In this article, I’ll offer you my own personal opinion, for what it’s worth. Before I do though I will make my usual caveats: I don’t claim to know how Google works, although I’ve got a pretty good idea through years of testing and experimentation, mostly with success and a few times with disastrous failure. So please don’t believe a word I say here, as it’s all based on my own experience, which may be different from yours or any other SEO’s.
What may have worked for me yesterday, may not work for you tomorrow. That’s SEO folks! – Get on it! or get the &#$% out!
Having spoken with hundreds of iGaming affiliates from the biggest player driving goliaths to newcomer “have a go, see what happens” guys, I’ve come to understand that there are two distinct types of affiliates.
I’ve also come to realize that depending on which type you are, determines your approach to SEO and link building.
Once you understand what I’m about to tell you, it will change your approach for the better and significantly improve your business and life. Furthermore, if you understand what I’m saying fully and take action, it could well turn you into a top performing affiliate superstar! So listen carefully.
The affiliates who believe they are capable of huge success and devise a plan, which they stick to, no matter what, always achieve huge success.
But get this…
They do so regardless of budget!
I’ve worked with small shoestring budgets and huge multi-million dollar funded affiliates (not to mention the world’s largest pure play and multiproduct operators). Here’s what I’ve come to learn:
The one distinguishing factor that separates successful affiliates from the unsuccessful affiliates is always self-belief. As William Shakespeare once wrote:
Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.
OK, so now (unless you’re one of the well-funded operations), you’ll be thinking, “How can I compete against the guys with the big budgets? Surely I’m far too late in the game to catch up.”
One word! Strategy!
The same way David beat Goliath – Strategy – It all comes down to your strategy, and that will be defined by making the best of what you have rather than making excuses because of what you don’t have.
In fact, in my experience, smaller affiliates with zero funding that think with the big affiliates’ mindset, in the long run tend to become the most successful affiliates. They play to their strengths and turn disadvantages into advantages, threats into opportunities.
When a small affiliate fails, it may mean that they go hungry – this ensures fast learning and longer term planning with defensive strategies to create stable income through diversity.
These affiliates eliminate volatility and manage risk – they tend to build long-term stable business. Some of which have gone on to run as operators and even software providers – as a provider of links there’s nothing I love more than nurturing a small affiliate client from a small account to a huge account.
The smart affiliate also knows that the house of cards may come crumbling down tomorrow, and they plan for it.
Let’s return to the two distinct mindsets of the SEO affiliate.
The Big Hitter vs. The Career Amateur.
The notable points of difference can be seen in the following four areas:
1) Your Expectations
2) Your Plan
3) Your Focus
4) Your Resolve
Perhaps I’m starting to sound less like an SEO and more like a life coach but these principles apply to every aspect of your life. The laws are universal regardless of your goal.
It applies to delivering first time depositing players, just as it does to academic, spiritual or artistic goals… but since we’re here for the money, I’ll try to keep on topic.
So let’s now look at these four areas. From my own experience working with both future big hitters and career amateurs, I’ve come to be able to distinguish the difference between the two type very quickly. Naturally, it’s not in my best interest to invest time in career amateurs but it is very much in my interest to invest time in future big hitters, no matter where they are in the lifecyle of their affiliate business. Some of my biggest and most lucrative long term relationships have come from playing the long game with small affiliate’s with ambitions and well made plans. Further more, it’s always a pleasure working with people who’s mind set is positive.
The Future Big Hitter Thinks: If I can mop up this long tail by writing lots of great content, and invest a little back into the link profile each month then soon enough, I’ll have budget to push the bigger phrases, who knows one day I may conquer the daddy of queries, “Online Casino”.
The Career Amateur Thinks: I’ll never be able to compete for the big phrases, I got in too late, the market is too saturated and what’s the point anyway, Google has outlawed link building
The Future Big Hitter Thinks: I’ve got a great portfolio of exact match domains targeting non-competitive converting transactional phrases, if I can get one of them ranking I can get two of them ranking (note: if you have any doubt about the power of exact match domains, or believe the propaganda served up by Google on this topic, I’d ask you to look at the Free Bets SERP in Google.co.uk as reassurance)
The Career Amateur Thinks: Ever since the Vince update, I need to build a brand and I don’t have the budget to do that so, I’ll put up the site, write a bit of content – Oh %*$& it’s not working! Anyone fancy a pint? No? I’ll put the TV on then instead. (note: Google themselves admitted that they’re unable to distinguish between a big or a small brand, the Vince update was a set of manual adjustments which appeared to be aimed to helping out some big brands with whitehat SEO strategies, because they were being destroyed by the savvy affiliate and link hungry operators)
The Future Big Hitter Thinks: I will allocate this much of my time and resource each month toward writing content, interlinking my pages, reaching out for links (paid, begged or otherwise) and I will stick to my plan. I’ll interpret the player values, I’ll improve my site’s performance by reviewing my analytics religiously, since my future as an entirely free-agent, with a long-term residual income, derived from one of the most efficient business models depends on it. I wonder who I can find who has walked this path before me. I could use a little support and council right now.
The Career Amateur Thinks: I’ll get back to work on… did someone say the game was on? I’ll get back to this another time.
The Future Big Hitter Thinks: Ah shit! One of my sites got a notification of unnatural links detected, lucky I’m got another 6 that are starting to generate traffic. Ah shit! I’ve just dropped 30 places for “Slots Online” but my roulette strategy posts are starting to rank – what can I learn from the drop, have I done anything I shouldn’t what does my anchor text footprint look like? Did any of the links I bought poison my site? Why did I get singled out, what else moved on that day? I guess I’ll stick to my plan and review in 7 days – I could always canvas the opinion of a few respected SEOs, it can’t be that hard to find someone or other.
The Career Amateur Thinks: Ah shit! One of my sites got a notification of unnatural links detected, I guess I’ll just wait and see how bad it is, if I’m lucky the impact will be minor. Ah shit! I’ve just dropped 30 places for “Slots Online” I knew it was unrealistic to think it was possible to get on page 1 for that phrase, I guess it must have been because I bought some links. Fuck this! Anyone fancy a beer?
So what’s it going to be? Yes, it’s really that simple. It’s a choice that only you can make. What have you done today to improve your affiliate business? Do you have a plan, are you focused and what will it take for you to quit or lose sight of the outcome?
Paul Reilly is the founder of Media Skunk Works. An Innovation Lab based at the University of York. He specializes in large scale, business critical link building for the iGaming industry and uses big data to avoid the many traps set by Google. If you wish to submit your own editorial pleasecontact Bill Beatty.