Born and raised in Belgium, Christiaan Bollen (Boljoro) is among the few LRT Certified Professionals in the world.
EEGReport Magazine: Hi Christiaan, tell us a bit about yourself, we want to know who Christiaan Bollen really is. Where were you born? What was the key idea of developing these skills that got you so far in the industry?
Christiaan: I am born and raised in Belgium. As a kid, there was always a big interest in computers. In high school I started creating my first affiliate websites, it was a nice extra income for a teenager. Later in university I graduated in Software Development, during my time at university there was not so much time for the websites, there were other priorities during those years and the affiliate websites were put on hold.
After graduating at university, I started working as consultant in a local Belgian software development agency.
In the evenings after work the urge to make my own websites came back. At that time in 2012 in Belgium the gambling market just got legalized. Because there was not really a website that gave an overview of which casinos were legal I decided to make a website that gives an overview of legal gambling websites. I had no idea how much money there was to make as an affiliate in this industry.
My first website Goedgekeurdegoksites.be started small, an overview of all the legal websites with some information and a few affiliate links. From time to time some extra news was added. Nothing big. After some months the income became bigger and bigger. Later I decided to stop working as software developer and started up my own company. Today Goedgekeurde Goksites is one of the biggest iGaming affiliate websites in Belgium. The website also has a version for the French speaking part of Belgium, Jeux de Casino Approuvés .
Being an affiliate gives you a lot of freedom. As long as there is an internet connection and you have your laptop with you, you can work. There are even some people who claim to do all their work on their smartphone.
Having all the freedom in the world, last year I decided to move to Barcelona, my favorite city. The company is now also officially in Spain. Soon more Spanish and International websites will be released. At the moment those are in development.
What I like and focus on is SEO. In the 5 years I have been to many SEO conferences and got really good in it. Last year I was honored to join the SEOktoberfest, one of the most exclusive SEO conferences with all top experts. Sometimes I also speak as SEO specialist at conferences.
Going to conferences gives me a chance to travel around the world and discover new places. It is also a good variety in my daily life as affiliate.
EEGReport Magazine: Since there are hundreds of Search Engine Optimization, Online Marketing and Web Development agencies out there, where do you think Boljoro stands in relation to the competition at this moment?
Christiaan: Boljoro is a small company, I mainly do consultancy work as SEO specialist. Build an SEO strategy for a company that their in house team can execute.
It is hard to say about myself but I believe my knowledge is above average of other SEOs. Going to many conferences talking with other experts but also getting ideas from other people you talk with. It doesn’t always have to be an expert that has good ideas.
Being part of closed communities like the SEOktoberfest gives me the opportunity to be in close contact with people from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and big agencies. This is my biggest source of information. It benefits me as affiliate and my clients.
EEGReport Magazine: Tell us which markets do you target with Boljoro and in which fields/niches are your clients active?
Christiaan: The biggest market for Boljoro is still Belgium, next to that the focus is going to Spain as we relocated. As I am an igaming affiliate, the igaming niche is the most important. But Boljoro also has clients in other niches, the car industry for example.
In the beginning you try to get clients and don’t really focus on a market. Now there is so much work that I don’t take random customers in different markets anymore. My focus is on the gambling industry. I am open to new projects in other markets but only if they are interesting enough for me.
EEGReport Magazine: We know that you’re constantly travelling, could you share the most interesting events that are dedicated to SEO/link building or affiliate conferences/events?
Christiaan: The most interesting SEO conference for me is Ungagged, this conference is 2 times a year. In June in London and in November in Las Vegas. For a igaming affiliate the fact that it is in Vegas is an extra plus.
If you focus on a specific country, try to go an SEO conference in that country. The local people will have their own strategies that you can learn from. Some things work different in other countries.
Always try to blend in with your competitors if you do SEO, just be a little bit better then them.
For the igaming affiliates, they can not miss the London Affiliate Conference. This conference makes it possible to talk affiliate managers from most of the brands. The other iGB Affiliate conferences are also good but there are less brands present. At the iGB events lately the level of SEO presentations also got better.
