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Casino SEO – A Strategy Guide

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Casino SEO is search engine optimization for domains in the global internet gambling market (also known as iGaming). It’s a highly competitive field of SEO that includes niches like online casinos, lotteries, sports betting, and virtual poker.

Internet gambling generally gets a bad reputation with search engines so your online casino SEO needs to be strategic and on-point. Being aware of popular and relevant industry trends is absolutely necessary to stand a chance at ranking in the SERPs.

Having said that, the online gambling and iGaming industry is a fast-growing and lucrative market that can pay off with the skilled application of proper SEO techniques either by you or a professional service that offers tested SEO strategies.

Not Your Typical SEO Campaign

Casino SEO involves some of the most competitive niches in the digital marketing sphere and it’s going to be trickier to promote gambling websites than most other types of business.

Unlike a lot of conventional SEO for ecommerce or run-of-the-mill websites, casino SEO is characterized by cutthroat competition (with deep pockets), spam websites, backlinks that are difficult to acquire, keywords that are constantly evolving, and legality in only a few U.S. states and some parts of the world.

Many SEOs stay away from this industry for these reasons. Anyone courageous enough to step foot in this arena may succeed only with meticulous attention to detail, extensive research, and near-perfect SEO.

For these reasons, many SEOs see online gambling as a challenge worth accepting (especially knowing the rewards can be great).

One of the most challenging difficulties associated with online casinos is the ever-changing nature of the industry.

Take keywords for example. New keywords and phrases are being coined every year, so the number of competitive (and valuable) keywords is changing all the time. The search volumes of many historically popular keywords are now a small fraction of what they used to be, despite the overall industry growing year over year.

internet gambling is growing fast

The most popular keywords are very hard to rank in search engines.

Don’t even think about trying to outrank the biggest gambling sites for the top keywords if you’re just entering the field. Be realistic about your keywords. Your best bet, in the beginning, is to target a highly specialized niche and refine your strategy from there.

Competitor analysis will be even more important in casino SEO than in other less competitive industries. You must spend time analyzing the backlinks of competitors, tracking their progress, and trying to identify the techniques they’re using to rank for your keywords.

Link building in other industries, although challenging, is even more complicated in online gambling because you won’t be able to collaborate with many sites and some webmasters will refuse to work with you.

Moreover, Google will have high expectations for relevant and authoritative backlinks to build trust in your website and there are so many low-quality and shady sites that revolve around internet gambling that won’t provide quality links.

Ultimately, casino SEO has much in common with search engine optimization for any type of domain:

  • It’s all about ranking as high as possible to increase visibility and organic traffic.
  • Trying to gain credibility or trust in your website.
  • Really engaging your target audience and getting them hooked.
  • Natural link building.

Start With An Aged Domain

Consider buying an aged domain to get a little head start on link building (preferably one that was built for your specific niche).

A good aged domain should have a respectable link profile that was built over several years and isn’t filled with spam links. It’s a bonus if the domain is already listed on relevant business directories.

It’s important to revive the site either with a content overhaul or updating it to target relevant keywords that reflect current trends in the industry.

Even if the ranking benefit is minimal, having an aged domain is a good foundation for your business to start gaining trust and generating traffic.

Keyword Research

Effective keyword research for online casinos isn’t simply about choosing keywords to sprinkle throughout your site. You really need to identify many different search terms or phrases, how competitive they are, and how they’ll be able to provide the best return on your investment.

Search terms are constantly evolving in popularity and competitiveness. iGaming industry laws and consumer preferences change. Like any competitive niche, keywords that were profitable a few years ago will probably be harder to squeeze today (“online casino real money” is more competitive in recent years than it’s ever been since people started searching for it in 2003).

But many keywords actually see a decrease in popularity over time. For example, “poker online” currently gets around 10% of its peak search volume from 2004. “Sports betting” was stagnant for about 10 years until recently.

many keywords decrease in popularity over time

Try to find keywords in specialized niches and see how your efforts work over time. Gauge the competition levels, search volumes, CPC rates, etc. We have an article that will teach you to how to find keywords with low competition.

There are lots of medium and long-tail keywords to choose from, and you can even target several of them on your website. Medium tail keywords provide a good balance between difficulty and profitability.

The reality is that new trends in iGaming (e.g. social platforms, blockchain, machine learning, telegram, VR, mobile casinos), new styles/variations of playing games or earning money, and new apps and platforms are creating new search terms every month, while search volumes for once-popular keywords have dropped dramatically.

Be as natural as possible when implementing keywords on your website. Avoid keyword stuffing and other tactics that may cause you to get penalized by search engines.

