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“Worth” is a difficult thing to define. My father often told me that something is only worth what someone else will actually pay for it – but if you’re trying to sell your website, what’s a reasonable figure to ask for or expect at auction?

Right now, I’m fairly certain I could sell my little niche gaming blog for about $20k. How did I get to that figure? Now that’s the million dollar question. Let’s look at the options.

The Easy, Useless Way: Online Tools

Let’s start by doing this the wrong way: using sites that try to estimate a site’s value. It’s quite funny really – most of these are worthless. Their quotes are wildly inaccurate. To prove this, I tried the top 5 Google results for “website value estimator”.

WorthOfWeb calculated the value at around $5.5k – which is roughly what it would make in 2 years if I were running the rather pathetic Google Adsense as my revenue source. I’m not – I sell ads directly to advertisers through BuySellAds.com, so my CPM rates are far, far higher – despite a relatively small number of page views.

The tool pulls its pageviews data from Alexa.com, which is itself only an estimation. So you have an estimated number of pageviews giving an estimated potential ad revenue multiplied by an arbitrary number they’ve made up. Fantastic!

worthofweb

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SitePrice.org gave me $10k, again apparently based on potential Adsense income and PageRank (PR).

YourWebsiteValue.com gave me a grand total of $0. Payday!

WebsiteLooker.net reckoned the site at $1.8k

urlappraisal

URLAppraisal game me a whopping $49. Not thousand: just dollars. Better than zero, I guess.

Most of these sites offered affiliate links to absurd “make money online” courses and free ebooks, so do be careful when clicking around – and absolutely do not sign up for anything, unless you want your inbox bombarded daily by scams.

The truth is that if you’re not currently generating a revenue from your site, coming up with a reasonable figure is quite difficult indeed: the question becomes “how much could this site make if it had a few Adsense blocks on it?” multiplied by an arbitrary number of years. Take an average of the first two tools listed above, and you might get a reasonable value.

The Hard Way: Actual Research

The best way to judge the value of a website is to compare with previous site purchases. I use Flippa.com, an online auction site for websites and domains. I’ve sold a few domains and blogs I’ve given up on there for $500-$1000 each over the years, and I know the figures are reliable. Here’s what I’ve found.

1-2 years Profit

If the site does have an existing (verified) revenue stream, it’s an immediate investment for potential buyers. Assuming all the other variables check out, it’s reasonable to expect anywhere in the region of 1 to 2 years worth of revenue as the final sale value – depending on the reliability of that revenue source and amount of effort required to maintain in. The purchaser is almost guaranteed to turn a profit after two years, or sooner if the maximum revenue potential hasn’t already been realised. This is the most reliable evaluation you can get.

Age of the domain

Older domains are worth more, because supposedly Google places more trust in them. It’s difficult to put a precise value on this, but if all other variables match, nudge your expected price up a little if your domain is older; adjust downward if it’s newer.

PageRank Value

The “public” PR value of a site is contentious among SEO circles as to how much value it does actually portray – the number is sometimes only updated every 6 months to a 1 year, and may even be different to the internal PR used by Google to rank sites. That said, it still remains a primary factor when making a “domain only” sale. For PR4 domain only sale, expect in the region of $1000. PR3, maybe $500. Less than that is essentially worthless, so look to other factors like existing revenue stream.

Examples

You can see up to date, real examples at the “just sold” section of Flippa or “ending soon”. I’ve picked out a few examples here and tried to explain the sale value.

example1

The first example is an automated SEO tool, claiming $300/month in revenue. It only sold for $2500 – much less than even a years worth of potential revenue. Why? The site is only just established – so that per month revenue figure is unreliable; it’s also a completely new domain, with no back links, and no PR value. It has potential certainly, but will require a lot of work yet to be fully realised.

example2

The second site is an exact match domain with 176 articles of content, but upon closer inspection you’ll find the articles are complete nonsense, probably copied and spun through an automated tool. The site has a PR value of 0, no revenue, and no verified analytics. Even $40 is probably overvaluing it:  this is the kind of site Google, and users, absolutely detest. Pure web spam.

example3

The last example is a technology blog making a small amount of revenue (though not claimed on the listing), PR2, with < 50k monthly pageviews. The was bid was $405 at the time of writing, but I would expect this to go up to at least $1000. It has potential and was previously making good revenue, but likely got hit by Google algorithm updates that obliterated traffic – such has been the way for many lower quality blogs. The fact that the site owner has filled it with Adsense and yet claiming no profit on the auction stats means it’s probably doing so badly that it would even be detrimental to mention revenue at all. In the right hands, however, it could be a useful domain.

