GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 15 - January 2011

Benjamin Drouin Joueraupoker You worked as a sports betting affiliate from 2006 through the end of 2009. Could you tell us about that? What kind of sites did you operate, and who were they tar- geting? Yes, I started in 2006 as a sports betting affiliate. I created (means “sports betting”) and (means “forecasts”) with my friend and as- sociate Maxime Batel. We won many affili- ate challenges organized by and In 2009 we founded with oth- er affiliates the company Top Affiliate Publishing Ltd, specializing in French sports betting portals. Then came Fi- nancial Venture Group Ltd, a poker por- tals network. You are now operating a poker affiliate network. Why did you choose to pursue this venture? What’s different about op- erating a poker affiliate network vs. op- erating as an affiliate? Domain name is a weighty factor for ranking. That is why when I target a competitive niche I prefer to use a specific domain name. Our do- main names portfolio targets all the ma- jor French poker keywords. That is why we have many portals. The second reason is to diversify; generating revenue from many Web sites is safer. Why does your company have a French- facing poker site and an Italian-facing blackjack site? Why did you target those niches? Because I’m French! France is one of themainmarkets in the online gambling industry, so I stayed focused on it, and also on Italian niches because there are many fluent Italian speakers in Malta. So it is easy to find people. Why these niches? Because CPA is higher in poker and casino niches than in sports betting, and also be- cause I play both of these games and know them well. What did you do before you became an online gambling affiliate? I started in the affiliate business at 19, right after receiv- ing my Bachelor’s degree. How long was it before you started mak- ing money? I made hundreds of euros during the first nine months but I really started earning money one year after I launched my Web sites, when one of my sites went to the first position on Google for a competitive keyword. What do your friends and family think of yourwork as anaffiliate? Makingmoney on the Internet is not so common in France. It’s a bit difficult explaining the technical workings of affiliate programs to people who aren’t in the business. A lot of people cannot imagine that it is really possible to make money online. I try to advise my friends and my family on how to do SEO, which is a powerful skill that can help any- one start or grow all kinds of businesses. What’s the most difficult thing about op- erating your sites? Creating unique con- tent and keeping it updated on more than 10 Web sites takes time. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry? The keys are SEO and quality content. What prompted you to join the GPWA? Has being a member helped you in your work? I was drawn by the affiliate com- munity and the knowledge offered in the forums. Participating in exchanges in private forums with trusted affiliates has been very useful to me. If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be? Buy a good domain name; it is one of the most important factors in my SEO strategy. Use WordPress, the most-used content management system (CMS); it’s easy to install and offers many powerful SEO plugins. Write quality content, because to be first on Google you have to be the reference. Learn SEO, to get free traffic. Be patient. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Last June, France opened up its online gambling market. Within a few short months France’s licensing authority, ARJEL, had licensed dozens of sites from more than 30 operators.What impact has the new regime had on your operations? There are threemain implications for affiliates: Taxes are now higher than in all other countries, so that impacts operators’ rev- enue. CPA and revenue share have been cut in half. Opening of Adword. Before June, no- body could advertise on poker key- words. All traffic could benefit from the natural search results. Now a signifi- cant amount of traffic is redirected to Adword’s advertisers. Conversion is much more complicated, because poker rooms do not validate CPA right after the first deposit. Players have to send their ID or a copy of their passport plus their bank details to vali- date their accounts. What in your opinion are the advantages of having a dedicated server/hosting company for one’s sites rather than using less expensive “dedicated” IP addresses? You can have dedicated IP addresses on a shared server. It is less expensive, which is why a lot of bad-quality Web sites are using it. With a shared server, you don’t know what your neighbors are doing. That’s why I prefer a dedicated server. Is it in fact true that Google looks more fa- vorably on a site with a dedicated server? In SEO you are rarely 100 percent sure, but here I can list some possible reasons why this may be true: A dedicated server is a sign of stability, seriousness, independence. Google likes to provide content from different sources (there are many do- mains, so why not different IPs?). If you choose your own server you can configure it yourself to have a speedy Web site, and speed is a factor in Google’s algorithm. 1. 2. 3. • • • Q: Why is his principal site French-facing? A: Because he’s French! 30 GPWA Affiliate Interview Series