New Certified Program: Gururevenue
Welcome to Gure Revenue, the latest addition to our list of recommended casino affiliate programs.
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Scratch Card Affiliate Program
Scatch Games offer a good opportunity for casino webmasters  to increase their earnings. NeoGames Partners has created two individual scratch card brands that you can easily promote to increase traffic and at the end of the day, conversions.
 
Interview with Jan Balslev, online-casinos.com
How long have you been working in the online gaming industry? How did you become a casino webmaster? How long did it take for you to start earning money?
A buddy and I started the Danish casino portal Casinoportalen.dk back in the late 90’s while we were studying, we were among the pioneers of online gambling I guess. We did not make our Danish portal because we wanted to make money by promoting gambling, but simply because we were gambling online ourselves and we wanted to tell our fellow students how to make easy money with online casino bonuses. The online casinos would most likely say that we were professional “bonus abusers” – we were playing blackjack and cashing out the free bonus offers as soon as the terms and conditions allowed us to do so. In reality we were simply taking advantage of a promotion-  it’s not the same as “abuse” - that’s just smart play in my opinion.

Even though we were sending casino bonus hustlers to the online casinos we were still making money almost instantly. All the players we were referring were winning since we were telling them how to win with the bonuses. Obviously we were unable to make any profit through the standard affiliate programs since all out players were winning money. But we did make a nice profit through the casinos refer a friend programs. A friend who is a very skilled programmer made this script that automatically typed in the players info on the casinos refer a friend form – before the player was directed to the casinos website. The online casinos did probably not appreciate our creative and innovating approach to their refer a friend programs.
 
 
You own online-casinos.com, certainly a great domain name. How did you get this domain? How much did you pay for it?
I sold my share of the Danish Casinoportalen.dk back in late 2001 and was getting ready to leave the online gambling industry. But then a great domain name landed in my lap, and the industry  pulled me back in. Sometimes domain names expire if people don’t pay the bills and so did this one. I noticed that Namewinner.com had an auction for expiring domain names and that the domain name Online-Casinos.com was up for auction. I made a bid of $4010 and won the auction. Namewinners then managed to pick up the domain as soon as it expired and since I bid the most in their auction they gave the domain name to me. That was like winning in the lottery for sure.
 
 
If someone wanted to purchase your domain, for how much would you be willing to sell it to him?
I am not currently considering selling Online-Casinos.com – but of course everything that I own is for sale if the price is right. I don’t see Online-Casinos.com as a simply a domain name, it’s a  business that I have worked very hard on building for many years. If someone was to purchase it they would have to purchase my company and then take out the domain name. Before the American anti-online gambling law a couple of online casinos were seriously interested in purchasing it for well above USD 2 million. Selling at that price was tempting since it would secure my family financially. I have 3 small boys, they are all below 5 years old and that’s a big responsibility.
 
 
Is working as a gaming affiliate a full-time occupation for you? Or do you have another job? If so, what is it?
Online marketing is more then a full time job for me and I love it. Sometimes it’s difficult to stop working since my work is also my hobby.
 
 
Your site currently ranks within Top 20 on Google for the keyword “online casinos”. How did you achieve this superb ranking for such a hyper-competitive keyword? Please tell us a bit about your SEO and link building strategies.
I am no SEO wizard at all - but I do guess that the domain name helps a lot. Since “online casinos” is the name of our website and furthermore we do have the domain name to match our name. So in reality we should rank #1 when people search for “online casinos”. I am sure that some day the search engines will realize the logic in this J. Until that day; we try to cover the basics, mainly to make our website available to search engine crawlers and to get some links pointing to our website. We also try to build our websites mainly in CSS as that makes it easy for the search engines to crawl and understand the content. Only one website can rank #1 for “online casinos” and since a lot of websites try to rank for that term it is hard to do so. We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it - there are an infinite amount of other keywords and phrases that have the potential to send traffic to a website.

