Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

The World’s Largest Treehouse for $7 million!

I thought I had treehouses pretty well figured out. Kind of like a cubby house except up in a tree, right?! Bart Simpson’s got one. Perhaps your Dad made you one as a kid too, right? Whatever. This is a whole different thing, baby!
 

worlds biggest treehouse The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!

When I first heard about this I figured it was a gift from the Sultan of Brunei to his 5 year-old kid for Christmas. I mean, wasn’t he the bloke that gave his 18 year-old daughter, like, an Airbus for her birthday?!

But no, the deep-pocketed client for these amazing treehouse builders is in fact some funky old peer called Lord Northumberland. Taking over four years from conception to construction, his piece-de-resistance – the TreeHouse – has full disabled access and provides full facilities for its 120-seat restaurant(!), along with three separate resource rooms – all suspended between 16 Lime trees!

worlds biggest treehouse 2 The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!

Says one commentator:

Located on the grounds of Alnwick Gardens just 95 miles south of Edinburgh (and next to the Alnwick Castle, the very one used in the Harry Potter films), this 6,000-square-foot tree house leviathan soars 56 feet above the ground and is connected with 4,000-square-feet of suspended walkways.  It has a restaurant that seats 120 people as well as classrooms, cafes, turrets, wobbly bridges, and imported wood from all over the world.

Oh, and it cost $7 million.

John Harris and TreeHouse Company

So who’s behind this amazing achievement? A fella called John Harris and his crazy crew called TreeHouse Company. He’s been passionately building these things most his life and he’s even got two coffee-table books in print.

treehouse harris The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!

John’s website explains:

TreeHouse Company founder, John Andrew Harris has had a fascination with tree houses since he was a child. His first one built by his father from a pallet and packing case is still fondly remembered. This passion has continued into his adult life, even honeymooning in a tree house in Malaysia.

Seeing the enormous potential in the market, the amateur turned professional with the creation of TreeHouse Company and has now been involved with over 600 TreeHouse projects across the globe. John has now a growing staff including craftsmen, tree surveyors, and designers, all as equally dedicated and passionate about the TreeHouses they create as John himself.

There’s obviously no room here to show you more than a handful of the projects TreeHouse Company have done, but I’ve included some of the bigger ones here. And I gotta tell ya, if the carpenter in you is not salivating at these pictures, then put the hammer and nails down now… you’re a danger to yourself!

treehouse4 The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!treehouse1 The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!treehouse2 The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!treehouse3 The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!treehouse5 The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!treehouse6 The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!

So what’s this got to do with blogging?

Well, go over and take a look at their website. It’s at http://www.treehouse-company.com:

treehouse website The Worlds Largest Treehouse for $7 million!

Now, nice as this site is visually (I’d give it a 5/10 for that), you’d figure that a company making the most amazing treehouses in the world was always going to have it easy on the eye-candy factor… I mean they’re amazing pictures, any way you look at it. So the visuals were always going to be important (hey, we want to see these puppies!) but fairly easy, with a killer product like this.

But to me, the absence of a blog on a site like this is a tragedy. We’re talking massive lost opportunity. Think about this: the story I am publishing here is old news. I mean, the Guardian in the UK ran their review piece back in January 2005. And yet, the TreeHouse company website languishes on page 2 in Google, with a paltry 46 backlinks that Google knows about, on a keyword they should own.

So here’s what I’d do right now, if I was Mr Harris:

  1. Setup a flickr.com account.
    Upload as many high-quality images as possible for as many treehouse projects as possible. Create sets for each project; geocode everything, add descriptions to everything; tag them all carefully. If there are other treehouse images on Flickr, politely and constructively comment on them, and link back to your own sets to make comparisons. If there are enough treehouse images on Flickr but no group, start one.

    Why stick the images on Flickr, and not just your own site? Because Flickr is the Grand Central Station of amateur protography (and a lot more besides), and your photos on Flickr will drive a lot of traffic to your site. Hint: make your username the same as your domain name.

    (I could go into a long explanation about why any image-intensive site should host their images on Flickr, or possibly Picasaweb, for the promotion-value and traffic-generation potential inherent in that approach, but that’s for a later post.)

  2. Rebuild the site in WordPress.
    A good developer can make WordPress look like just about anything you want, and failing that there’s Drupal or Typepad, or lots of other lovely open-source CMS/blog goodies to choose from.

