How SEO helps online betting operators achieve growth

Jorge Costa

January 18, 2021

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Throughout its history, Fortis Media has developed an experienced set of skills concerning a specific niche: the online betting industry.

Our company has partnered with several relevant brands on the market, helping them to increase their online influence and raise their ranks in their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Therefore, we consider pertinent the development of this white paper, through which we analyze the performance of the most popular online betting brands in the United States on SERPs.

This analysis is the result of extensive research and our company’s interest in developing ties with the betting industry.

By sharing our knowledge and findings, we believe we can help our current and future clients to understand how keywords can oscillate in relevance due to numerous factors.

Our research also intends to underline the importance of developing a strong SEO strategy implemented by professionals in the field.

Brief History of Online Betting in the U.S.A.

Gambling was always an attractive market in the United States. Sports events were part of this and there was no shortage of scandals, like the Black Sox one in 1919. Athletes, coaches, and sports commissioners were overall worried about the integrity of the games.

With the popularity of the internet increasing in the early 90s, several operators turned to online markets and the alarm went off.

In January 1993, The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) became active, forbidding citizens or states from engaging in sports betting.

Despite this law, there were 3 states who could still operate under specific legislation: Nevada (where Las Vegas is located), Oregon, and Montana.

This law lasted until 2018, when the Supreme Court voted to vacate the PASPA, allowing states to take the decision into internal scrutiny. Since then, there have been several states taking legislation into a debate, with some having already sports betting bills passed: like New Jersey and Mississippi.

Despite the possibility of legalization, states are still threatened by illegal markets. Illegal operators are more likely to provide attractive odds and come up with alluring promotions. Mostly, because they don’t need to take part of their revenue to pay taxes.

According to Forbes, that is why there is an incentive on states to keep tax rates low for legal gambling providers: this way it will be easier to put illegal operators out of the market.

In the long run, this system will bring more profits, both to the legal betting brands, as well as to the state who repels the ones operating outside the law.

Brands Under Analysis

For research purposes and analyzing the influence of SEO factors into SERPs ranks, we chose to analyze the top 5 betting brands currently ranking in the U.S. for the keyword “betting online”.

These operators are MyBookie, Bovada, FanDuel, DraftKings and BetOnline.

MyBookie ranks 1st for the keyword ‘betting online’ right now. They are an online gaming brand created in 2014, offering hundreds of online casino games. MyBookie describes itself as a pioneer in improving services where other brands failed.

One may have noticed that MyBookie has a .ag domain, from Antigua and Barbuda. They profit from the Free Trade & Processing Act that the Caribbean country legislated in 1994, shortly after the PASPA became active in the U.S.

This Act allows organizations to apply to open online casinos, thus creating a loophole for online brands to keep operating in markets where gambling is not completely legalized. MyBookie’s headquarters are currently located in San Jose, Costa Rica.

BetOnline also has a .ag domain, operating under those circumstances too. The location which they currently operate in Panama City, Panama.

They have existed since 1991 and they offer the opportunity of betting in several sports, having their own stats center to help betting enthusiasts decide who to gamble on.

Meanwhile, Bovada is in Quebec, Canada, and was born nearly two decades ago, although they changed from Bodog to Bovada in December 2011.

They are the only online sportsbook that is exclusive to US residents and they do not allow client accounts from states which have uncertain jurisdictions on iGaming, like Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, and New Jersey.

FanDuel and DraftKings are different kinds of betting sites than the two previously mentioned. They offer fantasy leagues in NFL, soccer, basketball, and other team sports.

However, FanDuel also has a sportsbook and horse racing pages. FanDuel was created in 2009 and operates in New York, NY, USA, and has a second office in Edinburgh (Scotland).

Created in 2012, DraftKings is their main competitor. They launched their sportsbook in 2018 and have 8 million users. DraftKings is located in Boston, Massachusetts.

Retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan has been one of the investors since September 2020.

This white paper is purely for research purposes. Fortis Media is not affiliated with any of the brands and does not intend to promote them.

Whether the named brands operate under legal or illegal terms is also not relevant for this paper.

Keyword Volume

“Betting Online” is one of the most popular betting keywords in the US. The average number of monthly searches in the past year was 201000. In October 2019 it had about 250k monthly searches.

In 2020 this number started to drop due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching 135k in March 2020.  Search volume started to grow back in the Summer and in September there were 301k searches.

