Author: Sebastian Scheplitz
All About the Unconfirmed Google Update of 10th August 2020
As is customary every several months, Google rolled out another massive Google Search ranking algorithm update on August 10.
The results caused concern after SEO observers noticed that there was no clear algorithm pattern to the changes – and negatively impacted rankings across the board.
That’s because even the most successful and authoritative websites across industries have seemed to take a nosedive in the wake of the update.
They were beaten by a haphazard collection of Amazon listings, random Facebook posts, LinkedIn job listings, or forum posts – or pages that wouldn’t have passed Google’s quality standards.
The same is true for iGaming operators, affiliates, and online casino/sports betting sites. Imagine our shock when we noticed plenty of websites operating in the field and renowned for their authority and relevance have been pushed as far as the fifth or sixth page.
This shouldn’t be the case, because we know just how competitive the iGaming industry is, with thousands of sites all competing for a piece of the proverbial pie – especially when it comes to SEO.
In other areas, plenty of local search results are entirely superseded from the rankings by social media posts, Amazon and directory listings, and cloaking websites.
These aren’t just irrelevant, but also spammy to begin with. This was a worldwide occurrence.
There’s also been some reports about drastic changes in ranking within short bursts of time, being seemingly updated every half-hour.
By any stretch of logic, this apparent update is not at all in line with Google’s mission to provide relevant and high-quality search results.
12th August 2020: Update
After about 18 hours of speculation, Google, through its representative John Mueller, announced that the update was a glitch on their end, confirming the suspicions of the SEO community.
The seemingly bizarre results that pushed low-quality pages to the first page started to normalize in the morning of August 11 as we can see from the chart below.
What does this mean if you are an iGaming or online casino/sportsbook operator?
Rankings for your online casino or sports betting affiliate website should be back to normal. We’re monitoring changes for crypto and broker reviews too.
However, we haven’t found any residual negative impact after receiving confirmation from Google. We’ll keep you updated for sure.
Google’s May 2020 Core Update
Google is continually implementing significant changes to its algorithm and did so again on May 4 with its May 2020 Core Update.
It is known as a “core” update due to the scope of its impact. It’s a substantial change to their established algorithm, meaning its impact was far-ranging for plenty of websites, including many iGaming affiliates and operators.
Online casino and sports betting websites have seen massive drops throughout all keywords and verticals. And you’re probably asking yourself what happened and how you can fix these SEO ranking drops.
Implementation lasted for two weeks, and finally, On May 18, Google announced that its core update had successfully been implemented.
Check this video out for a quick walkthrough of these updates and tips on how iGaming companies can improve their rankings.
Now, let’s take a closer look at what this is all about, including guidance on how to rank higher on Google for iGaming companies. But first, let’s examine why it matters, and what it means for iGaming SEO.
Why Is This Important?
Google has been reticent about providing official statements and announcements about the May 2020 core update.
Here’s why this is important, however.
Every time Google makes updates to its ranking algorithms, your site may improve or worsen its standing on the search results. Being aware of when Google performs such updates provides us with a point of reference.
It helps us understand whether it was something you tweaked on your site, or it was something Google adjusted on its search ranking algorithm. Every core ranking update from Google would require you to keep tabs on your rankings and site analytics.
Multiple online sources primarily discuss the latest core update’s impact on industries based on the increase or decrease in numbers about average volatility leading to shifts in search engine rankings.
The most affected sectors were, based on this metric, the following. The ranking is based on the average change after the May 2020 core update was announced:
2. Real Estate
4. Pets and Animals
5. People and Society
This change also impacted a wide array of other industries.
One big misconception needs clarification, however.
Having a high domain authority or high domain scores does NOT instantly mean your site will enjoy a steady stream of increasing traffic. Having both also does NOT mean Google’s search ranking algorithm will not impact your site.
What’s Included in This Update?
The Google May 2020 update represents the second core update of 2020. Historically, Google released a core update every several months or thereabouts. It was just a little over three months since the last one rolled out last January.
If you’re an iGaming operator owning a website, here are some details about the changes.
1. The Introduction of Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals is a set of metrics that pertain to desktop and mobile site performance. Per Google, content structure, interactivity, and page-loading speeds comprise the fundamentals of Core Web Vitals.
This isn’t exactly groundbreaking information as site owners already know how important a role page-load speed plays in search engine rankings.
What’s new is the addition of a separate report on Google Search Console, where site owners can see their site’s pages’ performance based on Core Web Vitals.
This makes it easier for site owners to check on key performance indicators on their site’s pages without poring over every factor separately.
There’s also a fantastic Google report that provides further details on mobile page and desktop performance. The Devices report gives you a close look at what types of devices deliver the best user engagement and search engine performance for your pages across devices (such as desktop/laptop, mobile, or tablet).
With regard to page ranking, it says that Google will be prioritizing pages containing the best overall information, even if certain factors involving page experience are mediocre.