    A blogging platform like WordPress will plug you into the magic of RSS, which provides the power to broadcast website updates to the furthest reaches of cyperspace. I assume my readers already understand this much!

  3. Sign up for, and hook into Feedburner and Technorati.
    At this moment in time, these two services get my vote as the two most valuable promotions mechanisms for bloggers (other than maybe ping services and bookmarking sites). Feedburner takes your RSS feed and tricks it up with some very nice “bells and whistles” like email subscription (see my sidebar), multi-format feeds, HTML conversion and so forth. Technorati adds a blog search engine and directory-of-sorts, and tagging (see below).

  4. Make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog, bookmark your pages, and “digg” your posts.
    At the bottom of each of my posts are two AddThis buttons, one for subscribing and one for posting. Further, a number of my (more major) posts, like this one, have a digg button at the top of the post. Why do I have these? Because the overall success and popularity of my blog has so much to do with how easily I make it for people to “connect” to me, in one way or another.

  5. Retrospectively post on completed projects.
    For TreeHouse Company, I would want to see more than just moving existing content across into WordPress (or whatever CMS is used). I’d want to see them embrace a different approach to content entirely, that takes greater advantage of the blogging platform and what RSS can do to drive traffic. For a start, I’d want to see series of posts related to each treehouse project, detailing the steps in construction… with loads of pictures and anecdotal detail. I want – as a reader – to be sucked into the life of the project. I want to get as close to the experience of a TreeHouse Company client as possible. So give me that experience as I read a succession of blog posts!

  6. Tag your posts.
    Technorati, delicious and other blog indexing/search/bookmarking sites are typically build on a taxonomy, popularly called tagging. Tagging is a way to explicitly identify the keywords and concept terms of your blog posts (and site content) so that these other sites can index it accordingly. It’s simple, but again, this discipline of tagging exposes and promotes your website more fully and accurately around the web. So do it!

    There are a number of plugins and mechanisms to make tagging easy. WordPress users tend to favour a plugin called Ultimate Tag Warrior.

  7. Continue posting in a disciplined, and occasionally intriguing fashion.
    No-one likes a dead blog. Google certainly doesn’t like a dead blog (or site). So consider including blog posting (read: site content updating) in the job description of your marketing/PR staff, or better still, your own role. Have fun with it. Keep taking lots of photos. Maintain a conversational tone. Tell lots of stories. And often enough, find an intriguing angle that gives your posts a compelling title.

    For example, any “architectural” challenge or problem with a given treehouse project is a great opportunity to make a bid deal about the way the solution came about.

    It’s bushfire season here in Australia, so my thoughts are in that direction. I can imagine a post titled: Fire-proofing your treehouse when everything is made of wood. That at least sounds like a fun read!

  8. Track visitor stats and study the search terms for blogging subject-matter.
    There are few hosting companies that don’t include traffic stats for free, but failing that there’s Google Analytics, which is great (and free), and a new service I’m currently testing called 103bees.com. What is cool about the latter is that their service specifically helps you look at the “long tail” of your incoming search engine traffic: the hundreds (maybe thousands) of variations of search engine phrases that land people on your website in the ones and twos. It’s often these permutations and combinations that give you ideas for future posts.

    In general then, you need to regularly and diligently study the search terms that people used that got them to your site, for clues on what to blog about next. Your goal is to have blog posts with titles that match all the different subject areas people care about, related to treehouses (ergo, your site).

Ok. I’m going to stop there. But I’d love to hear reader comments on what I may have missed. And of course I’ve missed stuff. Consider this post just the start of a “site review” for our amazing treehouse builder, Mr Harris. By the way, he didn’t ask for this review, it’s just that his site was weak and his world-record-sized treehouse was the linkbait I couldn’t resist!

So over to you, dear blogger friends. What else should Mr Harris do?

Update

I got in trouble with the CEO of the Treehouse Company and rightly, so… I didn’t ask for permission to republish all these images on my site here. I should know better. He has asked me to include the following statement here, which I am pleased to do; and I do ask that — unlike me — you abide by it:

All images are the property of TreeHouse Company and are subject to copyright, © 2001 – 2007. Images are also subject to the design rights vested in them. The images above are displayed with the express permission of TreeHouse Company and must not be reproduced in any way, manner or form without written permission from TreeHouse Company. Permission may be obtained in the first instance by writing to jharris [at] treehouse-company [dot] com.

