• SEO

Why it’s time to change your SEO strategy

By iGBA Editorial Team

Significant upcoming changes to Google’s AI-driven algorithms will require both operators and affiliates to rethink their SEO setup, writes The Unit's Director of Strategic Marketing, Feargal Byrne

Implementing a strong technical SEO strategy is crucial for all operators, and even more so now when artificial intelligence is coming on board. While plans for tackling SEO have become more commonplace in the gaming industry in recent years, it would still be fair to say many operators are not as focused on technical SEO as they should be. There are only a handful of operators globally that have developed front-ends for SEO and affiliates are then coming in and picking up page one search rankings. But with several upcoming changes to Google’s results page of which they need to be aware, the time has come for operators to prioritise SEO within their marketing mix.

The new landscape

In the near future, Google’s Search Generative Experience will come into effect. If you are not familiar with this, the best way to explain it is that when the user searches on Google, links to operator sites will appear in the top-right-hand corner of the screen. Affiliate links will appear below that content within the new AI configuration.

This is a notable shift from the current landscape and will impact on affiliates, because there is speculation that transaction-based sites like betting operators could be preferred for links at the top-right of the A.I. generated top-of-page content.

Affiliates have dominated this space due to WordPress, which is currently the number one platform for SEO in gaming. Operators have used it for SEO landing pages because their platforms have been so poorly set up. However, there will soon be a new search feature on Google called Perspectives, which will force them to move away from keyword optimisation and towards individual optimisation. The content that has previously ranked well from a standard SEO copywriting standpoint needs to be refreshed and will have to move to a level above keywords. This will take time and investment and will require operators to think medium to long term.

“There is speculation that transaction-based sites like betting operators could be preferred for links at the top-right of the AI-generated top-of-page content”

While there is no exact timeline on when these changes will take effect, there is no doubt how significantly they will impact on operators’ approach. It will be very important for operators to A/B test. There is no one correct way right now, and operators will need to have the technical capability to test layouts and different features within betting market pages to see how that actually affects services based around odds, injuries, and also the standard generic terms like betting sites and online casino.

Changes in content

Another key area of change will be how operators manage their own internal blogs and sports previews. They will need people with experience in that area and it’s an area affiliates will look at too. Operators need to consider Google E-E-A-T when creating content and sites need to be indexed.

A lot of sites are dedicated to odds feeds and consumed and spun out in the form of pages. There needs to be supporting SEO data with that. The easier a site is to understand, the more likely it could be included in any SEO queries. At this point, most betting sites don’t have the required content or are not indexable to the degree that’s required, with the exception of some major operators.

A dedicated team

This all feeds into why it is critical for operators to either hire a team of SEO staff or outsource to a dedicated team of SEO specialists. It could be more cost-effective to hire an agency, giving the on or off switch when work is needed on a project-by-project basis as opposed to hiring long term. This will deliver customers without any worries about CPA or hybrid or rev share models with affiliates. SEO traffic must be obtained and converted to FTDs, and this way, operators can eliminate a chunk of the often hefty ad spend required to grow in sports betting and casino.

“There will soon be a new search feature on Google called Perspectives, which will force operators to move away from keyword optimisation and towards individual optimisation”

Having an effective SEO plan in place is not so much an issue among tier one operators, but when you move down to tiers two and three, they tend to operate on a much more short-term basis. It’s about meeting this month’s targets and relying on affiliates and other direct response marketing channels to do that. Working on an effective SEO roadmap takes several months, and operators need to find the right expertise and developers. They need a dedicated SEO manager or a team that can provide that. This can be the difference in going from tier three to two and two to one.

Reacting fast to the upcoming changes is key. Spending to the extent that operators do on advertising will not prove to be anywhere near as fruitful if they do not consider how the SEO landscape will alter dramatically in the coming months. Operators must identify the area to focus on, put an initial structure in place, and then gain that all-important first-mover advantage.#

Image by Alexandria from Pixabay


Feargal Byrne

Director of Strategic Marketing at The Unit, Feargal possesses more than 12 years’ experience in the betting and igaming sector and has been a member of the Marketing Institute of Ireland for 10 years. He specialises in digital marketing strategy across the entire marketing mix and has implemented campaigns in the UK, the US, Canada, Ireland and South Africa.

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