Author: Sebastian Scheplitz
Many people have an adverse reaction to the sheer mention of SEO. Why is this?
Okay, so SEO might not be the most exciting aspect of getting your brand the online visibility it deserves, but why such vitriol?
Perhaps it has something to do with the confusing, ever-shifting nature of SEO, and the fact that, yes, it can be quite a dry subject.
Chuck in the countless different approaches to SEO, coupled with essential elements such as international SEO best practices, and you have the perfect storm for a very boring afternoon.
Here at Translation Royale, we feel your pain. We really do. That’s why we’ve already wrestled the giant octopus of international SEO strategy, so you don’t need to.
No more trawling through endless sites, trying to stitch together – Frankenstein style – snippets of how to do international SEO and how to do it right.
You could think of this guide as your ultimate iGaming international SEO companion. An easy checklist of items that you need to tick off your list as you go.
Seems simple, right? That’s because it really is! Have a look at this short explainer video here and you’ll get our point:
1. hreflang – What is up with this?
Many people working within this frantic and beloved world of iGaming believe that international SEO begins and ends with the correct hreflang.
But hold your horses. What exactly is an hreflang? Even just reading hreflang sounds as if you’re trying to clear something from the back of your throat.
Simply put, an hreflang HTML attribute is employed to show what language your content is displayed in and the geolocation of your reader. An hreflang looks like this:
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com" hreflang="en-uk">
If you move your face to your monitor within parameters that would, if it were alive, make it feel uncomfortable, you’ll spot the tail end of the HTML:
This is used to tell Google and Yandex what language and location you are trying to target, essential when you are aiming to rank well in any given market and any given language.
So, the correct hreflang attribute is essential, but don’t start popping bottles of Cristal, high-fiving through your office hallways in slo-mo, and chest-bumping just yet.
Using the correct hreflang is your first few baby steps to larger international SEO best practices.
That’s because some search engines like Bing and Baidu don’t work with the hreflang attribute, but with the content-language meta tag. That’s why it’s important to first determine which search engine you’re focusing on before diving into more technical stuff.
This is an example of a content-language meta tag:
<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en-uk">
2. It’s an all-out war! ccTLDs vs. Subdomains vs. Subdirectories
Well, we’re being a touch dramatic here. It’s more of an SEO equivalent of a playground scuffle than an actual war.
But what are these URL elements, and which one should I be using to ensure my content reaches the correct audience?
ccTLDs (country code top-level domains), subdirectories, and subdomains are the different parts of your URL, and they look like this:
All well and good, but which one should we be using? Well, it all depends on your resources and budget.
In an ideal world, we’d all have the time, energy, and willingness to set up individual ccTLDs as this is the cleanest and the most efficient way of approaching international SEO for iGaming content.
We can rank ccTLDs, subdomains and subdirectories like this:
- 🥉 Bronze medal: Subdirectory (gets the job done, but not ideal)
- 🥈 Silver medal: Subdomain (perfect when faced with limited resources)
- 🥇 Gold medal: ccTLD (use this if you’re able to manage several domains at once)
So, the Tokyo Olympics may not have happened in 2020, but as you can see, ccTLDs take the gold medal in the 100 meters for international SEO for iGaming content. Now, all stand for the national anthem.
If you’d like to dig deeper, cast your eyes over our article: 9 Things You Need to Know before Translating Your Website
3. We Need to Talk About Geotargeting
Geotargeting… Cool word. Used as an SEO-friendly iGaming content tactic for multiple international markets, geotargeting is how you choose to apply your URL structure (ccTLD, subdomain, or subdirectory) and get results.
Often misunderstood, geotargeting is also how your page tells search engines which of your subfolders, subdomains, or domains is the most applicable for your targeted audience.
A question you need to ask yourself is: how much do we need to change our content so it stays relevant but also comes across as non-duplicated?
A thin line to walk, we recommend that you make as many changes as possible while still keeping your content highly focused on your chosen market.
4. The Problem with Machine Translation
Language is an art. As useful as a machine translation is at converting the odd word here and there, would you trust it to translate your entire website for international markets with a Google translate plug-in? We hope not.
Machines have zero sensibilities when it comes to the nuance and cultural aspects of language. Therefore, as convenient as they are, should not be relied upon to translate long-form content for your targeted markets; it sticks out like a sore thumb.
A machine translation not only could harm your brand image, but it could also cause some serious offense, in some extreme cases.
Machine translation doesn’t always pick up on subtleties of language and words with double meanings and is also completely blind to the cultural nods behind the language.
Our advice is to leave this with professional translators and international SEO experts. It’ll save you time and reputation further down the line. And reputation is priceless.
5. It’s Time to Flag Flags
If you’re tempted to use the flag of the USA to cover all English-speaking nations internationally (101 to be precise) or a German flag to represent the DACH iGaming markets, you could find your beloved flag icons being the center of a clicking crisis.
