We have reviewed Yahoo, MSN, Marketwatch, AOL and CNNMoney’s Personal Finance offerings in the earlier posts and in this final section of finance related site reviews we are going to take a look at Seeking Alpha from the Web 3.0 perspective.
Seeking Alpha is a leading provider of financial news, information, stock market opinion, analysis and portfolio management tips from various financial and stock market related blogs, money managers and investment newsletters. The site, founded by David Jackson in early 2004, has garnered a tremendous fan following in the past one year. According to Alexa Rankings the three month average traffic rank for the site is 5,341.
The site is a one-stop-shop for stock research and a very good resource center for investors and traders. Compared to its peers (Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, Marketwatch) in the investing and stock research realm, Seeking Alpha is a much better resource if you are looking for free opinion and analysis of individual stocks, sectors or markets. The site stands out for the quality of information, analysis and community features and is probably the only financial blog that deserves a separate review. The site syndicates content to other sites like Yahoo Finance.
Seeking Alpha covers the whole gamut of investments. The organization of the content under categories like The Market, ETFs, etc. is systematic, well organized and easy to navigate. The Market category for example provides analysis of the market and includes various topics under – Market Outlook, Today’s Market, IPOs, Housing, Dollar / Currencies, Earnings, Economy, M & A and Hedge Funds. Every category is covered in detail and has very good contextual navigation.
The site provides stock market opinion with contribution from more than 200 writers, majority of them being finance/business professionals with interesting perspectives. The quality of analysis is inherently much higher than elsewhere in the blogosphere. Content is, by far, the jewel of Seeking Alpha’s offering. The site offers stock related stories, stock picks, conference call transcripts, information on IPO’s, Exchange Traded Funds, Small Cap Stocks, Hedge Funds and updated housing data. The site also offers sector specific information on Biotech, Consumer Electronics, Energy, Gold and Precious Metals, Internet, etc. and country specific information on India, China and Japan. Quotemedia.com provides detailed information on stock quotes and charts. What I like the best among these is the free conference call transcripts, a very useful feature that is helpful to people researching a particular company, and ofcourse the insightful analysis from bloggers all over the world.
Currently the site is completely free and this is one of the main reasons for its popularity. We were unable to spot any commerce features on the site. However, going forward the site could provide some premium services like newsletters, sector analysis, etc. on paid subscription or pay per download basis. The site could also act as a distribution platform for analyst reports.
Seeking Alpha has managed to develop a huge community across the globe of contributing writers by syndicating their blogs into a well organized portal. It is effectively a group blog, and the site is ranked 177 among blogs by Technorati. It doesn’t, however, do as good a job in engaging the reader community yet.
Seeking Alpha users can log into the site after registration. Registration allows a user to subscribe to the various stock specific information, articles, theme related write-ups, country related information, etc. The user can manage his account by changing the category or the number of articles in each category. The user can either opt for receiving daily headlines or full article on publication by email or on a Blackberry. The only drawback is that the site does not provide any option to view one’s compare portfolio of investments, as the other top financial sites do.
The search engine of the site provides stock specific information on a pre-defined set of parameters and does not allow vertical search. The site will do well to incorporate vertical search features in its search engine that will allow its users to screen stocks on various parameters.
Seeking Alpha earns revenues from advertisement posted on its site and sponsorship programs. Seeking Alpha has three advertising programs – 1) Transcript Sponsorships for Large and Small Companies, 2) Direct Advertising for Large and Small Advertisers and 3) Google AdWords for Small Advertisers. Out of these the transcript sponsorship has the potential to be a significant money spinner and the site could expand this to provide download of company related presentations, financials, press releases, etc.
Seeking Alpha’s business model, however, also includes licensing its content to other portals. Yahoo’s Financial Blogs service, for example, is powered by Seeking Alpha. It’s a deal that was seminal in getting the company its funding from Benchmark, Israel.
There are many newspaper / media companies who could use a strong online financial offering as a vertical, and Seeking Alpha should position itself to meet this need. In doing so, however, it would need to beef up its own offering significantly, to be at par with Yahoo! Finance and the other sites we have reviewed in the category. For example, companies like Washington Post or NYT could easily, with relatively minimal investment, get into the finance vertical by leveraging Seeking Alpha. A revenue sharing deal with some upfront license fee would be easy to create.
Overall, our Web 3.0 rating is as follows: Context : A+, Content : A+, Commerce : C, Community : A, Personalization : B-, Vertical Search : C.