How iGaming affiliates can get the most out of their SEO strategy.

AS GOOGLE continues to roll out changes to its algorithms, how do you really achieve those elusive first page rankings? It may seem difficult, but by following some basic guidelines, any affiliate site can keep pace in search engines within the iGaming industry. By applying these white hat SEO techniques for optimising websites on and off-page, affiliates can present their sites in optimal positions.

On-page Clear navigation and interlinking

In order to rank high in search engine listings, it is important to have a site that is easy to navigate. You especially want to have search engine-friendly navigation for your website - otherwise, you’re not likely to see any benefits from SEO. To get your site navigation search engine-friendly, place your most important content at the beginning of your navigation and only one click away from the homepage. Link less important content from your footer and a dynamic side bar that changes depending on the page you are on. Also, have every page on your site accessible, whether through the navigation bar or linking from an inner page. If users cannot find the content they are looking for, then neither can crawlers! Recently, there has been a lot of talk on the benefits of placing rel=”nofollow” to preserve and sculpt page rank. In reality, this only reduces the effective page rank of the linking page. Instead, consolidate your links. One way to do this is combining your privacy policy, terms and conditions, and other less content-rich links on one page.

URL structure

The URL structure of your site and the way each page is connected are vital practices in SEO to help your site rank. Follow these easy strategies to keep your URLs search engine-friendly:

• Keep your URL case sensitive. Given that URLs can accept both upper and lowercase characters, refrain from having uppercase characters in your URL structure since people are most likely to link to URLs with lowercase. To avoid duplicate content issues and to preserve link juice, place a 301 redirect to all URLs in uppercase which go to lowercase characters.
• Use dashes before underscores. When creating URLs that contain multiple words, it is recommended to use hyphens to separate. Although Google accepts both hyphens and underscores, Google sees a hyphenated word as an individual one.
• Keep URLs short. Shortening URLs is user friendly as they are easier for people to remember, copy and paste, or write down. Keep your URLs shorter than five words; anything beyond five words gives less weight to those keywords.
• Use targeted keywords. Help search engines determine the content or theme of your site by including keywords in the file and folder names. Your URL should reflect the content of that page.

By keeping your URLs consistent and clean, search engines will have an easier time crawling your site and understanding the theme of your content, thus giving your site more visibility in search engines.

Site speed

Page speed is an important factor in increasing site visibility in search engines,
as well as enhancing user experience. Furthermore, the load time of a site is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithms. Make sure to follow these tips to speed up the load time of your site:

• Keep HTTP requests to a minimum. Reduce the number of images and scripts that your page has to load. This also includes minimising 301 redirects.
• Reduce the amount of Flash. Search engines cannot crawl Flash... period. Don’t even bother with Flash developers who claim that Google is indexing and reading Flash without difficulties. The fundamentals of optimising text are lost when using Flash and diminish the ability to optimise ‘.img’ alt tags and other text that is possible with HTML.

“By keeping your URLs consistent and clean, search engines will have an easier time crawling your site and understanding the theme of your content. ”

Don’t forget sitemaps!

Creating a sitemap for your website is essential when making your site search engine-friendly. Create both a sitemap.xml and an HTML sitemap. By having all your links on one page, search engines will have an easier time knowing what your site is, and subsequently finding and indexing every page.

Quality content

If your site has high-quality content, you will see an increase in your rankings in the SERPs. With Google’s new Panda algorithm, quality content is one of the most essential factors in achieving prime positions. The Panda algorithm is focused on assessing website quality by crawling and identifying pages that use ‘spammy’ techniques and duplicated and poor-quality content. Google has begun penalising many websites (most notably JC Penny and eHowj and will continue to do so as Panda 2.2 comes into force. To keep your content eminent, focus on strong keyword research and optimising your alt and meta tags. Follow these points to help avoid penalty:

• Watch for bounce rate. Is your content what users are looking for and want to read? If not, they will leave your page immediately, thereby increasing your bounce rate. Pages with a high bounce rate will be perceived by Google as
spammy or containing poor content.
• Keep your content fresh.
• Remove all duplicate content.
• Fix broken pages. Having broken pages in Google’s index will undoubtedly hurt your site. Place 301 redirects to the most accommodating pages (but do not redirect all pages to your homepage unless necessary) or have content put on the broken pages.

Even if your site has been recently penalised by the Panda algorithm, you can often have this penalty lifted by following the above tips.

Another important SEO tactic is utilising keyword research in content production. Keep your keywords relevant and targeted towards the theme of your content. Refrain from trying to trick Google by ranking for casino rooms when your content is about lottery. Use webmaster tools to find what your keyword density is and platforms like Wordtracker and SEOmoz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool to find keywords that generate traffic.

Lastly, optimise your alt and meta tags to allow crawlers to fully understand the theme of your site. Meta titles, descriptions, keyword tags and title tags should be optimised uniquely for each page with a focus on one to three keywords. You should also attempt to increase your keyword density to about three to five percent while taking caution not to keyword-stuff.

Off-page Link popularity

Link building is one of the oldest practices in SEO and, if done properly, offers positive results. The simplest way of understanding link building for SEO is to think that every web page online has votes; PageRank tracks these votes via tracking links. Every inbound link towards your site is one vote. Of course, only relevant inbound links will benefit your site, so acquiring a link from a clothing company to your iGaming website will have very little value. Here are a few tips to strengthen your link building strategy:

• Research partners that rank for terms you’re targeting. Inbound links from sites that rank for similar terms will give your site more leverage. Focus on quality, not PageRank (PR). Although PR is a strong factor for acquiring links, relevancy has more pull when it comes to ranking on Google. An inbound link from a site with a high PR but irrelevant and poor content will give you less leverage than one from a quality website
with low PR but good search engine rankings.
• Obtain links to your inner pages. Deep linking will allow the link juice to flow naturally within your site.
• Obtain links on top placements. Having a link in the footer of a website is less effective than links on the top left side of the page or surrounded by text.
• Don’t saturate your anchor text. Avoid link building for only one anchor text. Focus on three to four strong anchor texts to increase the natural feel of link acquisition.

“Search engines cannot crawl Flash... period. The fundamentals of optimising text are lost when using Flash and diminish the ability to optimise ‘.img’ alt tags and other text that is possible with HTML. ”

Obtaining inbound links can be a difficult process. Time and effort are the main resources needed for link building. So keep it as personal as possible when exchanging with webmasters. It will be worth it in the end.

Outbound linking is another ranking factor associated with link popularity. Manage the external links on your site and refrain from linking out to websites that are link farms or hold links from spammy websites.

In the competitive iGaming industry, achieving the first page rankings can be tedious and time consuming work. Give your website a break, and avoid spammy techniques that will boost you to the first page temporarily and artificially. Follow the trends of Google's algorithms so competitors cannot sneak past you. By following these on and off-page SEO tips, your site should generate more traffic and build long-term value.
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