2023 has been a crazy year for the online igaming vertical in the organic Google SERPs. Not only do we have mainstream media sites invading the gambling SERPs, we also have other massive sites unrelated to gambling publishing gambling content which ends up ranking. I have already commented on one such case – Business2Comminuty.
Now let’s have a look at another large player in NewsDirect. Among everything else we see currently ranking in the gambling SERPs, this site is truly unique in that it is really a result of “crowdmarketing”.
Unlike Business2Community, NewsDirect is a relatively new site. The domain has existed since 1998, but there had been no live site on it until 2020. Before that, it was simply parked for the sake of monetising whatever type-in traffic it might have got, and starting from 2016 appeared on domain auctions, although for a number of years unsuccessfully.
Around 2020, it has apparently been purchased by the new owner. This owner, NewsDirect Corp., was founded in 2019 according to its LinkedIn page by Gregg Castano, who had previously been the president of BusinessWire, a press release distribution company.
NewsDirect was created as a “21st century news release distribution” solution, and in a 2021 article Business Insider has already named NewsDirect among “the top 27 software companies serving the public relations industry” alongside Brandwatch, BusinessWire and Cision.
But the most impressive period of organic visibility growth for NewsDirect has started later, around the end of 2022:
What happened? Two things have changed: the nature of submissions and who was submitting them.
NewsDirect of course has had press release submissions for all sorts of industries and topics, including casino.
In 2021, these press releases were mostly submitted by companies, often operators, looking for traditional distribution benefits. Later down the line, these can hardly be called press releases in the regular sense of the term. This is because they get submitted now by companies, often affiliates, looking for SEO and ‘parasite’ hosted content benefits.
Parasite hosted content
Parasite hosted content, to explain the term, means using a third-party, usually high-authority site to rank your hosted content quickly. This is something not easily achievable with a regular affiliate site in highly competitive SERPs. The high-authority site does not even have to be topically relevant to the SERPs you are trying to rank in as long as your parasite hosted content is relevant.
This is the logic behind the first such pieces of content submitted in 2022, but it evolves further. Why leave it all to chance, decided Acroud Media, when that content can get some help ranking even better and faster. Acroud Media submitted its “Best Online Casino UK” press release in December 2022, and besides the regular press release distribution routes provided by NewsDirect itself (which included placement in Yahoo! Finance and Nasdaq), decided to create some additional links to it on its own.
To compare, the 2022 Betbeard piece has two links from two different domains. The Acroud Media piece has 243 links from 58 unique domains. Some of these links are pretty curious, like this series of domains pretending to be the well known news sites:
There is a large list of sites with all the domains registered around the same time early this year. However, to get back to NewsDirect, Acroud Media’s efforts here paid off, at least for some time:
NewsDirect, however, with its unorthodox approach to press releases, added an “Idea Marketplace” section to the site in June this year. The strategy was to accommodate for more submissions from cutthroat competitive industries. This new section looks like a veritable of who’s who in competitive SEO spam:
To sum up, NewsDirect is getting links to its content:
- Via the traditional press release distribution routes, as every distributed press release includes a link to its original source.
- Via the additional link building efforts of many of its clients submitting the press releases and hoping to have them ranking in its target SERPs.
Moreover, they are now expanding beyond the English language submissions. The “Casino” section of its “Idea Marketplace” already contains submissions targeting Brazil, French-speaking market of Canada, Chile, Czechia, Denmark, Finland and Germany. There are also a few submissions in Japanese, even featuring on the top linked URLs on the NewsDirect site:
Other non-English language content on NewsDirect may be less obvious but it’s starting to become pretty visible in the international SERPs as well. I have recently spotted it ranking in Sweden, for example.
What we are currently observing reminds me a lot of the situation in 2012, when press release sites ranked for just about anything which all ended up with the Panda 4.0 update and a lot of press release sites lost all its online visibility and eventually ceased to exist.
Will we see a similar outcome now? Who knows, but I would not rely solely on ranking parasite content for my sites’ traffic.