iGaming SEO: Mistakes & Tactics To Avoid in 2019

iGaming SEO: Mistakes & Tactics To Avoid in 2019

Worth around £5 billion annually, the UK igaming and online gambling sector is highly competitive. Big industry players and small operators alike are using ever more creative methods to stand out and appeal to new players.

Yet organic search remains one of the most cost effective ways to attract new players to an igaming website. Implemented correctly, an organic search optimisation strategy can yield fantastic results, delivering substantial volumes of traffic with the cost of player acquisition often tens or even hundreds of times lower than paid search or other forms of advertising.

With the obvious benefits that a high performing igaming SEO campaign can deliver, it’s clear that getting ahead of the competition is vital. However, in an effort to boost organic traffic by whatever means possible, site owners are sometimes tempted to use SEO tactics that ultimately have the opposite effect.

Whether these methods are used intentionally in an effort to manipulate search engines, or are used by mistake in the belief that they are what is needed to deliver better results, there are a number of common pitfalls to avoid as part of your organic search strategy.

On top of this, there are also a number of common issues that affect igaming websites that may hamper organic search performance. The good news is that many of these that can easily be resolved, or avoided completely with a little planning.

The issues listed below are some of the most common SEO mistakes and tactics seen within the igaming sector that are best avoided in 2019.

1) Buying Low-Quality Links

When it comes to Google’s algorithm, links are still widely regarded as one of the most important ranking factors. Good quality, natural links can have a significant positive impact on a site’s visibility within search results.

As a consequence, there is a temptation for teams working on improving search visibility to acquire as many links as possible into their target site, regardless of quality.

This ultimately results in a situation where payment is made to owners of websites, or in many cases networks of websites, for links. Links may be placed in obscure places on a site, within spammy comments or crudely within irrelevant or low quality content that would fail to impress any human reader let alone a search engine.

The best case scenario is that these links are simply ignored by search engines and the team buying the links have wasted their time and money.

However this tactic also presents the risk that the target site will be penalised as punishment for the attempt to manipulate the search engine’s algorithm. The result of this is a significant drop in ranking or removal from the search results altogether.

Tip: In 2019 it’s simply not worth the time, money or risk to buy low quality links. A well executed content marketing and outreach strategy will yield much better results in terms of attracting good quality links into the site that will actually contribute to improving organic rankings, while also adding genuine value for human users as well as search engines.

2) Neglecting Technical SEO

When an igaming website appears to be working as intended and is making a profit, it can be easy to take attention away from the technical aspects of the site itself and instead focus simply on sending as many visitors to it by whatever means possible.

However, neglecting the technical side of SEO can be a mistake that can see competitors out-rank you and acquire more players despite spending significantly less on marketing.

There are a huge number of technical factors that search engines look at when determining how to rank a site. Fixing errors or improving technical optimisation can be an effective way to boost rankings and put your site in front of more players.

That is not to say that every technical issue will be a quick fix to send your site rocketing up the rankings. Both identifying existing SEO problems and coming up with ways to improve a website’s technical factors even further, then implementing the best solutions, can sometimes take a lot of work and require input from various departments. But avoiding technical errors in the first place, wherever possible, and carrying out regular maintenance and update work on your site is often the most efficient way to handle a lot of technical aspects.

Tip: With the ability to have a significant impact on how well an igaming website performs and ultimately generates revenue, technical SEO should be considered a cornerstone of your search strategy; an ongoing effort of continuous improvement to help your site overtake and stay ahead of the competition.

3) Using Low Quality or Duplicate Content

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king” many times before, but when in comes to igaming SEO in 2019, this old maxim is more true than ever. Low quality content, content that is duplicated around a site, or worse - duplicated from other websites - is simply not good enough.

To give your website the best chance of getting ahead of the competition, the content it offers to users (and search engines) needs to be not only unique but also of high quality so that there is value to be found from visiting your site that’s not available anywhere else.

For example, using exactly the same content to describe a particular casino game that countless other sites are also using is not going to provide any unique benefit. Amplify this across potentially hundreds of pages on a site and the issue becomes compounded, meaning that even if unique, good quality content does start being produced it’s such a small proportion of what’s available on the site that it struggles to make an impact.

