NetEnt’s affiliate strategy revisited

| By Julia Logan
Back in 2019, NetEnt started pitting itself against affiliates that had been targeting NetEnt-related terms with the launch of its own portal. Julia Logan, who analysed its organic performance and potential for iGB Affiliate at the time, looks at how it has since ramped up this strategy under the ownership of Evolution Gaming.

In 2019, I wrote an article about NetEnt’s affiliate portal, which had launched shortly before. Nearly four years on, I decided it was time to take another look to see how it has fared since.

figure 1: Starburst page in 2019

In 2020, NetEnt was acquired by Evolution Gaming Group. Under the new ownership, it appears that additional monetisation channels get prioritised even more.

One thing that strikes you right away is how much more aggressive NetEnt has become in promoting its affiliate links on the subdomain of

figure 2: starburst page in 2023

Just look at the Starburst slot page in 2019 (Figure 1) compared to how it looks today (Figure 2).

In 2019, the outbound links to online casinos featuring their games were very unobtrusive – only four casinos were listed alongside a tiny link to view more.

Whereas now the casino banners take up most of the page and appear before the game description.

On top of this, a popup featuring yet more casino links also appears (Figure 3).

figure 3: popup on the starburst page

Overall, the site now looks a lot more like a typical affiliate site, with optimised landing pages targeting general online casino search queries:

figure 4: netent now targets general casino keywords

This ramping up of activity would seem to be a logical step if NetEnt wants to increase its search presence as an affiliate player – these general keywords have a much larger search volume than specific game titles (even though NetEnt has over 200 of these and ranks #1 for most of its titles). However, these are highly competitive SERPs, and simply having these pages on a site, even one as old and as authoritative as, likely won’t be enough.

As an example, let’s review one such landing page: Best Crypto Casinos. Crypto casinos have become a hot topic to target by affiliates and casino operators alike – for obvious reasons: you are not limited by country regulations, hence you can rank anywhere in the world and thus get a lot more traffic and, theoretically, leads.

According to the Internet Archive, NetEnt only launched this page in December 2022. While being part of the site’s top-level navigation menu (and thus benefiting from a large amount of internal links), the page currently has external links from only two domains, according to Majestic:

figure 5: link profile for NetEnt’s best crypto casinos page

And even if they were live, the domains are not topically relevant at all. In fact, they are repurposed from something completely unrelated to crypto or casinos.

According to SISTRIX, the only keyword this page ranks for on Google in the UK is “best cryptocurrency casinos online” at #54.

This is a very minor keyword with only 80 monthly searches on as reported by SISTRIX, but even so, everything that ranks on the first page are hardcore, crypto-related sites; there are not even any random casino affiliates. Shorter tail, higher search volume keywords related to crypto casinos are entirely owned by crypto-related sites.

Overall, the organic visibility of NetEnt’s games subdomain now approximately equals that of its main domain:

figure 6: organic visibility of compared to
figure 7: organic visibility history and Google updates

The subdomain’s organic visibility appears to have been affected by the January 2020 Google Core update and it has only partially recovered since then.

According to SISTRIX, currently ranks in the top 100 for at least 4,144 keywords. SpyFu provides a list of 5,906 keywords for which it is aware of ranking.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that ranks the best for its own game titles and variations of these. It fares much worse when it comes to more general gambling search terms such as “roulette”, “video slots”, etc. However, there are exceptions when it comes to the rankings for some game titles as well, where a game title is not specific to a NetEnt slot in question but is a much wider used name such as Hell’s Kitchen, Jumanji, etc. NetEnt struggles with rankings in such cases.

For the new “landing pages” targeting general gambling keywords, NetEnt copied all the tricks seen on other affiliate sites ranking in these SERPs – onpage anchors, FAQ schema, content structuring etc. However, this alone, or even coupled with an old, highly authoritative domain (but known as relevant to other queries), is not enough. What’s missing is a strong, relevant link profile, with quality links pointing at these new pages. With 2,746 linking domains currently shown in Majestic, the subdomain’s Topical Trust Flow is only 5% games/gambling:

figure 8:’s Topical Trust Flow according to Majestic

What we have seen in the backlinks of the Crypto Casinos page repeats across the entire subdomain. A number of links come from repurposed, irrelevant (albeit aged) domains with no previous history related to gambling, currently serving the only purpose of placing links to any number of gambling sites, thus bearing little value as link sources and relevance signals.

What’s also missing is proper onsite technical SEO, regardless of the other onpage tricks used. The Best Crypto Casinos page fails the CoreWeb Vitals test:

figure 9: Core Web Vitals for the crypto casinos page

The Page Speed Insights test results are even worse for the Starburst page:

figure 10: Core Web Vitals for the Starburst page

Those who read my first article about NetEnt’s perspectives as an affiliate may well ask, “But what about the ‘netent casino’ SERP?”:

figure 11: “netent casino” SERP

Well, NetEnt did finally manage to outrank!

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Julia Logan
Julia Logan
is an SEO consultant at Her specialities include on-site/technical SEO and SEO security audits, link profile audits, online reputation management and negative SEO investigations and private network consulting. She is also the founder and CEO of Zangoose Digital, a boutique SEO agency specialised in bespoke private networks.

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