I have a special place in my heart for the iGaming affiliate industry and can remember when making money as an affiliate was easy as pie. My, how times have changed, but the good news here is that there is still room in the iGaming affiliate market for making lots of cash, but in many cases, you’ve got to have cash up front in order to make cash back.
In the case of Lucas Gerhardsson of Red Earth Ltd, having cash up front, $510,000 to be exact, scored him the gTLD domain “online.casino,” the most expensive publicly disclosed sale of this domain type. With the ideal empty canvas to build a powerful iGaming affiliate website, Gerhardsson and team have some ambitious plans to share with CalvinAyre.com in addition elaborating on the backstory.
Becky Liggero: Thank you for joining me today, Lucas and congrats on your record-breaking purchase! Can you tell us the story of how you became aware of the URL “online.casino” and why you decided to purchase it?
Lucas Gerhardsson: I actually got online.casino presented to me 2-3 years ago and since then I’ve always kept it in the back of my head. The first time I saw it, I understood that this is one of the best domains in the iGaming space. At that point there was no possibility for me to get it and when I started to think of a new project half year ago, this domain came back to my mind.
It took around 1-2 months of negotiation before me and Donuts Inc, the registrar who sold the domain, could agree on a price. Since they own the TLD (.casino) it was very important that a premium-domain like this was the home of something special, so I had to pitch the idea to them many times as well.
BL: I love how you were able to circle back to something that caught your attention years ago. Can you describe the current positioning of gTLD domains amongst all the choices out there and how your SEO strategy must differ with such domains if at all?
LG: The “new gTLD’s” are of course still far behind the .com TLD and country specific TLD’s, but me and many of my industry colleagues have seen a rise of new gTLD’s lately, both a rise in users and actual domains ranking in the search results.
The SEO strategy itself doesn’t really differ anything compared to any other domain. I wanted to go for a huge project this time and the strategy would pretty much be the same even if the domain is online.casino or something completely random. I do however believe we can get some SEO-benefits with this domain which I hope will give us an edge.
BL: Got it, it will be interesting to watch this space. In the meantime, the affiliate marketplace is incredibly competitive at present, how do you plan to create an affiliate site that will stand out from all the rest?
LG: It is competitive indeed, but that doesn’t mean that there is a lot of good affiliate websites. Some companies are doing great things, but I think there is still a huge potential for a data-driven website with a major focus on the players, not the search engines. Almost all affiliate websites are not built for players, but for Google.
I wish I could tell you more about the project, but right now we are swimming in post-it notes at the office and we need to see what we can show everyone in the first version of online.casino. What I can say is however that Online.Casino will give the players data, transparent analysis and honest reviews in a way they have never seen before.
BL: Ahh, I see—sounds like you’re on the right path with trying to offer something a little different. What geographical markets are you primarily focused on and why?
LG: This is a long-term project and the long-term objective is to launch “O.C” in all markets who are using “Online Casino” as a common phrase. In the beginning we will, however, focus on the U.K. and the U.S. market and recently got our first U.S. license approved.
BL: Of course, the New Jersey license—exciting times, indeed! How do you plan to use your iGaming operator knowledge from your time at GIG to advance your affiliate site online.casino?
LG: I do sometimes have a different angle on some things since I have my experience from the operator side, but in the end of the day it’s iGaming SEO and even if the strategies differ from affiliate to operator, we are still fighting about pretty much the same keywords. I would say my knowledge from working with eCommerce SEO is more valuable, especially from a data and technical point of view. The eCommerce industry is in general very good at optimizing and analyzing user behavior and turn it into beneficial changes for both the conversion rate, but also for their Google rankings.
BL: Interesting, thank you for sharing that perspective. You’ve been involved in SEO and search optimization for close to 8 years now, from your vantage point, how has SEO strategy shifted over that time, what is incredibly important now that may not have been so important back then?
LG: I’ve been working in different industries over these years and I would say you have to adapt your SEO to the niche you’re working within.
When it comes to iGaming it is clear that more and more sites are focusing on quality in everything. You need to deliver quality content whatever the content is, quality code, quality hosting, quality design etc. All quality signals are getting picked up by Google and these signals are determined based on data, so the biggest changes are that you need to work more with data to understand your visitors and what signals you’re sending to the search engines.
BL: Outstanding Lucas, thank you again for joining me today and we look forward to watching your progress with online.casino and beyond.