Money to Earn: Tapping the Sources For Casino Traffic
Everyone knows that online casinos are making bank. Affiliate programs have changed the game and opened the doors for webmasters to get in on the action. It is known that search engines drive different types of traffic. Which search engine drives the most
By Cyndalie for AdultChamber.com | © Cynthia Fanshaw/Online Technologies | Reprint by permission only
Everyone knows that online casinos are making bank. With an estimated 2001 gross of 3 billion dollars spread across only about 1,200 online casinos, affiliate programs have changed the game and opened the doors for webmasters to get in on the action. Demographics show that the Internet gaming audience consists of approximately 85% male, 55% from the US, and 60% English speaking (http://www.ecashservices.com/Stats/index.html). Now, webmasters know that search engines offer a viable, low cost way of driving the targeted traffic that often equates to signups and sales. But oftentimes, the most puzzling part about marketing in search engines is deciphering which engine will return the most relevant and fruitful results for your efforts. The question arises: Which search engine drives the most gaming related traffic?
Marketing a casino or gaming related website on the Internet is no different than any other type of site. It is known that some search engines drive different types of traffic. Exactly what kind of traffic in which engine is mostly derived from speculation, research, and experience. After 4 years of keeping a close eye on the SE players across a broad range of web site types, I have been able to identify a pattern that yields a general scope of what types of traffic the engines attract.
Major Search Engines
Yahoo!, the largest directory and search engine entity by far, has been known to drive large amounts of business to business and education related traffic. Yahoo! is most frequently used in educational and working environments. For example, back when I was in college computer lab, Yahoo! was the home page. In more recent times, those who surf Yahoo! tend to have specific goals to purchase or signup with a service. High listings in Yahoo! lead some users to believe that the site is a well-known and reputable organization. Due to expanded and specialized search capabilities, AltaVista and Lycos drive a good number of entertainment related searches such as music, images, video, and shopping. AOL, the largest internet community, uses data provided by Open Directory Project and experiences such a broad range of searches, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact types. Nonetheless, AOL is a good place to be due to the large amount of surfer traffic that is just waiting to be entertained. Excite sees their fair share of retail shopping related queries and it would seem evident that people search Google simply for the highly relevant results. Besides the fact that Google provides the Web Page Results for Yahoo!, the sheer numbers and targeted traffic make it a premier place to focus your efforts.
Who updates whom?
Keeping atop of 'who updates whom' can keep you from doing the same work twice, or canceling out your efforts. For example, as mentioned above, Open Directory Project (Http://dmoz.org) provides DIRECTORY results for Google.com, Netscape.com, Aol.com, HotBot.com, and more. To submit to any of these partners you must submit your site at the Dmoz.org home site where it will be reviewed and placed by an editor and then updated to the partner sites over a period of 2-6 weeks. Google.com updates Yahoo Web Page results, Netscape default search results, and others. To submit you must use the form at Google.com. Inktomi, a search engine technology pioneer, now updates databases for MSN, iWon, Hotbot.com (owned by Lycos.com), Goto.com's unpaid results, cNet.com, Icq.com, and more. Although you can add your URL free to Inktomi through Search.MSN.com, experts say to use a paid service to submit to Inktomi for definite and timely inclusion. Visit PositionTech.com for more information about submission to Inktomi. Lycos, Google, and Excite each accumulate their own data sources and provide their own algorithms for positioning. For more information about search engines alliances, visit http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/alliances.html by Danny Sullivan.
*NOTE See http://www.adultchamber.com/members/marketips.htm for updated search engine information.
A Numbers Game
Nielsen/Netratings (http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/) offers audience measurement services that uses a sample of approximately 62,000 home users and provides fairly accurate reports on the quantity of traffic various search engines are driving, as well as top advertising campaigns. According to Nielsen, the top 5 Internet portal properties by unique audiences are Yahoo!, AOL, MSN (Microsoft), Lycos, and Excite. Knowing where most of the data that powers these entities originate from helps you determine where to focus your energies. MediaMetrix.com offers similar services and their data reflects the same top five entities.
Pay Per Click Search Engines
Other options for advertising in search engines are available without having to participate in the dog-eat-dog competition for placement. You select the search terms that are relevant to your site and then you determine how much you are willing to pay on a per-click basis for each of those search terms. The higher your "bid," the higher in the search results your site appears. This method only requires you have the money to invest for each click your listing generates. Several pay-per-click search engines are: Goto.com, Netflip.com, Epilot.com, 7search.com, and a new pay per click model called Sportula.com. Sportula is unique due to the fact that they claim to donate 50% of all proceeds to charity allowing the advertiser to share in the philanthropic light. Charities include The American Cancer Society, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and more. Many casino affiliates complain that the pay per click cost at Goto.com is outrageous. An example being: the cost PER CLICK for the term "online casino" is $5.38 for the first position ranging down to $2.51 per click for position forty. Many affiliates feel that the cost has been driven so high only the casinos themselves can gamble to afford such high costs per visitor, so they are beginning to turn elsewhere for targeted traffic sources. In comparison Epilot.com, a similar search module that provides content listings for their own engine as well as integrated into other engine results such as Netzero.com, Mamma, Infospace, and Dogpile, averages $2.06 for the number one position for the search phrase "online casino". The pay-per-click module for targeted traffic can be cost effective if you do some research and have the steady income to justify the cost per visitor.