33 Comments

Note: Commenter website links are not no-followed, in case
you were wondering... I believe in rewarding commenters!

  1. Agret
    Posted 7 years, 7 months ago // Permalink

    Disagree with point 2, wordpress is rubbish for a high volume site. It’s coded really badly and dies under a couple hundred simultaneous connections.

  2. Posted 7 years, 7 months ago // Permalink

    You make good points if your goal is to increase traffic to your site, but is that what these people would really want?

    Perhaps more traffic would just tie them up with more questions (in blog posts, IM and email), but not really lead to more clients? Hard to say unless we knew where most of their clients find out about them. Maybe magazine and newspaper articles are the best way to reach their paying clients, and the web site will only ever play a supporting role to old-media advertising.

    Then again, getting tons of traffic could lead them in new directions, too – they already have a couple of books out, and would no doubt sell more copies if more people knew about them. They could also create videos and other merchandise, maybe even do a season of TV shows. And they could sell simple PDF plans that don’t rob them of clients (e.g. plans for kids’ tree-houses, cardboard cutout-and-fold models, etc).

    I’m just thinking out loud here, I guess, but it’s worth bearing in mind that simply increasing traffic is not always the main goal of a site owner.

  3. Alister Cameron
    Posted 7 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    Agret, you are mistaken, at least as regards the latest version/s of WordPress, subsequent to the code clean-up undertaken by one of the members of the MySQL core team… a clean up that has really sped things up and optimised all DB connections and related concerns.

    Site like problogger.net, for example, run on it just fine.

    So I can’t agree that the codebase is rubbish. It may once have been, but no more.

  4. Alister Cameron
    Posted 7 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    Darren – good thinking! I think we cannot assume what a creative entrepreneurial type can achieve with a well managed blog :)

    It’s just my job to make that a possibility for them.

  5. Posted 7 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    You make some very good points here. As more of a marketing consultant, here would be some of my suggestions since he must be working with an “upper income” demographic.

    1) Instead of a company blog, have a CEO blog, so that the personal touch in reaching his customers is there. The CEO also has written two books, so this is also a way to keep in touch with his readers as well. An author’s blog can be promoted within his books.

    2) YouTube Contest – Have his customers supply video to YouTube giving tours of their treehouses.

    3) Design contest for Children – Have Children submit ideas and drawings of their fantasy treehouse along with an accompanying story explaining their idea(s). This can be tied into a television or cable channel such as Nickelodeon as a sponsor.

    4) Foundation or Non-profit – The company could set up and promote a foundation or non-profit on their site to allow the building of treehouses for those less fortunate. This could include camps fot special needs children, inner-city children, or children living in orphanages in formally war-torn parts of the world.

    5) Museums or Nature Centers – Another target audience could be a nature center where they are teaching children about building eco-friendly houses or want an “attraction”. The amount of children and families experiencing a treehouse would again lead to more inquiries.

    Just some ideas for further promoting the treehouse phenomenon.

    Andrew Kaplan
    eWarrior and MediaMensch Networks
    http://www.mediamensch.com
    http://www.ewarrior.com

  6. Posted 6 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    Don’t we have to expect to meet hobbits in those houses?

  7. Posted 6 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    I would welcome the opportunity to work with this company to explore some of the ideas mentioned above. We have recently put a team together to help companies execute on these.including providing a way to be on network tv.

    Andrew Kaplan
    http://www.facebookenthusiast.com

  8. Posted 6 years, 10 months ago // Permalink

    Amazing house, it like a bird house. The threehouse company is a wise company. You got some deep useful things from this case. I’m sure you have got more traffic with your blog promote plan.

  9. Posted 6 years, 7 months ago // Permalink

    Found this post late but you’re spot on!

    I’ve been researching treehouses for over a year now for a new project called TreeHouseBuzz.com

    And I see a LOT of websites, almost all of them are disappointing, especially those in the holiday/vacation rental field. These people have some amazing properties but rarely are they doing them, or themselves, justice on the web.

