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  1. #1
    GPWA Dan is offline Former Staff Member
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    November 2008
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series: Peter Willis

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    HOMETOWN: Durham, England
    LIVING IN: Leeds, England
    FAVORITE FOOD: Risotto
    MUST READ BOOK: Iím not much of a reader

    Your sites really have you covered: sportsbooks, horse racing, casinos, poker and bingo. You've hit them all. Why did you go this route rather than specializing in one niche?

    To be honest, Iím just a bit of a ďdomain hoarderĒ! As youíll see from the majority of my sites, they are generally all still a work in progress. Iím putting most of my energy at the moment into my ďday jobĒ as in-house SEO for an online bingo portal, so Iím finding I have little time to focus on my own projects. Iím exploring oDesk as a route for outsourcing some work in order to develop things more swiftly than I currently have the capacity for by myself.

    You have two sites dedicated to horse racing. Do you bet on the horses? If so, do you consider yourself an expert handicapper? When did you make your first bet on a horse race?

    I certainly enjoy horse racing and Iíd like to think Iím good at picking out a winner or two. I would guess my first bet on a horse race will have been the Grand National five or six years ago, although I donít recall exactly. I didnít actually go to a racetrack until 2009, but Iíve been many times since.

    What did you do before you became involved in online gaming?

    I started developing websites from a fairly young age. My first major website was a Pro Evolution Soccer (video game) community, which remains online today via (although I no longer own it, as I sold it two years ago). Back in 2006 I also started, alongside my cousin, an online movie blog at This is still going strong and recently won the Sky Movies Blog of the Year award for 2010.

    How did you get started in the industry?

    One of the guys who I had working for me left in 2001 or 2002 to start an online casino portal. At the time I thought he was mad. I mean, who wanted to risk their credit-card details online to gamble? It wasnít until a few years later that I begin to realize just how popular online gaming was going to become. By which point, of course, every man and his dog had got involved!

    But Iíve stuck with it, and more recently have been heavily focused on SEO in the online gambling space, working with some major brands as part of my role at Stickyeyes, whom I left in 2010 to pursue an in-house role.

    Why do you operate both a general horse racing site as well as a site dedicated exclusively to the Cheltenham Festival?

    I actually have quite a few more horse racing sites (too many to list!). Most of them only drive traffic for specific events such as the Cheltenham Festival or the Grand National. The reality is that at the moment Google still adds significant value to keyword domain names, which makes the model of building lots of mini-sites on keyword-focused domains a quicker route to top rankings than creating a sub-page on one stronger portal. That said, I wouldnít recommend that anyone else go down this route moving forward, as Google has made it clear they are working to reduce the value accredited to keyword domains.

    You once posted that you have at least 10 sites in other niches. What are some of these niches, and how do their earnings stack up against what your gaming sites bring in?

    The majority of my other sites are used purely to sell links and make some quick cash Ė so itís probably best that we donít talk about them in-depth!

    You take SEO, and Google rankings, very seriously. One of your more recent observations was that a siteís up or down ranking might very well be affected by what kind of day a Google engineer was having when he or she reviewed the site. Is that actually something webmasters should be worried about?

    Yes and no. I mean, thereís not really anything you can do about which side of the bed a Google engineer gets out of in the morning. But you can be careful not to build links which could be deemed in any way black hat. If you are going to pay for links, or even do exchanges, always try to make them look as natural as possible. Donít give Google engineers any reason to think your site isnít whiter than white should they ever come to review it.

    Sometimes the line between white hat and black hat SEO tactics is so fine itís all but invisible. For example, is link exchanging always ďwhite hatĒ? Is there a ďlistĒ somewhere of black and white SEO practices? Or are we all compelled to wade through a vast, swampy ďgrayĒ area?

    I think in online gaming there is no escaping the shadier side of SEO. Look at the top 10 results for any of the top key phrases in any of the industries. I would challenge anyone to find me an example of a site which has got there without any tactics which Google doesnít want you to employ. As far as Iím concerned there is absolutely no difference between a link exchange and paying for a link. Both tactics are being used to manipulate the search results, so as far as Googleís guidelines are concerned . . . both are a no-no.