And that’s the key takeaway: Page experience doesn’t trump relevant, valuable content! This is especially important for content-driven businesses like the iGaming industry should be.
2. Focus on E-A-T
Google employs raters to cross-check the relevancy and the accuracy of the SERP. Raters are tasked to understand if the content of the pages that rank in the top 10 search results is compliant with its E-A-T standard.
E-A-T is an acronym for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Google stated that these criteria might help your site align with their automated systems that rank content conceptually.
Google has provided guidance on how site owners can optimize for Google’s quality criteria in December 2019. It’s an excellent read for site owners regardless of the industry they operate. It provides crucial insights on how Google perceives quality from low, middle, to high, and highest.
3. Making SERP Relevant to User Search Intent
Google’s May 2020 core update appears to bring changes to how Google defines and understands high-quality content. It discusses how the updated algorithm assesses the content to provide SERP results that are the closest and the most relevant to the user’s original search intent.
That also raises questions regarding how Google evaluates content and defines it as relevant.
For a while now, content relevance has been condensed into a metric based on bounce rates, time stayed, site engagement through links in posts, and scrolling depths, among others.
Now, a three-minute read might be considered much more relevant to a user’s original search intent than a nine-minute comprehensive long-form post might. A straightforward answer that drives engagement is more suited to their search intent than a step-by-step document.
And Google has become much better at understanding what’s written on a website and also what readers are actually looking for and what they are then reading.
This has led to one of the biggest changes.
Google will show one dedicated SERP right at the top of the page (just right below the search bar). And it will be the one that Google believes to be the most relevant and best structured.
You’ve probably already seen how a search for the current weather on a beautiful summer day in London is displayed:
This shows which information Google can analyze and understand on any website since it comes directly from Weather.com.
If a user searches for “best casino bonus,” for example, this shows how Google believes Gambling Metropolis has the most valuable content for now, until another casino affiliate comes up with a structure that Google’s bot understands better – and therefore ranks higher.
And here’s how “sports betting bonus” looks like in the SERPs for now. You can already see a difference in how Google displays the result. It will only be a matter of time when these SERPs look closer to the weather display above.
4. Nofollow Links Are Now Taken as Contextual “Hints”
It is known that nofollow links were used to be ignored by Google Bot. If a backlink from a particular website had nofollow attributes, Google would most probably ignore it.
From now on, referral pages and nofollow links will be used to grasp the context of a webpage better. It’s a change that inherently means that nofollow links will no longer be ignored.
Per Google, there is no need to change any existing nofollow links. If you are using it now to block sponsored links or show that you aren’t sticking up for a page you currently link to, it will continue to be supported. There is no need to edit existing nofollow links on your webpages.
This might mean that Google is reining in the pervasive paid link building and guest posting activities that serve to game the SERP and engineer website rankings.
With all that said, let’s get to the real question, with special attention for the iGaming companies whose online businesses are directly impacted by these changes: why are your iGaming SERP rankings taking a dip?
What Should iGaming Companies Do to Rank Higher on Google?
The first thing you should do, if you haven’t yet, is to see if your rankings have improved or otherwise declined.
Check your Google Analytics and analyze how your site traffic has been doing.
If your traffic has improved, that’s awesome. If it didn’t, or if it declined, don’t worry. You can take steps to help you get your rankings back to where they were – if not improve them.
Create Relevant and Authoritative Content
That said, Google’s advice is simple. It echoes its earlier guidance when it first released its Panda update in 2011, which suggests site owners to offer the best, most relevant content they possibly can. In the final analysis, that is what Google’s algorithm will look for.
Google suggested that marketers create valuable, high-quality content that is well-structured, consistent, and sufficiently communicates the message appropriate to its title.
Since that suggestion, online marketers started to create long-form posts that deliver more than just answering the typical user’s frequently asked questions. It then became the norm to create such posts to get sites to outrank each other and to provide “killer” blog content for readers.
Thus, it’s high time to evaluate whether your content provides value to your users, or is authoritative in substance, and formatted to make it easy for search engines and users. So tighten it up to fix any potential SEO errors before they tank your ranking.
Spend time creating and curating content that is up to or better than industry-standard, and optimize your content so that search engines, and more importantly, your readers are fed with all the necessary information they need to answer any possible queries they have.
This includes facts, tips, data, and every other piece of information that would provide value to your target audience.
This is, for example, why we love our football review snippets so much since they are a quick read – giving the reader a condensed overview of last weekend’s football games in all major leagues.
And when your readers love them, they keep on clicking and reading them – which makes Google love them and rank your page higher.
Update Your Old Content Regularly
Creating the best possible content for your website goes hand in hand with ensuring your existing content is up to date and contextually relevant. As with creating relevant and authoritative content earlier, updating your existing content will positively impact your ranking.
