Search engine optimisation is a crucial factor for every website’s online presence, we all agree on that. Implementing the right SEO strategy for each niche is challenging, and it requires in-depth analysis and specific technical knowledge. It is also true that results might not be as promising as first estimated during the planning process and this might be because of the technical nature and setup of certain web properties.
Gaming operators are used to this problem. They find it challenging to increase their organic rankings due to the nature of their sites, where their primary aim is user experience and conversion rate optimisation. There is nothing wrong with that, and that is the reason why, most operators rely massively on paid advertisement such as Google AdWords, Programmatic Campaigns, Social Media Paid Advertisement, Offline marketing and of course Affiliate Partners.
SEO For iGaming Operators
Let’s imagine having to optimise an online casino or sportsbook, to improve their rankings on search engines. No paid advertisement, no affiliates, only on-page and off-page SEO strategy.
Here are some concerns to consider;
Even after having revised every URL to be SEO spot on, we will still have numerous pages that search engines will classify as “thin content”. The home page of a casino or a sportsbook website, for example, contain offer banners, games, different sports, navigation menus, but no “real” informative content.
Search engines might find it very difficult to categorise those pages and allow them to rank for specific search queries.
Not only that, but every sportsbook has thousands of betting markets every day which may only be live for a short space of time.
What can operators do about that? Not much. The purpose of a casino or sportsbook website is to enable users to find their favourite game or match; thousands of words on such pages will not improve the users’ experiences and will make the site difficult to navigate.
While having a blog allow operators to add in-depth articles and content to their websites, a branded blog might not be able to target enough commercial intent keywords and reach the potential number of users while ranking higher in search results.
While we believe that including a news section is a good practice that operators should follow to increase customer engagement, we are also aware that there is no room for mistakes regarding the SEO strategy, due to the competitive nature of the business itself.
On-page SEO, in-depth keyword research, content schedule and competitors’ analysis are vital for any blog to succeed.
How Affiliates Enter The Equation?
Affiliate partners have been (and still are) a massive part of a gaming operators’ success. The nature of an affiliate website gives more room for SEO implementation, with regards to content, keywords and backlink building (white hat of course).
Affiliates can promote hundreds of different operators, covering all types of keywords and content ideas, without being restricted to a single brand. For all these reasons, operators have always searched for high-quality traffic affiliates to drive players to their platforms.
Affiliates are a critical factor in the operators’ success; there is no doubt about it. However, it is better to keep in mind that they remain independent businesses. Even though they are required to follow affiliate programmes’ terms, little power is left to the operator with regards to strategies and changes implementation.
Last few months we have witnessed operators deciding to restrict the number of affiliates they work with, due to difficulties of affiliates in following compliance requirements (especially in the UK market, where regulations are getting stricter), and also the exit of several operators from the affiliate business.
The upcoming GDPR regulation will not ease the situation. Affiliates and operators (and any online business targeting European users) will both have to be compliant with the new privacy and data protection policies.
Affiliate Networks Taking Over
The situation is slightly different for big affiliate networks that own hundreds of websites and operate in line with a corporate business model. Affiliate networks are growing fast in the gaming scene, acquiring more and more websites and quickly increasing their negotiating power over operators.
The Future Of iGaming Operators
While we cannot predict the future, we have noticed a trend in operators trying to gain lost ground with a more aggressive organic acquisition strategy. This does not mean the end of the affiliate era, on the contrary, it looks like there will be more room for high-quality affiliate websites, capable of following the current changes in regulations and compliance, that will quickly adapt to the future shape of the gaming business.
If you are an operator or an affiliate and you would like to discuss your organic growth options further, please do not hesitate to drop us a line, we will be glad to have a friendly chat!