    Whatís the most difficult thing about operating your sites?

    Lack of time. I just donít have any! I donít think it would go down too well with my girlfriend if I got home from work only to then spend another few hours working on my own Web sites. They get some attention on weekends, but not nearly as much as Iíd like. I have a list 10 pages long of plans Iíve yet to implement.

    What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?

    Donít just build a Web site, try to build a brand (Iím sure I must have stolen this from someone, so apologies if itís you!). The word ďbrandĒ has been getting thrown about all over the place recently, but itís worth reiterating. You arenít going to rank on page one these days just by building up a 10- or 15-page Web site that has reviews of all the leading casinos. You need to do something different; you need to build a name for yourself/your Web site based on the content and a unique offering. People often ask me what I mean when I say ďbrandĒ in terms of affiliates, so some examples in gaming would be Oddschecker, Dealer Dan and Casinomeister. Outside of gaming we have what have become monster brand affiliates such as Trip Advisor and Money Supermarket.

    How did you discover the GPWA?

    I think the GPWA was the first gaming community I joined; it was probably via a Google search.

    What time management tips can you offer us?

    None. Can you offer me some, please?

    If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be?

    1. Pay good money for a proper designer before you even think about spending a penny on marketing. First impressions count, and you need to build trust with your visitors.
    2. Network. You never know who you might bump into.
    3. Speak to the sites you promote about getting a better deal. No harm in asking, is there?
    4. Donít sell links. Selling links is bad.
    5. Buy links. Youíll need them to rank.

    Do you use Facebook, Twitter or other social networks to promote your sites? If so, which ones and how?

    Facebook and Twitter are great for Obsessed With Film, but Iíve yet to fully explore their potential in online gaming . . . other than spamming the hell out of Twitter for a ranking test!

    How do you like to spend your time off?

    I love horse racing and football (soccer). Iím a big fan of Newcastle United and get to a few games a season. I used to be a season ticket holder but gave it up when I moved to Leeds, which is 100 miles or so away. Iím also an occasional online poker player, and enjoy the odd game of FIFA on the Xbox 360.

    Whatís your favorite vacation spot?

    Iím not much of a one for beaches. I love going to the T in the Park music festival in Scotland. This year will be my fifth.

    If someone were visiting you, whatís the one place you would definitely take them to see?

    Durham Cathedral.

    Imagine you could trade places with anyone for a week. The person could be famous or not famous, living or from history, real or fictional. With whom would you trade places and why?

    The Virgin Mary about nine months before she gave birth to Jesus. Iím just curious.

    Whatís the first concert you ever attended in person?

    Jimmy Eat World in Nottingham, many years ago.

    If you were directing and starring in a movie, who would you cast as your romantic interest?

    Audrey Tautou.

    If you could have one ďsuper power,Ē what would it be, and why?

    Teleportation. Journeys are often dull.

    Tell us three things that nobody knows about you.

    I donít like The Godfather. I donít like The Godfather II. I have never seen The Godfather III.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    March 2006
    Costa Rica
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    Hey Peter, great interview. I know nothing about horse racing, but you make it seem fun. lol It's interesting to see how broad your niches range from. How long was it before you started to make money on them? You mentioned you didn't have enough time. I can agree with you there. There doesn't seem to be the time to do 10% of what I would like.

    I remember when I first started I tried to do poker, casino, bingo, and sports at the same time. I could not get enough market penetration in any of them to make any money. I didn't start doing well until I focused on one niche (live gaming).

    Again, thank you for sharing. Cheers!

  3. #3
    rak's Avatar
    rak is offline Former AM
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    January 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digo View Post
    If you were directing and starring in a movie, who would you cast as your romantic interest?

    Audrey Tautou.

    I'm sure you've heard it before... but.... "Who'd you talkin' about Willis!"

    Great interview btw!

  4. #4
    craig96 is offline Private Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by rak View Post
    I'm sure you've heard it before... but.... "Who'd you talkin' about Willis!"

    Great interview btw!


  5. The Following User Says Thank You to craig96 For This Useful Post:

    rak (25 August 2011)

  6. #5
    Topboss is offline Private Member
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    Great interview Peter...and I gather you don't like The Godfather

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