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Aug 29, 2019

Link Building in the Gambling Industry is Different – But Why?

Anyone who has worked in SEO, the gambling industry, or better-still, both – they know.
 
They’ll know that the link building techniques used in most ‘run of the mill’ industries just won’t work.
 
Having been the ‘other side of the fence’ a few years ago, we’re fairly well-versed in what does and doesn’t work in this challenging sector.
 
The issue that the industry has, is mainly based on moral perception. The same challenges are faced in the payday loan sector, or indeed the adult entertainment industry – they’re considered morally wrong and as such, promotion of that type of content is somewhat frowned upon.
 
SEO is a complex beast, but unwrapping all of the vast layers of complex narrative, it centres around one core component. That is content. Content is King. Of course, if your site is set-up poorly from a technical perspective, or nobody links to any of your pages – then you’re not going to rank for your relevant search terms. But these are almost subsidiaries of the over-riding guideline – Google wants to rank sites that provide the best, most relevant content for its users.
 
In fact, in their quality guidelines, they advise that you “make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” And of course, if that content is good, informative, unique, engaging, and adding value – you’ll generate the links required to help that page rank better in the results pages.
 
However, in the world of online gambling, the ultimate challenge is that many sites don’t want to link to your content. Whether you’re promoting a sportsbook promotion, a new slot game, or indeed a free spin offering in the casino – given the widely regarded ‘immoral’ nature of it, natural links are somewhat hard to come by.
 
Unlike the other ‘immoral’ industries – let’s take payday loans as a working example, interest in online gambling is only increasing. According to Google Trends, search volume for the term ‘payday loans’ (red line) has remained fairly stagnant over the last 5 years. The same can’t be said for the term, ‘online casino’ (blue line):
 
online casino vs payday loan
This makes the challenge somewhat more daunting. Our keyword research would indicate that these terms are become ever more competitive, yet fewer and fewer sites are as inclined to want to link to them.
 
In fact, it isn’t just the moral challenges, but also the legal challenges too. Italy’s AGCOM recently had their so-called Dignity Decree approved, outlawing direct and indirect advertising of any gambling related matter. As such, backlinks from good quality, well-respected Italian sites to a gambling operator or affiliate, are becoming increasingly more difficult to come by.
 
According to an industry survey by the Gambling Commission, 38.8% of all gross gambling yield is undertaken remotely, or online:
 
gambling breakdown chart
 
The pressure to acquire these punters, in a multi-billion-pound industry is increasing evermore. So, if Marketing Departments can’t naturally attract the links they need to help in the acquisition of a slice of this pie, then what methods are working?
 
A quick search for the term ‘online casino’ shows that NetBet rank in position 1 for a search term that attracts circa 15,000 searches per month, from the UK alone. NB: This is correct at the time of writing – August 2019.
 
Drilling down further into the reasons as to why, we can take a look at their backlink profile:
 
netbet backlink profile
 
Over 84,000 fresh backlinks, with almost 2 million historic ones. Granted, a chunk of these will be affiliate links which are nofollow – but it’s still a substantial number. So, what strategy is being used for that link acquisition? The answer, I guess, is we’ll never truly know unless NetBet are a client of ours, or indeed we work in their SEO team. But we can make educated guesses.
 
The assumption is a clear one. A PR led approach is unlikely to work, as it would in most industries – for the reasons we’ve mentioned. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get contextual links from relevant sites – we just need to be clever about how we do it.
 
The concept stays the same – the content needs to be relevant, engaging and on-topic. As with any other industry, our anchor and landing page strategy should be natural, not over-optimised, and should be part of a wider strategy that includes internal linking structures too.
 
But the likelihood is, we’re going to have to pay for these links. Link buying just screams black-hat SEO, you may believe. And in some ways, it does. But in this industry, it’s essential – you simply won’t get the volume of quality links you need to make your site rank.
 
NetBet – and, again, we only use them as an example, as they are ranking in position 1 for ‘online casino’, one of the most commercially beneficial terms in the industry – appear to have the natural aspect well adhered to.
 
Let’s take a look at one backlink, on the sportsbook side: http://www.footballshoot.com/2017/04/wenger-hails-arsenals-technical-superiority-after-rejuvenating-win/. The content is unique, on-topic and is in fitting with the tone and context of the publishing site. Furthermore, the anchor is branded and the landing page is indicative of where the visitor would want to end up, should they follow that link to NetBet’s site.
 
Likewise, this link here: https://www.homeofarsenal.com/all-change-up-front/. Now, we’re not suggesting that these sites are necessarily the best publishing sites, but the concept of relevant and contextual content, with a clear anchor text strategy is backed up. SEO experts up and down the country will have their views on the publishing sites – lack of traffic, Majestic, Ahrefs metrics etc.
 
This is in stark contrast to links ‘shoe-horned’ in on irrelevant articles, with little to no context around what is being discussed. I’ll leave you to make your own mind up on whether this constitutes a ‘good’ link for 888 Casino - https://ventsmagazine.com/2018/06/11/oceans-8-switching-location-a-good-idea/.
 
It’s links like this that give the black-hat theorists some sure-fire, fine ammunition. In fact, it’s no surprise to see 888’s anchor text word cloud heavily populated towards commercial, optimised, non-brand terms – ‘live casino’, ‘best live casino experience’, ‘best casino games experience’, ‘best slots’ and so forth:
 
888 anchors
 
Whereas NetBet are far more inclined to use branded terms:
 
netbet anchors
 
At Panoptic Media, we're experienced in working in the online gambling sector, and work with some of the world’s largest firms operating in the industry. Operating across an array of territories and languages, not only do we understand those markets individually, but we also understand the legislation too.
 
The content we produce is relevant, engaging, unique, and contextual - but above all, it is well researched and of great quality. We’re not interested in link exchanges, link networks, PBN’s and so forth – we’re interested in getting good quality content placed on relevant sites, that will add value to their readership.
 
If we can help you, then please get in touch today.