Sounds dramatic? We humans are proud human beings, and our cultural identity is wrapped up in our language. The problem with flags is that they represent countries or nations rather than the actual language itself.
We may resign ourselves to clicking, albeit begrudgingly, on the Union Jack if we’re Irish, or perhaps the Spanish flag should we come from one of the LATAM markets, but we’re not particularly happy about it. Not at all.
To use flags to show which language to select lacks identity awareness and can be pretty insensitive. So, what kind of iconography can we use instead of flags?
Well, it’s best to play it safe here. Instead of, say, a flag of China to represent all Chinese-speaking nations (nice way to lose your reach in Taiwan, bro), we should use 简体中文 (simplified Chinese) for mainland China, Malaysia, and Singapore, and 繁體中文 (traditional Chinese) for Chinese speakers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau.
Simple, yet effective. Lose the flag icons before you lose potential players.
If you are wondering which languages you should use for your iGaming website, this article is here to help you out: Choosing the Right Languages to Translate your iGaming Website.
6. Well, well. Look who’s Returned. Yep, it’s Backlinking.
And welcome home, too. Backlinking helps Google rank pages for the specific market, depending on the origin of the backlink.
If your site is receiving a load of backlinks from URLs ending in “.no”, Google will correctly gauge that your page receives heavy traffic from Norway and subsequently rank accordingly on local SERPs.
Important to remember though; not all backlinks are created equally, and some backlinks may, in fact, harm the linking site’s ranking rather than benefit it.
Backlinks: dofollow and nofollow
One letter difference and you’re in a whole world of backlinking pain. Most backlinks follow the dofollow protocol; these are standard throughout backlinks.
If the owner of the website rolls up their sleeves and gets down and dirty with the HTML and changes ‘dofollow’ to ‘nofollow,’ this effectively flags a site as one that cannot be trusted, and in turn, will affect their SERP rank.
A nofollow backlink looks like this in HTML:
<a href=”mybestonlinecasino.com” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>
Although nofollow backlinks will not improve your SERP rank, it can still potentially increase your traffic and sometimes massively so.
7. Research. Research. Research
Of course, we’re talking about international keyword research. Trying to target a particular region with English keywords can sometimes feel like attempting to play roulette on a blackjack table; you’re fighting a losing battle.
Here we present to you our three top tips for nailing down a truly global approach to your keyword research strategy:
- Implement keyword research from nearby regions, even if they’re smaller.
- Allow Google autosuggest to lend a hand – just make sure you’re using your target regions IP, where appropriate.
- Google related searches – similar to autosuggest, you can double down on hyperlocal searches related to your chosen topic.
Thorough keyword research is the ultimate weapon in your armory of iGaming website localization strategies and should always be carefully tailored to accurately match that of your target market.
Oh, and no need to buy keyword research tools. Nice.
8. Go Global and Stay Local
Having an international reach, paradoxically means you actually need to think more locally. Creating a global footprint is what it’s all about, right?
Greater revenue, increased leads, and a higher number of conversions are why you’re (hopefully) still reading this.
iGaming website localization strategies don’t just mean adjusting your hreflangs, doing a touch of translation, and waiting for your site traffic to increase. You really need to understand the difference(s) between localization and internationalization and how it can affect your business case.
Then, what is the difference?
By definition, internationalization is the act of creating a country-specific product or service and adjusting your company’s internal procedures to match expectations from your target market. Internationalization has a lot of moving parts and can be incredibly expensive to undertake.
Localization for iGaming, on the other hand, is much more clearly defined (and cheaper, yay!). It looks like this:
- Naming conventions (some countries have the surname first, for example)
- Formats for telephone numbers
- Colloquial names for certain iGaming vocabulary
- Vernacular dictated by legislative bodies: Free Spins vs. Bonus Spins or Free Bet vs. Bonus Bet for EN-CA/EN-IE/EN-INT/EN-GB markets
- Time and date formats: MM/DD/YYYY and DD/MM/YYYY or YYYY/MM/DD
- Measurements: metric or imperial
- Odds: fractional or decimal
- Data requirements: GDPR for EU citizens and US data privacy laws, by state
- Any relevant pop culture references to your target region
At the Departure Gate: Our Conclusion
Many people believe that the online casino industry is one of machine-like precision, oiled to perfection.
As industry insiders, we all know that this most definitely is not the case and we’re usually working to incredibly tight deadlines with little information to guide us.
As stressful as our chosen industry can be, iGaming international SEO doesn’t have to be something to pull your hair out over.
If you still feel like you’re flailing in the iGaming dark a little, here at Translation Royale, we’re iGaming international SEO experts with you and your enterprise’s goals close to our heart.
We’re here to deliver international SEO-friendly iGaming content, just how you like it.
Header Image Source: Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash
How did you like Sebastian Scheplitz’s blog post “Around the World in Eight Top Ways: The Checklist for International iGaming SEO in 2021 (and Beyond)”? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for iGaming blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