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Bookmaker vs SEO after algorithm updates

Bookmaker vs SEO after algorithm updates

How to reach players and make a permanent presence in their browsers? The bookmaking industry stands on two strong pillars – affiliate marketing and a wide-ranging online presence. Today, a few days after the announcement of changes in the Google algorithm, we will take a closer look at SEO and all topics related to organic visibility in browsers.

SEO in the context of algorithm changes – how to protect a website from drops  

For many months now, there has been talk of a small earthquake that Google is preparing in terms of content quality, the use of AI-generated content, and basing SEO activities on spammy practices and expired domains. After recent algorithm updates, we all face new content marketing restrictions imposed by Google. Content, now officially, must be valuable to users, not just robots, bring specific benefits, and precisely answer questions. The answer should be comprehensive and satisfactory enough so that users don’t have to seek information on other websites. So far, this mainly applied to business content, but now quality has also reached “SEO-created” texts. Keyword stuffing alone won’t help if the content is far from substantive and unique analysis. Here, we come to the ubiquitous AI. Can we use such solutions? Of course, but with caution. It should be remembered that content written by AI is a mashup of information from other sites and often requires additional work to add a “human factor” and substance to the content. Even in the context of SEO texts, it’s worth emphasizing the authority of the texts by adding expert opinions, quotes, numerical data. Another aspect that Google will scrutinize is the authority of referring (link-building) pages to the main page. What does this mean for SEO? If so far, the link-building policy was conducted by SEO agencies in a “fair” manner, meaning websites with real reach and real users were selected for link-building, this provision particularly won’t cause much trouble. BUT if the Digital Marketing / SEO agency built link farms that were only a carrier of links, such links would lose their power and may even contribute to lowering the authority of the positioned website. After the March 2024 update, special attention should be paid to SPAM content and the history of the domain. Google, in official statements, cites the purchase of an expired domain with a history that once had high authority and didn’t relate to gambling but was taken over, and a gambling site, including bookmaking, was placed on it, as a prohibited action. Such ways of manipulating Google results are automatically detected and may be penalized with manual actions, i.e., filter/ban in Google. From an SEO strategy perspective, this is a significant limitation. For years, such actions have been popular in the gambling industry and other business sectors. It’s worth remembering this phenomenon, especially when creating a new bookmaking site. Domains can be verified, and their history checked, e.g., through web.archive.org.

SEO must-have for bookmakers  

After aligning knowledge after the latest update, it’s essential to go through the things necessary for bookmakers to achieve high positions in organic search results. The starting point should always be the system itself and its technical optimization. The SEO strategy for an existing bookmaking portal should be based on several points:

  • Optimization of the website
  • Understanding the website’s position in the network in the context of competition
  • Determination of the goals that SEO should achieve
  • Keyword research (a list of keywords along with research on their popularity, competitiveness, and relevance)
  • Content strategy (creating valuable and unique content; defining important topics; strategy for updating existing content) and internal linking
  • External linking, along with budget
  • Schedule of cyclical activities

If a bookmaker is creating their system from scratch – customarily, all the most important technical parameters that affect SEO can be taken care of calmly. While working on the development of the site, attention should be paid to obvious and less obvious elements that affect the perception of the website by robots and Google algorithms. When building the site, it’s essential to have a planned structure of subpages – it must be clear, scalable, and typically from an SEO perspective, it should allow avoiding “cannibalization” of subpages among themselves and effectively filling thematic clusters. It’s important to be able to uniquely apply meta titles and meta descriptions for each subpage, manage all headers h1-h6, manage and use short URLs for subpages – e.g., Youraddress.com/sports-betting-europe-polish-premier-league-123456789 may have more problems with effectiveness than e.g., Youraddress.com/premier-league. Other elements that are obvious but may affect the site’s visibility are usability values – e.g., appropriate font size, difference between a regular paragraph and text (e.g., larger and bold headings, size also depends on the hierarchy of headers h1-h6), or contrast and the ability for partially visually impaired people to use the site (difference in text and background color, possible contrast change options, etc.).

In the market, many bookmakers operate on ready-made solutions, here basic SEO activities can be much more difficult. When choosing ready-made solutions, it’s worth paying attention to the possibility of editing:

  • Meta tags of all subpages of the site, blog articles, etc. – for each one separately. The most important are the title and description tags, but it’s also worth taking care of elements such as robot tags, OG, etc.
  • Editing the source code of each text, including preferably fixed elements, i.e., recurring ones. The ability to edit in a visual editor can be useful, but it’s also important to have access to HTML editing of each element so that you can change, for example, the header type from h1 to h2 in situations that require it.
  • Editing alt tags of each image.
  • Editing the robots.txt file.
  • Editing the site map and its automatic updates.
  • Modification of elements in the Menu, so that each Menu element, whether in the top bar or footer, can be added and removed individually.
  • Editing the URLs of each subpage and the ability to specify the canonical attribute for each of them.
  • Managing redirects/access to the .htaccess file.
  • Managing cache memory.
  • Managing other elements in the <head> section.

