Bankaholic – a blog about what banks are offering – has earned an up-front payment of $12.4m for the blog, with a further multimillion pound bonus possible over the coming year.
The blog has been bought by the financial information site, Bankrate. What they have bought is content – nothing more, nothing less – words on a screen, that’s it. The highly focused, regular content is valuable to them. So much so, by buying it Bankrate is hoping to further establish its lead in the banking information marketplace.
But take a look “behind the scenes” at Bankaholic. You soon discover that much of the SEO software will tell you there’s lots wrong with it. It’s title is too long, it doesn’t have any meta tags and it’s not in the DMOZ directory, nor does anyone appear to “Digg” the site and its packed chocker with pictures. All bad, bad, bad we’re told repeatedly by “experts”.
Yet, the site is one of the most read sites around. It’s in the top 40,000 sites in the world, according to Alexa – and Technorati ranks it in the top 0.1%. In other words people love the site, even if search engines don’t. Focusing content on readers, rather than search engines, clearly has paid off for this blogger.
So consider another example – Starbucks. They are doing OK aren’t they? They know a thing or two about business. Search for the word “coffee” and they are Number 2 on Google, after the Wikipedia entry. Yet take a look at their home page. It’s all built around Flash and scripting, making much of it (at the moment) impenetrable by the search engines. The keyword “coffee” doesn’t actually appear in the text on the page (only in images, scripts and “alt tags”). Yet they rank in second position, against 308m other sites – not bad eh?
But take a look at the background of the Starbucks page. Again, it has lots “wrong” with it. The page has too much detail in it’s title and tags, it doesn’t have an RSS feed and it has too many images. Well, that’s the kind of thing the “experts” would tell us.
However, the Starbucks site is loved by people. How do we know? Because it has almost 350,000 other sites linking to it – many including the word “coffee”.
So what do these examples tell us? They confirm, once again, that if you build your site with interesting content aimed at people they will read your information, they will link to your information and this will build your ranking in the search engines. And once you do that – and people take notice of you – there’s even the possibility you could sell your site for millions.
Take a tip from Starbucks and the Bankaholic blog – just build a site with loads of content for people. Forget the search engines – they will follow you if people are already following you. Focus on the search engines and you’ll struggle on the people side.
By Graham Jones