The turnkey website industry is frequently targeted by naysayers – people who say that you can’t make money off of pre-made sites, that the industry is filled with scammers, that autopilot sites is a pipe dream, etc, etc…
And they’re not too far from the truth.
The fact is, there are plenty of snake oil salesmen in the industry preying on newbies and those that think the Internet is a get rich quick machine. I try to separate myself from them as much as I can.
Turnkey websites, if properly made, utilized, and grown can become profitable.
If you’re looking to buy a done-for-you website, how do you know if a vendor is a legit seller or just selling bullshit? Well, this is what this article is for.
Here are 7 signs a turnkey business vendor is selling bullshit.
Entire Product Descriptions Are Copy-Pasted From Amazon
This is very easy to do because there’s a software of some sorts (don’t ask me what – or maybe they manually copied everything!) that basically copies entire product pages from amazon to the turnkey site.
Why is this a bad thing? Copying creates duplicate content which is bad for your website.Essentially, Google wants to diversify its search results so it won’t show two identical or similar articles on its search results.
When you search for something that has multiple similar results, this notification can be seen at the bottom of the search results:
Now here’s the thing. I was browsing Flippa for inspiration – that’s one way I find profitable niche ideas – when I come across an e-commerce site that copied entire product listings from Amazon. See it for yourself:
Personally, I will never build a site like this because content is such a core part of the reason your site is going to make money. Copy that from something like Amazon and you’re screwed.
Keyword Research Is Non-Existent
Keyword research is essentially the foundation of a niche site because that’s how your niche site gets found and earns money.
If a site doesn’t target specific, less competitive keywords with high buying intent like “best polaroid cameras” and instead builds a site out of a broad niche (i.e., just “cameras”), you’re going to have a hard time reaching the 1st page.
Disclaimer: Yes, niche sites can earn money through social media sites like Facebook or Pinterest, but there should be a clear path towards that kind of monetization – for example creating viral articles revolving around photography.
But if the site is just a camera e-commerce site with plagiarized content, it’s clearly going to have a hard time ranking whichever method its owner chooses.
404 On Page SEO Not Found
Similar to proper keyword research, on-page SEO will also help you rank higher in the search engines and the presence of this is a very good sign that the vendor knows what he’s doing.
When prospecting for available turnkey websites, check out the site’s title tags, URL, and content of some pages. Usually, high quality starter sites will target very specific keywords.
For example, when I search for “best juicers” I see these at the top of the search results:
There’s no keyword-rich description or even JUST a description - just the site URL. Even the meta description is just the brand name. If you buy this site, it will be up to you to fill out these missing parts, and even then you won’t have a clear path to monetization.
What keywords should you target that will make sense to the site? Should you target these keywords? How competitive are they? These questions were left for you to answer.
And let’s not even talk about content. There’s literally no unique content on the website that you can optimize so I won’t even delve into that.
Site Requires “No Maintenance”
I said this before and I’ll say it again – no legitimate business, whether online or offline, requires no maintenance. It’s just not possible!
Between publishing content, updating plugins, writing content, and promoting the site, there’s really no way your site doesn’t need maintenance…unless you want it to stagnate and fall into oblivion.
And some sellers have the gall to say their website requires no maintenance:
Too F*cking Cheap
To understand why ultra-cheap sites are a load of bull, one needs to know the cost of building a niche site.
Take note that these are the costs when you try to build the site yourself. This will also assume that you already have hosting and have done keyword research and competition analysis yourself.
Total: $305 – $405, for a starter site you build on your own.
RankMeister Starter Package: $349 – includes keyword research, after sale support, and a lot more. I make profit from selling at $349 only because I’ve streamlined the process to minimize cost, I already own plenty of premium themes I can use and I make my own logos.
Flippa Seller: $65 as a starting price – that means this vendor is willing (and profitable?) to sell the site at $65. This might be possible because he copied content from Amazon, something that most legit website sellers AND owners will never do. Still, my mind is blown at how a seller can make a living off of these rates. It’s almost impossible.
See? That’s what a properly build niche site should cost.
Site Listing Is Full of Buzz Words
Use of buzzwords in moderation can make a listing more exciting. But the website has to meet buyer expectations.
Sadly for most turnkey websites, it does not – the seller usually overpromises and then underdelivers. It’s sad and dissappointing.
Some red flag buzzwords include:
It’s Not Indexed…Not. F*cking. Indexed.
Getting your turnkey site indexed in the search engines is one of the first requirements to gaining access to traffic, rankings, and consequently sales.
Personally, I take it as my responsibility to index a client’s site and even get those initial rankings through superb on-page SEO and content.
If a seller isn’t able to index or deliberately does not index your site, he clearly isn’t doing everything he can to provide you with a good product.
The only time I can accept a site not getting indexed before turning it over to the owner is when the website was made quickly, like a week or two, that search engines have yet to crawl the site for the first time.
And when you thought that these 6 are enough blatant red flags already…
Update: This particular site finally got indexed.
You See Multiple Duplicates of Your Site
This is the ultimate red flag for me and I’ve seen this dozens of times happening on Flippa.
It’s one thing to say a product is unique and then duplicate it, but to sell it again on the same platform and label it as unique again is downright bad business.
This is also the reason why they can sell one site for $30 to $50. Copy-pasting doesn’t cost much.
It’s just sad really:
So basically, I made a list of all websites one seller on Flippa sold or is currently selling.
I saw multiple duplicate websites which isn’t surprising given how far this seller goes out of his way to lower the quality of his websites.
What he did is he makes one website like those that you see above and list in on Flippa.
Update September 2018: Seems like the rampant regurgitation of Amazon affiliate sites have stopped now and I'm seeing a similar trend to dropshipping (Shopify) stores. Those interested in dropshipping, beware!
Use This As Your Mini-Checklist
Every time you’re buying a starter or premium niche site, think about these 7 telltale signs. If you spot these red flags, you can protect your hard earned money and make a wise investment somewhere else.