Garbage sites on Flippa

I subscribed to announcements of websites for sale on Flippa. Over the past several months, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern.

Here is a notification that arrived in my inbox today:

questionable auctions
Flippa is filled with auctions for websites promising easy revenue. Above are two sites by the same seller.

The email summarized a couple listings for websites being auctioned. Both of the above listings make promises in the headlines for 100% “automated” and “work-free” sites. If the owner had such successful, automated sites, why would he be motivated to sell them? This should at least raise suspicion.

What about the traffic statistics and financials? below is a screenshot of what the author claimed:

Claimed earnings
Claimed earnings vs traffic

Note the spike in traffic for the past month. 0 to 15k visits in a month! What a massive upward trend, right? But wait, it seems that the traffic has extremely little correlation to ad revenue. We see a claimed steadily increasing monthly ad revenue report, which should normally strongly correlate with traffic. One explanation is that the owner just installed Google Analytics last month, and traffic stats started accumulating then. Another explanation is that the author somehow spiked the traffic stats for a month.

Suspicious of the source of this traffic, I checked Alexa, a web traffic analytics company. According to Alexa.com, the vast majority of traffic comes from India. Why might that be?

Click for full-sized image
Inflated traffic from India
One easy way to inflate traffic stats is to artificially and temporarily increase them by hiring cheap labor and/or automated “bots” (computers) to visit the site. Since the same seller had listed each site, was it any surprise that both sites had the vast majority coming from India? This proves nothing, but is certainly alarming, since there’s no particular reason to expect the vast majority of traffic to come from India for sites like these.

The seller claims in the listing title that the site is 100% “automated.” If this is the case, then how is the copy being written? Or, are articles just scraped (copied verbatim) from other sites? One way to see if the content of the website was copied is to search a string of text that should be unique to the site. In this case, a Google search reveals that the copy for the test string I chose is found on over one-thousand other sites. This suggests that the copy for this site is most likely scraped from other sites. Google is known to strongly penalize sites for this behavior.

flippa scams
over a thousand other sites contained this exact string of text

We can take a guess, with pretty high confidence, that the site for sale is not the original creator of the “automated” content.

Once again, the auction listing title states the site is “100% automated” and requires “0 work.” Now, read the disclaimer included at the bottom of the auction:

This is great website for anyone interested in Profit making cash cow  with Health concept I like to be completely transparent in my transactions and don’t like to mislead anyone. What you see is what you get. It does involve effort and money won’t come from no nothing. The key to getting this off the ground is auto content and unique

So, in other words, the “key” to success is not leaving the site on autopilot, and “unique” [sic] – unique content, that is. As demonstrated, this site is far from “unique,” having articles that appear on a thousand other sites.

This type of listing is extremely common on Flippa. I’ve noticed this pattern over the past several months. I’m not the first to observe that the site is rife with scams, though. Feel free to learn more about the scams on Flippa.

On a final note, not everything sold on Flippa is junk – just the majority! Buyer beware!

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