Doing SEO for an online casino, poker or sports betting website is hard – perhaps harder than any other niche online.
In this article I will show you how to do SEO in the online gambling industry and explain what it takes to rank an online casino in 2018.
Let’s dive into the details of each of the element that lead to higher rankings in Google.
Create pages that answer user’s needs
A few years ago you could rank for a page as long as your target page literal answered the user query somehow. Today, you have to do more than that: you have to satisfy the actual need of the visitor in order for them to be happy with they find. If not, they bounce back and your hard-earned rankings start to tank.
Online players are impatient and want to get started quickly. Remember that certain players only spend big money when they are in the right state of mind – say, when coming home from a night out – and you therefore need to cater for their needs, fast.
So, if someone is searching for [best casino signup bonus] that’s what you will give them. As an affiliate, this is pretty straight forward: lists and tables does the job, as in the example below from casinotop10.net.
On the other hand, if you are an operator and want to target visitors looking for best bonus, highest payout, etc this gets a little tricky because you obviously can’t compare your offer to those of your competitors.
One solution is to have your homepage title reflect your current bonus and make sure that it is as good as it can be. Then, play around with words like best and highest without pissing your legal department off.
Karamba does something similar that works well for them. They tell visitors that they are landing on a page with a good bonus (even though it may not be the best they can find):
Make your website fully accessible to search engines
Give users what they want throughout all interactions
Find out what your potential customers look for and serve the content all the way through the funnel.
The first thing a potential customer sees is the page title and you must grab them from the start of their signup journey. Here you have a chance to lure them in, grabbing their interest with a promise.
Consider the below example. Which one would you rather click on?
The page title is more than just a ranking factor and needs to be considered as an small text ad as it is the very first interaction with a new potential visitor. The below are the highest results for [sports betting] at the time of writing this post:
What are users actually looking for? Which one would you pick?
Moreover, once on the site, make it clear that your website is there to fulfill the initial promise. Here is an example of pickasportsbook.com that is a website specialized in listing the best sportsbooks in the U.S. Once on the homepage, there is no doubt what the focus of the website is:
Improve your click-through rate (CTR)
Google has been trying to understand what people like by measuring click trough rate and it is believed by some that they use it as a ranking signal. This may or may not be true but it’s actually irrelevant.
The fact of the matter is that you want to get as many clicks as you can from the SERPs.
There are hundreds of strategies that can help with improving CTR, from using clickbait headlines, to numbers, emojis, and other sort of visually captivating elements. Like using an exclamation mark:
Unfortunately, there is no one solution and you just have to test it out.
One thing is true, though: you title is both your first point of interaction with your potential visitors in Google and also an important ranking factor.
Which one of the pages titles below do you feel is the most clickable? Which words are more inviting? Highest paying? Top 5? Most legit?
Test, adapt, learn, improve. Finding the perfect balance between adcopy (which is what the title is) and CTR takes some time.
Improve your page load time
In Google, speed is a ranking factor in a mobile first index world.
This means that if you are slower than your competitors, you might not be able to outrank them, despite having all other SEO boxes ticked. For mobile, being fast (say, like the site Bonus Code, is always going to be a good thing).
Test how fast your site load on webpagetest.org and measure how you stack up against your key competitors. You will get a breakdown on where your painpoints are an what you can do about it.
Here is how casumo.com performs:
Typically, the things that matter for speed are how many requests are sent to the server, how good your CDN is, how many scripts you have, what sort of level of compression you have on images, and whether scripts are kept at a minimum in both quantity and size.
Write truly unique content
Unique content is critical for SEO, and have been so for a while. Google today expects websites to have unique content so unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about it but being, you know, unique.
Keeping the content unique is a struggle for all websites, though. In the casino business this is particularly tricky for affiliates as they need to write huge amounts of content for each game and operator they review. Think about whichbingo.co.uk, for instance. This site write about bingo operators they don’t even get paid to list!
The solution is to have dedicated resources for content production. Ideally, your content production should not be outsourced and also work closely to marketing and SEO teams to ensure they are on brand and on message.
Build shed-loads of links
How many links do you need to build? Many …
I have met with affiliate operators that build thousands of links each year through their own outreach activities and PBN (private blogger network) creation. Look at how many links your competitors gets every month and build more and better ones. Simple, right?
One tool that is excellent in measuring link velocity and quality is Majestic.com.
For outreach, there are so many articles that they take up half the internet. Unfortunately, not so much that helps us in the gambling world. I’d recommend reading this article and this one to get a good understanding on the basics of link building.
If you are into building a PBN, this article by Daryl Rosser is a good start. You would need to partner with a provider – contact me and I will let you know where to go for that one.
There are lots of SEO agencies and freelancers who offer casino link building operations. One of the best teams in the industry is managed by Avner Greenwald who provides concierge link building operations on a pay-per -success model, enabling SEO managers to significantly scale their casino related outreach operations where needed.
One tip – forget about Google guidelines and what white hat SEOs say. You need to game the system but be careful with how you do it. Contact me and I can tell you more about it.
Focus on your KPIs
KPIs should be tied up to one metric: revenue. That said, there are steps to get there and as each step requires strategic planning and investment, they should so be measured accordingly.
Think of the build like this, with the main KPI at the top:
Why is ranking a gambling website hard?
The short answer is that the competition is extremely high and there is little to no organic online coverage.
Operators and affiliate companies fight for the same customers and few publications cover gambling without being either an affiliate or being paid to write about a brand or game.
This means that in order to rank highly in Google, you’ll need to up your SEO game significantly. It’s not enough to cover some areas of SEO and try getting away with a semi-optimised website.
To win the SEO game in the online gambling industry, your SEO needs to be at the heart of your digital strategy, and your website performance and user experience need to be phenomenal.
Thinking about the above SEO elements will certainly put you in a strong position to gain market share, regardless of whether you are going after big casino whales or high volume bingo clients.
Doing SEO in the most competitive of niches requires patience
As you can see, the usual success factors for SEO apply in the casino business too. The difference is that need to nail each and every one of them.
In other words, it’s survival of the most optimized.
And, more importantly, customer expectation are different in the three main categories – casino, sports, poker – are different. Your website offering, therefore, needs to reflect that, both in regards to the overall user experience and SEO.
For instance, if you run a online casino, if users land on a casino games page they expect for the page they visit to:
- Load super fast. How fast? Faster than 3 seconds, ideally
- Display snippets and previews of the game. This site does it OK, they just need to load the content quicker (which probably falls on Netent to sort out)
- Launch a free version of the game in the browser. Caesars Casino do a decent job as you can see here
- Have an easy signup page
- Explain the benefit of the game. Data around like RTP (return to player) and jackpots, etc
- To work on all devices. I doubt there are any online casinos making money online that don’t have a mobile site, but worth stressing that mobile friendly means being par with desktop when it come to the entire experience. Are you thinking mobile first? More on that further down in this article.
A poker site will need to explain why players should play there instead of pokerstars.com, have a playable browser game, a customer-targeted look and feel, and offer free signup bonuses.
The site replaypoker.com does a nice job in capturing visitors right off the bat:
An online betting platform will need to showcase their offerings and odds quickly and clearly, allow free drafts and betting slips, and have a clear and easy navigation and link structure. A site that is well-known in the UK, bet365, shows slips directly on the first page which allows for users to start putting together their bet slips without having to log in or sign up.
Paying attention to all of the above and your rankings will come.
Good luck and make sure to contact me should you need some help.
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