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How Do I Sell My Sites?

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4:47 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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So I am thinking of selling my sites but am not sure how to do it. If I find a buyer, Adsense says I can't sell him my account with the sites, even if it is a business account. But if I sold him the company and the sites and included the account, would Adsense even know? He could change the payee name and bank info to his own. Problem is my email would still be the primary login address. All notices, etc. would still be sent there. Adsense says I should sell just the sites and have him put his own Adsense code on them, while I keep the account. Problem is all my sites are hand coded and the thought of having to take the code off each page gives me a headache. Is that my only option?
5:12 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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That is why you should not hard code stuff!

There are ways to search and replace in large numbers of files at once - command line utilities and some text editors will do it. You should be able to search and replace just the adsense identifiers for the client and ad slot, assuming it has not changed recently.

If the Adsense account belongs to the company then surely there must be some way of changing the contact email? Selling a company can be a clean way of setting a business in terms of legal complications (only one thing to transfer, not copyrights, domain names, other assets, liabilities....).
5:15 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'd say it's the buyer's only option :-) If you're selling the site as-is, you're not responsible for the logistics of AdSense accounts, ad codes and such.

Bulk replacing the AdSense code might work for you. Actual Search and Replace is a great little tool for that (supports regex) if you're on Windows.
5:22 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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From adsense's point of view (and tax reporting) each account is attached to an individual. Search/Replace your adsense identifier with a textfigure so the buyer can insert his/her code when they get approved. Something like Notepad ++ can do entire folders of files at a time.
5:32 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@tangor does "attached to an individual" apply to business accounts that pay to a company name?
5:45 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Problem is all my sites are hand coded and the thought of having to take the code off each page gives me a headache.

Which would give you a bigger headache- having to do the work and remove the code from each page or losing out on the sale because you're not willing to do the work?
6:14 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps I should have said "entity" rather than individual.

Adsense is not set up to transfer accounts from one entity to another.
7:07 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Find/replace is simple on Mac as well. Remove every instance of a block of text from folders of pages/documents in no time. If all you want to remove is your account number, even simpler.
12:34 am on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the info. The sites are 15 to 20 years old. I had no idea what I was doing when I started. They do quite well, so I never wanted to change over to a different system for fear of rocking the boat. I actually never thought they'd be worth anything. LifeinAsia, I will of course do the work if it means closing a sale.
12:54 am on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It's the buyers problem not yours.

When I sold a site many years ago I left it up to the buyer to replace my Adsense code with gheir new code. The buyer slowly did this but up to a year or so later i was still earning money from a few bits of Adsense code which were still in my name. I was happy!
1:38 am on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@nomis5 ... very sly! (As i a good thing!)

Of course, Buyer Beware is always in operation.
1:45 am on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It's the buyers problem not yours.


Yes, but if I want to close a sale, I'd think I'd want to make the offer as enticing as possible and not make the buyer do the work.
3:28 am on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yes, but if I want to close a sale, I'd think I'd want to make the offer as enticing as possible and not make the buyer do the work.

Okay, that does not make sense. The site is what you are selling. You can't sell your adsense. You CAN make it easy for them to insert an adsense id LATER by taking yours out and leaving "insertadsenseidherexyz" for a search and replace THEY do AFTER they get their own account.
9:24 am on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've been involved with the sale/purchase of a number of AdSense sites over the years, both my own as an advisor for others. Apologies that some of this overlaps with other answers, but I've been part of 3 "models":

Sale as a company : The site and account are both owned by a company. The company is sold as a whole to the buyer. This is a nice clean way, but makes more sense for larger sites. In one case a company was formed solely for this purpose.

Buyer doesn't want/need account : This is the most common case for me. Most publishers I work with don't get paid by AdSense anyway (we provide supply through AdX plus other header/exchange sources). Site is sold as IP and new code is inserted. This is obviously a lot easier with a modern build site, but it's the buyers responsibility to sort it out.

New account : If the buyer doesn't have an account and it is definitely needed (usually because they need a dedicated ad manager account or there is a highreliance on adsense only units like link units), then the process of acquiring an account is started alongside, but independent of the sale. This isn't hard, particularly if working with a Certified Partner who's done this before. Again, this remains the buyers responsibility.

