Most of my clients have a blog or will have thought about setting one up but more often than not they will not have really thought this through. I experienced the same thing when working in house. You know google likes freshness and people consume information online so you just start blogging. This inevitably fails. A lot of time is dedicated to blogging, possibly money as well, and whether they realise it or not they don’t end up seeing the ROI. So, I want to talk about blogging with a purpose and how to make it count.
First, ask yourself why. Why do you want to set up a blog? Why will you spend the hours – few hours a week or possibly daily – or the money if you’re hiring external writers? What is it all for?
If done right, your blog can bring new visitors to your site. By targeting long tail informational searches you can reach a much wider audience with your blog posts than you normally would with the main pages on your site. It makes promotion easier as well when you have something more to offer rather than just bookmaker signup bonuses. With strong content you’re also able to build readership loyalty and have your users keep coming back to read your latest articles. This helps extend your brand reach so that you go from just a quick fix (get a sign up bonus now) to people recognising you and your brand name from the content you produce. And finally, your blog can help you convert your readers if the right CTAs are in place.
We know transactional searches and broad key phrases are highly competitive and expensive. Whether you’re trying to rank organically or using adwords, you’re facing a lot of competition for those keywords.
But the good news is that the majority of searches are informational. Roughly 80% of all searches fall under this category. Only about 10% are transactional (keywords focusing on the purchase phase), and 10% are navigational (brand related keywords, looking for a particular site).
Last year there was a lot of chatter around one particular update to the google algorithm dubbed by some as the quality update.
Previous to this a lot of how to sites like wikihow were dominating search for basic informational searches. But these are specifically the ones targeted by this update since they were often single use, thin content articles. This opens up the playing field to sites that might not be as huge as wikihow but have more in depth and better serving articles answering users questions.
The informational queries are typically long tail phrases. As we know these are far less competitive then the more generic broad key phrases. But a distinct advantage of the long tail if that you’re better able to know the searchers intent and serve more relevant content than broad keywords where you don’t know exactly what the searcher meant. So the conversions are higher with long tail keywords.
And getting links as an affiliate is hard. If all you have to offer are bookmaker reviews and bonuses you’re not likely to get many links to your site. You’ll either have to pay webmaster more to get them to link to you, or resort to black hat tactics using sape links or building out a PBN.
But, most of your traffic as an affiliate will mainly come from search, so you end up being overly dependent on Google.
What if you didn’t? With a strong brand some of your traffic can bypass Google entirely. Whether it’s from social, referrals, or users knowing who you are so searching for you specifically.
Affiliates can have a strong brand. You see this with financials, car insurance, mortgages etc. The affiliates have a stronger presence than the brands they represent often outranking the brands themselves for competitive key phrases.
So, now we’ve identified some reasons why you’d want to set up a blog.
Now that we know why, we’re better able to come up with the how. How we’re going to achieve the results we’re after.
Outline your business objectives. Break it down into acquisition – how you’re going to get readers on your site, behaviour – what you want those readers to do when they get on your site (just reading one article isn’t a strategy), and the outcome – your end goal: signing up to bookmakers through you.
But you need to have something unique to offer to get any traction with your blog.
Some examples of ‘USPs’ I’ve seen affiliates shout about that really don’t make you unique. So many affiliates review the bookmakers on offer and we all know they’re not honest reviews, you’re just pandering to the businesses you need to promote and users can tell this. If you have unfiltered user generated reviews instead like Amazon does, that’s a USP if you have the strong user base that is.
Same with top bookmakers, making a big point that you’ve got the top bookmakers on your site doesn’t make you unique because all other affiliates will have relationships with the same mainstream bookmakers. Instead having a comprehensive list of bookmakers or really highlighting the more niche bookmakers.
Having the best signup bonuses isn’t a believable USP either when people can see you have the exact same offers as other affiliates and bookmakers. Instead, if you build a really strong brand you’re in a better position to negotiate unique offers with select bookmakers.
And lastly, focusing your blog on the latest sports news won’t make you stand out. You’re not even competing with operators here, you’re competing with big news publishers that have bigger budgets, more resources, and better journalists. So what other content can you focus on that isn’t already completely covered by more trusted sources?
Now you can create a clear plan of action by breaking down into acquisition, behaviour, and outcome. When working out your acquisition plan think of owned, earned, and paid media – PPC is often overlooked for blog promotion but it’s a great way of getting more traffic to your content with cheaper keywords.
When outlining behaviour think past just views and bounce rate. What other content would be relevant to the users on that particular page. If they’re new users you might want to share other articles relevant to their interests to they get a feel for your brand. At this stage you want to focus on micro conversions – getting users to follow you on social so you can target them later on, and capturing leads so you can email them later on with personalised offers.
And lastly the expected outcomes, this will help you set goals and calculate ROI. Obviously you want users to sign up to bookmakers using your affiliate link. But think beyond that, now that you have their emails and are connected with them on social you can contact them with relevant information and offers to encourage them to keep betting with the operators they’ve signed up through you. You can also promote other relevant bookmakers, and even set up refer a friend campaigns.
