The Affiliate Life: Getting Traffic

The Affiliate Life

We’re a couple months into the start of this journey, so how’s it going so far? Thought I’d cover the story of our growing traffic in this month’s instalment.

I’ve targeted standard research queries in football that relate to the usual betting markets, like stats for goals, cards & corners, over and under markets, betting stats for individual teams and more. There was no big research piece for this, these are searches I make on a daily basis as an avid football punter. I took the top 20 core betting markets and listed out 10-15 keywords that might rank for those pages – that’s a very simple 101 keyword strategy right there. Here are the traffic numbers for all you “no numbers” graph sharers!

Beginning in mid June, 16,360 users and of that number 16,363 of those were new visitors… clear evidence that Google analytics isn’t the most reliable tool in your arsenal! Actually if you’re not familiar with Google analytics, its Cookies dependant, so the data captured would be from visitors who allowed or kept cookies. It’s also browser and device dependent, so a visitor coming from the same device via a different browser could be viewed as a new user and so on. It’s useful for generalising within your marketing strategy, but if you need commercially critical data processing, you might want to eventually invest in a paid marketing suite.

StatsChecker

The tracking for StatsChecker.com kicked off in June, but as you can see from the sudden uplift in traffic there was already a smattering of visitor interest on day 1.

Here’s what happened…

I actually launched a holding website on statschecker.co.uk about 18months ago. I quickly loaded in some basic HTML content, some tables, text and shoved it live! In the background I worked on building the automated code that would handle all the football feeds and processed that into stats – This was not a coming soon site.

I picked out 5 key pages that I knew I wanted to rank with and put them live on a simple HTML only website. That took about a day to build and to the untrained eye it looked like garbage! But users were not my concern at that time, I wanted to invite Google to crawl my site long before it was ready to go live in its completed state.

Once a blackhat always a blackhat they say… that’s somewhat true! I bought ‘Click Through’ traffic to those 5 pages on the .co.uk version of my domain and after a short while that small set of pages started to earn “some” rankings for a decent set of keywords.

The traffic buying scheme is a peer to peer system, where end users (and bots) click on your links in Google serps and we theoretically appeal to any click through algorithms that may or may not be part of Google’s ranking calculations. It was not part of my long term plan, it was a leg up to test the capabilities of the small holding website and to put my site in contention for organic rankings when the true version went live. It’s controversial, it appeared to work, but with no A/B variant, the holding site might just have had its own ranking authority (I doubt that). I ran it on the .co.uk just to be precautionary.

So once the site was ready to go live, I launched onto the .com and ran the standard SEO migration redirects from my co.uk. I kept the click through (fake) traffic on the .co.uk URLs for about a week, which accounts for that sudden surge on the first few days of my traffic. But soon enough the ranking domains swapped over nicely in Google and my .com picked up where the .co.uk had left off, albeit without the fake traffic!

Here’s the thing… we were pretty much well into global lockdown at this point and top tier football had all but stopped! So there I was, ready to go, my current iteration of the site live and in full working order, but no football!

I’m thankful for all those involved that football is back, I am myself a gambling fan! It’s not my place to pass an opinion on lockdowns or pandemic strategies, so let’s just hope that the economics of our industry can function safely and with all arguments considered fairly in search of the best outcome for everyone.

As an affiliate site, you’ll want to know how that traffic translates into revenue – Well it doesn’t! I planned for a year 1 without any income at all and that’s where I am. I forecast my traffic to be ten times the volume it is now in a year’s time and that’s when conversations around deals start to become more serious. I’m not hitting the free bets search queries where visitors are primed to join a new site and take up a welcome offer. But I’m banking on my traffic numbers becoming so attractive that operators look at my site as a potential build board, where tenancy arrangements seem to be the most likely model. I’m averaging around 2,000 page-views per day on a full football day (Tuesdays, Saturdays & Sundays across Europe) and I earn around 00:02:30 of viewing minutes per session – but its growing more since its inception and each week it contributes to improvement.

There are some great stats sites already owning space within the affiliate world and there have been a number of acquisitions, so the value is visible from a simple traffic perspective. You can quite easily throw cash at fast tracked free bets / betting offers websites and hope to start knocking out a few ftds per month. Or you can build a service like Oddschecker, Racing Post or an OLBG and be useful. You’ll earn far better respect from Google if you have something else to offer on your website than just offers. I’ve just done the service bit first and I’m working on the promo pages next. That’s not to say sites like freebets.com aren’t useful, in their small niche they do a great job of fulfilling that new customer need to find a deal and that search volume is huge and probably the most conversion ready in our niche. But what you’ll find is that in the long run, Oddschecker or OLBG will eventually own more search space than all of the welcome bonus sites put together and their stock value improves for that reason.

The state of our affiliate industry

If you’re looking to build a new affiliate site yourself and all you can offer are bonus reviews and welcome deals, you’re about 10 years behind. If you’re good at what you do, you might earn some real estate – let’s face it, the state of SEO in our industry still shocks me!

Anyway, back to earning revenue! I don’t have “find me a new betting deal” traffic. But what I do have is “I’m about to place a bet” traffic, I’ve built a service. I’m part of the daily research experience for punters in the various football markets – just like Racing Post is to Horse Racing. Now, I’m light years behind their offering, but that’s where I’ll end up! The volume of searches that take place on a daily basis for research in football is monumental. As an SEO with a low budget startup, I can’t even afford the data package to collect that amount of info at the minute, I’d need SEMrush or aHREFs enterprise suites to fully analyse this market to its full potential and they’re thousands of pounds per month.

But I’ve dipped my toe in and instead of overwhelming my site with banners, I’ve tested the wording, tested the market and created a small mobile optimised modal to house a single deal related to my niche. It’s logical that the common football punter operates in both singles and multiples, accas are often the multiple of choice. So that for me represents the kind of deal my visitors want. Now herein lies the affiliate conundrum YOU (operators) want FTDs and I find affiliate managers often blindly look past a site’s potential because you target your staff (who are the frontline communicators) against obtaining new players.

The problem I have with this is, I know that the majority of big operators are quite simply terrible at SEO and they clearly know very little about their organic search positions – because affiliates own more of their search real estate than they’re aware of!

I’ve only met a small number of marketing heads from iGaming operators who have that discussion around repeat spend attribution through affiliates and its working for them. I’d imagine that sportsbooks only take you seriously as a lead generator when you start sending big numbers – but that’s not my point.

My point is a football stadium billboard with a footfall of around 10,000 views per week in a single lower league stadium has about about the same potential as a fairly decent sized blog with an actual click through tracking functionality, yet operators rely more religiously on that expensive football stadium banner over a blog tenancy rental – it baffles me!

Anyway – I’ve got an affiliate banner on my site finally. I’m collecting click data, I titled the banner with welcome offer text and guess what, no clicks! I put relevant existing player oriented wording on it and in 20 days it had over 100 clicks, no FTDs, but as an operator, do you want some traffic or no traffic. With my visitors primed to spend some cash, I have 30 or so bookies to pick from and I need to choose just 1 to send that click too – oh but you don’t want the traffic, you just want FTDs, silly me! 🙂

I’ll let you know how the affiliate life progresses next month…

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