SiGMA Affiliate Grand Slam: Aidan Ward
Aidan Ward, Owner of Online Bookies, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam.
Aidan Ward and the rest of the team of Online Bookies always tell the truth and in their reviews, if they do not like something, they say it. In addition, all their betting tips are well researched and they are tips that they would back themselves – follow his story below.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
I actually stumbled upon the affiliate marketing. I was in a job I hated and was always looking for a way out. I was a keen sports gambler and quickly realised they’d be no long-term profits on that side of the fence and created a website hoping to sell a bit of ad space, and then I found the affiliate side of things.
What helps make your performance successful?
In this game you need to have a passion for it. You need to love writing about your target sector and obviously know exactly what you’re talking about. Readers need to be able to trust your knowledge when you are trying to guide them.
What makes your traffic and sites unique?
In this day and age, I think it’s honestly almost impossible to be unique, but we do try. One thing we do though is tell the truth. In our reviews if we don’t like something, we say so. If a brand lacks something on their betting site, we will highlight that and not just ignore that. The same goes for our betting tips, they are all researched and we never tip anything we wouldn’t back ourselves.
What sets you apart from other affiliates?
I know I’m very laid back but you’d probably need to ask the affiliate managers that question about me.
Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.
My aim is to get my sites ranking in Google using SEO techniques and hopefully get good value players through the doors. I want to attract players that are genuinely looking for a new online bookie to use and not just a quick free bet.
Tell us a bit more about your future plans.
Hopefully, to keep growing our existing sites and customer base but to also expand. Not only are we looking for new countries to expand into, but also more niches as well. We are mainly sports betting orientated but we have a couple of casino domains we are planning to develop in the near future.
What motivates you to promote more, and what helps you boost your motivation?
Obviously, money is a motivator and it will always be, but enjoying your work is a must. Just a little boost in rankings can get you really going again. In this industry, you never know what tomorrow could bring so pushing yourself hard is quite easy if you think of the endless possibilities that may result. After all, one really well written article may just land you that whale.
A couple of questions about SEO: (i) What are the main challenges of SEO today and how are they different from just a few years ago? (ii) Why is SEO important for gaming and how long does it take to see results from SEO?
Probably the biggest challenge is keeping Google happy whilst maintaining positions in the SERPS. There seems to be so many different reasons these days that Google can send you from hero to zero; it is so hard to keep on the right side. There are also so many big competitors with big budgets and you also have to compete against them as well as Google. And that’s before Google start doing updates, especially core updates, which if you get hit by one of those, it can take months for any recovery to happen as you wait for the next update.
How important is social media activity for your affiliate business?
Honestly, I don’t do much with social media. I have in the past and not quite sure if the effort was worth it. Obviously, for the big players it’s a no brainer, it’s part of how you become and stay a household name. For the smaller affiliate? That being said there have been some very successful affiliates thanks to social media, I think it just depends on your niche and what you are offering customers.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
UK is still my main market and, I would imagine, it always will be. However, there are many up and coming markets that I think are worth looking at. Africa has some really good potential in my eyes, especially the mobile betting sector.
Which niches work best for your affiliate marketing, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?
I have always been mainly involved in sports betting so that has always been my most profitable niche.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Obviously, we use technology anyway to even do our jobs but for me it doesn’t play as much a role as I’m sure it does with others. Using Google analytics and search console is a must to me but I tend to do most things manually, such as checking SERPS and affiliate accounts.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
UK has really been the only market to see any changes really with UKGC. It does make you more aware on keeping your sites up to date with correct offers and terms and conditions, but overall, I think that is a good thing.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators? What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
As I have been about for so many years now, I know many of the affiliate managers and so I can reach out to them if need be. Skype is a godsend for that, but as the years have gone-by I have found I actually have less need to reach out.
Are you contemplating bringing in investors to scale or grow your business? Or, with such a big M&A market, have you ever contemplated selling the business or did you ever sell it and started anew?
In terms of investors, it is something that I have never really thought about as it honestly doesn’t appeal to me. The beauty for me in this job is being my own boss, answering to just me.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
That’s a tough one because whatever I could say wouldn’t be unique for long. I would say though if you are a forward thinker and set your mind as the punter you may be able to stand out from the crowd and do something different.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? SiGMA Europe, Africa, Asia, or Americas – which of these four expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2021, COVID-19 permitting?
I have never been to any of the SiGMA events in the past but seeing many different affiliates now attending I’ll be looking at attending Europe at least.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into Gaming yourself, etc.
Away from work I tend to try and just love life. I walk my dog daily in the countryside which is great for clearing the mind and I try and exercise daily, either running or a session in the gym. I love travelling and seeing the world, which has really hurt me the last year with restrictions and the virus. As well as travel, I really enjoy sport with football and cricket being may main passions. I’m a keen Leicester City fan and also combine my cricket and traveling by following the England cricket team play around the world. And of course, most weekends I’ll have a little dabble for a few football accumulators and see if I can still take on the bookies.