Today I want to tell you about a company that you probably have never even heard of, but is on pace to generate at least $275 million by the end of the year. And you’ve likely interacted with one of their websites. It’s a great case study for you to understand just how broad of a reach you can get when it comes to mastering digital marketing.
Digging into About.com origins
So let’s go ahead and dig in. Back in the late 1990s, there was a little website that was created called about.com. And about.com is pretty much where you would go in the early days for something comparable to Yahoo Answers, which is also now pretty much defunct, but about.com was a place in which different people from all over the internet would answer different questions that people had around particular topics.
So say for example, you want to learn how to sell, so you might have a post on about.com around that. Also at that time, Google was in its infancy so it really didn’t have a clear understanding of who to give authority to and who not to. And so there was a ton of different ways that you can rank really well in those early days.
One of the challenges that about.com ended up facing though, was the quality of their content. If you just have a ton of user-generated content and it’s not well validated, then it pretty much leads to this massive pile of just mediocre content. And the issue with that is that it really doesn’t actually speak to some of the things around domain authority and relevancy on particular topics. So over time about.com really struggled.
New York Times Acquisition
And if you actually look to the history behind about.com, which is now known as Dotdash, they were acquired by the New York Times company in 2005. In February of 2005, they were acquired for about $410 million. And at this point in time, there were a few other suitors that are interested even Google and Yahoo themselves likely because they realized that there was a ton of content available on about.com. And it might just be a cleanup job that would make that content serviceable.
But it really wasn’t until 2012, when about.com was acquired by IAC, that things started looking up. IAC, in case you didn’t know is an internet holdings company that essentially acquires things that they think they can turn a ton of revenue in and they make them into revenue-generating machines.
You may be familiar with them because they created things like Vimeo, as well as other great successes through the years. But you can tell in their investor relations report here where they have been responsible for things like Angie’s list, Tinder back in the early days, as well as acquisition.com, Ticketmaster, Match and LendingTree.
So bottom line, when you have a company that’s acquired by IAC, it’s typically nine times out of 10 going to be successful in some shape or form. And that’s exactly what they did with about.com. Since that takeover, IAC took them into this approach of really refining the content quality of about.com, which they then rebranded as Dotdash to become a holdings company of itself of different internet properties.
Digging into Dotdash’s website
So in the case where you actually navigate to the Dotdash website, you will see these key metrics advertised in which they have a hundred percent organic traffic, a hundred percent expert created content, which still speaks to that original idea of about.com, where if you’re an expert anywhere on a particular topic you contribute. And then, and then you have over a million plus monthly page views along with engagement with one in three people in the United States.
If you know anything about advertising, you know that advertising revenue in the United States is always priced higher than other countries, just because the conversion rate in terms of average order value, as well as the monetary spending power of United States consumers are typically greater than other countries. So this is an incredible brand in which Dotdash has essentially become an absolute juggernaut of the internet, where they now have 21 plus years of data, but they also have 14 premium brands.
Some of Dotdash Brands
If you go through their website and look at some of these brands, you will likely have interacted with them in the last month or two of your internet experience. You’ll probably have stumbled upon something with Investopedia or The Balance, which covers a ton of different general topics, Spruce or even if you’re looking for different recipes, you might’ve come across something from Serious Eats or Simply Recipes, but these are all part of the Dotdash company.
One company that I definitely interacted with a few years ago was ThoughtCo where there is a ton of opinion pieces and things like that, that people would contribute to. Ultimately, what IAC identified was that about.com had so much raw content that if it were just to focus itself and go deeply into these subdomains of particular areas of topical authority, that they can really translate that linked juice over while also preserving all of that existing traffic that about.com had.
And so they essentially refreshed everything in which they took what used to be one big hub site about.com and they split it out into different satellite websites of particular domain authority. And the reason why that was a super impactful strategy was because it aligned well with the direction of Google as well.