A couple of years ago we did a lot of link exchanges with all other gambling portals, today that’s no longer the situation. Apparently Google does not appreciate excessive link exchanges, so today we just try to make a link worthy website and hope that other webmasters will link to it because they like it. We also link to other websites without asking for a link in return – as long as the website offers value to our visitors we are happy to do it. In terms of SEO; that also reveals something about our website I think. I just hate getting constant emails from people who try to explain to me what Google Pagerank is – that’s definitely not going to get them a link from my website.

Our simple but yet effective strategy is to make the best possible website about online casinos and gambling.  That may sound stupid, but one day we will beat those who try to rank a  website with nothing to offer other then ads. I drink a lot of coffee working on my website and I noticed that cream always float to the top of the cup. As far as I can see, making a low quality website rank in the search engines is a lot of work today, so I don’t personally see the point making anything but the best possible website; but that’s just my strategy, and I am sure many don’t agree. I don’t really have the SEO skills to make a mediocre site rank well either  I guess – so it’s not even an option. I much prefer making a quality website and being proud of what I have made instead of making a turd rank in the search engines. I do admire and respect those who are capable of doing just that though – but it’s not a strategy that I personally want to follow.
 
 
How much traffic you get from Google?  What are your other main traffic sources?
To be honest I am not sure exactly how much traffic we get from the search engines - a lot according to our log files. Apart from Google other search engines such as Yahoo! also appreciate our website. A lot of people forget about Yahoo completely – in our experience that’s a mistake.

We do try to advertise our website a bit on other websites – but finding quality advertising space is very difficult, especially since online gambling is a controversial topic.

Obviously we would love to do some PPC advertising – but Google does not currently allow online gambling ads and the smaller PPC engines in our experience have too many problems with click fraud.

As such we focus on organic traffic and repeat visitors – we also have a newsletter subscription where we try to pull people back to our website. Again this is a long term strategy – building a list of newsletter subscribers takes a long time.

Our main focus is simply to serve the visitors in the best possible way - perhaps even get them to bookmark our website. That way we depend less of future search engine love. In our experience users don’t want ads all over the place, so our website is not filled with ads like many other similar gambling guides. We don’t want to annoy our visitors, we want to impress them.  We want to make them happy and we want to “over deliver”.

Finding good places to advertise is very difficult in our experience, so we had to think of something new – we had to become a bit creative. Getting creative we try to make stuff that has the potential to become viral. Viral marketing is such a hype word in my opinion, so let me show you exactly what I am talking about:  http://www.online-casinos.com/caption/ is all about making fun with movie subtitles and sending them to friends and family. Similarly,  http://www.online-casinos.com/bubble/ allows people to place speech and thought bubbles inside any picture found online. Gambling is entertainment – and so are our viral experiments.
 
 
You publish your news articles via Google News.  How did you get your articles into Google News? What’s the traffic you get from there?
Well first of all we hired news reporters who knows a lot about online gambling and gambling in general – then we hired a small team to update the news section on our website 7 days a week 364 days a year. That costs money, but our visitors appreciate it. 

People searching for news are not going to click on ads. At least that’s our experience – but perhaps they will bookmark the website and return at a later point to find a casino or poker room.
 
 
Why doesn’t your website have a forum?
Well there are so many successful forums out there already and they are years ahead. Building a community is not s an easy thing to do, so that’s why. In my opinion spending time on making something “different” is time much better spent then trying to make a gambling forum better and more popular then the many other forums out there.
 
 
You recently launched another site, casino.de, targeting the German market. According to your experience, how lucrative is the German speaking gambling market, compared to the English speaking one? Did you notice any differences between the German and the English market?
Well I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in the German market since Casino.de is a brand new website. But the Germans are online, they have broadband internet access and they purchase stuff online – and just like everybody else around the world they enjoy gambling online. The Germans have money to spend too - so I am convinced that it will be an interesting market to enter. Getting players who play in Euros will certainly also be nice – considering the current exchange rate of the US dollar. We spend a lot of money on translating our English website into German and obviously the domain name Casino.de cost a few bucks too - to say the least. It’s a long term investment and I am convinced that it will pay off eventually. Having a domain name like this adds trust to the website in my opinion – and that helps convert a visitor into a depositing customer.
 
