SEO, in general, is not easy. Actually, SEO is hard. However, SEO for gambling sites – for a sports betting, poker or online casino site – or an affiliate site built on the gambling promotion model- is especially hard. Hard, but not impossible, as you’ll discover if you read on.
The Importance of Catering to Players’ Needs
These days Google likes websites that offer a great all-around experience to their target audience. And when it finds these sites, it rewards them with higher search placement than their competitors.
Just a few years ago you could get a page to rank well simply by answering a user query directly. That is no longer enough. Now you need to ensure that visitors are satisfied with the answer you give them. If you don’t manage to do that, they’ll bounce off to the next result, Google will take note and your page won’t rank as well, because it did not do its ‘job’.
This is especially crucial in the gambling niche. Most online gamblers of any kind are 1)pretty impatient and want to get started right away 2) often only search for gambling related queries at a certain time or when they are in a certain mood and 3) have an increasing number of options to choose from. So, if Joe is searching for ‘best poker sign up bonus’ at 11pm when he’s feeling flush that’s exactly what you have to give him. And fast.
If you operate a gambling affiliate site, this is pretty easy. You create a table or infographic like this one to make some easy to see comparisons.
For a gambling site operator however, it’s trickier. Legally it’s unlikely you can make these kinds of direct competitor comparisons. One solution is to update your homepage title to highlight your current best offers and then make sure that the copy is as helpful and relevant as possible, mixing in terms like ‘highest’ and ‘best’ carefully (so that your legal people don’t start screaming.) You will also still need to add some relevant keywords – keywords do still matter, just in a different way than they used to – by creating copy that takes gambling SEO into consideration, but is still as user-friendly as possible.
Make Sure That Your Site is Easy to Crawl and To Use
Most people in the gambling industry want to present a website that is as visually engaging as possible. After all, whatever the niche you are essentially trying to recreate a real world experience online, whether that is a day at the racecourse or an evening at the casino. And great graphics are often considered an excellent way to do that.
Focus On Giving Users What They Want
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 sign up journey. Here you have a chance to lure them in, grabbing their interest with a promise. The page title is more than just a ranking factor and needs to be thought of as a small text ad as it is the very first interaction with a new potential visitor.
Next comes the homepage, and this is where it is critical that you not only grab a browser’s interest but also gain their trust. Most gambling sites offer two options; free play and paid play. The goal, obviously, is to gain a lot more of the latter than you do of the former. The theory that free play will eventually result in paid play ‘over time’ is not borne out by the numbers. According to industry research, if a player has not converted from free to paid within 24 hours it’s unlikely they ever will. So everything on your front page has to encourage players to spend their pot with you, and not your competitors.
Google tries to understand what people like by measuring click through 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 almost almost irrelevant whether they do or not. The fact of the matter is that you want to get as many clicks as you can from the SERPs.
There are a number of strategies that can help with improving CTR, from using better headlines, to getting the gambling SEO keywords right in the 160 or so characters you have to work with, to numbers, emojis, and other sort of visually captivating elements. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution. It will take research and A/B testing to get it right. Gambling site SEO is not a one and done thing, it’s an ongoing process that takes time and patience.
Improve your Page Load Time
One thing that those new to working with a gambling SEO agency are sometimes surprised by is being told their slow site is bad for SEO. But it is. the For 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 outrank them, even if you have all the other SEO boxes ticked.
Test how fast your site loads with Google’s Pagespeed Insights Tool. Input a few of your competitors URLs to see how they stack up. Take notice of the suggestions you are given for improvement and if you don’t know how to implement them hire someone who does (one of the aforementioned gambling SEO agencies is a good start)
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 gambling site SEO. Google 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. The solution is to have dedicated resources for content production. If that’s not your forte, or if you don’t have time, hire someone who does. Your content needs to be keyword driven without being keyword stuffed and it needs to be informative and engaging. That is quite a tall order, and sometimes (most times) only a seasoned gambling SEO copywriter can get it right.
You Need to Build (Good) Links
We have heard of gambling site affiliate operators that build thousands of links each year and then there are those who have built far fewer but rank higher and have stayed on the right side of Google.
Why? Because of those thousands of links the former built, often maybe only a hundred are worth anything. The rest are useless. So the person who takes the time to build good links – by creating great content and developing genuine relationships with publishers and influencers – will win, even if it takes time.
Why is SEO for Gambling Sites So 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 well 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.
Gambling Site SEO 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 expectations 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.
- Launch a free version of the game in the browser.
- Have an easy signup page
- Explain the benefit of the game as well as the odds, payouts and all the other legal essentials.
- To work on all devices. And being mobile friendly means being par with desktop when it come to the entire experience. Are you thinking mobile first? You should be.
A poker site, for example, will need to explain why players should play there instead of a huge site like pokerstars.com, have a playable browser game, a customer-targeted look and feel, and offer free signup bonuses. And load fast, especially on mobile.
You will also need to keep in mind that your audience (hopefully) will be made up of gamblers from all over the world, especially in the casino niche. This means that international SEO – and perhaps even multilingual SEO – will come into play as well, complicates gambling site SEO even further.
All of this is a lot. Which is why seeking help is never going to be a bad idea. And yes, you will actually come across SEO agencies that don’t want to work with you, based on some moral objection of some kind, or just a general lack of understanding of the gambling niche. But there are some great agencies out there who are ready to step in and offer expert gambling SEO services. Pearl Lemon is one of them.