EEGReport Magazine: Google rolled out it’s final version of Penguin, what’s your angle on this “real-time update” ?
Christiaan: Calling it the final version might not be so accurate, it keeps getting updated. You have to be even more careful with your link profile as they can push a change every day. One of these updates might have a big influence on your website. My advice is to keep a clean link profile.
EEGReport Magazine: How about Google’s New Mobile Index?
Christiaan: An obvious evolution, mobile had a big growth in the last decade. These days everyone is walking around with a smartphone and using it whenever they can. The amount of mobile traffic got higher than desktop. It is normal that Google follows this evolution and puts mobile before desktop now.
EEGReport Magazine: Can you tell us how did you see this year in terms of Google and what do you predict for the New Year, any major updates or so that you expect?
Christiaan: Continuing on the previous question, mobile got more important. We saw Google put the mobile friendly tag first, now the mobile first index. In the next year I expect that AMP will grow more and become more important. Or at least that is what Google wants. This way they have even more control over the internet.
EEGReport Magazine: Which term do you prefer link builder or link earner, and why?
Christiaan: Link earner, the links you can earn naturally are probably way more relevant and helpful for the reader. This will also reflect in the user behavior on your website which will have a positive impact on your SEO. These links are also more likely to convert your users. After all that is what you want to do with your site.
Buying links is possible but be careful what you do, Google is watching. I prefer earning links.
EEGReport Magazine: How do you see this “new era” in the backlinks world, I mean is content king in your opinion?
Christiaan: Don’t believe people who say that links don’t matter, they do. Even Google’s, Gary Illyes said it last year: “Ranking without links is really, really hard”.
EEGReport Magazine: Do you use metrics like Alexa Rank, PA and DA, Trust Flow and Citation Flow. if yes what’s your opinion about these?
Christiaan: For me metrics are important, mainly I use Trust Flow and Citation Flow. Next to that I also use Link Research Tools Power and Trust.
But don’t get to focused on metrics. You also have to visit the website. See how it looks, what is your “feeling” about a website. The more experience you have as an SEO this feeling will become more accurate and clear. There are so many factors that matter.
A website with lower metrics can be better for your link profile than a website with higher metrics. It is important that the content in which your link can be found is related to your website. The website must fit yours.
Be careful with websites or self-called SEO’s or marketers that try to sell you links. Many times they manipulate you into buying to expensive links. Alarm bells should start ringing if you get an email from email@example.com that has these great links for sale.
Always try to check the history of a website. How long has it been online, did it have a big change in the last months, has it been offline for some time, etc.
EEGReport Magazine: Let’s talk affiliates a bit, how do you see the future of the online casino/gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon?
Christiaan: Is it not already global? Gambling is everywhere over the world, online and offline. Where people have the possibility to go online there will be people gambling online. There are also affiliate websites all over the world. Some regions might not be as popular as others but when casinos or affiliates see a way to earn money they are there.
I am not sure how legal it will be in different places in the world. As we can see in Europe, more and more countries start legalizing online gambling. The reason they give for this is to help people, don’t get them into debts or addicted. According to me their main reason is that they see a way to earn more money by charging taxes for gambling.
EEGReport Magazine: Do you have any advice that you would like to offer to newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?
Christiaan: 100% agree, this industry is great. For newbies, don’t give up! It is a really hard and competitive market. You need confidence that you can do it, make a plan. You will need a lot of patience.
Don’t expect that it will be easy or quick money. You should work hard for it and it will take time. It can take months or a year before you earn your first euro. If you plan to give up your job for it, don’t do it. You need savings to go through the first year or keep your current job next to it.
EEGReport Magazine: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino/gambling affiliate world?!
Christiaan: More cooperation between (European) countries in their gambling laws. Every country has its own laws, in some countries the laws are even different for parts of the country like in Germany.
