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MODQs – Can Affiliates be News Sites?

TAGs: Casino Scam Report, Editorial, gambling affiliates, Google, google news, Google Panda, iGB Affiliate Awards, Mike O’Donnell, modqs, Nieman Foundation, Online Casino Reports, Richard Gingras, serps

There are many different variables surrounding an iGaming affiliate site. There are the verticals that you cover, the brands you work with, the design of the site and, probably most importantly, the content. But cast your mind back to the simpler days where all you had to decide was the concept of the site. Perhaps this was determined by a solid exact match domain that you’d been able to get your hands on, maybe it was a specific niche that you felt was yet to be exploited or perhaps you felt that you had the power to build a brand.

Can Affiliates be News Sites?All iGaming affiliates will have their reasons behind the way in which they’ve created their websites. Some have come up with more general gambling guides and bonus or promotion directories. Others have specifically focused on reviews while others have been even more specific with sites based on a single product or event. iGaming sites like all of the above are not short in number. What does seem to be increasingly rare for affiliates, specifically in the iGaming sector, is to create a site based on news and current content. But given the success that sites in other industries have had, is it not worth a punt?

We already know that publishing news posts, blog content or more expansive articles can be a great way to gain traffic with almost all affiliate sites at least having some sort of blog. Unfortunately though, for most affiliates that’s as far as it goes. The extremely half-hearted attempts that can currently be seen across the internet are more often than not just the rehashing of news stories seen on larger B2B publications.

Matching Resources

Probably the best example of an affiliate around at the moment that uses news content to gain traffic and convert players is Goal. The site was awarded best newcomer affiliate at iGB Affiliate Awards last year and is powered by constantly updating content and breaking news from a team of dedicated journalists.

But it’s the last part of that sentence that sets them apart from most. It means that while they might serve as a good example for affiliates to follow, it will be near impossible for most to emulate Goal. The site is owned by the Perform Group, and as a result masses of resources are at their disposal.

Among others, they’ve just secured an advertising deal with RIM, they have the financial backing to take short term risks and the staff to constantly create new, unique and professional content. For the vast majority of affiliates, those resources will never be at their service so different ways in which you can compete on these levels are required.

Live streaming is something that affiliates have the ability to offer, or at least market, and this can generate extremely high levels of traffic. While Goal is showing the desktop affiliates how to take care of business, perhaps the mobile news in this area still remains to be exploited. While considering an area to focus on though, it’s worth remembering that while dedicating your site to news gives you slightly more freedom, in order to bring in the big traffic you’ll still have to pander, or Panda, to Google’s every need. But rather than worrying about SERPs, links and keyword stuffing in the main search pages, it’s Google News that you have to please.

Created following 9/11, Google News was originally just a demo created by a Google engineer to organise news into clusters. Now it’s a main news source for many in the digital sphere and, fortunately for affiliates, it returns results based on their relevance rather than the size of the site behind them.

While SEO may not be that important to your content in Google News, your news content could prove very useful for your SEO – an added bonus. In addition to potentially bringing in plenty of traffic, news stories can also attract significant amounts of social shares. It’s these social signals that we’re told are now being noticed by Google’s algorithm and even if they’re not, the added traffic certainly isn’t going to harm you.

But before you rush off to fill in your Google News applications, you should make sure that your site meets the requirements. Unfortunately these are quite strict with a particular problem for affiliates being that in their own words ‘We don’t want to send users to sites created primarily for promoting a product or organisation’.

For existing affiliates this could mean changing the structure of the site which is something many will be reluctant to do. But as Richard Gingras, head of News Products at Google, told the Nieman Foundation at Harvard last year; ‘audiences are evolving’. He explained how most sites are now seeing their home-pages receive just 25% on inbound traffic while a huge portion now goes to story pages.

Subject Matter 

Of course, there’s still the small matter of what you’re actually going to write about and even more importantly, how you’re going to get people to read it.  One way of making sure you get seen is to get on breaking news stories as they happen. While it may require you to drop everything at once every now and then it will certainly be worth it. Plus, being able to write an informed news article is now much easier than it once was. Rather than being at the scene, all you have to do is be at a computer, mobile or tablet and Twitter fills you in on all the latest anyway. Here is an area where affiliates actually have an advantage. Your work doesn’t need to be passed through sub-editors then to someone else to get uploaded. You can do it all straight away. While there may be the odd mistake, today’s audience are happy to forgive that in order to receive their news as soon as possible.

But if you’re not about for that lucky break and a huge story gets covered by just about every industry news source going, there are still opportunities for you to gain some traffic out of it.  The primary one is to use quote-led articles. Call up any well known contacts in the industry that you might know and get their opinions on the story in question. You’d be surprised when looking through newspapers just how many articles are topped by the comments of a person of significance – there’s no reason that you can’t do the same.

Of course, it’s always going to be easier to create content surrounding some gaming verticals more than it will be for others. The spectator verticals such as sports and poker provide infinitely more story opportunities. But for bingo and casino sites, there’s still plenty to talk about. Rather than digressing to unrelated topics and thus bringing in traffic that you’re unlikely to monetize, stories on any of the brands that you cover or any original research is always snapped up not just by users but also by other news sources.

Affiliate sites such as Online Casino Reports and Casino Scam Report continue to gain good traffic from Google News. But not only are these sites in the minority but even they could be doing better and bringing in more people to the site. It’s just a case of whether they and all the others are willing to put the work in.

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