Monthly Searches for Betting Online

SERP – First View

SERP betting online keyword search

By analyzing the aforementioned search result page of Google for the keyword betting online we can acknowledge that:

  • The first three results have sitelinks.
  • The first two results have sports events snippets.
  • The first result is the product snippet – it has reviews, ratings, and prices.
  • The first result is shown with the site logo.

The SERP additionally contains a “People also ask” featured snippet with frequently asked questions, answers and URL’s from where they were taken.

At first glance, we can see that only the first two pages have structured data.

The most interesting thing that we can see from SERP is that the first result is marked as a product, something quite uncommon for betting sites.

However, since it is working, it should increase CTR (click-through rate).

Meta-Titles & Descriptions

One of the factors that influence the click-through rate on search engines the meta-titles and descriptions. These are the HTML attributes that show the title and a brief synopsis of the website content.

Here are the meta-titles and descriptions of the betting brands homepages under analysis:

MyBookie

Title – Sportsbook, Sports Betting Odds Site | Bet Online Vegas Style Sportsbook

Description – Welcome to MyBookie Sportsbook & Casino | Join 2020 America’s most Trusted Sportsbook & Bet America’s Favorite Sporting Pastimes Online with players from around the world with odds on all of the Best Sporting Events. MyBookie the Sportsbook you can Trust.

Bovada

Title – Online Sports Betting – Bet on Sports Online | Bovada Sportsbook

Description – Online Sports Betting – Bet on Sports Online Bovada Sportsbook

BetOnline

Title – Sports Betting & Online Betting at BetOnline Sportsbook

Description – BetOnline brings you the best in online sports betting, providing the latest and best odds on all sports. Bet with BetOnline Sportsbook today.

FanDuel

Title –  SportsBook – Legal Online Sports Betting – FanDuel

Description –  New FanDuel Sportsbook customers can enjoy their first bet risk-free up to $1000 when you sign up today! FanDuel Sportsbook features bets on all major U.S. sports, including professional football, soccer, basketball, baseball, golf, boxing, motorsports racing, and more

DraftKings

Title –  Sportsbook, Sports Betting Odds Site | Bet Online Vegas Style

Description – View the latest odds and bet online legally, securely, and easily with the top-rated sportsbook. Place a bet now!

All the pages except DraftKings are using “Online Betting” keywords in meta titles. It does not make any big difference if keyword words are next to each other or not. Keyword usage in the meta title is one of the most important ranking factors.

The DraftKings are using “bet online” instead, but it has a similar effect because Google understands “bet” and “betting” words as synonymous.

There are three pages that have the keyword in meta description – MyBookie, BetOnline, and DraftKings. Bovada meta description is the same as the meta title.

Google doesn’t show it and uses random text from the website. This really doesn’t help for the CTR.

MyBookie and FanDuel meta description is about two times longer than the max possible length so Google cuts them in SERP.

In conclusion, keyword usage in the meta description is not as important as meta title, but the inclusion of keywords still helps to get more clicks from Google.

Structured Data

Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. For example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.

As one can witness from analyzing the 5 pages, MyBookie and Bovada are the only pages that have structured data. However, structured data isn’t a ranking factor.

Still, it does help communicate on-page content factors like the events that are the subject of the page. So, it’s important to consider adding relevant structured data to the page.

mybookie.ag Structured Data

As we mentioned before, MyBookie is using structured data as a product. Online betting is not an actual product and it shouldn’t be marked like this by Google rules.

We can say that this is grey SEO – a tactic that is driving results, but it’s a bit risky.

In conclusion, structured data helps to communicate what the webpage is about, and it can indirectly lead to better rankings. DraftKings and FanDuel are really missing Event structured data.

Content & Keywords

MyBookie Bovada BetOnline Fanduel DraftKings
Total word count 4300 197 300 172 270
“Online betting” keyword in the content 3 42 1 13 32
“Betting” keyword in the content 27 1 6 0 0
H1 headings 2 0 0 0 0
H2 Headings 14 0 1 0 0
Content-Type Events & Long Text Events Short Text Events Events

MyBookie

  • It has the most content (4300 words in total)
  • The “Online betting” keyword is mentioned 3 times
  • “Online” is mentioned 27 times, “betting” – 34 times
  • It has text with features and a post briefs section with 6 expert opinions
  • It has the biggest events list with featured lines and betting odds
  • The only page which has h1 headings, but it should have only one H1, there are two now

 Bovada, FanDuel, and DraftKings

  • There are only 200 – 400 words on the page in total.
  • There is no description or any additional text, just events with betting odds
  • There is no “online betting” keyword in-content
  • Bovada has one “betting” keyword
  • These pages don’t have any headings

BetOnline

  • It only has 300 words in total.
  • There are no events with odds
  • It has some text, but it is very small compared to
  • “Online betting” keyword is mentioned one time, “betting” – 6 times.
  • Doesn’t have an H1 heading, only H2, and H3

MyBookie is well optimized – they use “online betting” keywords in-content, while other pages mostly do not.