At the same time, alongside dev-SEO work, actions related to SEO Content should be carried out. The site’s content should consider the keyword strategy to avoid “cannibalization” – i.e., positioning two different subpages on one keyword. High-quality content, created according to SEO strategy, allows us to direct traffic, reaching precisely the places and groups that are important for the website in terms of business goals. When writing content, it’s necessary to maintain the correct architecture of articles from the very beginning, as well as the internal linking strategy to fully utilize the power of SEO. Link-building, i.e., building links from other sites, is very important, but spammy linking techniques that worked a few years ago should be avoided – currently, the focus of activities should be on acquiring links from industry portals with high authority.

Unused potential of a bookmaker’s site in SEO activities

In the bookmaking industry, the synergy of marketing activities is still relatively rare – SEO does not follow the mainstream of marketing activities, and marketing activities are not “supported by SEO”. Equally often, a scheme can be encountered where we forget about optimizing marketing content added operationally to the blog every day. The content architecture is disrupted, and internal linking is limited to “sad” linking such as contact us. It should be remembered that a well-written text should work for us several times. How to do it? Here’s a simple example:

  1. By defining the SEO strategy, we focus heavily on bets in a specific sports discipline.
  1. We create topics for articles along with appropriate keywords and an optimal structure of headings.
  1. We decide which of them will appear on our platform (we connect related articles), and which we will publish in external sources with authority.
  1. We arrange a publication schedule.
  1. Article topics can be topics for subsequent posts on social media channels, which will link to articles and increase their views.
  1. We create a thematic newsletter by creating a simple automation that will be directed to players who are active only within this sports discipline.

One SEO action allowed us to use content in several sources, and more importantly, to generate a tool that will improve player retention.

Another oversight encountered in the industry is the lack of preparation of appropriate content for large upcoming sports events. Preparing content well in advance can ensure significant traffic when the phrase begins to be popular as the event approaches. Phrases like “EVENT TIPS” or “EVENT ODDS” work very well.

How to plan igaming SEO implementation during platform development and scaling

It’s necessary to develop the site’s structure based on UX analysis, keyword analysis, and competition. It’s important to properly fill thematic clusters, develop subpages with keywords that will be placed on them, design internal linking, and of course, prepare and implement technical optimization, as mentioned in point 2.

In the case of the need to migrate the site to another platform e.g., from ready-made to fully custom script, attention should also be paid to ensuring its correct implementation from an SEO point of view. History knows many cases of portals that, after migration intended to strengthen the site’s performance, dropped significantly in search results and even lost over 50% of organic traffic.

To prevent a migration from causing a loss of visibility, care should be taken to preserve (if they are correct or supplement them preferably even before migration) such elements as:

  • Meta tags
  • URLs
  • Site map, robots.txt file, redirections, indexing blocks.
  • Analytics codes.
  • Any setting for tracking organic positions.
  • It’s worth performing a technical audit before the site migration, e.g., by conducting a scan with specialized tools, noting, possibly resolving issues, and having data for comparison after migration.

When launching a new version of the portal, attention should be paid to many elements that may disrupt the existing visibility. The most important ones are:

  • URLs 1:1 with the previous version, or correctly implemented redirects.
  • Properly configured robots.txt file and site map, whose address should be updated in Google Search Console.
  • New website scan for any new technical problems.
  • It’s worth setting up constant monitoring, conducting scans regularly, e.g., every few days, and configuring position tracking for the most important/all keywords.
  • Monitoring Google Search Console for new indexing problems.
  • Using Google PageSpeed Insights / Lighthouse tool to check the technical optimization of the portal.

How to check if the betting SEO service provider delivers the topic

Verification of the igaming provider or your SEO agency should start at the beginning of the cooperation. It’s always worth asking for a portfolio in the industry or meeting for a short briefing to check if both sides will be able to work together. Additionally, each cooperation should be based on principles agreed upon by both parties. The cooperation agreement is one thing, but it’s also worth specifying the reporting format, its frequency, and content so that both sides know what elements will be evaluated.

The SEO provider should provide detailed reports of implementations he has made, along with information on how they affect the business and what results we should expect. Additionally, each report should present a plan for the next months so that the effects are visible as soon as possible. The SEO agency should constantly monitor the portal to detect any SEO issues, and over time, with ongoing actions, the number of potential errors or potential corrections to prepare for the “perfect SEO site” should decrease. The site should record increasing organic traffic for non-brand phrases (the brand usually occupies the first position, and its interest is influenced

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