Why Do Some Websites Not Sell?

June 27, 2014  |   How to Buy & Sell Websites   |     |   Comments Off on Why Do Some Websites Not Sell?

Anyone who sells websites regularly will eventually experience that sinking feeling when they come to the realization that a specific website will not sell. The website has been listed for a while in the marketplace, and for some reason, no buyer has acquired it.

Please do not feel like a failure. It happens to everyone at some point. That website that you poured your heart & soul into just did not sell. No buyers recognized the value of the blood, sweat, and tears you put into it.

Even as professional website brokers, we do not sell all our websites and we have expert knowledge, a vast database of buyers, and lots of experience to tap into. This is the just the reality of the business of selling businesses.

Almost half the websites listed in the most-visited marketplaces do not sell. This is usually because most website sellers are not professional sellers or brokers. They do not understand what buyers find valuable in a website. The vast majority of websites in marketplaces are of very low quality.

Here are a few of the reasons why a website may not to sell. Some are avoidable and some are not:

1. The website is over-priced

As a website broker, I have never met a seller who didn’t over-value his website. And this is understandable because the seller has invested a lot of time & money in the website. And he believes this is his big chance to cash out as much money as possible.

However, buyers never place the same value on a website as a seller. Thus, a buyer’s first offer can often seriously offend a seller. The seller may choose not to negotiate further. Over time, this can lead to the website never selling.

2. Small pool of specialist buyers

Some websites, which I call “specialist websites,” require a buyer or team that has specific specialized skills to operate the website. There may be a small pool of buyers with this expertise and money to buy the website. This can seriously limit the ability to sell the website. In this case, there’s really nothing a seller can do.

This is where a website broker with a database of specialist buyers can come in handy. But if the broker’s database is exhausted and no buyer comes forward, the website may unfortunately never sell.

3. Timing is wrong

Buying any business is usually a large financial investment. Needless to say if you try to sell your website during a recession, the odds are against you.

Website buyers are scared of the unpredictable future just like every other investor. They hold on tight to their cash reserves during a recession. It is very difficult to sell a website in that environment.

4. The website is viewed as high-risk

Buyers can view a website as a high-risk investment for many reasons. Buyers may feel that the next Google search engine algorithm update may destroy its traffic & revenues in the future. This often applies to websites with spun articles or websites that use black hat SEO.

Or websites may have a legal risk attached to them. For example, movie streaming websites that don’t own or legally license the copyrights to the movies they offer. On any given day, the website could be shut down by legal action.

These are just a few reasons why your beloved website may not sell. Don’t feel disheartened. After all, you never lost your website. You still own it. Keep working on it, improve it, and try to sell again later.


Kris Tabetando provides mergers & acquisitions (M&A) advisory and brokerage services to Internet companies. He also partners with investors to acquire & manage Internet businesses.

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