra money is also nice for you as well.
12. Registered members and subscribers
This might not apply to all websites but it is important if you have a newsletter or regularly host a discussion panel or forum. The higher the number of members that participate in the discussions or receive emails and newsletters from your online business will help show potential buyers that your website is profitable and does have a loyal following.
In some cases websites with thousands of registered members and subscribers can dramatically increase the value of a website over similar brands.
A quick tip to help you get email subscribers is to include a small section for them to add their addresses, generally on the “check out” page. You can also use a RSS Feed but it can be difficult to find one that you and your customers are comfortable dealing with.
13. Number of page views and site visits
If you want an example of how important the number of times your website is viewed and visited, simply consider the sale of YouTube.
This billion dollars plus price tag was reached simply because of the ridiculously high number of views and visits to the site. This is one of the first aspects potential buyers look at, and it can also be the last. If your website is not generating the traffic necessary to show a profit, it will be extremely difficult to sell at a price you would be comfortable with. There are a few quick and easy ways to generate more visits and page views and this can include:
- Redesigning the website
- Including more relevant content
- Continuously updating your website’s social media sites
- Keeping up with your list of email subscribers
- Raising your Google rankings with keyword rich informative articles
Taking a few minutes or even spending a couple of hours and some extra money to improve the flow of traffic to your website can dramatically increase its value, and attract more buyers that are also qualified.
14. Are you taking advantage of social media?
One of the great things about social media sites is that most are free. Simply register you website and post frequent updates, and attract traffic to your online business. There are several social media sites that you can take advantage of, and some may even be found in your particular niche. This can also help increase the number of relevant visitors to your site, which is something that is looked at closely by most potential buyers.
Something else you will want to carefully consider is whether you are SEO optimized. There are three main search engines and you want to make sure that your website appears at the top of the list on all of them. This can be easily accomplished by including keywords in your articles, which is what the search engines look for when a request is typed in.
15. Featured on competitor’s sites
A great way to increase the value of your brand is if it has been mentioned or referred to on a competitor’s website.
The value of your website can increase even more if it happened to have been mentioned on a well known expert in the industry.
Sometimes this is enough for potential buyers to willing meet your asking price.
Something that you want to strive for and is incredibly difficult to obtain is a mention in a print magazine or newspaper. Some websites can even be recognized at a live or televised event, and if this occurs your website will dramatically grow in value. While it can be difficult to even be referred to by a competitor online, it’s a goal every website owner should try to accomplish.
Additional Tips to Improve the Business
16. How is your site powered?
This is one of the more technical tips that can help increase the value of your website, and make it easier for you to run before and during the selling process.
You want your site to be powered by one of the more commonly used CMS’s like WordPress, Magento, or Drupal, just to name a few.
If you decide to go with a less popular package there will probably be very few buyers who will know the code. This can cause the value of your website to drop, along with making it more difficult to sell. With a popular CMS the buyer has the peace of mind knowing that there is a large support network that can help make the prospect of learning a new business less daunting for a potential buyer.
17. Cost of running the website
You may not think about it that much anymore, but the overall cost of running and maintaining the website will factor into the value of the business.
One way to attract potential buyers, increase the value, and put a little more money in your pocket until the website sells is to have one or two agreements with advertisers. While you don’t want to clutter up the site, a couple of paying ads will help cover the costs of running the website and give interested buyers additional peace of mind.
18. Find your original files
This should not be a problem if you are an organized business owner, and almost any legal expert will tell you that it is important to keep all of your records for at least seven years. There are also some documents that should be kept for as long as you own the business, and sometimes longer.
Along with financial records, there should also be a file that contains copies of all of the changes that have been made to the website. This can include any changes in name, ownership, dissolved or created partnerships, along with email lists and any pertinent certificates and registrations. In some cases simply being able to access these files quickly and easily will be enough to impress a potential buyer into paying your full asking price.
19. Documented emails and site history
You can easily add more value to your online business by including a complete documented history of the website.
This will include any business related emails, along with records of any previous hosts or owners. Even if this information hasn’t been relevant for several months or even years, it is still important to the potential buyer and can help you close the sale more quickly and easily.
20. The industry
This final tip simply deals with the industry that your website is in. It is important to realize that every niche is different and while your website might have the best design, a plainer one in a “hot” industry might sell for a significantly higher price. There is really nothing you can do about this unless you want to spend more time and money trying to change your niche. At that point it would be easier for you to simply start a new business.
The Value of Your Website
If your website is truly ready to sell then it should not be that difficult for you to increase its value, though it should be noted that if you need to apply all 20 of these tips you might want to wait a little while before putting your online business up for sale. The smallest factor can affect the value of your website which means that it is vital for you to pay attention to every detail.
There are also two sides to your website that you need to concentrate on, the business and brand.
While the business aspect might not be as fun as playing around with the graphics or adding entertaining content, it does play a crucial role in the overall value of your website. Improving the business side of the website can include everything from organizing your financial and legal documents to simply finding where you stored them when you were first starting your business. Having this information ready to give to any potential buyer will dramatically enhance your online professional reputation, which will affect the value of your website.
Taking the time to go over all aspects of your website before you list it for sale will show buyers that you are a responsible business owner who knows exactly what they are doing.
This alone can entice a buyer to browse through all of your records and if they find that you have a well organized website that is showing a steady profit you will be more likely to get the full amount of your desired asking price. In the long run it is worth it to take a second look before searching for a buyer or settling it in your portfolio without maximizing its value and profitability.