Nemanja Lazarevic, Founder & CEO of Teamwork, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Nemanja Lazarevic, from Teamwork, speaks about the importance they give to all the details that players might be interested in. When they speak about banking methods, they not only list the banking methods supported by that casino but they also list them per market. They research every casino they promote and they also perform regular checks to update their reviews – follow his story below.
When and why did you start considering affiliate business as a career? Were you always focused on the iGaming space?
My first job after university happened to be working as a content writer for a local iGaming affiliate. That was back in 2008 and I have since remained solely focused on the iGaming industry. I quickly fell in love with the industry and decided to make it a career.
How did Teamwork take off? What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
Teamwork was established in 2011; I had many freelance gigs working for different betting and casino affiliates and I was offered a full-time position by one of them. I then decided to find some people to take over the gigs I could no longer work on and everything took off quickly.
Teamwork has since been providing content and localisation services for online casinos, casino affiliates, and sports betting websites, and we now create iGaming content in some 30 languages.
At the same time, since 2015 we have been developing our own affiliate sites, starting with CasinoBloke.com. CasinoBankingMethods.com is our latest big project that we are working on.
I wish I knew the value of natural backlinks back then. My first site was dedicated to international football and it got loads of natural backlinks from high-quality sites as it quickly became an authority in the niche. I got impatient as the site was losing money and sold it for peanuts to cut my losses, when I should have at least taken advantage of the site’s high authority. That, however, proved a great learning curve.
Which niches work best for your affiliate marketing, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?
Casino is our main vertical. I decided to move away from sports betting and focus on casino early on and that turned out to be a great decision. Our most profitable sites have been built around banking methods used for casino deposits and that is what our latest site is all about.
I noticed that banking review pages were performing well on one of our sites and have since started a couple of websites dedicated to one or basically all the popular payment options for casino players, especially focusing on local methods.
What sets you apart from other affiliates? What makes you unique?
Coming from a content background, we dedicate a lot of time to planning the right content strategy and creating the best possible content around targeted keywords. We still write for players, but obviously always having in mind latest SEO guidelines.
What sets us apart is the effort we make to dig out every little thing that our visitors might find useful when reading our banking or casino reviews such as hidden fees, financial department working hours, table limits, and much more. We’ll not only list the most popular banking methods the casino supports, but rather create individual lists for each of the casino’s top markets. Therefore, if you are coming from Poland, you’ll be able to see the banking options available exclusively to Polish users at that particular casino.
While we spend endless hours researching every casino and payment provider listed on our sites, we have people who perform regular checks and update the reviews every 2 or 3 months to ensure we always have fresh and correct information on our websites. This is something that definitely gives us an extra edge over the competition.
How important is social media activity for your affiliate business? How difficult is it with Google’s constant updates?
To be perfectly honest, not a lot. I believe our time is better spent on content, SEO, and regular content updates rather than on building a social media following. We do have a LinkedIn page for our content writing business though.
Google is constantly updating its algorithms. From Panda updates to Penguin updates. Put yourself in Google’s shoes – what can we expect in its next update?
Even if Google has become a lot smarter over the years, we still see a lot of poor sites high in the rankings. If I were in their shoes, I would dedicate more time to properly rewarding websites that boast good structure, great user experience, top-notch content, and custom images, and demote all those that use shady techniques to try and manipulate the rankings.
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?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I would consider an iGaming SEO Specialist someone who knows the iGaming industry inside out and is also obviously an SEO expert. Having said that, I wouldn’t trust the majority of people calling themselves iGaming SEO Specialists. If they were so good, they would build and rank their own affiliate sites rather than someone else’s.
It’s important because the search engines are getting smarter and you need to have basic SEO knowledge if you want to succeed in the iGaming industry. Results take time and should not be measured by weeks or months. The best advice I can give to someone starting a casino affiliate site is to focus on doing everything right, to work hard and be patient. The results will follow for sure.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Our sites have so far been designed to focus on all the major markets, but we still strive to tailor our content to local audiences. Having some excellent native writers from around the world in our team, we’ll make sure to utilise their potential to the fullest at some point and launch websites targeting a single market.
I believe there is a lot of potential in emerging markets such as LatAm, India, Japan, Africa, but each comes with its own set of problems, so it’s not easy to weigh all the pros and cons and start targeting one of those unless you are one of the big firms. We might try and test the waters with a couple of mini-sites before we commit to a larger project in one of the emerging markets.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
The strict requirements in UK, Sweden, Germany, and now major brands pulling out of the Netherlands as they hope to get licensed have been tough for the entire industry, but we have somehow come out unscathed. We are always agile and ready to react to new industry developments, and the good thing is we never really targeted any of those markets specifically.
Are you contemplating bringing in investors to scale or grow your business? Or, with such a big M&A market, have you ever contemplated selling the business?
We never needed investors as our finances have always been healthy due to having a big pool of clients for our content writing business and also our sites performing nicely over the years.
We do sell an occasional site from time to time, usually when we have an idea for a new project and want to free up some time for the new site, but selling the entire business is not something we are contemplating in the near future. I still enjoy the industry too much to allow someone else to take over the reigns.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
We use Monday.com as a work management platform and then tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Ahrefs in our day-to-day operations.
I don’t spend a lot of time calculating our KPI’s and coming up with objectives we need to meet. I’d much rather spend that time working on our sites, coming up with new content ideas, and tweaking existing content to ensure it reaches full potential.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2021 and beyond?
I’m probably not the best person to answer this. Being quite busy with our affiliate sites and content agency, I don’t have time to follow the latest AI developments.
What does it take for an affiliate business to thrive?
It takes a good leader/visionary who knows a lot about the industry and is always motivated to learn more. At the same time, working in a fast-paced industry, he/she needs to pivot from time to time and adapt to the changes, rather than keep doing the same things. Then you need a good team that can efficiently turn these ideas into reality. For all of this to work together successfully, business owners need to treat their employees with respect and ensure they stick around for as long as possible.
How do you choose your operators and how do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
I’m sure everyone tells you this, but we make sure to only work with reputable operators. Those who have a good track record when it comes to treating both players and affiliates fairly.
We communicate with most AM’s via Skype. That’s the easiest way to make quick changes when needed and we are quite happy with most operators we work with. Conferences are also another great way to build on existing relationships and make good deals with the operators.
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, I’ve been to SiGMA in 2019 and will be going to SiGMA Europe next month as well. Malta is quite nice in November and it’s cool to meet with both our clients and the operators we work with in person after some two years.
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 Gaming yourself, etc.
I’ve played football basically all my life, and I still play those five-a-side games usually once a week. I joined a local club at the age of 6 and I believe I have learned a lot about responsibility, teamwork, and many other important things through football.
I have a very supportive wife and a baby boy, love visiting new countries, and a Grey Goose tonic in any occasion. I enjoy playing Blackjack in land-based casinos, usually when I’m on vacation. I was always going to choose Blackjack due to the highest RTP, but it is also great fun. Texas Hold’em is another game I like, and I plan to attend the Texas Hold’em tournament at SiGMA Europe.
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Malta Week – Save the dates:
For the first time ever SiGMA Group is bringing its 4 leading shows together for the mother of all conferences. From the 15th to 19th November, SiGMA, alongside AGS and AIBC will bring the best in the business to a first-class meeting point at the Malta Fairs and Convention Centre (MFCC). Malta Week is a chance for investors to leverage the significant crossover potential for multi-faceted business deals and to double down on opportunities to connect with some of the leading affiliates, policymakers, thought leaders, suppliers, and operators in the industry. Register now!