Affiliate Grand Slam by SiGMA
Rickard Vikström, Founder and CCO of Internet Vikings, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Rickard Vikström and the rest of Internet Vikings help operators and affiliates be more efficient with their SEO work. He is sharing his insights with us - follow his story below.
When and how did you venture into SEO? How much were you willing to commit to it?
In 2008, I was working at an SEO agency. There I saw that Internet marketers need technical solutions that were not available at the time. I saw all the technical issues that they had and wanted to become the technical partner of the SEO industry as there was a gap in the market and no one had taken that position. We built those solutions to help Internet marketers to become more efficient and better in what they do so they can focus on marketing stuff, not technical stuff, especially search engine optimization.
What helps make your performance successful?
I try to build it long term and don’t take shortcuts. Running a company is like training to play soccer or any other sport. You can’t cheat, it won’t come to you easily, you need to pour hundreds and thousands of hours into it. Then maybe you’ll be good at it.
What are the main challenges of SEO today, and how are they different from just a few years ago?
The main challenge is to have an edge over your competitors, as everyone is doing the same onpage, same outreach (like if you have got a good link, that site will get email from your all competitors within the next weeks trying to get the same links). It is tough to stand out of the crowd.
Is there such a thing as iGaming SEO Specialists? Why is SEO important for gaming, and how long does it take to see results from SEO?
Yes, that is a part of the SEO industry that really understands what it means to be at the edge 24/7. That is, working in iGaming you have to be agile, proactive, always on the watch in order to remain competitive. SEO is a foundation of online visibility, and without that you are out of the business. As for results, it depends on many factors. However, I would say 3-6 months.
How important are backlinks? And would you consider buying those given that many are reluctant to provide links organically to online casinos and sportsbooks?
That is the only way to differentiate yourself from your competitors as everyone can do the same great content, same great onpage. So it is hard to overestimate the importance of backlinks.
How did SEO change in the last few years, and what should one expect in the next year or two?
Basically, it hasn’t changed that much compared to 2010-2012 when Panda and the Penguin were launched. Honestly, I don’t expect much in the next couple of years in this regard. Google has other things to focus on.
Black Hat vs White Hat - what is prevalent in Gaming SEO? What works and what should be avoided at all costs?
It seems that those terms are overused. I would say they are superfluous to some extent. There are no hats anymore, that is just something that marketing agencies have come up with.
Besides Google, do you also focus on ranking on other search engines like Baidu in China?
No. At least not for now. There is enough stuff to focus on regarding Google.
Domain protection / reputation - how important is it to the overall SEO exercise?
It's not just important, it’s crucial. You should have both brand protection for your domains and SEO. It gives you a lot of advantages, so use the domains you have registered! Don’t just use it as doorway pages.
Which SEO factors are not in your control?
The bugs within the Google search engine is an SEO factor not in our control together with spam links that are thrown at your sites.
Which SEO tools do you use? Link tracking tools, translation software tools, heat tracking maps - what's your favourite must have tools out there?
I use the Searchmetrics Suite and Wincher. Those are my day-to-day tools.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
First and foremost, retargeting tools. These services will increase the value of a visitor bringing him. Also, fraud detection. I believe it will rapidly improve making the industry safer and more reliable.
Ever heard of Voice Search? What impact will voice search have on SEO in 2021 and beyond?
It is still too early to take it into consideration in 2021 in terms of SEO. So I say that it will have no impact on SEO next year. This technology will definitely require more time to develop to the point that it can have an impact on SEO.
How can SEO experts innovate and remain ahead of the curve in such a fast-paced vertical?
Just do more than your competitors, that is usually that easy. You should prepare yourself for hard work and long hours.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority, and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets? Europe seems saturated, and it's hard to rank on good keywords. Which regions are hottest today for SEO ranking?
There are still lots of possibilities in markets like Austria, Romania, Finland, and Norway. But I would also focus on SE Asia like India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan.
Which niches work best for you, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?
As we are a supplier to the industry, we help all niches; it is hard to pick one. Also, we think e-commerce will be as profitable as the loan/iGaming industry within the next 5 years.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
My prediction is that it will become more global. Not everyone will focus on Scandinavia and the UK like it did 4 years ago. We’ll see the emergence of new markets worldwide.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? SiGMA Europe, Africa, Asia, or Americas - which of these four expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2021, COVID-19 permitting?
Yes! And I’ll come to all in the future. Hope there will be such an opportunity in 2021.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into iGaming yourself, etc.
My hobbies are snowboarding and being out in nature, I like the iGaming industry because it’s the most challenging industry in the world.
Thanks for taking part in the Affiliate Grand Slam today Rickard.
Thanks to you too SiGMA, it's been my pleasure.