GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 33 - October 2015

Building links with reusable, reskinnable content on a budget By Mike Litson O ver the last few years, we’ve begun to see the decline of reliance on paid link building. The main reason, of course, is that it simply isn’t enough if you want to achieve top rankings in the long run. High-performing brands have been spending a lot of time and money on high-quality creative pieces, and it’s hard- er than ever for affiliates to compete with the major operators. It’s true that affiliates may be at a dis- advantage. Content pieces with a large brand behind them have an edge, but there are ways to work around lower bud- gets and a lack of initial reach. Apps When we talk about apps, we’re not refer- ring to a downloadable Android version of your news feed, or even to anything gambling related. While you ideally want something you can loosely tie in with your brand, if you’re looking to gather some high-quality links for a fraction of the market price, there are better ways to go about it. Simple games function very well for link- baiting. Initially, you may want to pay for some reviews to get the ball rolling. The average cost of these reviews is well worth the price for the quality of the link they will give back to your main site as the developer. Just Google “Android or iPhone app review sites,” and you’ll find hundreds of sites available. After a very small number of reviews, you’ll find a lot of the larger Android and iPhone websites will automatically pick the games up. Make sure you include your full URL, including http://, in the description of your games listing on the app stores — these descriptions will be picked up and scraped by the largest sites. Links them- selves won’t be, but in our experience, the full URLs often link automatically. Won’t making games be expensive? Not as expensive as you’d think. If you’re clever and work with what’s available for free on platforms like Github, you can probably find prebuilt games that need very little tweaking. Of course, a large brand really couldn’t do this, but there’s no reason an affiliate can’t. You may not have the technical know- how to make the games yourself, but in many cases we’re talking hundreds of dol- lars, not thousands, in development costs. The best thing is that once you’ve made something like this once, you can easily launch it again and again with just minor updates or slight niche or brand tweaks. For example, we have created several versions of a “guess the player” app for different sports over the years, and each sport has had a different brand associ- ated with it. We can update this every year with new hints for different teams. We could even roll it out individually on a league-by-league basis for some sports, like football (soccer for Americans). Now, to get a lot of the best free links, your game will have to be of a higher qual- ity. But you can still get a lot of quality, inexpensive links just for having an app that can be reviewed, so keep that in mind when you’re thinking of what to create. Web games Browser games are much in the same vein as phone apps. Github is a good place to start if you’re looking for a low-spend idea, and you’ll open things up to a very different array of sites. Also, if you created your Android game in HTML5 and then packaged it in an appli- cation like PhoneGap, it probably won’t take a great deal for a developer to make the game browser friendly. And it’s quite likely that this is what you’ll have been doing with a simple application. Where should I reach out? This time around, you don’t have the app review sites to rely on to make sure you get your return in links. There’s going to be a bit more work involved and there’s unlikely to be a silver bullet. However, if you’ve got time to let the content mature, you’ll have a much easier time generating links if you hold the game on a separate, non-branded domain. For the time being, place a link to your site on that domain and redirect later, after all those sites that would normally refuse to link to a gambling affiliate have linked to your game. Social With Web-based games, it’s pretty easy to generate a bit of prompted social interac- tion. This can be through sharing scores or something more complicated, like requir- ing people to share or tweet for extra lives that day. 10 Building links with reusable, reskinnable content on a budget