How To Find And Buy Abandoned Content Websites

charles sipe - technical analyst
Charles Sipe Charles Sipe is a niche website investor and SEO specialist with a degree in Marketing from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Charles writes technical content that analyzes market trends in the website flipping and SEO industry. Connect with Charles on LinkedIn.
charles sipe - technical analyst
Mushfiqur Sarker
Mushfiq Sarker Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 215+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.
Mushfiqur Sarker

Acquiring an active site that is being neglected by the owner can be an excellent shortcut to growing a profitable site compared to starting a site from scratch. 

An active site that never had its domain registration expire is more likely to maintain rankings and traffic when ownership changes. This is not always the case with aged domains that have expired, as the traffic and rankings may not recover quickly to previous levels (my success rate with aged domains is roughly 50/50).

There are thousands of sites that are no longer updated by the owner, often due to a lack of time or interest. Acquiring one of these domains and improving them with fresh content and links can generate a lot of value for website investors.

In this guide I will cover:

  • 6 ways to find abandoned blogs and sites
  • How to perform effective cold email outreach to abandoned site owners
  • How to get sellers to accept an offer and close quickly

We also provide a Google Sheet template that can quickly calculate the days since the last published article for 100 websites at a time and a Google Sheet template that shows up to 20 of the most recent publication dates for a URL.




How to Find Abandoned Blogs or Sites (6 Ways)

1. Check Lists of “Top Blogs” For Sites With No Recent Posts

There are many sites or blogs that put together lists of top blogs on a subject. Feedspot is one site with thousands of “top blogs” pages like “100 Best Fashion Blogs You Must Follow in 2022”.

You can look through these lists for any blogs that are no longer being updated. Continue reading to see our tutorial for checking many URLs quickly to find sites with no recently published articles.

2. Check Outdated Top Blogs Lists From Previous Years

There are many sites or blogs that put together lists of top blogs in their niche but don’t keep them updated. An example is a gardening blog that publishes a listicle article of their favorite gardening blogs.

These lists can contain a higher frequency of abandoned blogs since these articles have not been updated in a few years.

To find these outdated lists you can search Google for best [keyword] blogs + intitle:[year] (e.g., Best food blogs intitle:2020).

Here’s one example of a list we found using this Google search:

food blogs 2020

3. Search Google For Footprints of Abandoned Sites

You can look through Google Search results for footprints of older content that hasn’t been updated in a few years. This requires some creativity. Some examples of helpful Google queries include:

Best [Product Keyword] intitle:2019 (e.g., best succulent pots 2019)

“Copyright 2019” [Keyword] (e.g., copyright 2019 golf tips)

“blog is closing down” [Keyword] (e.g., “blog is closing down” travel)

4. Export AHREFs Referring Domains for a Top Site in a Niche

The most popular sites in a niche have lots of inbound links, often from sites that are similar.

Enter a top site in a niche into AHREFs Site Explorer and click on “Referring Domains” in the left menu.

Now click on “Export” to get a CSV file that can have hundreds or thousands of relevant website URLs.

ahrefs referring domains

Next, you can check batches of URLs for sites that have not been updated recently (using our method explained in the tutorial below).

5. Look for Sites With Steadily Declining Traffic

Sites that show a steady declining trend in organic traffic in AHREFs may be a sign that the site is being neglected.

The site owner may not be motivated to continue working on a declining site and may be open to a cash offer.

6. Check Individual Sites For Frequency of Posts (Using This Google Sheets Template)

If a site has an RSS feed (as most do), you can quickly calculate the frequency of posts with Google Sheets.

You can use our Calculate Publishing Frequency Template Google Sheet to check how often a site is being updated based on their RSS feed.

calculate publishing freq screenshot

Make a copy of this Google Sheet and Enter the URL of the site into cell A2. The Google Sheet will scrape the URL to automatically find the RSS feed and then import the publish dates of up to 20 recent posts. It also calculates the number of posts in the last 30 days and last 365 days.

Note: The number of articles calculation is based on the publish dates from the RSS feed and may be inaccurate if the RSS feed only has a few recent publish dates.

A site with few articles published in the last year may indicate that the site owner is not focused on growing the site and may be willing to sell.

6. Look for Sites That Do Not Have HTTPS

A site that doesn’t have a valid HTTPS certificate is one sign that the site is being neglected.

Without a valid HTTPS certificate, Google Chrome alerts visitors that the site is “not secure”, which is something most site owners try to fix if they are actively running the site.

site not secure 1

Not having a valid HTTPS certificate suggests that the site owner is not willing to spend time fixing basic and important site issues and may be willing to sell.


Tutorial: How to Quickly Check a List of Many URLs for Abandoned Sites

In this quick tutorial, we will show you how to scrape lists of blogs and then quickly check the URLs for abandoned sites.

First, you will need to collect a list of URLs to check. One way to quickly copy the URLs from a list of blogs like the ones on Feedspot is by using the Scraper Chrome extension.

After installing the Scraper Chrome extension, right-click on a link from a list of top blogs and select “Scrape similar…”.

scraper screenshot 1 1

A window will pop up with the XPath of the link that you right-clicked on.

You might have to play around with the XPath selector (e.g., removing some brackets and numbers) so that it selects all the links instead of just one. Then click “Scrape” and a list of URLs should appear. Lastly, click “Copy to clipboard” and paste the URLs into a Google Sheet.

scraper extension window

Another way to grab all the links from a page is the Linkclump Chrome extension. This allows you to click and drag (while holding an activation key like “alt”) to select many links on a page that will be copied to your clipboard. You can then paste many links at once into a Google Sheet.

linkclump copy links

When you have a list of many URLs, you can quickly find abandoned sites by pasting the URLs into our Google Sheet Template: “Abandoned Site Checker Template (100 URLs)“.

