7 Essential Questions to Ask Before Buying a Website

What are the essential questions to ask before buying a website?

My recent home life has required dealing with multiple home contractors. Many of you are already feeling sympathy for me because of your own experience. While there are ethical and talented contractors, the low barrier to entry also attracts some less-than-desirable candidates. Unfortunately, the same is true for my line of work: marketing, especially online marketing. 

Like contractors, many marketers take their work seriously and always do what they say. See my 5-star reviews! But because anyone can say they’re a marketer, you also have people who either don’t know what they’re doing or are only in it to make a quick buck regardless of their clients’ needs. 

“What Do You Need?” Questions to Ask Before Buying a Website

What Are the Ongoing Costs?

While I discourage “renting” your website for all the above-expressed reasons, monthly fees are not inherently unethical. There are many legitimate reasons to pay for ongoing web services. But it’s important to know what those fees are and what they cover upfront. 

With few exceptions, every website is hosted on a server. Your site lives on that server, and someone needs to pay for space. Generally, that bill comes due once a year, but if you’re paying for other services with your website designer or manager, they may ameliorate that over 12 months. 

Other services may include the use of plugins or third-party software. For example, I use Calendly so people can easily schedule appointments with me. But I pay a monthly fee for that, and if you build it into your website, so will you. 

Finally, there’s upkeep. It’s possible to buy a website, set it and forget it, but it’s not advisable. In addition to being bad for your SEO, your website accumulates digital junk that slows it down. Plus, websites are built on software that needs updating. The simplest way to keep up with all that is to pay a monthly service fee.

I sell websites with and without service contracts, but your best bet is to include it. 

What Will You Need From Me?  

In some ways, “What will you need from me?” is the largest of the questions to ask before buying a website. As a business owner paying for a product and service, you want someone who will make the job easy for you but still gives you room to customize. 

Therefore, “nothing” or anything close to it is not a good answer. If your web designer says they don’t need anything from you, run! That means your website will not be customized for your needs and may not even reflect your business. 

At the same time, if they expect you to do all the writing and design, that’s unacceptable too. Of course, if you already know everything there is to know about SEO, maybe that’s what you want, but then why are you hiring a web pro? 

POP gives our clients a survey. You fill it out at your leisure, and we use it to create SEO-friendly copy that reflects your company and your voice. 

We’re proud of the proprietary process, and it yields superior results. 

“What Do You Get” Questions to Ask Before Buying a Website

The Most Surprising Question

Will I own the website?

This may seem straightforward. If you’re paying for a website, you own it, right? Unfortunately, in many cases, it’s more like you’re renting it. 

In the past year or so, I’ve had two customers approach me who were swindled by the same marketing company. (It’s not local!)  This company will build your website for you, but you pay a monthly fee to use it.

If you stop paying the fee, you lose the website and your domain! Your web address is a critical piece of your digital identity. Over time (if you follow best SEO practices), it will gain traffic and increase authority. When you lose it, you lose all that digital reputation!

Not only do you lose progress, but because your domain was never yours, someone else can buy it, including a competitor. That means that your customers can potentially be redirected to another website when they try going to yours, potentially losing someone already loyal to you. 

I always give ownership of websites to my clients. 

What If I Want Changes?

Nobody is perfect. Even with POP’s design prep work, customers still want tweaks. They’re usually minor. Sometimes they want to switch a color or a picture. For that reason, we include some changes in our cost. 

Again, there’s nothing wrong with charging for changes, particularly beyond a certain number of edits, but ask questions first to know what you’re getting into. 

Do You Offer Related Services?

You want your marketing to have a unified voice, so unless you have a dedicated employee or marketing department who is ready (and has the skill and time) to immediately pick up the marketing mantle, “Do you offer related services” is a great question to ask before buying a website.

If you can get the same company to do your social media, blogging, SEO, and ads, you’ll have one point of contact and source for creating your company’s voice and image. 

Where Can I See Your Work, OR Can I Speak to One of Your Clients? 

Like the contractors I began this blog with, with marketing, the proof is in the pudding. While not every person is a good fit for every company, happy customers are generally a good indicator of quality work. 

Of course, understand that even if you don’t like the look of a particular site, that doesn’t mean your site would need to look that way. While marketers like myself have rules of thumb and make strong suggestions to do things the right way, in the end, the customer makes the decision. So the better judge is whether the site is accurate, high-quality, and adequately represents the company. Your site can look however you want it. 

Another valuable resource is reviews and third-party certifications such as the Better Business Bureau. 

You’ll Also Have Your Own Questions to Ask Before Buying a Website

No two customers are the same. It’s possible that one of these questions isn’t relevant to you. And it’s probable that you have your own specific questions I haven’t addressed.

When you speak with a marketer, ask your questions before buying a website. The initial talk is a chance to see if you’re a good fit. So find out!

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