The first year anniversary of the Wild Reels Website and the year has flown by, but I have learned so much in this time too.
I had toyed with the idea of starting a website for several years. Still, I decided to take the plunge and work at it for a year to see how much of a presence I could create in one of the most, if not the most competitive affiliate markets around. That was the promise I made to myself, to stick at it for a year and see what I could achieve in this timeframe.
I’ve never been in a Salesman/Marketing role, so the thought of having to be that person was very alien to me, but I do know a lot about online casinos and online slots, and being an online slots player, I like to think I know at least a bit of what these type of players care about and the kind of information they are keen to learn.
What Was the Catalyst to Making an Affiliate Site?
My first interest in Online Casinos came about by playing online slots, some 5-6 years ago. I had made all of the usual mistakes that a new player could do, signed up with some terrible online casinos, taken bonuses I had no hope of ever completing, and numerous other errors like reversing withdrawals and thinking I’m on an invincible, winning streak.
My work experience has been IT based but not web design or anything remotely creative. Still, I had run a very successful niche online gaming portal back in the early 2000s purely for fun as I was a keen PC Gamer when the reflexes were still present.
This previous knowledge had given me a decent understanding of basic HTML and all of the basic principles for web design, but ten years have passed, and the web has evolved a great deal.
Given all of these reasons and my passion for creating a site with some personal integrity that wasn’t just based on sending players to sub-par online casinos with 3000% Deposit Bonus Offers or such ridiculous offers, hopefully, share some knowledge about online slots with relevant articles that contain the information the players want to know,
“Does it pay well?”, “What’s the RTP“, and most importantly “Where can I play it?”
As a result, the Wild Reels website was created.
Finding Your Feet – the First Few Months
The first few months were spent installing WordPress, getting to know my way around basic HTML again and CSS, and for anyone looking to do the same, then Codeacademy is a great interactive resource to learn or re-learn the basics.
I wanted to use a theme for WordPress that I was happy with both in terms of its ease of use and overall design. I decided to go with Avada based on its popularity. It’s an all singing all dancing theme, and because of that can throw up some issues, but I’m pretty pleased with the overall results of the theme after much tweaking and optimisation.
There were some conscious decisions that I had made in my writing style, I didn’t want to sugar-coat the content, as players can generally see straight through the marketing blurb and won’t thank you for an article full of waffle, there’s no point telling people how great a slot is when it’s terrible, so I have adopted a style that describes technically how the features work and what the slots are capable of rather than creating some back end story about a slot that players are going to skim read until they find the helpful content.
Rating Online Casinos – Rant Mode on
Along with this point, rather than rating the various casinos as many other smaller affiliate sites do, I adopted the approach of
“If it’s listed here then I deem it worthy for players to try it out”.
Rating casinos on an affiliate site, whether it be a 5/5 system or percentage-based system, always seemed pointless to me, especially when you are the new kid on the block and lack any absolute authority, putting my cynical non-salesman hat on, the main reason an affiliate site exists is to get you to play at any of the listed casinos (let us not kid ourselves).
As a player, I’ve always looked at casino affiliate sites and just shrugged at any rating systems. For example, are the ratings a true reflection of how good or bad the casinos is or used to push whichever site will earn the most commission? Then you have the sites where every online casino is rated between 90% and 99%, again pointless.
The worst offenders are the sites that list casinos that score terribly but still have an affiliate link that leads you to a sign-up page. If it is so bad, why are you still trying to earn commission from it?
Rant mode off!
Update – After several years, we have adopted rating criteria. Still, I’m confident in my ratings and knowledge of slots and casinos to feel comfortable enough now with these ratings!
Are We Getting the Content Right, and Is It Relevant?
The initial articles I posted were made using a “spaghetti against the wall” technique. Churning out content and seeing what sticks, it was a huge learning process for me. SEO was way more straightforward back in 2000.
Learning how to digest all of the information gained from Google Webmaster tools and Analytics and several other SEO tools and then using it to improve the sites visibility and organic search results have been a real eye-opener.
During this period, another great resource I found was initially called Feed The Bot but known as Varvy, packed with great tips and information for newcomers. There are several great tools for checking out how fast your site and pages are, too, in the form of GTMetrix and Pingdom, and Webpagestest, which do a much better job than the Google Page Speed test telling you how to make your site and pages load quicker.
I had selected a range of online casinos to promote based on my own and other players experiences. In this Casinomeister forum, I was active as a player who helped me keep up to date with what is happening in the online casino world and gain further knowledge from other slots players, other casino affiliates, and the guys running the online casinos too. As a resource and community, it’s has been and remains invaluable.
The First Player Sign Up!
I was pretty fortunate that the first player to sign up via my site happened within the first few months, I really wasn’t anticipating it, and it inspired me to work that much harder afterwards.
After this initial interest, the sign-ups went quiet again. I’m not sure whether that player ever actually played (I could, of course, go into the affiliate backend and check, but it’s of little consequence now), but that was one lesson I had learned, getting players to sign up to a casino site doesn’t mean they are ever going to deposit and play there, it’s only the first stage., and the percentage of players who sign up and don’t play can vary hugely for each casino.
The Next Months
I had constantly been refining the site as I went, adding a few minor tweaks, adding and removing plugins, and learning to focus my written articles to be more specific and targeted to the things I wanted people to find.
The results of this enabled me to rank well enough in Google for specific keywords. This resulted in the site getting regular daily organic search traffic and, as a result, some reasonably stable sign-ups to the various casinos I was promoting and some active depositing players.
The real eye-opener for me, though, was when certain pages began to rank in the top 30 of what I would call highly competitive online casino search terms, these are not page 1 results, but the amount of traffic that comes from them and leads to sign-ups is a real eye-opener.
I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% happy with the site. There is always room for improvement in terms of content, tweaks, and optimisation in several areas. As we advance, I already have many ideas of how to improve the site for players further.
I have just recently completed a task of improving all the external affiliate linking, which I had been putting off for several months. Still, in the future, this will be a significant boost and timesaver for me. The following stages add more static “evergreen” page content that players will hopefully find informative and relevant.
A final thanks to the players that use this site!
And finally, a personal thanks to all of the players that have used the site in the last year. Hopefully, you have found some useful online slot information and suggestions for new games to try out.
I know there have been a few big winners and losers throughout the year. Hopefully, you’ve done it playing at what I deem some of the better online casinos out there.