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Due Diligence - Step 3 - Business Name - Traffic
By Steve Shubitz & Detective Thomas Shilling

Internally, we call some of these procedures "The kiss of death" because a single red flag often means it's time to leave! We assume you have already properly completed Steps 1-2 and your results indicate it's worthwhile to proceeded with this step. Open the site you are investigating in a new window.

Taking a close look - Exactly what to look at if you plan to:

1. Join and or start an affiliate program.
2. Purchase a site.
3. Purchase goods and or services.
4. Purchase virtual or dedicated hosting.
5. Create a business that generates a profit in a moral and ethical manner.
6. Seeking advice from others. Paid or free.
7. Hire an employee.
8. Hire an independent contractor.

Key: Yes is good. A no answer is a red flag.

Carefully examine the site and look for their business name and text which states how long they have been in business. You often find this data on the About Us page, in the copyright wording, mission statement, new releases, or corporate profile page.

1. If the site uses the ® symbol and or " is a Registered Trademark", are they listed in the Trademark database? No in this case means, leave the site immediately. This action violates federal law and we have seen this numerous times.

2. If the business name is a Corporation or LLC you can use the following links to determine the validity of the statement. Are they listed? Does the site display an address? You can often determine which state they formed the business in with a simple cross check of the Whois database. A No answer means it's a serious red flag and in many cases, indicates that you should leave the site.

Use these links: Public Records, California Business Portal, and many other states also offer this data. For example, here is the New York State, Department of Corporations page. Use Google to find others using terms like "State Name Business Records".

3. Some members of the Internet Community continue to tell us that their site gets millions of hits every day and has been around since the invention of dirt. Use Alexa to see how the site is ranked. Although an imperfect measure, it will give you a fairly good idea of exactly how long the site has been around and how much traffic they generate. Please note, the lower the number the better and many of the site reviews are false: sometimes made by the site owner, a competitor, or a very unhappy Geek. Does the Alexa ranking conform what the site says?

4. Sites which claim to have been around for more than six months, often have a history of what they were like and exactly what they were doing. In some cases this is like finding skeletons in the closet. Use the WayBackMachine for a trip down memory lane. Does the WayBackMachine confirm what the site says?

5. If the site says they generate boat loads of traffic, you can confirm this in a rather accurate fashion by determining the Link Popularity. This is the most significant measure of a site's "real traffic". Log files would be better, but your unlikely to get those unless your buying a site. This is also a valuable procedure to determine whether their traffic is "real" verses artificially generated traffic via methods such as "link farms", bots, and numerous other techniques. If you don't understand what we mean by "artificially generated", take a gander at some of these listing on Ebay. Does the Link Popularity confirm what the site says?

On balance, their can be legitimate reasons why their are inconsistencies between what a site says and what you see via our links. Owners sometimes change business names, move content from one site to the other, or make honest mistakes. We encourage you to use the data from our links as a foundation for respectful and civil dialog with the owner. This often leads to a reasonable clarification or another red flag.

This article is ©2002 by Perfection. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form is prohibited. Print this article.

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