Affiliates but also gamblers can’t see the wood for the trees. As I told before, this was the first reason for me to start up my main website Goedgekeurde Goksites. Everything I publish on my website is legal in Belgium. If you translate the title to English it is “Approved Gambling Websites”. I want my visitors to be able to browse my website without having to worry about legal stuff when they are on my website.
EEGReport Magazine: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe?
Christiaan: Everywhere, I love traveling. I have only been to Budapest, Hungary, in Eastern Europe. In the future I hope to see more of the East of Europe. Usually my travels are a combination of work and fun. I go to a conference and stay a bit longer to explore the area. If you can advice me any conferences?
EEGReport Magazine: Do you have region or country that you wouldn’t want to visit in Eastern Europe, if so why?
Christiaan: There is no specific country that I would not like to visit. The only thing places I wouldn’t want to go to are places where it is not safe.
This interview Affiliate Superstars: Interview with Christiaan Bollen appeared first on EEGReport Magazine.
Exclusive Q&A with Jeton Kodia Co-Founder at Oddspedia
Let’s start with a few words about yourself. Our readers love top executives talking about themselves.
My name is Jeton Kodia and I have been in the gambling business since 2009. I became an iGaming affiliate when I turned my hobby into my profession. Gambling is part of my life – I love betting, casino games, and poker. Additionally, with my first name Jeton, it was somehow destiny that I had to step into this industry. I am addicted to football, and I had to lose quite some bets on my favorite team until I learned that when you want to take betting seriously, you need to refrain from your emotional attachment to a particular team and turn your attention more to comparing the odds. Besides football and pro sports in general, I bet on pretty much anything with my friends. This ranges from prop bets about winning at Playstation games to whether my first child will be a boy or girl. There is always something going on in my life which we can bet on.
Now on to Oddspedia. What led to the founding of Oddspedia?
As I already hinted at before, I wanted to focus more on the odds at sports betting. Therefore, I teamed up with Jan, whom I know since we were 18 years old, and who is equally passionate for sports in general and football in particular. Together, we co-founded our company and website Oddspedia. The main goal of our company is to provide valuable, competitive and user-friendly services for sports betting fans, players and publishers. Since its inception and over the course of several years, Oddspedia established itself as one of the biggest international affiliates in the sports betting world.
Could you elaborate on the cutting edge that Oddspedia possesses? There are other companies that offer similar services. What makes Oddspedia “the number one sports companion” of punters?
The website aims to provide as much value to the user as possible, and the information is conveyed in a manner to ensure a great user experience. It starts with guaranteeing a reliable odds comparison – odds on Oddspedia are being scanned in real-time across more than eighty bookmakers to ensure that only the most up-to-date data is displayed. This is complemented by features not commonly found in competing websites, such as geolocation to show only relevant betting sites for the user, direct links to bookmakers’ betslips, full odds movement history and various betting tools. This is part of what makes Oddspedia one of the best sites for odds comparison. But as a matter of fact Oddspedia offers much more than that. The website has amazing sports coverage as well, providing livescore information on more than 30 different sports. Users can also explore sports statistics, bonuses and promotions, or read the latest news on their favourite leagues, teams and matches. All of this wrapped in an app-like web experience, with quick performance and a state-of-art modern design makes it easy for Oddspedia to stand out from its competitors.
You recently overhauled the Oddspedia website. What are the new features that have become user favorites?
In August Oddspedia had the biggest makeover yet with its relaunch. The new version was in development for more than a year, and enabled the development team to apply new tools and technical innovations that were simply not possible on the old site. Major front-end and back-end changes were done to improve the user experience, and the new UI provides much more natural and polished user flow. To ensure seamless operation, updates regarding back-end software, systems, processing odds nodes, and new integrations are introduced almost on a day-to-day basis.
You have also launched widgets for webmasters and digital publishers which help them monetize their website through affiliate marketing? Tell us more about the widgets and process of monetizing.
One of the main issues from editors, publishers and affiliates is providing real time data to their customers. Is extremely hard to find a proper way to do it. The Oddspedia Widgets fill the gap between the sports data feeds and the operators.