Make a copy of the template and then paste your URLs into the URL column and it will automatically fetch the RSS feed for each site and calculate the number of days since the last post (for up to 100 URLs at a time) by checking the last publish date from each RSS feed.

abandoned site checker 100 urls

After a few minutes, the data should populate.

abandoned site checker data

The Google Sheet automatically fetches the RSS feed from each URL (if found) using the IMPORTXML function and XPATH.

Note: Google throttles the use of the IMPORTXML and IMPORTFEED function in Google Sheets so the data may load slowly after the first batch of 100 URLs. One way around this is to switch to a different Google account.


2. How to Perform Effective Cold Outreach to Abandoned Site Owners

Once you have identified some sites that are not being updated and collected a list of prospects in a Google Sheet, you can reach out to them with an email to see if they are interested in selling.

First, you will need to collect the email address for each abandoned site you have added to your list. Some ways to find an email address include:

  1. Use the Hunter.io Chrome Plugin (25 free searches per month)
  2. Use Google site operator + contact us (e.g., site:example.com contact us)
  3. Use Google site operator + “@gmail.com” OR “@yahoo.com” (e.g., site:example.com “@gmail.com” OR “@yahoo.com”)
  4. ICANN Whois lookup tool
  5. Sign up for the site’s email newsletter
  6. Check the site’s privacy page for an email address
  7. Use a tool like URL profiler that can scrape many URLs at once for email addresses

There are two main approaches to emailing site owners: highly customized emails for each prospect or an email template that is used for many prospects.

If you decide to use an email template, you can use mail merge to add some customization to each email. One helpful tool for this is the Gmass Chrome extension. Gmass allows you to send templated emails from Gmail to many email addresses at once and you can customize each email by inserting variables (e.g. name, website name) from the columns of a Google Sheet.

Sending an email blast to a list of prospects in a Google Sheet only takes a few simple steps. Once you have the Gmass Chrome extension installed, click on the Sheets icon to select a Google Sheet containing the email addresses of the abandoned sites you want to email.

gmass select google sheet

You will be prompted to select which Google Sheet you want to use for the email campaign.

select a sheet gmass

After you have selected your Google Sheet, a compose window will appear. To personalize each email with data from your Google Sheet, you will add variables with a curly brace (e.g. {name}, {site_name}). Adding a variable in curly braces will automatically pull the data from the Google Sheet column with the same name.

Here is an example of an email that is ready to send using GMass:

gmass email template

When the email is ready to send, simply click on the red GMass button and it will send personalized emails to each email on your Google Sheet. There is also a feature to send automatic follow-up emails if you want to do that.

Alternatively, you could email each contact individually with a more personalized note. This will take longer but you will have a better response rate than a templated email outreach campaign.

Takeaway: An alternative to email is to reach out to a website owner via a Twitter direct message. I have successfully acquired multiple sites like Stream SEO by using this method to contact site owners.


How To Close A Private Deal Quickly

After closing over a hundred private deals with individuals, I have learned the following tactics to close an off-market deal quickly.

1. Offer to Send Cash Quickly

Many sellers are more motivated to sell if they can receive the cash right away. If you offer to wire the cash to Escrow.com within 24 hours, more people will be interested in selling.

2. Perform Due Diligence Quickly

Tell the seller that you will perform due diligence quickly (e.g., within 24 hours) so they know you will make a quick decision and will not waste their time.

3. Make a Strong Offer

When I am confident that I can increase revenues quickly by implementing some easy wins, I make a strong offer that I think would be attractive to the site owner. I have purchased sites at a 70x multiple in the past because I knew I could increase revenue quickly by implementing some quick wins.

4. Give the Seller Confidence

One critical factor when buying a site from a private seller is providing evidence that you are a professional and trustworthy individual to deal with.

People are wary of scams so providing social proof, examples of past deals, and a professional LinkedIn profile can show the seller that they can trust you to fulfill your end of the deal.

5. Overcome Small Objections

Some site owners have small objections to selling the site that could be easily solved by agreeing to a request. They might want the content to remain available for free, their name removed from the site, or for certain email addresses to be forwarded.

6. Offer to Hire Them to Work on the Site

Some sellers may be interested in an offer to get paid to continue working on the site after it is sold. This could be an offer to pay them a monthly rate to work as a website operator or a fixed rate per article that they write.




Wrap Up

Acquiring abandoned sites and improving them with content, links, and better monetization is one of the best ways I know to do profitable website flips.

It is an advanced website flipping strategy and takes a lot of effort and time to find these valuable assets and convince the owner to sell to you.

If you can buy these undervalued assets, there is often great potential revenue that you can unlock by improving the asset.

After you have successfully acquired an abandoned site, check out EasyWins.io for my organized list of over 120 growth tactics for increasing the traffic and revenues of an existing site.



charles sipe - technical analyst

Analyzed by Charles Sipe

Charles Sipe is a niche website investor and SEO specialist with a degree in Marketing from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Charles writes technical content that analyzes market trends in the website flipping and SEO industry. Connect with Charles on LinkedIn.



Mushfiqur Sarker

Analyzed by Mushfiq Sarker

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 215+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.

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