But whichever keywords you choose to optimize for, you must commit to ranking as high as possible for them because your business needs maximum visibility to perform well in the long run.

Competitor Analysis

Another crucial part of your casino SEO strategy is to analyze the competition just as you would in any competitive niche.

This could mean pulling up the top 10 competitors for a keyword in a backlinks analysis tool to learn more about them, how they’re building links, and how they perform over time.

You only need to outperform your direct competitors for niche-relevant keywords and by constructing a better website. You shouldn’t try to beat out the biggest online gambling sites in the industry.

You should also look at the overall site structure of competitors. If they are hosting casino games, see if each game has its own optimized page. Explore the sites and get a feel for their UI and UX design.

look at niche-relevant SERP competitors

Optimization

There are numerous elements of a site that should be optimized. A fully optimized and well-constructed website is at least half the work needed to rank in the SERPs.

Every page on your site related to online gambling may rank individually in the SERPs if you wish, so make sure they’re optimized for your medium or long-tail keywords.

This will mean deciding what each page is truly about (e.g. tutorials, reviews, games, sports betting) and optimizing for the relevant search terms. Optimize each page for one or two unique keywords. Remember, don’t spam or stuff keywords in your content.

  • On-page SEO includes every element on your website that describes what your site is about. This should be a priority. The elements include SEO titles, headings, content, images, and meta description. Keyword positioning throughout these elements is important.
  • Off-page SEO includes elements from other websites or external pages that improve ranking. This includes backlinks, social media marketing, content distribution. The most important element is link building.

Site Structure

Your website’s construction and user experience are very important. This is especially true if it’s a casino site that will host virtual gambling games.

This will be a challenging and possibly expensive objective to achieve in your overall casino SEO strategy, but investing in UI and UX is crucial for long-term success. Users want a comfortable experience on a good-looking site that doesn’t appear shady.

The site’s design and page hierarchy should be clean, efficient, and logical if you expect users to come back and play your casino games. There shouldn’t be any obvious errors or faulty layouts.

If the website supports multiple casino games, you should consider building a site structure that gives each game its own keyword-optimized page to improve organic search results.

good site structure and layout is crucial

Add Great Content

The best casino content will be well-written and informative. It has a better chance of ranking in the SERPs if it sounds authoritative and adds value to users. Hiring a seasoned casino copywriter that understands gambling is always better than posting fluff, spam, or thin content.

Create content that is relatable to casino games (if that’s what your site focuses on), that a user may want to read and which can also be ranked for related gambling/industry keywords (not just the games). Try to write for your target audience instead of just looking good to Google.

The best content will be original, high-quality, and useful. It will be good enough to encourage links from other sites in your niche while also engaging visitors so they come back to your site.

Some good content ideas include tutorials and guides, reviews, unique opinions and facts, mentioning relevant research, topical industry trends, and general categories that are always relevant to readers.

Build Quality Backlinks

Link building is the most important part of an iGaming SEO strategy. Getting natural, high-quality backlinks from authoritative niche-related websites will build a strong link profile and improve your ability to rank.

Don’t even think about spamming your links everywhere (this is not 2004). Quality is better than quantity when it comes to link building if you want to do well at iGaming SEO. A single powerful backlink from a highly respected website is better than 20 backlinks from low-quality directories or user-generated content etc.

But most relevant backlinks are better than none, and it’s going to be a little more difficult to acquire backlinks in online gambling compared to other niches. There aren’t a ton of sites ready and willing to link out to gambling sites.

Every link building tactic in the book has been used in this niche and many simply won’t work (or even harm you). The focus should be on acquiring natural links by delivering valuable, optimized content that attracts organic traffic. Guest post opportunities, for example, will be one of the most effective ways to get quality links, build trust/relevance and engage readers.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on advertising if you fail to deliver solid SEO strategies. One that emphasizes research, competitor analysis, and delivering quality content to a targeted audience.

Your site cannot afford to have a lackluster UX design with so many online casino sites out there trying to hook visitors that are looking for specific experiences (whether it’s a style of poker or a way to earn money playing blackjack). You need to optimize for what your visitors are looking for.

iGaming SEO is challenging and ranking in this niche will require steadfast determination. However, there are many SEOs who have determined the ROI is right for them and accepted the challenge.

If you’re a website owner that doesn’t have the time or knowledge to rank a site or grow traffic then it’s best to consider professional casino SEO services that offer specialized strategies for iGaming niches.

Contributing Author: Brian Kihneman

Header image for Nicholas Altimore.Article by:
Nicholas Altimore

Hey I'm Nick, one of the guys behind SirLinksalot. I have a passion for building online businesses and taking websites to the next level with the help of my amazing link building team.

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