For editors, the Oddspedia Widgets have been developed as a real “all-in one” solution. These tools can be implemented into any site by simply pasting their code, providing that site’s users with real time odds data. Publishers can benefit from the live information by not only providing their users an odds comparison widget for free, but they can include their affiliate link to the respective bookmaker. Clicks are simply shared on a 50/50 basis. The way the split works is that the widgets rotate with two links, one for the publisher and the other for Oddspedia which will be applied with equal chance.
Publishers will get real time sports data without any cost for them, at same time they offer that to their customers and readers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the betting and gambling companies, especially the traditional forms of betting and gambling. It is not yet done yet. How have the lock-down and social distancing measures affected your business?
In every crisis there’s an opportunity. The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact all over the world and on our daily lives, with many businesses in almost every industry feeling the pinch. That’s no different with the gambling industry, as most major sports were suspended in the first lockdown during spring time.
At Oddspedia we expected that the interest in sports will even grow bigger in times of social distancing and isolation. But with the vast majority of sports canceled we had to find a way to react to the situation. We focused on increasing our sports portfolio and cover almost any event going on worldwide. As crazy as it sounds, the matches from a Table Tennis tournament in Russia were checked over a million times on Oddspedia.
There are still positives that can emerge from the pandemic, with virtual sports and esports being one of them. Virtual Sports truly boomed in interest. Esports betting is a vertical in the industry that was already rising in popularity before the outbreak. But now, it’s well on its way to establish itself as a major offering for operators and affiliates, which is set to continue even after we come out the other side of virus lockdowns.
It has been seven years since Oddspedia was launched. Most of these times, you focused mainly on Europe, especially the German-speaking countries. You are now venturing in to South America. How has the user response so far from the Latin American countries, who certainly love their football? Any plans to start operations in Asia?
Our entry into the South American market has been very successful. The audience there is extremely passionate about sports and betting, and they show a great demand for our product. Of course, we provide local users with well-targeted information from local bookies in their native language. We began with the integration of Spanish and Portuguese languages for our product, then we structured our content to be as engaging as possible for local users. It’s no secret, that for users from Brazil, as well as for other Latin American countries, football is the most popular sport. So when entering our website, we meet users with the most interesting football matches from their local leagues. These are shown first and then followed by popular worldwide championships.
This personalized approach is very successful and we have good and stable traffic coming from these countries
Several Asian countries, like Japan for example, are very interesting for oddspedia, as well. However, we deem it highly important to find the right partner when entering a country like that. It is crucial to have the right partner who is fond of the language, can translate and adapt to the correct betting terminology, and possesses local SEO knowledge. We envision to grant sublicenses for oddspedia if the right company to partner with comes knocking on our door.
The technology is moving at an unimaginably high speed. How do you think artificial intelligence and machine learning would impact the betting industry, and specifically the odds comparison
Automation based on machine learning has been key within ecommerce for years and the igaming industry should apply insights gained in other sectors. Offering a personal user experience in a responsible environment comes from understanding and catering to each individual player’s needs from an entertainment point of view. AI is a type of software or hardware that learns – and it could be programmed to learn mostly about users and their behavior and utilize those insights to drive the developments of new, hyper-personalised gaming and internet betting experiences. The technology is being applied to learn our habits, our likes, and our relationship patterns. Online gaming is an industry that runs on data, such as results, stakes, percentages, odds, stats, and so on. All of these numbers are constantly crunched, calculated and analysed behind every major gaming platform. For this reason, ML is actually playing a growing influential role in the sector, changing the game for both online gaming businesses and their players
Finally, what would be your key advises to any new entrepreneurs starting something new in the gambling industry or affiliate marketing sector?
Don’t start something just on your own if you are a newbie. First, dip your foot in the water and gain some experience in the industry. I would recommend starting with a job at a bigger affiliate company or in affiliate marketing at an operator. If you are smart, you can learn a lot quickly and avoid a bunch of costly mistakes you might have made otherwise. In the next step, you can try out your own ideas. By then, you already have a sound understanding of the industry, which allows you to make even better products right from the beginning and the timeframe until you are able to realize a return on your investment is likely to be much shorter, as well.