  10. Posted 6 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    “I thought I had treehouses pretty well figured out. Kind of like a cubby house except up in a tree, right?! Bart Simpson’s got one. Perhaps your Dad made you one as a kid too, right? Whatever. This is a whole different thing, baby!”
    I agree with you, this is absolutely different from the treehouse image I had in my head. This is amazing art!

  11. Posted 6 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Wow… $7 million for a treehouse? Are you kidding?

  12. DaniMaen
    Posted 5 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    It’s realy a pitty, but the website of Treehouse-Company is OFF – since months!! What happened there??

  13. Posted 5 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    Thanks for alerting me to that, Dani.

    I dunno what the story is there. Quite a number of months ago they emailed me asking to elaborate on my ideas to help promote/design their site. I didn’t get back to them at the time for a number of reasons…

    Short answer is I have no idea why they’re not there any more!

    Bummer!

  14. Posted 5 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    With the credit crunch less people are buying $7m homes, let alone a tree house! Perhaps they’ve forgotten to renew their domain or appearing on page 2 is not good enough and if they’d taken on board Alister’s generous advice, and utilised social media, they’d see results.

  15. DaniMaen
    Posted 5 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    http://www.treehousecompany.com is a different company at an other loaction with an other proprietor. The Domain is valid till 2016, but maybe it’s the Webspace/Server?!
    http://whois.domaintools.com/treehouse-company.com

  16. Posted 5 years, 10 months ago // Permalink

    Wow, what an interesting story. Great suggestions for how they could have improved their web presence. Too bad they didn’t take advantage of your good advice. But those tree houses sure did look impressive.

  17. DaniMaen
    Posted 5 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    Hi Alister ,

    did You get a response from Mr. Harris?
    By the way, I wonder where is left my first posting?

    DaniMaen

  18. Posted 5 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    Thanks Russ. And others. It seems they’ve disappeared. Bummer. Takes a bit of the gloss off this article, doesn’t it!? On the other hand, it makes this article all the more a “focus” of discussion about that company! Should I be upset?? *wink*

  19. Posted 5 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    Looks like their site needs some serious work, it's showing as a plesk login page now. good advise Alister.

  20. Posted 5 years, 6 months ago // Permalink

    Despite of the awesome tree house…, a hints of the traffic generation is likely catches me, thanks for the tips it’s my first time here likely I’ll be back for more….

    :).

  21. andrew
    Posted 5 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    this is the best place 4 u 2 vist as i went wit auchencruvie horticulture college and it has not just the best treehouse but it also has 1 of the best gardens that u can walk round so if you are thinking of going then go as it wont dissappoint

  22. Posted 4 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    That is one kick a@# treehouse!!

  23. Trod
    Posted 4 years, 9 months ago // Permalink
  24. Posted 4 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    That tree house is amazing. I know a local company http://www.treetopbuilders.net that builds tree houses – fascinating business! But $7MM – unbelievable!

  25. Posted 4 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    I like the idea of having the CEO blog instead of the company blog to maintain the human aspect, rather than shameless self-promotion.

  26. Posted 4 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    My treehouse consisted on two planks of wood, badly hammered onto a small tree right at the back of the garden. The exact opposite of the lavish building above.

  27. Posted 4 years, 2 months ago // Permalink

    I would have to say that this is one of the best ideas I have seen, very unique and different, I would say you have cornered the market for tree houses

  28. john gomez
    Posted 4 years ago // Permalink

    This is not (by far) the world’s largest treehouse. The largest is approx. 10,000 sq. ft and located in Crossville, TN, USA.

    Here’s a link

    http://zuzutop.com/2009/10/the-worlds-greatest-treehouse/

  29. Posted 3 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    I though this was an article about treehouses but it turned out to be an SEO post. Very useful though.

  30. Posted 3 years, 10 months ago // Permalink

    I just had a fantastic time looking at this with my two little boy’s. Guess what daddy has to build now… really inspired by what you have done. Thanks

  31. Posted 3 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    My boy’s made me come back to this article, from two little guys under ten they would like you to know that this is officially better than lego! Now that is a first, mmm not sure how this dad is going to reach these standards, off to get the book!

  32. Posted 3 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    Hi again just thought I would update again about tree houses busy building one with my boys and will send a picture soon. Not so easy to do it properly, keeps getting more technical as we go along!

  33. loco cuaro
    Posted 3 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    Cool tree house

35 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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