Taking the US by SEO storm part 2

By Martin Calvert

Expanding into the US market as an affiliate can be a tricky process, from entry strategy to the licensing legalities. Martin Calvert, marketing director at ICS-digital is back with part 2 of his delve into the SEO strategies to help launch any US entry.

You can find Martin's first part here, where he explores analysing the competition, building strong foundations and asking the right questions to platform providers and developers.  

Build trust and traffic

Content is fundamental when it comes to cost-effectively building trust and familiarity with new and growing brands.

There are lots of fully informed bettors in the US these days but unlike ultra-saturated markets like the UK, there are still at least some new audiences.

These users will be at the top of the conversion funnel and will require a content strategy that educates as well as inspires.

Interest in sport content in particular of course provides plenty of opportunities to capture crossover attention from sports fans. Yet quality is key to attract visitors and respond to their passions and queries to maintain interest while removing risk.

One approach to de-risk content strategy is to work on building up visibility as a trustworthy resource of enjoyable and authoritative content. 

This allows brands to fit within what will help potential players while also fitting in with the type of content that Google is looking to reward – content that shows expertise, experience, authority and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

An effective content strategy builds value over time, but it is grounded in core content that responds to user queries. As such, frequently asked questions (FAQs) are a highly effective way of engaging with prospective US customers who are looking for betting brands to trust.

A content strategy that anticipates customer questions, concerns and pain points is one that can perform the dual purpose of intercepting qualified traffic, while also presenting the brand as a trustworthy option.

Carefully crafted FAQ and long-form guides and informational sections do more than store content that does not fit anywhere else on-site, they provide all the answers to common questions on a state by state basis.

Coupling this type of detailed, trustworthy content with more passionate, personality-driven content is a way to establish a powerful brand, while also being on the right side of search engines. But if you treat this task lightly, you’ll be wasting both time and money.

Develop a unique offering

Insincerity in onsite content and brand positioning - and reliance on AI fodder lacking real personality - can be spotted by bettors and search engines.

Once again this is an area where affiliates, even on constrained budgets, have some advantages. It’s easier to present a disruptive, appealing and personal image if you’re an independent affiliate compared to a massive corporate operator entity.

That said, it’s important not to be too disruptive or unique in your branding, content and SEO strategy. If bettors can’t understand your proposition, if the brand image pushes audiences away and if you’re trying to be a pioneer for a new type of betting you’re not going to capture the profitable mainstream.

Balance is key and in an industry marked by sportsbooks offering nearly identical odds for the same sporting events and casino/slots operators hosting the same games on nearly indistinguishable platforms, content can open up new ways to differentiate and engage.

Diverse and distinctive content takes various forms, and that shapes both your brand identity, and where you fit into the mix. In the US market we’ve seen several affiliate sites focus in on the legalities around betting, other mainstream media sites focus in on monetising reputable news content and of course streamers are a burgeoning presence.

Some operators are venturing into data streams, video, audio streams, and podcasts, underlining their dedication to providing qualitative content. They've even established in-house studios to lean more into multimedia video and audio content with a social angle.

To compete it’s important to understand what kind of content you can produce consistently, and better than at least 80% of your rivals in order to be competitive.

Affiliates must be cost-conscious and profit-oriented. In a race against major operators and super-affiliates for the same traffic, content marketing can level the playing field but if you have nothing to say, and no angle to offer, you better have the budget to brute force your way forward.

It’s important to ask: what can your brand offer players that few others can? What kind of content can you create to fill a gap in the market, attract traffic, and engage players? This deliberation also influences whether you rely on in-house efforts or collaborate with outsourced agencies.

Off-site SEO

Off-site SEO is typically not something that can be carried out on a slim budget but it’s an unavoidable part of what drives rankings in highly competitive sectors.

That said, the US market has some intriguing features that can make link acquisition more cost-effective compared to other markets but this is particularly the case with digital PR.

Digital PR is the method of using traditional PR methods and creative campaigns, typically not directly related to your brand, that earn media coverage and links.

At ICS-digital this is probably one of our most interesting, and also most challenging services - but the US market is a fruitful environment to work in.

That comes down to two factors - the intensity of fan interest in sports content, and the enormous media landscape.

What this means is that there are ready audiences for creative campaigns around betting-friendly topics like sport and luck, and many many media outlets to aim your press releases at.

It’s a method that requires tenacity, creativity and focus but even challenger brands and smaller affiliates can find success where they can offer up genuinely interesting campaign hooks’ and entertaining story angles.

This is also an area where affiliates can hold some advantages. Digital PR relies on capturing the attention of site owners, publishers, editors, journalists, and influencers, so an ability to react quickly and customise campaigns on the fly can help maximise opportunities.

Affiliates can often create and host fresh, creative content more easily than operators, thanks to their agility and flexibility. Operators, on the other hand, often face constraints due to input from various teams, such as brand, PR, and compliance.

In summary, affiliates (and smaller operators) should not underestimate their ability to capitalise on opportunities swiftly, think creatively, and use their personal touch to negotiate deals that open up link acquisition opportunities.

Agility, freedom from bureaucracy, and creative approach to digital PR can be powerful tools in staying cost-effective and successful in this evolving industry.

Martin Calvert

is marketing director for ICS-digital and ICS-translate. The sister agencies work globally across multilingual SEO, content, digital PR and translation with a core focus on highly regulated industries.

Back to The Top