The key thing to keep in mind is to do everything possible to contribute a few paragraphs if there have been any new developments regarding an old blog topic and tighten it up as best as you can manage.
It’s all about making sure that your content is at least as updated or better than your competition. And the competition is tight.
Google has provided guidelines as to what questions to ask. Here are some of the best practices that not only iGaming companies, but practically any company that wants to improve its search engine rankings should consider when creating and updating their content:
- Delete old web pages and/or redirect irrelevant content to its closest URL (or update them together.) There’s no use keeping irrelevant, outdated content. If the content is irrelevant, delete and redirect it to the closest URL you have on your site, or simply freshen it up to be relevant.
- Make the content engaging and actionable – and make it pop. Is it possible to update the content valuable for your readers, or otherwise more actionable? Consider adding infographics, videos, or a step-by-step guide to make old content new again.
- Check for dead links. Perform a scan to see if there are any dead links on your existing content and correct them. Dead links tank user experience – and you can attest to this.
- Don’t get lost in translation. If your iGaming company has a large global audience (which most do), we can’t stress enough how important it is to properly translate your assets to make perfect contextual sense for anyone reading it in their native language.
- Check the competition. Try this exercise. Research the five main terms each of your article ranks for and then search on Google for those terms. What does your competition do to rank better than you?
- Adjust for readability. Can you make your existing content readable and accessible to a broader audience scope? What do you think you can do to make your content even more understandable? Think of ways you can repurpose existing content to make it work in your favor.
- Make authoritative content evergreen (as much as possible). The last thing you want to do is to have your content look, feel, and sound dated. That’s why you should take steps to make such money content evergreen by avoiding jargon or time and date references that would make it sound like it’s ancient history.
- Countercheck your existing content with Quora. If your content deals with a particular problem that people need to solve, do a search on Quora to see what kind of questions your target audience is asking – and answer them.
Best Practices for iGaming Companies
Now that we have a firm background as to what general changes you can make to improve your rankings, let’s drill down on how iGaming companies can achieve the same goals for their websites.
We already know that regularly creating relevant and valuable content and freshening up existing content should be a critical priority for iGaming companies.
It’s hard to go wrong by following Google’s suggestions. However, here are some more concrete examples of what iGaming companies can do:
1. Produce Relevant, Up-To-Date iGaming Content
iGaming has never been bigger than it is today. Consider putting together a blog containing all the latest iGaming news and updates and investing in your content so that it stays relevant and valuable to your readers.
2. Create Fresh iGaming Content on a Regular Basis
There are more ways to create fresh iGaming content than you can shake a stick at. It doesn’t have to be the same old hat of top 10 articles and tired rehashes of overdone topics. Focus on providing value. Don’t just opt to do a series of game reviews, operator reviews, and sportsbook reviews. That’s already been done.
And it doesn’t stop at creating valuable content every once in a blue moon. You need to produce high-quality content on a regular basis. Implement a schedule and stick to it. Make your content as relevant and valuable as it possibly can so that your target audiences look forward to the next one.
3. Write Truly Unique Content
We all now understand how important unique, engaging content is for SEO, and this will be the trend moving forward.
Google has high expectations for quality for your page to get ranked, which has been the case for a long time.
Unique content is something all websites struggle with, especially when it comes to affiliates, considering their need to write large amounts of material. The key is to create original, fresh, engaging, and above all, readable content on a regular schedule.
Here’s an example of short-form content (in German) commonly encountered in sports betting circles that provides a unique take on the short football match report. It includes valuable data that bettors might use, such as stats and data in a readable manner.
This is an example of content that ranks well on Google and keeps readers engaged and coming back for more. And this is what we at Translation Royale can do for you.
4. Invest in a Content Strategy
It can be as simple as utilizing dedicated content production resources that work hand-in-hand with your marketing and SEO teams to ensure overall brand messaging consistency.
Whether you choose to employ an in-house staff or work with an agency such as Translation Royale, the important thing is to remain solid with your brand messaging, while utilizing Google ranking methods for online casino affiliate websites.
We understand what Google wants. It’s not rocket science – your search engine rankings are a reflection of your content and its ability to attract, retain, engage, and above all, provide value to your target audience.
This is why consistent, solid content management and an SEO strategy (including SEO for affiliate marketing) should be in place. This will ensure that your site will rank on Google, despite the changes that Google’s core updates might bring.
Given the breadth and depth of Google’s May 2020 Core Update, as well as the plethora of changes it brings, it can be a struggle for iGaming companies to keep their web assets consistently ahead of Google’s algorithm.
However, with the right approach to content management, particularly with providing quality content that brings value to its readers, you will always achieve the desired result.
We at Translation Royale know this all too well. And that’s why we can help you.
How did you like Sebastian Scheplitz’s blog post “What iGaming Companies Need to Know About Google’s Latest Core Update”? 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.” 🙂