Becoming An Online Casino AffiliateAs a player-cum-affiliate myself, a number of Meister forum regulars have asked for information on becoming online casino affiliates. So I've put together my take on what it takes to make a go of it. It's easy to get something up and running, but hard to make it pay, and even harder to make a living from it unless you have a few things going for you. But it is possible, and while it's become a very competitive market, opportunities still exist for the dedicated affiliates.
The first key element to becoming a succesfull casino affiliate is being an experienced player. If you are going to get valuable players following your recommendations, you need to know your "Reverse Withdrawal" from your "Withdrawal" and your "Deuces Wild" from your "Loose Deuces"! Well maybe not exactly those two things, as you may focus in other areas, but you're getting my drift I'm sure. If potential players can see you know what you're talking about, you won't just be attracting one-hit bonus hunters. If you've played a dozen or so different online casinos, on different software, you're probably in a good starting position for affiliate stardom!
Secondly, it's important to know the basics of putting a website together. You don't need much more than HTML, but it helps if you know enough to make maintaining it easy. Online casinos are constantly moving on, changing stuff and generally keeping you on your toes, so you'll need to keep your eye on things and make changes fairly regularly. The casinos will help of course, with casino afilliate programs and program managers there to assist you - and bug you if you lag behind! If you know a bit more about programming, it makes sense to have a site running from a database so one change will reflect across the whole site. A good sense of design helps...maybe not essential, but your information certainly needs to be well laid out and easy to read.
The third, and most challenging aspect, is getting your site noticed. I can't begin to explain how complex an issue it is to achieve this, but suffice to say you're going to need traffic in reasonable quantities, and by trafic, I mean "targetted" traffic. So you have to know some stuff about "Search Engine Optimisation" (SEO) before you start. Google is the main search engine for gambling traffic, but don't even think about targetting the keywords "online casino" until you are established. It will take months, even years to get strong Google placements on competitive terms, but your knowledge as a player should help you identify some "niche" search terms that you could aim for a good rank with. Webmasterworld is your starting point for SEO stuff. Take a day out to research before you even start writing your website. It will save a lot of time later.
Finally, content. Good strong honest information is the way to go. Avoid stuffing your pages with banners and bonus offers, as it will harm your site ranking over time and attract the wrong type of player. Plus if you want my opinion, signing up for a bonus is not good advice to give a player as the Terms are so restrictive these days. Aside from which, bonuses are constantly changing and keeping on top of them can be a nightmare. Try for unique info, based on your experiences and tell players the good and the bad. Above all, don't promote online casinos that you either wouldn't play yourself or have a bad reputation on the player forums. Research! Aside from the ethical standpoint, if a player doesn't like where you send them ,they'll move on and you've lost them, probably forever. When you consider you affiliate your players for life, and you often only get one chance to get them onboard, you don't want to waste the opportunity!
For more information and to see the community in action, the best place for online casino affiliates to check out is the GPWA forum which is a pretty active and helpful place to be. If you want a list of affiliate programs for decent casinos to get started, along with plug-in bonus information then check out Affcaff.
Finally, what to expect. If you're starting a new site from scratch (get a memorable or keyword-rich, but short as possible, ".com" domain name by the way!), you're not going to see much income for at least six months, unless you get really really lucky. You're not going to see your site indexed well in Google for 6-9 months minimum (the "Sandbox" - check the Webmasterworld "Google News" forum for more on that), and you're not going to see sustainable traffic for a similar period unless you can get good strong incoming links in place. many affiliates buy links, especially to get started, but if you follow this route, get links from relevant sources - ie: other gambling sites. Avoid free linking exchange programs and do it the hard way. Google and Yahoo are very wise to "unnatural" linking methods simply to improve ranking, yet linking is one of, if not THE, most important factor in how search engines rank websites.
FOr those of you who haven't already, please join our Webmasters Group in the forum. We also publish a newsletter for affiliates and affiliate managers. And of course there is more information on Casinomeister's Affiliate Resources page.
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