I'm With The Brand

I'm With The Brand

In a crowded affiliate space, brand strength is overtaking both SEO and content as the key to site strategy. Andy Scott looks at what’s in a name.

Published 11th October 2018

We have entered an era in which your brand is everything. Gambling affiliate sites with weaker branding are typically those with the lowest earnings and the race to compete is only going to get harder as some affiliates excel in brand growth and others fall behind.

Most affiliates have invested considerable time, effort and finances in SEO. But while SEO will continue to be an essential part of an affiliate site’s strategy, it is no longer possible to rely on common optimisation techniques alone. Affiliate site owners need to shape up their content strategy to benefit from a search-lead approach in an era in which brand is what matters most to users and, crucially, to Google.

What’s in a brand?
Think for a moment about how you get into anything new. You would likely start with a Google search and scan pages looking for what seems credible and comprehensive. In this early stage the brand means nothing to you; you care about content.

As you read more and more, you notice you’re spending the majority of your time absorbing resources from one or two brands over others. Eventually you stop searching Google and go directly to these sites for the information you seek. You sign up to their newsletter because you trust them; you place bets through their site because you trust them; and you recommend the site to your friends – because you trust them.

Building a strong brand is all about proving trustworthiness to the audience you serve. If you don’t, you won’t achieve brand loyalty and you won’t get the almighty tick of approval from Google, which is your primary opportunity to one-up on your competition.

Learning from the masters
Let’s look at Oddschecker as an example. Possibly one of the biggest affiliate sites in the betting world, Oddschecker is a simple concept – comparing odds, reading tips and placing bets – yet one that makes the site some serious money. Anyone with so much as a passing interest in gambling will easily recognise Oddschecker as a well-known, trusted brand. Everybody uses it for exactly this reason.

Of course, Oddschecker didn’t become a mega-brand overnight. It built its brand reputation over time to get to the stage where it now dominates search results. A cursory glance at the site shows that it’s jam-packed with value for its audience. On top of the odds comparison for which it is famed, the site also offers news, tips, exclusive promotions and reviews – enough content to absorb an interested punter for hours at a time.

Other well-known brands such as AskGamblers and Bettingpro enjoy significant market share, thanks to a content strategy offering audiences reviews and in-depth articles that are topical, engaging and cleverly link the reader back to other pages on their sites.

Improving your content strategy
Your content strategy is what will keep your brand in front of your audience without pestering, while always being of value. Creating a wealth of high-value information for your audience allows them to ultimately link your brand with the idea of being a trustworthy resource for valuable information.

Your website is ground zero for your brand analysis. It should be easy to read, easy to navigate and easy to recognise. If it appears generic and unremarkable, it is unlikely your that visitors will remember you even if your other content is fantastic.

Analyse how your site is presented and consider how memorable your brand is. Only once you have that under control should you look at the next layers of content: news, reviews, articles, newsletters, and so on.

All affiliates should be producing this content but you must make sure you’re always optimising and looking at how to keep users on your site, so they engage more with your activity across all channels. Add contextual links to other pages on your site, ask questions, encourage sharing and drive your users to take action to sign up for offers, new accounts and newsletters, or visit other pages around the site.

Never stop innovating
Content is still the key but we are getting to a point where users want more than standard reviews and news pieces. Implementing and continuing to optimise a killer content strategy is what’s going to make the difference. Content for the sake of content no longer works, just as relying solely on clever SEO no longer works.

As affiliates, you need to be building brand reputation through constant innovation. Speaking of which it’s not always easy to see where there might be room to carve out a niche away from the crowd – but opportunities always exist. One recent example can be found in the football betting tips site Kickoff.co.uk. Offering its audience content far beyond the standard betting site reviews and generic sports articles, it has weaved into its offer a wealth of interactive elements. It provides features such as allowing users to track their betting history and – maybe most interestingly – user-aggregated insights, including an option to “follow top tipsters”, with up-to-the-minute data on the tips consistently providing most value.

Leveraging user-aggregated information is a simple and highly impactful way to innovate your content strategy. Consider what information you are already collecting and strategise as to how this could be purposed to add further value to your audience.

More innovative features on an affiliate site will increase user ‘stickiness’. And as user-engagement signals are now more important than ever for healthy search rankings, the priority needs to be around evolving your site with a unique and engaging content strategy, underpinning ongoing innovation and continued brand strengthening.

Every avenue of digital marketing is favouring big brands in the affiliate space. As these brands get bigger, they will steadily push the competition aside to a position where it is no longer enough for these less-recognisable affiliate site owners to rest on existing content or SEO efforts.

In the era of the brand, all bettingaffiliate sites need to focus on an innovative content strategy to keep ahead of the competition. It is essential to be developing a brand that will resonate with users and therefore win favour with Google. Without a content strategy to build your affiliates brand, obsolescence is inevitable.

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