Bojoko crowned Casino Affiliate of the Year 2020
Online casino comparison site takes home its first EGR Operator Award off the back of a hugely successful year
The party is continuing at Bojoko after the online gambling comparison site was named Casino Affiliate of the Year at the prestigious EGR Operator Awards 2020.
Bojoko fought off stiff competition from some of the biggest names in the affiliate industry, including Gambling.com Group, Catena Media and Blexr, to take home the trophy.
EGR judges said that Bojoko had showed “very strong growth” over the past three years having been the first to use the Airbnb and Trip Advisor model in the online casino sector.
The EGR judges said: “They continue to be innovative with a number of new features which has allowed them to grow to 26,000+ registered members.
“I really like the concept, it’s a true affiliate giving customers choice who to choose, growth looks decent and operators managing the page ensures compliance and cost control.
“It is a clever idea and model and shows good growth,” the judges added.
Bojoko allows online casino operators and game developers to create their own listing and tell their story through their own words, images and videos.
Bojoko members then rate and review online casinos and games based on the experience they receive, with Bojoko’s member base now standing at 26,000+.
Joonas Karhu, Chief Business Officer at Bojoko, said: “We are thrilled to have been named Casino Affiliate 2020 at the EGR Awards and for Bojoko to be recognised as a true leader in the space.
“The Covid-19 pandemic saw operators pivot to casino as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the global sports blackout, making the casino comparison sector even more competitive than normal.
“The Bojoko team rose to this challenge and I am so pleased that their efforts have been recognised by EGR and its panel of esteemed judges.
“Our mission from day one has been to help players find the best casinos for them while also meeting the highest possible standards when it comes to responsible gambling and safe gaming.
“We continue to innovate and introduce new tools and features to help players filter and compare the 160+ casinos and 40+ game developers listed on Bojoko.
“We have ambitious plans for the coming 12 months, including expanding into the US market, and look forward to doing this with our first EGR award in the bag.”
Karhu launches Professional Gambling Affiliates Association
Bojoko’s Chief Business Officer launches industry group with the aim of creating contractual security between affiliates and operators for the first time
Joonas Karhu, Chief Business Officer at Bojoko.com, has launched the Professional Gambling Affiliates Association (PGAA) to help improve the relationship between affiliates and operators and create contractual security for the first time.
Karhu formed the association after becoming concerned with the imbalance in the relationship between affiliates and operators. The PGAA will address this with affiliates coming together as one in order to push for contractual security and fair terms and conditions when promoting operator brands.
At present, there is no contractual security for affiliates who are forced to sign agreements that are one-sided and subject to change at any time. This can see life-time revenues slashed and fees increased with little to no notice.
This is not the case in other B2B industries and makes running an online gambling affiliate business incredibly difficult. Operating an organisation without a secured contract is unsustainable, making it impossible to invest in growth and putting jobs at risk.
The PGAA intends to create a contract that provides the security its members need to be able to promote operator brands now and moving forwards. The contract will be signed by PGAA members and their operator partners.
Bojoko will handle the initial communication between the PGAA and operators, and will also cover the legal cost associated with creating the PGAA contract. This includes any potential reviews or amendments required now and in the future.
Karhu is now calling on affiliates of all sizes to join the Professional Gambling Affiliates Association. Those interested in signing up can do so by requesting to join the dedicated Professional Gambling Affiliates LinkedIn Group here.
Joonas Karhu, Chief Business Officer at Bojoko, said: “The situation online gambling affiliates face is unprecedented when compared with other industries and sectors. Running a business without a secured contract is simply unsustainable and puts organisations and their employees at great risk.
“By creating the PGAA, I hope to be able to provide the contractual security that affiliates need to be able to promote operator brands and be confident that the players they send and the revenues they generate are secured over time.
“I am now calling on all affiliates to join the PGAA and for operators and other industry stakeholders to support the association and its mission to level the playing field for affiliates and to provide the contractual security they need and deserve.”
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