In recent years, the iGaming industry has been gaining serious momentum. Healthy projections say it will continue to grow rapidly and reach $57.79 billion in 2020, and it’s not that hard to understand why.
Thanks to the Internet, online gambling spread like wildfire and it became a modern way of de-stressing and spending leisure time. Compared to non-remote gambling (which has also seen an increase in popularity), online gambling services provide something of key importance to modern consumers: instant gratification, convenience, and of course – the combination of fun and thrill.
Since iGaming is a very lucrative industry, it is also followed by massive competition. And that’s where it gets tricky, especially in terms of SEO.
Google introduced its RankBrain algorithm back in 2015, which enabled the world’s greatest search engine to get better at detecting black-hat tactics and bringing relevant quality results to user queries.
Given the fact that traffic is the lifeblood of the affiliate industry, marketers who want to strive in the iGaming business need to really think through their SEO strategy. Here’s how to get started.
Do a Proper Keyword Research
No doubt about it, every SEO strategy starts with a proper keyword research. By using tools such as Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner, you can effectively identify the most popular search phrases and organize them by categories. Regardless of which tool you use, your goal is to come up with a list of keywords that have a high search volume and the lowest possible keyword difficulty so that you improve your chances of actually rank for relevant search queries.
Since iGaming is very competitive, you’ll probably have to make compromises when choosing good keyword opportunities. By analyzing keywords, you’ll get a better idea of what your target audience wants to know more about.
Doing keyword research is a must not only for optimizing your website copy, but also for having a strong starting base for your data-driven content strategy.
Every blog post you publish should include relevant keywords (especially in the title tag, H1, and H2) and try to engage your relevant prospects throughout the entire sales funnel: from the phase in which you’re trying to create more visibility for yourself, throughout the consideration and purchase phase (or whatever the conversion you have set), all the way to brand advocacy, i.e. people actually recommending your website or the iGaming service you’re trying to promote.
Clearly, SEO and content marketing are inseparable, so here’s what you need to know about the latter.
Invest in Content Marketing
Content marketing is your most powerful ally that can help you differentiate yourself from the competition. When it comes to iGaming, there is a certain limitation of the number and type of games available. Think about it: roulette rules are basically the same on every gambling site you visit, and so is poker.
So, why should players choose you opposed to someone else? What value do you bring for their money?
That’s where content steps in, along with smartly designed game interface and optimal user experience.
People care about the story you create around the brand; they need to feel appreciated, as they are humans, not walking wallets. Google and other search engines are fueled by content. This is why every smart business, regardless of what it sells, has a company blog. Not only does strategic content help you develop a relationship with your target audience, but it also strengthens your credibility and reputation.
All of this results in better domain authority score of your website, which contributes to your ranking positions.
More directly, optimized content that’s of great quality can create more visibility for your website on SERP.
Here are the necessary steps towards creating a solid content marketing strategy:
Define your persona (identify the desired profile of your ideal player)
Do keyword research
Run a competitor analysis
Come up with topics for the blog
Craft your editorial calendar
Create a promotional plan (social media, relevant online communities, email marketing, etc.)
Websites with iGaming in focus have the unfortunate disadvantage of often being considered spammy by default, which is why you need to invest an extra effort to shake this stereotype off and provide true value.
Think about what will resonate the best with your audience, maintain content variety, and try to produce content people will want to share. That’s how you can get both exposure and backlinks, which play a crucial part within the SEO game.
However, content marketing goes beyond just keeping your blog alive. Guest posts are the most effective way of getting backlinks, and so are the press releases. Actively participating in online forum discussions is also advisable, as long as you don’t act spammy and offer value to other community members. In most cases, the links you insert in comments will be no-follow, but nonetheless – they bring traffic to your site and can help you build meaningful relationships.
Optimize Your CTR
It’s not a secret that Google rewards websites that have good click-through-rates (CTR) with higher rankings. Combined with other metrics, the number of clicks on your organic search result is a solid indicator of the popularity and trustworthiness of your website.
In order to optimize your CTR, you have to ensure the appearance of your result in SERP is appealing and inviting for users, so that you grab their attention and make them click. In addition to high quality content that truly resonates with your target audience, you also need to cover the technical elements, such as URLs, meta descriptions, title tags, and a rich snippet, i.e. a well organized markup.
URLs should be optimized with relevant keywords, but they should also be user-friendly. In case you don’t create custom URLs that match the page content, your site might be seen as dangerous or spammy. Be credible and transparent so that users know what to expect.
Meta descriptions also include keywords and are ideally no longer than 156 characters. A great formula that seems to be most engaging is the following:
Question + Solution + CTA
When you direct a question to the users, they instantly get more involved and intrigued, as they feel acknowledged; the interaction they have with the search engine page results seems less one-sided. Once you grab their attention, it’s time to offer a solution (the product/service you’re trying to sell through your content) and trigger the wanted action.
Title tags should also be optimized because they are crucial for increasing CTR. Studies have shown there are certain headline formulas that speak to us on a subconscious level and are powerful enough to induce action. They usually communicate through emotions, tickle our curiosity, or they make us believe there is a final solution to a certain problem we’re facing.
Rich snippets are a useful tool for standing out from other page results. Not only do they visually take more space and therefore grab the attention, but they also provide additional information for search engines so they can categorize the page the right way.
Think About User Experience
Google is all about providing the best user experience, which is why the algorithm is being continuously improved to keep up with the changes in user behavior. Having that in mind, there are a couple of things you need to know about as an affiliate marketer:
Work towards reducing your bounce rate
Optimize your site speed
Fix any glitches that may exist with your site structure (i.e. ensure the search engine crawlers can index your site properly)
Bounce rate is the percentage of your site visitors that visit your website, but then quickly navigate away from it after viewing only one page. Google interprets high bounce rates negatively as they indicate users visited a certain page and weren’t satisfied with what they saw. In order to nail UX, you must not mislead Internet users, but work towards increasing dwell time. Give them a reason to stay.
As for the site speed, you have to be aware of just how high the bar of acceptable page load has risen. Today, users tolerate around 3 seconds of page loading, which is nothing. What’s worse, if they have a bad experience while interacting with a certain website, they are not likely to visit it again.
In March 2018, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing after recognizing the shift from desktop engagement towards mobile. This means the search engine will take in mind the mobile version of the website primarily when sorting out rankings.
Over to You
When you’re part of the online gambling industry, it might be tempting to try out some black-hat SEO tactics as they often provide quick wins. However, keep in mind these wins bring only short-term benefits. Trying to outsmart the algorithm is not very wise, especially because Google won’t turn a blind eye at your malicious behavior.
In addition, we have to underline the competitiveness once again. Being an affiliate in iGaming can be incredibly rewarding, but you must not be naive. It is likely you’ll encounter some dirty competitors that might file spam or copyright reports on you to Google. This is actually a common tactic, but exactly because of that – it’s likely that Google will find a way to sort them out and prevent this type of nasty tricks.
If you want to become an affiliate in the online gambling world, be prepared because it’s exciting and requires a lot of thinking on your feet. Needless to say, once you get the hang of it and adopt the strategic SEO tactics, you can expect making serious profit.