Casino Search Engines
There's a search engine for everything, why not casinos and gambling? Yep, they are out there and it couldn't hurt to add a few to your list of promotions. For the most part it will cost you a link-back, but as most offer an affiliate program, you can also make those links pay.
See http://adultchamber.com/engines/casino.html for a quick Casino Search Engine submission guide.
Developing Your Property
As an affiliate, making money promoting an online casino or gaming site must extend beyond the basic promotion of the link or placement of a banner. Unless your site is already driving gaming related traffic, just adding a link or a banner from your site to a casino program will not necessarily generate income. Actively marketing a casino means that you must create a gaming site or site that a potential gambler will find of interest; a vertical portal, casino reviews, incentive or bonus programs, free games, or information. To successfully market the casino the search engines must recognize the entity to which you are pointing your traffic to as a relevant target. Since no affiliate (and only a few marketing services) actually have access to optimize the "traffic target" index page and relevant sub-pages, much of your promo page or link relevancy is lost. Also consider that the more targeted traffic you get to your link/banner, the more profits you will make. Many sites create a "game room" or entertainment area providing an intra-site traffic target for cross-promotional banners and links. A serious casino marketer will often invest in a domain name in an attempt to create a casino "promotional" website and market several casino's inside the information, editorial, or directory site.
Tricks Up Your Sleeve
Here is a wild card that may come in handy. With such tough competition everyone could use a small edge. Start out with a casino related domain name and create a 5-10 page "dummy" site as described above. Keep the code light, write original content based around what you want to rank for, and use some outgoing links on keywords for relevancy. It really doesn't' matter what it looks like (engines don't rank sites on a pretty design) and it will serve as a placeholder until it is indexed. Content is King! If you want to rank for "Blackjack" create and link a section called "Blackjack". Keep it simple: header fonts <H1>, 1-3 images, text in and outside of tables, no background images or colors. Don't hide text; stick to the rules. Also, don't go keyword crazy - try to weave as many relevant words into your content using them in different phrases that can be used as a search. If you know any basic graphics, a logo and/or buttons can appease an editor for directory submission to DMOZ and Looksmart.com by making it look like a real site. Optimize with meta tags, alt tags, title and description and submit the good old fashioned way - Manually.
Once the site is indexed, use Web Position software or other position analysis tools to find out what you are ranking for. Use this information to help you select the best affiliate program for that page. Once you get your link, invisibly frame the page using the affiliate link as the source for the top frame by using the following code:
<frameset framespacing="0" border="false" rows="*,0" frameborder="0">
<frame name="main" src=" [Your affiliate link]" scrolling="1">
<frame name="footer" scrolling="no" noresize target="main"
src=" [Home page of your domain] ">
Keep the original HTML of the existing page between the <noframes> tags.
Then close the page with:
This will make the actual page of your traffic target appear in the main window of the browser. The bottom frame is invisible and the engine still sees the HTML that got the page ranked. The surfer will not be able to identify it as an affiliate link or click-thru page right away and will get them to your target destination in one click! Innovative ideas such as this one and others allow you to stay within the rules of the SE game and get your visitors to where you want them to be in as few clicks as possible. Although I do not recommend this idea to be used more than a few times per domain name, as you never want to put all your eggs in one basket, it is effective where applicable.
The Happy Medium
A happy medium marketing method is advised for promoting an online casino or gaming related program. Diluting your marketing by attempting to target too many engines or too many keywords can be as proactive as focusing on only one or two. Even though you may optimize to target specific engines such as Google.com or Lycos.com, it does not hurt to include the other engines when you submit. Note that the only way to receive traffic from AOL.com or Netscape.com is to have a site valid enough to be approved by the editors at Open Directory Project. Daily marketing practices such as creating and submitting a new page a day helps you cover algorithm changes and database switches that occur anywhere from monthly to every six months. Creating valuable "real estate" for your marketing efforts allow you to try out different affiliate programs without starting over every time for maximum profits.
Tools for targeting high yielding keywords:
See Search Spy Real time search
Feeling a little out of sorts lately? Not accomplishing your life's goals? Fatter and balder than you wish you were? Don't worry, it's not your fault! You can blame everything that's wrong in your world on.... TELEVISION!