SEO lessons and a little jedi wisdom: World Cup 2014

SEO lessons and a little jedi wisdom: World Cup 2014

iGaming SEO specialist Paul Reilly of Media Skunk Works highlights several key lessons for affiliates emerging from the recent World Cup in Brazil.

Published 14th September 2014

The following article looks at some lessons in evolution since the last World Cup in 2010, and will help set the scene for your future digital marketing efforts, particularly around big events. Since moving into iGaming as a specialist niche within SEO, I have seen significant changes, not only in terms of the evolution of the Internet in the four years since the last World Cup, but also of how we interact with information and each other in the digital space.

Some of the key differences to the landscape since the last World Cup in 2010 include:

  • Google’s realtime analytics
  • Google’s custom reporting and segmentation
  • Google query data becoming partially then 100% “Not Provided”
  • 100% “Not Provided” was replaced by detailed Webmaster Tools Reporting
  • Social networks now connect us all in some way shape or form and with varying degrees of engagement
  • The rise of the second device (mobile and tablet)
  • The continued progressive enhancement of Google’s spam filters
  • Link / penalty removal has become a booming industry
  • Fully integrated campaigns are becoming the norm for more and more affiliates.

At this point, I’d like to reiterate a point I’ve consistently maintained throughout my 15 years in SEO. When it comes to eventdriven digital marketing, especially SEO with its delayed response times to various actions based on an infi nite number of variables and unknowns…

TIMING IS EVERYTHING
By the time preparations for World Cup 2014 “should” have been underway, none of the above (with the exception of 100% “Not Provided” being replaced by a beautiful reporting suite within Google Webmaster Tools), should have presented you with any surprises. Having of course nailed the World Cup 2014, you will no doubt be planning your attack on the next major international football championship and betting event, Euro 2016.

Internationalising your way to stability
The biggest lesson from this years World Cup will have been experienced by those who failed to internationalise. This applies especially to the Spanish and English facing affiliates whose dreams ended early, along with most of their player acquisition. However, let this be a lesson to all affiliates on why you need to target those emotional punters in international markets.

It’s crucial to simultaneously consider both geography and language when looking to diversify revenue opportunities around a World Cup, or any international event for that matter (see Figure 1).

world cup seo 1_0.PNG
Figure 1

This consideration is made particularly important by the scale of the Spanish speaking, global betting population (without forgetting those English speaking affluent Australians who were also eliminated on the very same day). As for the England team themselves, don’t even get me started!

Figure 2 shows the elimination dates for those who left the tournament during the group stages, many of these with active local betting markets or expat or nondomicile residential communities, all located outside of their own natural native geographic search market.

world cup seo 2.PNG
Figure 2

 

So, what did you do to mitigate that risk of an early knockout?

And more importantly…
Do you have a strategy for Euro 2016? I guess you do now. The question however remains: will you take action now or wait till that bus has passed?

Thematic re-orientation with onsite content and news feeds
Those affiliates who saw masses of traffic but didn’t convert many players will no doubt be feeling this right now. Get into your Webmaster Tools account and take a look at the content/keyword data for your site(s).

Figure 3 below shows a couple of examples of two sites which performed differently in terms of the type of traffic they generated. Both performed incredibly well during the World Cup, but for different reasons.

world cup seo 3.PNG
Figure 3

The objective is to bring the transactional keyword tokens to the top of the list, while delivering excellence in both quality and timeliness of your onsite content, and supporting this with appropriate levels of link and social activity. Before you start thinking I’ve converted to the Cult of “Content is King”, I haven’t – I’m getting to links next, because you’re going to need them. Now here’s the bad news… They’re more expensive than ever before.

The super-inflation of link costs Google’s campaign of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt in the webmaster world is working its magic within the link economy. Outside of risky networks and old school, spammy link farms, quality sites and the formerly questionable editorial integrity of link sellers, over the last 6-8 months we’ve seen a dramatic increase in link cost as webmasters hanker to the gospel according to [head of Google’s webspam team] Matt Cutts.

Previously, we’d seen these costs already go sky high in certain territories, where gambling has traditionally been taboo, combined with restrictive legislation. In some cases, I’ve seen this result in severe penalties for webmasters who take the link money (and I’m not referring to Google penalties, but rather heavy fines and even imprisonment).

Both the UK and US have seen average link costs increase, based both on asking price and on another cost dimension human resource overheads. This is increasing largely due to webmasters (having agreed to sell a link) dropping out middeal (usually during the a client approval stage) having stumbled across a copy of the aforementioned gospel according to Matt Cutts. This is forcing link traders and offsite SEO specialists to both increase the cost per link, as well as strictly enforce their service terms and conditions.

With this in mind, should your link provider be continuing to operate at the same cost level, you should really be questioning the mechanics and process behind how this might be economically workable. That said, links are king and content is certainly still queen. The playing field still remains level, and the road to success is strewn with demolished dreams for those who cut corners on this all important, business critical requirement.

And with SEO still unregulated as an industry, you could do worse than to remember the words of the Jedi masters:

  • “In time you will learn to trust your feelings, then you will be invincible.”
  • “Mind what you have learned, save you it can.”
  • “May the Force be with you.”

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