Interview with Jacob Ljunggren on how to succeed with your first affiliate business

We chat to Jacob Ljunggren is the product manager at Leadstar Media AB, a Stockholm-based affiliate company active in the iGaming industry.

They have websites in over 18 different markets across the globe including in the UK with their flagship site Bookiesbonuses.com. With several years of experience at Leadstar Media, Jacob Ljunggren has launched numerous new sites in the highly competitive iGaming niche over the years. We had the opportunity to pick his brain about the most common mistakes beginners make and what things one should consider when launching and developing a successful new affiliate site.

Jacob Ljunggren tells us about affiliate businessCan you explain what an affiliate is and how that business model works?

Jacob Ljunggren: An affiliate is someone who promotes other businesses’ products in exchange for a fee or share of the purchase price, simply put: a performance-based compensation, or commission. The affiliates don’t need to hold any inventory of their own because their job is to refer the leads to their partners, where they eventually make their purchase.

There are many different ways these deals and partnerships can be structured, but a common example of an affiliate is Hotels.com. They don’t own any hotels themselves. Instead they have deals with different hotels and they get paid when someone that lands on Hotels.com goes on to click on a hotel and book a stay. There are a ton of ways to send customers to your partners, for example, through social media or email marketing. The way we do it is through optimizing websites for search engines.

Are you only working with SEO or are you complimenting that with any other traffic sources?

Jacob Ljunggren: At Leadstar Media we are all about organic traffic, that’s where we’ve seen most success. One reason is that when you start to rank at the top of search engines you will keep getting visitors to your site even if you aren’t really touching it. If done right, these visitors continue to convert which equals passive income.  Another reason that we use this model is because of the restrictions that apply to gambling advertising in most of the markets where we operate. However, in Sweden we also run a betting community on Bettingstugan.se where we share tips and operate a large Facebook group. It’s one of the biggest betting communities in Sweden but it’s also a site where we focus a lot on SEO. Traffic from organic search is our bread and butter, but with Bettingstugan.se we have successfully managed to give our partners value through both SEO and the community.

What should new aspiring online entrepreneurs looking to get started as an affiliate think about?

Jacob Ljunggren: First of all they should find a niche they really like and make sure there are businesses available to make affiliate deals with. Besides that I think they need to research the competition. While the gambling, travel and finance segments are very lucrative, they are also the most competitive. Unless you have an experienced team and pockets full of cash I advise you to start somewhere else. Don’t expect to take over the world at your first try, instead narrow down and go for something more niched with low competition.

Do you have any tips regarding SEO, any mistakes to avoid?

Jacob Ljunggren: When you’ve got your niche set, figure out which keywords bring visitors that have a high intention to make a purchase, these are the search terms that you want to rank for. It’s a very common mistake to focus on the keywords with high search volume where the competition usually is more fierce rather than the long-tail keywords with high intention. For example, trying to rank for the word “black dress” is going to take a lot of effort because the volume and competition is high. I’d rather go for the long-tail keyword “long black dress for new years.” While this term has a considerably lower amount of searches, the intention to make a purchase is higher. In addition, the competition is going to be lower and your chances of actually ranking somewhere in the top 5 are much greater.

Niche, keywords, deals, and content all set, how do you keep improving your site to increase income?

Jacob Ljunggren: There’s no one size fits all answer to this, I can only tell you what I do. Google, which is the most used search engine and the one we want our websites to rank in, has two very good tools. One is Google Analytics and the other Google Search Console, both are free and provide you with a ton of information. To keep it more actionable I’m not going to explain everything you can use these tools for, but here are my favourite ways. In Google Search Console, you can see what keywords people search for when your site shows up. This is a great insight that you can use to find new keywords that you haven’t optimized for but that might be worth your energy. In some cases it’s an easy fix by adding a paragraph focusing on this keyword and in other cases it’s worthy of a page on it’s own. In Analytics, you see which page your visitors land on and how many of them converted, i.e clicked on your affiliate link. If the conversion is low then you are probably ranking for keywords with low intention or you haven’t optimized for conversions. If it’s the latter, look over where you have your affiliate links, do they have to scroll before they see the call to action? Is it visible in mobile?

Again, you can use these tools to find minor fixes that are really going to help you improve your traffic and conversions.