Tip: A content marketing strategy deserves to be at the core of an igaming SEO campaign in 2019. It’s also important to ensure the site provides as much unique and good quality content as possible - a regular audit can help to identify where new or replacement content is required.

This doesn’t mean it’s necessary to churn out content just for the sake of it, but from pieces of content designed to entertain and inform which can be used for outreach, down to unique descriptions of the games available on the site, there are plenty of opportunities to make a real impact with content.

4) Keyword Stuffing

Something that’s still surprisingly common in 2019 when it comes to igaming SEO is the tactic of keyword stuffing, or “over-optimisation”. In an effort to make a site rank for a competitive term, webmasters or content teams can sometimes be a little too enthusiastic about how often to place that keyword on the site, or on a particular page.

This can result in website content that doesn’t read well at all, with titles that don’t make sense and body copy that is somewhat incoherent.

In 2019 search engines are more sophisticated than ever at understanding language, and will usually favour content that is of good quality, provides value and reads in a natural way.

Tip: Simply repeating the same word or phrase excessively will be off-putting to search engines, as well as any human visitors. Good quality, well researched and written content developed alongside a detailed keyword targeting strategy will not only add value to the site but will help it to rank better organically.

5) Poor Site Structure & Internal Linking

It’s often the case that SEO is something that’s only considered after a new website has been designed and built. While the structure of the site and internal linking strategy used on a site is something that can have a big impact on how well the site ranks in search results, it regularly isn’t something that’s considered from a search engine perspective until after the site is up and running.

While it’s absolutely correct to design any new site with the experience of users as the number one priority, considering SEO implications at an early stage can not only help to deliver better search performance, but can actually contribute to an improved user experience.

When it comes to older sites, often the structure can be far from ideal for either users or search engines. With layers of updates and revisions working on top of each other, this can in turn lead to further issues such as multiple pages that are all very similar competing against one another, broken links to pages that have been moved or changed, pages being blocked from being indexing or problems relating to the sitemap. It can also affect whether the most suitable page is prioritised by search engines and the spread of queries that the site ranks highly for.

While a comprehensive SEO audit will allow issues relating to a site’s structure and internal linking to be identified, and a strategy put in place to address them, when it comes to new websites SEO factors are best considered as early as possible. Working hand in hand with user experience, setting the structure of a site up to be search engine friendly as early as possible can make a significant difference to its performance and result in less headaches further down the road.

Tip: The structure of a site, and the way links are used internally, play an integral role to search performance. Detailed keyword research can help to guide structure and internal linking strategies to organise content pages in a logical and interconnected way, ensuring that PageRank, or ‘link juice’ can be passed through the site as effectively as possible.

6) Having Narrow Keyword Focus

Within the igaming sector there are clearly a number of keywords with very high search volumes. While ranking on the first page of Google for these terms will undoubtedly bring significant numbers of visitors, it’s a mistake to make them the only focus of an SEO campaign.

Not only will you be competing directly against almost every other gambling site in the market, but neglecting a broader range of keywords means a huge missed opportunity to attract additional, and in many cases more profitable, visitors.

A properly researched and structured keyword strategy should be at the core of your SEO campaign and will provide opportunities to put your site in front of a lot more potential visitors a lot more often. This is not to say that focusing on the highest volume keywords isn’t important, but it’s not the only thing that’s important.

Tip: The days of targeting a single keyword with a single page on a website are long over, and chasing after only the most popular keywords in your industry can be a costly mistake. To get the most impact from your search strategy it’s important to conduct good quality keyword research. This will not only help you in the process of creating great content, but will enable you reach significantly more potential customers than ever.

7) Not Prioritising Mobile SEO

In 2019 mobile SEO is more important than it’s ever been. With the move to mobile-first indexing, Google has effectively declared that the mobile experience is where priorities lie. That’s not to say that attention should be taken away from the desktop version of a website, however it’s also no longer the case that the version of the site served to users of mobile devices should be a lower priority - which has sometimes been the case in recent years where the desktop dominated.

Not only can a great mobile experience help a site to be more visible within search results, but it can also help to reduce bounce rate and convert more of the visitors landing on the site into paying customers. Frustrations that may not be immediately obvious when viewing a website on a desktop browser could be just the kind of thing that sees mobile visitors hitting the back button and heading to a competitor.

