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Let’s Talk Gambling: Affiliate SEO with Checkd Media



Lets Talk Gambling George Webb Checkd Media

Talk Gambling founder Ross Timmins spoke with Checkd Media’s newly appointed Head of SEO George Webb. Discussing the challenges for gambling affiliates in the US as well as the latest emerging trends, we get to the bottom of what life is like right now for the Checkd Media SEO team.

Given your eight-plus years of agency experience, what motivated you to transition to an in-house role and how do you believe it can benefit Checkd Group?

With experience in helping drive SEO successes for other sports betting affiliates, I wanted to strike out for myself and launch my own US and LatAm-focused brand. This led me to speak with the team at Checkd Group who really impressed me with their ambitious plans for growth in the UK, US and across LatAm, which aligned perfectly with my own vision. Once they mentioned they were looking to bring someone on board to oversee their Organic Search performance for their brands, it was an obvious choice to step into that role!

Working on the client agency side, you have to be able to pivot and adapt to new plans or challenges. Drawing on this experience will be advantageous for Checkd Group as we look to increase our visibility across three continents.

Alongside this, knowing when and what to prioritise as well as being able to show the value (traffic or revenue) behind why you need to undertake specific pieces of optimisation is definitely something I will be bringing in-house. This is particularly important when working alongside the already very busy development, design and product teams at Checkd Group.

SEO is a key factor in iGaming and gambling affiliates driving traffic to their websites. What is the best approach in optimising content to ensure visibility

The most important thing when creating content for iGaming and gambling affiliates is ensuring that the output is of a high standard, informative and adds value for the user. Meanwhile, the sports betting side is dictated by making sure this is backed up by your brand’s Experience (E)-Expertise (E)-Authoritativeness (A)-Trustworthiness (T).

Intent is a buzzword within SEO and Performance Marketing on a wider scale and for good reason. Traffic for traffic’s sake is redundant because if you’re not understanding the reason why a user performed their search, they are not going to convert and therefore hold no commercial value to a website.

The device which traffic is coming from should also be considered. Across our brands, mobile users make up around 85% of all traffic, so we’re always looking to improve our content with this in mind. Often, what works well on desktop might not provide the best experience across handheld devices.

On the tech SEO/Dev side of things, anything you can do to get ahead of competitors in terms of mobile optimisation is massively important. Aspects such as mobile website compatibility, load times and Core Web Vitals all need to be factored into SEO practices.

“always on’ approach to link-building is still important for driving up the organic performance of your content.

We’re still seeing backlinks being a key driver of visibility, so taking a continuous ‘always on’ approach to link-building is still important for driving up the organic performance of your content.

What new performance marketing and SEO trends are you seeing emerging and what will be the ones to watch in the future

The hot topic on everyone’s mind at the moment is AI. Following Google’s October spam update, it does seem like the tide may be turning against brands which are heavily using generative AI content. I’m starting to see more and more SEOs reporting pages that heavily rely on AI content dropping out of index en-masse, sinking rankings, traffic and revenue.

For me, the jury is still out. I think there are very clear benefits in utilising AI tools for planning and some types of SEO optimisation, however, I would venture away from using it to create excessive amounts of landing pages. There are too many nuances to sports and iGaming content that can only be covered by a true fan or player (after all, that’s who we are creating content for), let alone trusting an AI tool to navigate the complex state and country gambling regulation in the US and LatAm.

With the massive influx of generative content on the web, I think a future trend we will see is pages struggling to be indexed or big dropouts from indexing due to content duplication issues.

How do you navigate complex state and country gambling regulations whilst still ensuring organic visibility

We’re fortunate at Checkd Group to have an industry-leading product team who know the regulations and terminology like a second language. The Organic Search team has great processes in place to ensure that our content meets requirements.

On the search side, it does raise some challenges around not being able to use terminology such as “free bets” or “risk-free bets” in some states (despite them being popular search terms) but we’re just as easily able to pivot around these structures and target our content for regional variations or other long-tail opportunities.

Checkd’s international division has seen significant success in North America with the launch of its Flash Picks app. What are the biggest opportunities in terms of performance marketing and affiliates in general in the US?

From a website perspective, gaining visibility and a brand foothold in states prior to regulation changes should be a key strategy. If you’re only creating landing pages and rolling out strategies on the day or week before users can legally use online sportsbooks, you’ve missed the boat!

While the US is still in its early stages, there is already fierce competition in SERPs and all across the digital sphere. Opportunities lie in making sure you are using cross-channel strategies to cut through the noise and not having an over-reliance on a single channel.

Likewise having additional brand touchpoints, like we do with the FlashPicks app, allows you to engage with users at different points in their customer journey. This creates a cohesive experience and grows trust and loyalty among users. App store optimisation, and appearing in the ‘App Pack’ in Google SERPs becomes a key part of ongoing BAU work as you need to ensure that you’re visible both in app stores and for valuable long-tail searches like ‘best android betting app’ etc.

Tactics differ between the Google Play Store and the Apple Store but making sure you have a relevant title, keyword-rich descriptions (both long and short descriptions), engaging visuals, and a strategy to gather positive ratings and reviews are still important for ASO in 2023.

Hi, I'm Ross, founder of Talk Gambling. I've operated within the gambling industry for several years, primarily within the affiliate sector. I originally focused on design and user experience but in recent years I've pursued a passion for SEO, digital marketing and creating great content. Please feel free to get in touch and say hello!