Last week we popped along to the Linkdex ThinkTank with hosts 90 Digital held at the Dominion Theatre on Oxford Street. As usual with anything to do with Nick Garner or that lovely lot at LinkDex – it was a hoot. Lots of fun, and lots of friendly faces.
The event focused on something that we don’t write much about – iGaming strategy & search, so we went along to listen to some different perspectives, hopefully learn some new tactics for search and go home with some actionable insights. Suffice to say, we were not disappointed 🙂 If you work in competitive markets, you will most likely know all about the tips, tricks and pitfalls of iGaming. If this is an area you know little about, it is not a bad idea to find out a more as there are many strategies that can benefit less competitive and more traditional markets. I would love to take credit for the rest of the write up, but I can only take credit for the intro and the images! The actual content of the sessions has been written by Geoff Kennedy (thanks Geoff!) .
Think Tank Sessions
The day consisted of 17 speakers which gave a great variation of subject matter with a lot to cover. The highlights of the day were the content and strategy sessions with some great tactical and process insights. Here is my round up of the sessions.
The talks opened with a keynote from Mark Davies (MD, Camberton Communication). Although a seemingly negative topic start to the day, it’s a big issue for the industry at present. To summarise:
- Gambling has a serious reputation issue and needs to fight it’s own corner.
- The industry is increasingly coming under attack and political pressure is rising for tighter regulations.
iGaming and gambling in general has always got a bad rap, but what is surprising to hear is that the reality often shows the industry in a much more positive light. What Mark claims is lacking, is better brand and industry reputation management.
- Sarah Ramanauskas – Lead Partner, HPI Research
- Jono Alderson – Head of Insight, Linkdex
- Rebecca Liggero – Lead On-Site Reporter, CalvinAyre.com
- Ewa Bakun – Head of Content – Gaming, Clarion Events
Two of the hot topics of the day were: Developments in the US (i.e. slowing opening up for iGaming business again) US states that are hoped to open up soon (these don’t appear to be confirmed) will likely fall short of the high expectations many hold. Populations are low and it may still be a while yet before the floodgates open. Increasing opportunities in Asia The market size is enormous, however the barriers to entry shouldn’t be understated – not least the cultural differences. However, one of the caveats that ran through several of that talks was that the the seemingly ‘easy pickings’ probably aren’t so easy….
Strategy / PR & Comms
High level learnings I came away with were:
- The iGaming search environment appears to be catching up with other verticals.
- In recent years Google has managed to crack down on many of the at-scale linkbuilding techniques in other verticals, whereas iGaming has remained focused on high volume links.
- These changes are now hitting the iGaming SERPs requiring the industry to adapt accordingly.
- Content creation should start with the audience and work backwards. Focusing on who you want to target and what they want simply makes sense!
Nick Garner also provided much food for thought on the subject of trust and reputation management and introduced us to the Eldman Trust Barometer . “Trust is one of the most complex assets a business must manage… trust is an asset that enterprises must understand and properly manage in order to be successful in today’s complex operating environment. ” General Points:
- Search results are nearly as trusted as traditional media
- Search gives you information you trust when you ask for it
- We now use Google to ask buyer questions
- Keywords are essential buying cycle questions
- Affiliates typically don’t have ‘brand’, so they don’t need a good reputation
- Best commission x Most likely to convert x best lifetime revenue = best review!
- 4-out-of-5 Consumers Reverse Purchase Decisions Based on Negative Online Reviews
- Danny Ashton – Founder, Neomam
- Marcus Taylor – Founder, Venture Harbour
- Brian Dean – Founder, Backlinko.com
Top 3×3 Takeways (in order of speaker)
- Real people really care – give them something to talk about
- Use Persona led content
- Handy tools: simplymeasured, socialcrawlytics, majesticseo, google instant searches
- The best links you can build are probably not in your niche.
- Find the path of least resistance – easy niches
- Lateral thinking wins
- Publishing more often does not generate traffic
- You really do need to write great content
- You need to promote your own content
- Mike McDougall – Head of Search, Blueclaw
- Kirsty Hulse – Senior Digital Search Manager, LBi
- Paul Hill – Sales Director, Stickyeyes
Kirsty Hulse was definitely the most animated talk of the day! Takeaways
- Spam still works
- There are alternatives to spam if you can scale
- Don’t pay for links pay for exposure
- Create a Brand persona to leverage links
- Identify Audiwnce behaviour
- Don’t just monitor your brand, monitor your competitors
If all else fails?
- Make up crazy shit to get coverage and headlines
Search & Spamming
The day just wouldn’t have been complete without a touch of spamming! Next up, Industry veteran Julia Logan AKA Irish Wonder gave us a deep dive into some of the most prominent spammed SERPs. It quickly becomes clear that these are far from the random attacks as they can appear on the surface, but in fact are systematic and well coordinated. Takeaways:
- In case you missed it in the last section – SPAM STILL WORKS! Both as a tactic and business model (if you were ever in doubt). That’s not to say it’s an approach many of us can use, but if you’re going to work in search it’s something you need to be aware of.
All in all a great day packed full of content. Far too much to cover here but LinkDex will be releasing the sound files and videos very soon. You can catch up on any sessions you missed on the 11th February as there will be a webinar with some of the speakers from the iGaming event – register here You can also view previous Think Tank events here, or view iGaming Thinktank Photos. Many thanks to Linkdex and Nick Garner / 90 Digital – thanks for hosting! Looking forward to the next event!
Thanks for writing most of the content Geoff Kennedy!
Geoff Kennedy is Search Team Leader at Yard Digital a digital marketing agency based in Edinburgh, London & Cardiff specialising in SEO, Design & Build, Social Media, and Analytics Solutions. Follow Geoff on Twitter