So, you’ve identified your strategy but who are you talking to? To be able to efficiently target content for your intended audience you need to find out who they are. You can find out more about your audience through research, surveys, ad focus groups and I would recommend investing in more thorough user profiling if you’re able. But if you lack the budgets for proper qualitative research there are alternatives.
Yougov.co.uk is a free service that you get use to get some broad data on your target users. The profiles on yougov aren’t very accurate since the way they collect the data isn’t overly targeted – they do opt in survey that anyone can fill out so there is usually a certain type of person that would willingly fill out surveys for free, and often the sample groups aren’t as large as would be idea. However, it’s a decent start. You can get broad demographic data for the average person that is interested in a particular brand
You can get information of what else they’re interested beyond the main focus from food, to hobbies, to general interests. This gives you some ideas of how else you can speak to this audience and how else to relate to them with your content.
And you even get data on what other sites they visit, apps they use, and who they follow on social. With this information you know where to focus your promotional efforts so that your content is in front of the right audience.
Begin your search by finding what people are actually searching for on a target topic. Using tools like Ubersuggest and the AdWords keyword planner allows you to expand a few broad keywords into more specific searches. I like Ubersuggest because it shows you a long list of all the different autocomplete options that come up when you do a Google search. Make sure not to focus on the search volume on individual key phrases here. A lot of what you find will have low search volume but what you’re after is building out a set of ideas instead of chasing keywords.
After expanding your keyword list you can start looking for actual questions. I like seeking out forum posts because this is where people specifically ask questions. Reddit is really good for this as well. By using [keyword] site:reddit.com and [keyword] inurl:forum you can target this specifically using Google. What I like about researching forums is that most of the work is done for you if other users answer the original posters question. All you need to do now is build out the information and present it in an appealing way
Now that you have several potential article ideas see if anyone else has covered that subject. Using tools like Impactana or Buzzsumo you can find other sources using keyword search and you can sort by most shared or most linked to, see authors etc. It’s important to do this so you can see if your idea has already been covered exhaustively – if it has I’d avoid just rehashing the same old stuff because you won’t get much traction with that – or finding potential sources that you can promote your content to if they’ve tried something similar but you’re able to give more information to or make more appealing.
When you’re ready to start creating focus on the resources you have at had to decide on what you can do. If your budgets are tight then maybe just writing a really comprehensive article is the best thing you can aim for at this stage. Aim for something good first and foremost but you might have to sacrifice on time or money to get it done right.
Once you’ve created something think about how you can present it so that if people do find you on search your result stands out more than others.
Using schema.org markup to help search engines identify elements on your page means that you don’t need to constantly chase the number one spot on google. You’re able to get higher click through rates from search if your result stands out more than the competition
A common misconception is that using schema.org will help you rank higher on Google. That isn’t the case. Or at least, now yet. There have been some hints that this could change in future but this is certainly not the case now.
So few sites use schema.org meaning that you gain a huge competitive advantage by using it. There are a number of different use cases for it.
Or you can use the structured markup helper form google https://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper/
And you can user the tester to check that everything is entered correctly
Besides the promotion that you do yourself you encourage your readers to promote your content for you by making sharing a natural and easy part of your blog.
A lot of affiliates rely on using banner ads to send affiliate traffic to operators. But if this is the bulk of your strategy you’re missing out on many opportunities. If you’re lucky enough to get users that aren’t using adblockers you’re still lacking in targeting them if you’re relying on sidebar ads as a majority of users spend their time on the left hand side of the page since they know to expect ads on the right.
Beyond this, users are also conditioned to ignore banners on a page
Instead including calls to action at the bottom of your content and within in leads to better conversions. Remember to make the CTAs relevant to the article so think about the next best action instead of just the macro conversion (sending users to the operators’ site)
When asking people to sign up for your newsletter you need to give them a reason to do so. So think about additional benefits that you can give them via email that you don’t cover on your blog. Be it tips or personalised offers or even better offers then what’s on the site.
You can also personalise your call to action depending on who the user is and at what stage of the buying cycle they’re on. If it’s a new user instead of asking them to sign up to your newsletter right there and then maybe the next best action for them is to read more of your articles that are related to the one they were on. Treat them differently if they’re returning visitors, or depending on the way they found your site (organic, referral, direct etc). If you’ve got user accounts on your site you can collect even more data when they’re in a logged in state and cater CTAs to their iterests based on what pages they’ve visited on your site.
The usual affiliate relationship is sending all your traffic to operators and letting them handle things from there. You have no control over the users anymore.
What if you owned your users instead. What if you know more about them than operators did, you could target them with the offers most interesting to them, recommend other bookmakers, prompt them during the right times (when you know what markets they have an interest in) and even get them to refer your friends to you.