Over the past 12 months SEO gambling affiliates have experienced the most intense period of changes to Google’s algorithm as at any time in the last decade. In this article, we discuss how sites have been affected and what is required to succeed in the new SEO environment.
In an unprecedented year of change, 2023 saw no less than 9 Google algorithm updates made up of multiple Core Updates, Helpful Content Updates, Spam Updates and Product Review Updates. The net result was to see widespread disruption in the SERPs with many site owners reporting big traffic drops, particularly in the second half of the year.
It’s never easy to analyse the impact of Google’s updates, and it’s made harder still when there is so little time between each one, or in some cases from 2023, when two or three updates overlap. Now that the dust has settled it has been possible to reach conclusions as to why some sites have fallen and some have risen. Gambling affiliates whose traffic is derived from Google can use this understanding to set clear objectives for their sites for 2024.
Here are 6 key points to improve your SEO assets this year.
Understand the Helpful Content System
As Google has sought to evolve its algorithm to move away from reliance on third party links as a ranking signal, their new ‘helpful content system’ has come to prominence.
In Google’s words, the system ‘aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.’ In particular, content that has ‘little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful’ will now perform less well according to Google.
That statement might sound basic but the effects of the helpful content classifier have been huge. Over the course of three helpful content updates – August 2022, December 2022 and October 2023 – the impact of this system has been felt on many sites in big traffic drops.
What types of content have been affected?
As with all updates, picking apart the damage is not easy. But it is apparent that some tried and tested SEO strategies are no longer valid. Pages with tens of thousands of words that sought to cover a keyword topic from every angle to build lots of topically relevant content are no longer working. Nor are sites whose mediocre, poorly written and unoriginal content was propped up by backlinking strategies over-reliant on high volumes of low-quality guest posts.
In short, as the dial has shifted further towards content quality, the importance of producing original, well-structured and useful copy has never been greater.
Be Aware of Site Wide Signals
Significantly, Google’s helpful content system generates a ‘site-wide signal’. That means ALL content on a site that publishes significant amounts of what is deemed to be unhelpful content will be less likely to achieve good rankings.
In a nutshell, this means that creating an A-class selection of pages for your target keywords, then producing lots of filler for the rest of your site is not a credible SEO strategy. This part of the algorithm demands that ALL your content is of a high quality, and there is no escaping that.
Therefore, if you are planning a new site launch, or you feel that your existing site is underperforming, then don’t just focus on those pages you expect conversions from. You need to examine all pages.
Building E.E.A.T. on Page
Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust (shortened to E.E.A.T) is a term that SEO marketeers should be familiar with by now. Whilst not a ranking factor in the algorithm, they are a core component of the Quality Rater Guidelines used to train Quality Raters paid by Google to assess the usefulness of search results.
In short, the E.E.A.T. principles are used to assess how trustworthy your content is. Think about these qualities on every page.
Experience – make sure the writing you publish shows general experience in the gambling vertical it reports on as well as direct experience of using the games, websites and apps reviewed
Expertise – make sure content on your site reflects expertise from your writers, both in the body of text and author bios, linked in profiles and about us pages
Authority – backlinks remain a huge part of SEO and building good mentions and links from authoritative sites in the industry will always be essential
Trust – there are many ways to demonstrate trust on a gambling affiliate website. Aside from high quality content, the basics of having links to a credible business site, linked in and social media accounts are important
Wite Unique and Insightful Product Reviews
In 2023 there were three updates from Google relating to product reviews. These are the latest iteration of a component of the algorithm that directly targets the kind of content affiliates in every sector produce, whether they review iPhones, credit cards, gambling sites or any other product.
The objective is to promote sites that genuinely provide useful reviews of the products they purport to have knowledge and experience of using. To adapt to this new focus on the quality of reviews, as a gambling affiliates you should show your working, implementing screenshots of part of the sites or games you review, build comparison tables between competitor products, and publish opinions and ratings that genuinely reflect the customer experience.
In 2023 we started to see gambling affiliates create more in-depth reviews at scale to meet these latest requirements of the algorithm. For example, look at All Slot Sites, a casino and slot game reviewer whose comprehensive articles are backed up by full pages explaining the review process and what testing is done on each site and game by their writers. Expect this trend to continue into 2024.
The Importance of User Generated Content
Two big beneficiaries from the latest round of Google updates have been Quora and Reddit, sites that are built on user generated content (UGC). And affiliate sites in the gambling industry that have busy forums have done well too.
Whilst it is difficult for most affiliate sites to create and nurture a good forum, there are other ways to build user generated content. For example, some casino affiliates are already taking steps by encouraging readers to leave their own reviews of sites they have played. User reviews can be facilitated with simple word press plug ins and are worth considering if you have enough traffic. Some sites even incentivise users with prize draws or exclusive offers.
The Importance of Link Building
Whilst content may be a greater concern than ever for affiliates, the importance of links will never go away. Google’s Gary Illyes claimed back in September 2023 that links had been out of the top 3 ranking factors for ‘some time’ but whether you believe him or not, they remain critical to the success of any website looking to bring in organic traffic from Google. So, continuing to build a strong link profile with a diverse range of links is as vital in 2024 as ever.
The huge shifts in the SERPs that occurred in 2023 and look set to continue into 2024 reflect the significance of the latest round of algorithm updates. Whilst links are and always will be a hugely important part of SEO, the helpful content system, E.E.A.T. guidelines and product review updates all point to the importance of creating high quality, and original content. Therefore this should be front and centre of any SEO gambling affiliate’s plan for 2024.