There are a few ways to set-up a website for use on mobiles, with responsive web design currently the most popular. This means that the site simply adjusts to offer the best experience regardless of the screen size of the device being used.

However, mobile SEO doesn’t end simply with getting a mobile version of the site up and running. As with optimising for desktop, there are a range of factors that need to considered, reviewed and adjusted as necessary. The agility and speed of the site is also an important factor when it comes to mobile, as many users could be accessing it over a slower connection than they would when using a desktop.

Tip: In 2019 the mobile experience should be considered at least equal to the desktop experience of a website. Everything from the layout and navigation to images and buttons should work seamlessly on a range of screen sizes and the site needs to be agile enough to be fast to use even on slower connections.

8) Not Setting Affiliate Links Up Correctly

Affiliate marketing is a big part of the online gaming sector, with affiliate partners often able to drive significant volumes of traffic to a site.

However, when working with affiliates care needs to be taken to ensure inbound links are set up correctly. This is necessary both to ensure partners are credited correctly for the traffic they deliver, and perhaps more importantly from an SEO perspective, to ensure that affiliate links aren’t incorrectly identified as being part of an unnatural link scheme by search engines - the result of which could be a penalty being applied to the site.

Tip: There are a number of ways in which affiliate links can be set up, from using tagged urls to sending traffic to versions of pages that are not crawled by search engines. However affiliate traffic is managed, it’s important that the system used ensures that links aren’t considered to be an unnatural attempt to manipulate rankings be search engines.

9) Forgetting About Broken Links

Linking is vital for any website to perform well, with links from external sites an incredibly important ranking metric. But it’s not just external links that are important; internal links also play an important role in how well a site performs in organic search.

A common issue that affects a lot of igaming websites is one of broken links. This includes both links from external sites and internal pages to urls that no longer exist.

There are a number of reasons why broken links can happen. Perhaps content from a page has been combined with that of another and so one is no longer required. Perhaps the url structure of the site has been updated. Or perhaps the page is simply no longer required, for example when a specific game is retired.

With the sheer amount of content that some websites publish these days, it can often be difficult to keep track of every page and every change. Whatever the cause, in many cases opportunities to enhance SEO performance are wasted due to broken links.

While links to 404 pages are not great, usually the problem can be identified reasonable quickly. It’s also reasonably straightforward to implement a suitable solution, whether this is contacting external websites to ask them to update their link, updating or adjusting internal links or content, or using redirects.

Tip: It’s best to avoid broken links wherever possible. This usually involves a certain level of cooperation between different teams, such as product teams informing content teams, or content teams informing outreach teams when changes to a website are scheduled. With the right processes in place, links can be updated as and when required to avoid the issue completely. However, regardless of how careful you are, broken links are still something that can crop up from time to time. It’s therefore a worthwhile exercise to regularly audit your site and use monitoring tools so that broken links can be identified and addressed as quickly as possible.

10) Ignoring Voice Search

Voice search is something that’s been growing exponentially in the last few years, with more internet users than ever speaking rather than typing their queries into search engines.

This is particularly true for mobile users. And with the rise of virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, as well as Google’s own offering, voice search is an area that’s only going to become more important.

When it comes to voice search, Google has been doing a lot of work to help it understand the intent of the user. This means understanding what exactly the user wants to know or find out about, rather than necessarily focusing on just the words they use. From an SEO perspective, this means a slight shift from focusing primarily on literal keywords to understanding and satisfying the real intent of the user as best as possible.

Tip: Voice search is perhaps the next step in SEO and includes a number of components, most of which are simply an evolution of existing SEO methods. Early in the process, keyword or query research helps to understand your audience and what they want to know. This information can then be used to create high quality content to provide the specific information your visitors want and find of value. Other important factors include setting up the site using appropriate structured and meta-data, as well as internal linking.

iGaming SEO: An Evolving Landscape

SEO for igaming providers and online casino websites, if implemented correctly, can provide a significant benefit to the business.

As search engines and technology evolves, it’s important to stay ahead of the game to make sure that your SEO efforts are targeting the things that will genuinely help to improve performance.

At the same time, there are a wide range of SEO mistakes that are common in the igaming sector. Avoiding these mistakes, and adapting your strategy to reflect changes in search engine algorithms as necessary is a no-brainer when it comes to outranking your competitors.

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