Dotdash content marketing strategy
Throughout the last 10 years, Google has prioritized really emphasizing topical and domain authority over the years, as opposed to the earlier days where you might have a broad-reaching website on a variety of different niches. So when you’re searching for something like gardening tips, you might come across a smaller website that’s outranking, a bigger one just because Google thinks that they cover that particular niche within the niche better than that bigger website. And this is something that Dotdash has essentially replicated over and over again.
Every few years, if you visit that brand’s page, you’re going to see that they have opened up a completely new website around some particular area of authority.
And what’s really interesting about all of these domains is that they are all big moneymakers for the most part. There are things around liquor and travel. And there are also things around money. And so, you know, that advertisers are going to want to be spending a lot of money on Investopedia because Investopedia is going to have a really high conversion factor of which if I am a TD Ameritrade or Fidelity, looking to get people to create new accounts, people that want to get educated on finance are going to want to be more likely to actually open that account.
So what you can see here is Investopedia is a master domain site that essentially covers a ton of different content around these particular topics. And when you click into any of these particular posts, especially in the education side, what you likely to come across is an expert having written that guide.
And that’s really where things have scaled really well for Dotdash. You’ll notice how they have essentially had Jean folder here who has over 15 years of experience as a financial writer talking about the best investments for military families. So this is going to have way more authority than the Joe Schmo that’s making a website around investments for military and families, just because they have the background of the domain ranking of Investopedia, coupled with the authority of the actual writer and then pretty good content overall as well.
In the case where you’ve ever stumbled on a Dotdash website, you know that they all follow a very similar format. They always follow on page SEO principles in terms of having the core heading as well as the breadcrumbs, they always follow some sort of best of post or listicle post or comprehensive post on a particular phrase that has long tail traffic if you were to run it through a tool like keywords everywhere. And they always have clear navigation on the left-hand side as to some of the different topic areas. And they also do a ton of interlinking.
So notice how, as I hover through this post, all of these things are interlinking between other articles on Investipedia. The reason why is because Investopedia wants you to stay on their site. And so this is something that is just done at a massive scale, and it generates a ton of revenue.
Dotdash as a fastest growing business
In fact, if you were to look at to this Axios post, IAC has a ton of different businesses, but Dotdash is their fastest growing business. And what you can see here is that in the last two quarters in Q1 of 2021, Dotdash generates $65 million in revenue and in the second quarter, $73 million in revenue.
So I just doubled that and I can assume that they’re going to generate at least 275 plus million in revenue. I would guess actually though, that their estimate is gonna be closer to over 300 million. Because if you just look at the historical trends, a lot of the advertising dollars are going to come in Q4 of this particular year.
So this is really powerful because what Dotdash has realized is that if they just create new content because they have so much domain authority, they’re likely to rank really quickly for that content. And as a result, generate even more money. So you can see here how they are making investments and they’re also doing things like acquiring several new sites, like Simply Recipes, Serious Eats, Liquor.com, Treehugger, and so on.
So what you can see is that since they realized that this strategy works, they’ve just been emanating every single company that needs to potentially fall into their brand because they think it’s a domain where they can really have some clout in that particular area of expertise.
What I hope you realize from this is that Dotdash has essentially used the same principles that we teach on this channel to getting organic traffic over time. The only difference is that Dotdash just has way more resources than you or me. And they have been doing this at a massive scale that you’re regularly updating their posts, they’re regularly creating new posts, they’re regularly interlinking. All of these principles are the same principles that we learn on this channel.
And so what you can take from this is that if you just find the right niche for yourself, as well as create content consistently over long periods of time, you too can also grow your audience over time and earn revenue from that audience. We are in an unprecedented time in which it is easier than ever for you to also own a piece of the pie.
So if Dotdash is not inspiring to you, I don’t know what it is because it would be awesome to just have a digital holding company that has 14 different brands or so, all diversified that all generate revenue pretty much like a real estate empire source. In fact, I would argue that that’s an even bigger opportunity than just having a real estate empire, because you actually have the upside of the internet on your side.
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