 
Which three casino affiliate programs brought you the most earnings in the past 24 months?
We only do revenue share deals, I am not a fan of CPA deals at all. I think that CPA deals are like doing number 1 in your pants - sure getting $400 CPA payment for sending a crappy player might be nice; but in my opinion building up a player base is the best long term approach. At least that’s what we do.

Since we only do revenue share deals our focus is on recommending the players to the best online casinos and poker rooms we know of – as they will continue to play there for a long time. That’s a good long term strategy in my opinion, and also works well with the mission of our website – to help the players find the best casinos and poker sites.

Even though we don’t feature William Hill Casino much on our website they still managed to outperform all the other brands we recommend. William Hill is a major UK sportsbook and they treat the players fair. Will Hill has the “trust factor” that is so vital in this industry. We don’t have a huge player base at William Hill but a single high roller has been playing with them for more then 2 years now. The very first day this William Hill super high roller played he made an initial deposit of above ½ billion British pound sterling. Some months he wins and sometimes he loses – he appears to appreciate William Hill and so do we. Nothing beats the trust factor and a real brand name in our opinion.

Also programs such as Brightshare and Bodog Casino has worked well for us in the past 24 months. Perhaps you noticed that these 3 programs are powered by 3 different groups of casino software? Well that’s all a part of our strategy. We don’t want to promote a single software brand, like for example Playtech. We want to learn from history. Playtech casinos do not currently allow any US players, and that must have hurt some of those big US affiliates who only promoted Playtech brands on their portals back when they did accept US players. By diversifying as much as possible, we try to prepare for various worst case scenarios. That’s also a part of the reason on why we have recently entered the German market.
 
 
Did you have negative experiences with casino affiliate programs in the past? Are there any affiliate programs you would avoid?
I am a nice guy so I don’t like badmouthing other people publicly. But yes we have seen it all and we don’t mind sharing our experiences without mentioning names.

At one point we made a CPA deal with a group of casinos through a third party – this was a CPA deal broker. That turned out to be a big, big mistake – we did deliver more then 300 depositing players in less then a week – we did this by spending a lot of money on advertising ourselves. Unfortunately we only got paid for sending 50 players and there was nothing we could do about it – you simply can’t sue an offshore company. As a result we never work with 3rd party companies ever again.

If you are working on revenue share deals; trust, honesty and retention is everything. Promoting a brand new casino group might be good in terms of conversion rates. But if that group kills their reputation in a couple of months your player base is going to stop playing, and since you recommended your visitors play at these new casinos - how does this make you look?

I look out for aggressive phone sales people. In my experience this is another thing to be on the lookout for – those who constantly call to get their brand new casino featured on the homepage of your portals are many times in the industry for the quick hit-and-run approach. I don’t want to associate my gambling portal with casinos like that - do you?

Some groups are know for using very aggressive sales people – that kind of behaviour shows me that they have no respect for my time. I am especially annoyed by those companies where the right arm does not know what the left arm is doing. Getting a call from 10 different people within the same week about promoting some new casino definitely does not impress me.

Lifetime revenue share means just that – lifetime. Some casinos feel that they have the right to close your affiliate account and steal your player base just because you do not currently promote their brands. That’s theft, and I remember those casino groups that do not “pay” and changing the name of the company won’t help one bit in my book. Another famous and worn out “excuse” from these low quality programs is that they have a new owner, a new management or a new bonus. My experience tells me that it’s probably just a nice new wrapping of the same old turd program.
 
 
Do you gamble online? If so, what's your favorite game?
Yes, I gamble a lot online myself. I make the online casino reviews on Online-Casinos.com and Casino.de and I have played for real money at all those casinos and poker rooms reviewed at Online-Casinos.com and Casino.de. Each review probably took 2-3 days work to make – from signing up, playing, writing the review, testing the customer support and more. That’s a lot of work, and I know most people just take the “reviews” provided by the casinos and rewrite that a bit. We want to offer a real review and that is a lot of work,  but in my opinion trying to recommend something without knowing what you are recommending is irresponsible and not a road that I want to take.

I play all kind of games, blackjack, video poker and slots as well as hold’em poker to mention a few.
 
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