To be honest, I would never sell my own site; it’s a healthy income stream for what amounts to very little effort, and I would be silly to get rid of it. In fact, a few more of those and I could retire comfortably. Over the years, I’ve sold domains and complete sites only when I’ve become throughly bored with them and stopped updating for 6 months or more. The only practical reason to sell a profitable site is if you can no longer handle the workload. If your site isn’t currently making money, you need to be honest about it’s potential and look from the viewpoint of the purchaser (or read my free ebook, which doesn’t require you to be spammed and can be read completely online, because I’m paid to write these by my employer and don’t make money by selling you things – madness, eh?). Unless the buyer can monetize the site without detriment to the traffic, it’s simply not a good investment. At that point, the sale becomes about using your content or even just the domain as a marketing tool. That is, they’ll buy everything, and inject links to promote all their other sites.

Have you ever sold your website, and what did you get for it? Do you regret not trying to monetize it yourself? Share your stories in the comments!

  1. johncassa
    September 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Free domain appraisal tool

    checkwebsiteprice.com

  2. chetan
    December 20, 2015 at 6:40 am

    bulkydomain.com is best solution for check values and worth of any website and it's totally free

  3. captjohnb
    May 26, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    I have about 16 sites for lawyers the majority are .net, one .com 2 .org and one .info although i have never done much with these sites long story i was wondering what they may be worth, obviously the long term keyword is the best thing going for them. I was wondering if there was some way to increase the value of them and or get income immediately from them?

  4. Mihir
    January 7, 2015 at 5:43 am

    I tried to estimate our site revenue with so many online tools, and all those tools showed very different and variable results. Your suggestion on hard method of estimation seems very practical. Thanks for sharing your valuable insights

  5. Sherry
    February 9, 2014 at 3:22 am

    These things are all totally useless. Estimates are anywhere from $8 to $28 or $6,000 to $16,000 for the same site.. depending on which of the ridiculous tools you use.

    Some of them don't even have correct Alexa information or correct registration dates. More importantly.. NONE of them have any idea what sort of income you are making from the site.

    All you can do is supply potential buyers with accurate income figures.. ask 3X net annual income and settle for 2x if you really want to unload the site.

    • jamie
      March 28, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Maybe this is for another topic but I have played around with a few websites but nothing that made me much. What kind of sites are good for making revenue. Do you do things like blogs and advertise. sell, or just do things like redirect sites. I enjoy playing around with the ones I do but I guess I would like a little tip to maybe be able to make a little profit while enjoying messing with them.

  6. Liz
    December 9, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    The most accurate automated one I've seen is http://worthz.com.

    • James B
      December 10, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Thanks Liz, that's the best I've seen yet!

  7. Michelle L
    December 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I found an another site, http://www.sitemerit.info/ . It validated my sites bit higher than other sites.

  8. Envira
    November 25, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Great Article.
    I simple loved the way you differentiated the automated generated price of website vs the human thinking.
    I have few sites which were inactive, i too wont sell them as i have plans in monetizing them.
    Thanks for free e-book, going through it now,
    regards

  9. Alex
    October 14, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Closely related to this well written article I have developed a website price estimation algorithm that you can test here:
    http://www.webuka.com
    Congrats and keep up the great work!

    • Mike
      January 14, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      That works well valued my site a $ 1, I made $ 18,000 dollars profit from it in the last 6 weeks

  10. Jon Norris
    October 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Yes, I had only heard of Sedo for selling. Perhaps I will look around! My big domain that will be worth millions (honest!) is eurosuperleague.net when the European football leagues eventually get their act together!

  11. Jon Norris
    October 5, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I bought two domains here in England about 17 years ago. Worcestershire.com and. Herefordshire.com, my two local counties. They wouldn't let me have the co.uk names in those days. Recently sold the W one for a few thousand pounds, out of the blue, it had always been completely unused. The H one was always coming top of Google for searches about our county or local towns. I tried various content ideas but never made any money out of it. It'd be good to get a good price for it or learn how to monetize it.

    • James B
      October 5, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Meh, I'd just sell that one too. A thousand or two is probably right, more if you have the right buyer. The only it would be used is for a local site - a business directory, what's on listing perhaps?

  12. Brandon carpenter
    October 5, 2013 at 4:38 am

    good you can explain why WhiteHouse.gov and the other websites are shut down? Seems to be very stupid.

    • James B
      October 5, 2013 at 11:08 am

      You should probably read the news. That whole fiscal disagreement thing, Obamacare ... government shutdown.

  13. Dave P
    October 4, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    I'll give you £2.50 and not a penny more.

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