“Working part time left me with time to develop other skills” – Koen Verkerk
Koen Verkerk, Founder of GoedkopeEnergieenGas.nl, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Koen Verkerk of GoedkopeEnergieenGas.nl speaks about what pushed him into the Gas niche in affiliation, and how it differs from other industries – follow his story below
What gave you the idea to start a Dutch energy comparison website?
After graduating I started working part-time at the company where I finished my study thesis. Since the company was still a small startup within a bigger company there was no budget to hire met full-time. This left me with a few days in the week in which I could develop other things, which inspired me to start something on my own.
One of the things I came in contact with during the first month of my job was affiliate marketing. Through my boss, I learned the first basics of affiliate marketing. Immediately I found the business model of being an affiliate amazing, earning money around the clock with a website simply sounded great.
The next step I took was looking around in affiliate networks what branches offered an interesting commission. It didn’t take me long to notice that energy suppliers pay good rewards for bringing in the customers. With this knowledge, I decided to start my energy comparing website from scratch with little to no experience.
Through the years my website grew in content and reputation. Especially in the years 2019 and 2020 business was doing really well since my SEO strategy was working out well. At the moment, most energy companies, and other affiliate websites are focusing more on their SEO and getting in customers through Google which increased the competition a lot. This made business harder but if you do the right things it can still be very rewarding.
Tell us a bit more about how it differs from your other venture?
Searchers in the energy industry are looking for different information than searchers in other industries. The products within the energy branches are basically all the same, people can only choose whether they want greener energy or energy from traditional sources. Because of this most of them want in-depth information about energy rates, discounts and the fee they will be paying yearly instead of information about the product.
Looking at other industries, searchers are more interested in customer reviews, banking options, bonus offers and the games they can play. While reviewing other brands you will have a lot more to write. In addition to this, there are a lot more players in the field in other industries, which gives people much more choice.
Does the energy variable change the way you work on it?
With the growth of my other website, my focus on the energy website has declined. Nowadays I still work on it weekly but I should spend more time on writing new content and updating outdated content. Gladly, my wife decided to quit her current job which allowed her to help me grow out the business. I hope we can give the results a new impulse by pushing them together. Especially the upcoming winter season will be an important period to get ready for because this is the moment most people switch from their energy provider.
As there are accountability factors in other industries, does a similar question come up in energy?
The high commissions for bringing in new customers also attract people who are just in the game for the money. In the Netherlands, we had quite some issues with aggressive and misleading salespersons that tried to fool people into new contracts which turned out to be much too expensive in the long run. Although some measurements have been taken this is still an issue. Especially cold callers are notorious for misleading and overwhelming people to force them to get a new contract.
To give people an honest overview of the current rates we offer them a comparison tool. Using the tool they can calculate what they will pay at each energy supplier. To get the results people only need to enter their usage and address and then the tool will calculate what the best offers are for them. Additionally, people can use filters to select certain companies, contract lengths, green energy or local energy. Once people found the best deal they can use the tool to request a new contract straight away. This is in my opinion the most transparent and fair way to allow people to compare the market.
What helps make your performance successful? What are the main challenges?
Since the start of the website, I had a strong focus on SEO. People search for a lot of different queries which offer you an endless amount of keywords to cover. Since a lot of energy companies offer sign up deals I had a lot of landers with information about gifts they can get, discounts they can claim or cashbacks they could get at certain suppliers. In addition to this, I wrote company reviews and extensive guides about rates and changes cost through the year such as taxes.
At first, the main challenge was to get some skin in the game. Getting traffic starting using SEO only is very hard. Gladly my perseverance paid off and after month and month of writing content, my traffic started picking up. After writing hundreds and hundreds of pages filled with interesting information the website really started to gain traction.
Around a year ago I suffered a big hit in SEO traffic. Recovering from the hit is my current challenge. It isn’t easy to turn this around but by sticking to the basics I hope to get traffic back up after the upcoming Core Vitals Update. Other challenges I encountered the last years is a growing amount of competitors, energy companies who get a better understanding of the importance of SEO and a declining eCPC due to lower conversion rates.
Are you looking at expanding it to other countries?
For my other venture, it felt really natural to start expanding the business in other countries, but for GoedkopeEnergieenGas.nl this is different. The main problem is that everything is different when you cross the border. Other companies run the industry business, rates are different, taxes are different and deals are different. You would need to build up a completely new website with 100% custom information, which would be really time-consuming. Because of this, it is for now more interesting to keep focusing on the Dutch content instead of starting to translate etc.
With my other venture, we do translate our content successfully to 20+ languages. We do not translate the exact text but we optimize content for each country independently. This is time and money consuming but it really pays off. By doing this people get the best content, which makes them come back!
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