Building a website that puts business buyers and sellers together, then charging a subscription fee for the service must be fairly easy to do. Why else would there be over twenty sites doing it, with more appearing each year? The fact is, it isn’t necessary for buyers and sellers to hit all the sites. Here is why.
Let’s think about that from the point of view of a business buyer. A serious buyer is going to start looking for businesses, and very quickly they are going to find out that the place to look is on the web. No one uses newspaper ads or journal ads any longer for small businesses (although we still do for larger ones). A few quick searches on the web, and they are likely going to wind up on one of the top sites. The top sites are at the top of the Google natural rankings and the top sites also advertise more heavily than the other sites. Really, it is pretty tough not to end up on the top sites within a few days of starting your search.
I’ve done some searches for clients, and as a “buyer” I’ve also realized pretty quickly that the same businesses are listed on many sites, and the common denominators are the top sites.
So what point is there for a broker or M&A advisor to market their clients on 20 sites? Not much, except being able to tell your clients you are marketing on 20 sites. In my opinion it is better to get on the top sites but also use other marketing channels, even good old US Mail and the telephone, to find buyers.
Now there are some differentiation features of some of the websites. For example, mergernetwork.com is for larger companies, businessesforsale.com has better exposure to international buyers and bizben.com is a great site for California businesses.
So which are the best? Well, I wouldn’t just advertise on one or just do your searching on just one, you do want to pick a few – but you don’t need 20. Bizbuysell is owned by the Wall Street Journal and they also purchased Bizquest.com so they are definitely the heavy weight in the industry. You definitely want to use them as a business buyer or seller. Businessesforsale.com has a bit more traffic than bizbuysell.com; however, they are ranked number one in the UK and Australia and much of their traffic is generated there. Here are some traffic stats from web traffic stats company Alexa. I’ve compared to Bizbuysell a dozen of the top sites.
The above chart measures the traffic of Bizbuysell.com vs. Businessesforsale.com as well as mergernetwork.com, bizben.com and bizquest.com. Although businessesforsale.com is ranked a little higher than bizbuysell.com on the Alexa ranking site, I would rank bizbuysell.com higher in the US for US companies. If a company could be acquired by an overseas company then businessesforsale.com would certainly be a place to advertise.
The above chart again graphs bizbuysell and businessesforsale.com for reference, and compares them to businessbroker.net, businessmart.com and acquireo.com. None of these sites generate the web traffic that bizbuysell and businessesforsale.com do.