With more than 25 million monthly visitors according to Ahrefs, Bible Gateway claims to be the Internet’s largest Christian website, searched more than 2,000 times per minute. What’s their story?
Bible Gateway is one of the oldest websites on the Internet. Launched in 1993 by Nick Hengeveld, the site was initially just a static HTML version of the Bible.
In 1995 BibleGateway.com became part of Gospel Communications Network and over the next few years, it expanded rapidly, acquiring the rights to publish several other editions of the Bible in multiple languages.
In 2008 the site was sold to Christian publisher Zondervan and is a member of publishing giant Harper Collins Christian Publishing.
BibleGateway.com now offers more than 200 versions of the Bible in 80 languages along with a range of powerful tools for readers and students of the Bible.
Publishing the full text of the Bible in more than 80 languages means that Bible Gateway has a lot of content.
As a high-authority website, it can rank for 1.6 million keywords, including many popular searches.
SimilarWeb shows that although more than 60% of BibleGateway.com’s traffic comes from search, a significant 33% is direct.
Much of this is probably coming from Bible Gateway’s “Verse of the Day” email campaign:
As you can see, much of the home page is devoted to the email signup for this list, and it will be driving significant traffic back to the website every day when the Verse of the Day email goes out.
Which Keywords are Driving Traffic?
Bible Gateway’s top keyword, responsible for more than a million monthly visitors is a navigational query for their brand Bible Gateway. This is great, as they should always rank #1 for this term, regardless of Google updates.
All their other top terms are searches for psalms by number, or other biblical references by book, chapter and verse eg. John 3:16. Notice that many searches for psalms use the Spanish word “salmo”.
There are huge numbers of searches in these formats conducted every day, and Bible Gateway ranks well for many of them.
Which Countries does Bible Gateway get Traffic From?
Key to Bible Gateway’s success is that it’s not solely reliant on traffic from the United States.
Although more than half of its traffic is from the USA, it gets more than a million monthly visitors from Colombia and another million from Mexico.
Other countries sending significant traffic include the Philippines, Canada, Brazil and Argentina.
In total, nearly 40% of BibleGateway.com’s traffic comes from outside the USA, enabled by content in multiple languages, and strong demand due to the popularity of Christianity in these countries.
What About Backlinks?
Lots of other sites publish versions of the Bible, so what makes Bible Gateway able to out-rank them?
In a word, authority. BibleGateway.com is a DR 91 website with more than 2.5 million backlinks from more than 200,000 domains.
This is partly because Bible Gateway provides powerful study tools, like the ability to compare up to 5 versions of each passage from different bibles with just a few clicks.
Bible Gateway has also benefited from first mover advantage: As one of the first sites to publish a bible online back in 1993, the site has been accumulating backlinks for nearly 3 decades.
Finally, because BibleGateway.com is seen as a trusted and authoritative source, it has many powerful links from other high-authority sites like this DR 94 link from the New York Times, who chose to link to BibleGateway.com when referencing Matthew 2:13-23 in their article.
Bible Gateway offers a huge online Christian bookstore as an affiliate of Christianbook.com.
Christianbook.com offer more than 550,000 products and commissions of “up to 8%” although it’s likely that a site as big as BibleGateway.com will have negotiated a higher commission rate.
Although there’s an ‘Advertise with us’ link in the footer – there is very little display advertising running on the site, so advertising doesn’t seem to be an important revenue stream.
BibleGateway.com also offer a premium membership called Bible Gateway Plus, giving access to more study tools and fewer ads for $4.99 per month.
What we can Learn From Bible Gateway
- Develop useful tools within your niche, like BibleGateway’s verse comparison tools and they will attract links.
- A high-quality email list can drive lots of direct traffic back to your website.
- Linking throughout your site to an affiliate program from a reputable company that will interest your audience is a great way to monetise your traffic.