The iGaming affiliate industry has matured a great deal over the past ten years, with one man show SEO “blackhats” once ruling the empire and now shifting to bigger affiliates with digital media companies behind them. Regardless of the current “super affiliate” dominance and success, much to the surprise of many, there is still a place in this market for the independent, content-driven smaller affiliate.
Experienced industry veteran Marit von Stedingk is the co-owner of three affiliate sites her team has launched over the past three years, Luckymobileslots.com, Luckymobilecasinos.com and Slotsumo.com. Her niche is mobile slots and she identified this niche early in the game before numerous mobile-focused iGaming affiliate sites began popping up. von Stedingk’s success with her affiliate sites, although not immediate, is proof there is still room in the iGaming industry for new affiliates.
To help spread the good word, I spoke with von Stedingk to get her thoughts on where the iGaming affiliate industry is going, how she has found success in an incredibly competitive environment and asked her to share some tips for fellow affiliates who could use some guidance and inspiration.
Becky Liggero: Marit, its always a pleasure to chat with you, thanks for joining me today. So lets get started…affiliate sites used to be all about bonuses and but there’s been a shift to a focus on slots and games. Why are we seeing this shift?
Marit von Stedingk: The ‘shift’ has been going on for several years in my opinion, so it’s not new, but there has definitely been a proliferation of the genre over the last couple of years.
Not that I can judge, when we first launched LuckyMobileSlots.com 2 years ago, that was exactly what was in our minds: slot review sites are doing well, why can’t we do it better? Because even then, there was plenty of other game review sites to compare to.
And whilst Google searches for bonuses and casinos are not dead (far from it), I think that as our industry grew and matured, the space for ‘bonus hunter’ websites simply got overly saturated.
You basically need to provide either something niche, something brilliant, or something different.
That, and I think many affiliates think it’s ‘easy’ content: just rehash all the information you find in the paytable of a slot machine and voila! You got yourself one more page for Google to crawl.
BL: Really interesting points. Seeing as these slot review sites are popping up all over the place and your affiliate sites are smack in the middle of it, how is it possible to compete & differentiate from the masses?
MVS: The last point helps a lot; though there are now a huge number of slot review sites, very few actually do it all that well.
We take the time to play and review each slot game, giving our opinion on the game, right or wrong. Some games take hours of play before you know for sure if it’s worth promoting.
Do I get annoyed when I search for a game and get a generic “Hey this one is great! It has 5 reels and everything!”, yes absolutely.
You have to have confidence in your content. What I write is unique, and we happily tell players when we really hate a slot, or worse, if it’s simply mediocre.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve not always gotten it right, but if you give an opinion on anything, that’s just part of the package. I remember I slated a slot once, only to have the software provider write to us and mention that it was one of their top 10 best performing slot machines… Whoops!
But I’d rather be wrong sometimes, and come across like you know what you are talking about, than sounding like you simply hired a generic content writer to put up facts on a page. Anyone can do that, and it doesn’t give any value to the player.
I’d like to think that our readers trust us a little more than most other affiliate sites out there because of it, and why we get a lot of returning visitors.
BL: I love that you actually take the time to play the slots and review them from personal experience. With this in mind, how important is an SEO strategy these days as compared to a few years ago when you first started as an affiliate?
MVS: As important as it’s always been. Though ‘strategy’ is a little bit of a loose term in our office. We are not SEO specialists and don’t pretend to be.
What we do, is we follow the basic rules of Google: write good relevant content, and the traffic will come.
Having a unique selling point and going niche works. Instead of reviewing every single new game that comes out, our site Slotsumo.com concentrates on medium to high variance games we come across in our travels. Very specific to high limit slot players.
But there has always been multiple ways of getting traffic; I know affiliates who do very well out of their Facebook pages (something we haven’t managed to achieve), or have PPC empire, or even manage to keep email marketing alive.
SEO is but one strategy you can use to get traffic, but it’s certainly not the be all and end all of affiliate marketing as it once was.
BL: So true, I remember when SEO was absolutely everything. So seeing as you’re a successful independent affiliate in today’s market, what is your response to the notion small affiliates are a thing of the past?
MVS: There is no doubt that there are many super affiliates springing up, just because they have the buying power to get a network of sites together.
Throw enough money at anything, and you can find some measure of success.
I think those are good signs for our industry, this merger and consolidation of companies shows that we are maturing, and for many it’s the next step in their growth.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s no space for innovation, there’s always room for someone with a bright idea to come and do what you do, but better.
Is it harder to compete? You bet. That just means that those who have no passion for the industry will fall behind, whilst the rest of us find the low hanging fruit that makes us stand out.
iGaming has always been an industry of entrepreneurs for a reason.
BL: Yes is has. After starting from scratch and being in the affiliate business now for a few years, what have been your biggest challenges along the way and how did you overcome them?
MVS: My biggest challenge was probably coming in late in the game; so many affiliates I know have been doing this for over a decade, and I just decided to show up 3 years ago.
It’s not been a fast growth. The first year was probably the hardest, and the easiest time to give up.
When you are writing so much content, but no one is reading it. you start to wonder why keep writing at all? Thank-fully, a good team here is key. When one of you is having doubts, there always needs to be a cheerleader to keep things moving.
Then, when we launched LuckyMobileCasinos.com, we started to make a little traction and I realised that I had to make a choice; either decide to do this and devote myself to it full time, or allow it to always be a pet project on the side of my ‘real’ career.
Having to make that jump, not knowing if the websites would be a success, was one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. Terrifying, exciting, and ultimately, rewarding.
Sometimes you just have to take a chance and see where the dice land.
BL: I’m honestly so proud of you, you’re an inspiration for the iGaming affiliate industry. What are the top tips you have for smaller affiliates wishing to enter the iGaming affiliate space?
MVS: Once you make that ‘jump’ it can be hard to stay motivated, especially if you play the SEO game and wonder why a terrible site is doing better than you on key terms that aren’t even relevant to them.
The thing is, you never know what goes on behind the scenes of your competitors site – maybe they are part of a vast network of sites from a super affiliate, who has the link advantage you don’t have. Maybe they go even more black hat than that.
The point is, you shouldn’t compare yourself, or try and replicate, your competitors. Always try and be better, and be your own flavour.
If anything, compare yourself to those really big sites you visit regularly, and trust for information.
They are the big fish who you want your site to stand shoulder to shoulder with, not the small fish who come and go from one day to the next for reasons unknown.
Think big, and chances are, players will agree.
BL: Inspiring advice Marit, thank you again for your time today and we’re all looking forward to seeing you at the iGaming Super Show.