Every once in a while I get a reminder about a little piece of internet history that I played a tiny part in.
A very tiny part.
60×30 pixels to be exact.
The Million Dollar Homepage was a short-lived sensation in 2005 when student Alex Tew had the idea of selling pixels on a site to raise money for college.
Rather than blow the money from his first sales on beer like his friends, Alex hired a PR, got himself on every TV and radio show going, and the site sold out. (You can read more about the story here.)
I got in on the ride fairly early.
Look closely around the upper right of this mosaic of soft porn and gambling offers and you’ll see this advert:
I bought it as a bit of a punt, for a bit under your $2,000. My finance manager wasn’t too happy, and it definitely never paid back in traffic or leads direct from the site.
But something else happened instead.
The Million Dollar Homepage got so much publicity – tens of thousands of blogs and mainstream news articles – that it gained “authority” in Google’s eyes. That authority was passed out to anyone it linked to and we all started seeing a hike in traffic from Google.
Our own page shot to #1 for the term “Win an Xbox”
So indirectly, through Google, rather than through milliondollarhomepage.com, we started getting a few thousand leads per month from this offer.
The $1800 I spent on the ad ended up getting us leads that were worth about $30,000 based on our costs through other channels.
I never bought the link with any intention of “gaming” Google, but it definitely taught me the value of getting links from very high profile websites.