Related : I'm looking to buy a couple of established AdSense sites myself. Anything policy safe with 6 or 7 figure monthly pageviews is game. Having sold most of our own sites we now find that we want some to test new monetization strategies on .
4:12 pm on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, matbennett, for the breakdown. tangor, I can sell the entire company, which is an S corp, and include my adsense account. The only reason I set up the company years ago was to save on taxes and to get health insurance since I could not get it as an individual. Obamacare changed all that.
5:57 pm on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Adsense says I should sell just the sites and have him put his own Adsense code on them, while I keep the account.

I leave it as what you said in the OP. :)
8:55 pm on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Site wide find and replace is not hard at all, just time consuming. Many moons back Mr. Amazon decided to make some changes in the linking [details of which I now forget] and this necessitated every link to Amazon needed to be modified. Across a number of sites back then.

I simply used my NoteTab Pro "Search Disk" facility which only took a short time. I think uploading heaps of modified directories consumed far more time.

My only connection with NoteTab Pro is as a very long time, paid for version, satisfied user.
9:27 pm on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If I'm the buyer: I don't want you touching anything, just give me the files as is and I will do as I see fit. I also don't want your adsense account, thanks.

If I'm the seller: I'm giving the buyer the files exactly as they are, adsense code on them and everything. My adsense account is set to whitelist the domains I accept responsibility for and I would remove that domain from the list. Same with search console, I would unverify it. I'd delete the analytics account as well for that domain. Perhaps the only file I would touch is the google verification file, I would delete it, but no visitor ever sees it.

Seriously, if you change anything on site after sale you are giving the buyer something different than he/she bargained for.
10:52 pm on Feb 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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^^^ This is why lawyers exist. :)
1:56 am on Feb 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If I was buying a site and the seller wanted to modify all the pages to update ad code or something, I would be seriously upset and we might lose the deal.

It's 100% not your job to modify the pages to remove your ad code or update it to theirs. That is 100% their responsibility.

I've bought 2 sites and sold 1 and it's always the buyer's responsibility to take the site as-is and do what they wish. I would not give the AdSense account with the sale. When I bought & sold sites the only thing that was handed over was a .zip file of the entire site (OK one site was a cPanel full site transfer).
9:54 pm on Feb 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If the client complains that the code is a mess though, you can always spend some time doing a search and replace, but instead of replacing directly the Adsense code, just change it to code that calls a server include file that contains that same original Adsense code, but this time it's just in one place. For visitors, absolutely nothing in the html they receive would be changed, but you would be in a better position to change that Adsense code with one single file when the time comes. If your pages have an .html extension, you can add an .htaccess instruction for the server to interpret .html as .php, for example, in order to benefit from the php include function.
11:22 pm on Feb 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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^^^Ordinary SSI will also do the same, minor quibble. Not all sites use PHP of any kind.

Two things involved in OP's original. Selling his adsense (g does not like that) and clearing his adsense code embedded in a static html format.

Site wide search and replace is doable, just have the right software in place. As for what is right or not re: adsense embedded for a site sale I suspect sellers, buyers, and g have pretty much figured it out (g pays the code, buyers get what they get, sellers benefit if the buyer is stupid).
11:49 pm on Feb 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I suspect sellers, buyers, and g have pretty much figured it out (g pays the code, buyers get what they get, sellers benefit if the buyer is stupid).

The best solution (outside of the technical aspects of replacing/removing the AdSense code) is specifying what is to be done by whom in the purchase contract. At a minimum, a written disclosure that the site contains the seller's AdSense code is needed, even if selling the site as-is and making it clear the buyer is responsible for removing or updating.

If I bought a site and later found out that there was previously undisclosed "hidden" code that allowed the seller to continue to earn money from MY site, I'd probably be contracting a lawyer. (I would actually do due diligence and not upload any files without knowing what's there, but other buyers may not be as savvy.)
12:27 am on Feb 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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^^^ Exactly!

Caveat emptor.
6:40 pm on Feb 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Maybe semantics, but...

It's an S Corp, so there are shareholders. If you consider that you, the CEO and primary shareholder, are stepping down, and the company is instilling a new CEO, would the new CEO have to set up a new Adsense account?

I agree that the choice should be up to the buyer, because if there's any negative fallout then he'll be the one to suffer from it. If I were the one buying then I would probably be looking at higher paying alternatives to Adsense, anyway, to maximize the ROI.
9:44 pm on Feb 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I think I will talk to a lawyer about it.
4:09 am on Feb 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like a good plan!

Let us know how things work out.