Therefore, there is a huge content gap for 2 – 5 position pages compared to MyBookie. Their competitors do not use any text, or it is very short, and they are missing H1 headings.

Page Speed

MyBookie Bovada BetOnline Fanduel DraftKings
PageSpeed Mobile score 61 14 25 5 11
PageSpeed Desktop score 91 42 84 13 32
Page Size 760kb 658kb 1.3mb 1.8mb 2.7mb
Requests 49 28 127 49 103

As we can see from the table MyBookie landing page is best optimized for mobile and desktop versions and the desktop version has a high score in most of the Google PageSpeed Insights audits.

Looking at how much content this page has compared to the other sites, these results are surprising. One would think that the loading speed would be compromised with all the added content, but it seems it’s the opposite way.

Page size is also one of the smallest compared to other sites. A well-optimized loading speed has a huge impact on ranking in 1st position.

Then we mention page speed. The most important thing is not about beating the competitors by a few milliseconds.

It’s more about making sure that the page is fast enough and is not having a negative impact on the user’s experience.   According to research conducted by Pingdom, 38% of the users will leave the page if it takes more than 5 seconds to load

MyBookie really puts some effort into giving an enjoyable experience to the user.

Web Page Load Speed vs Bounce Rate

Credits: Pingdom.com

HTTPS

HTTPS improves security for visitors by encrypting data between browsers and servers. Unencrypted pages now show a “Not secure” warning in Chrome when you visit them.

In 2014, Google announced HTTPS as a ranking factor. Since then, Google has upped its commitment to HTTPS, and now shows a “Not secure” warning in Chrome when you visit an unencrypted page.

Uncrypted page mybookie.ag

That’s a quick and easy win step, which almost all the websites nowadays are using.  These 5 pages we are analyzing all pass this test.

Mobile Version

About two-thirds of searches in 2020 are taken on mobile and there is no surprise that Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor for mobile searches in 2015.

Later, in July 2019, when Google moved to mobile-first indexing, they made it a ranking factor for desktop searches too.

That is why the mobile version is a must-have thing for every site.

Each page competing by keyword “betting online” has a mobile-friendly version. Our best-rated page would be MyBookie once again. It has the best functionalities and user interface.

MyBookie Mobile Layout

Off-site SEO

Off-Site SEO statistics

  • Majestic shows that BetOnline has the biggest amount of referring domains, but it is only ranking in the third position
  • MyBookie has the lowest Trust Flow but ranks in 1stposition
  • MyBookie has a big gap comparing its own Citation Flow and Trust Flow metrics, it shows that backlink quality is worse compared to other pages.

Based on metrics alone it’s hard to figure out why MyBookie outranks BetOnline and FanDuel.

It has fewer backlinks, fewer referring domains, lower TF or CF scores. The first result shouldn’t outrank others. It’s weaker in every traditional SEO sense.

Nonetheless, the reason behind this is that it has more backlinks from similar niches. Backlinks not only increase page authority but also help Google understand what they’re about.

Conclusion

After analyzing these 5 brands, we can conclude that MyBookie has put the effort to outrank its competitors in the organic search of SERPs.

MyBookie has about 4 times fewer referring domains compared to the BetOnline and worse Citation Flow and Trust Flow ratio. Still, the page is very well optimized for search engines compared to the competitors. It has tons of content, great keyword usage, and optimized page speed.

It looks like only MyBookie has really done a good job concerning their On-site SEO. Other competitors just did the basics – created good meta titles and meta descriptions.

There are around 200+ ranking factors and we just named a few of the most important ones. The most essential steps are the following:

  • Give searchers what they are looking for, visitors should enjoy being on the site.
  • Regularly updated content when it’s needed.
  • Get high authority backlinks from your niche.
  • The site should look authentic, be fast, and secure.
  • Build expertise in one topic, not everything.

And yes, this advice is not new. However, the main key is to have the knowledge to implement all these things and keep constantly making the necessary updates.

*After we made this analysis, BetOnline released the beta version of their new page https://beta.betonline.ag/ and redirects to it from the old page. It has a new design, there are some content differences, but meta tags are the same as before and it is still doesn’t have any table with events. They’re still staying in 3rd position by “betting online” keyword in US Google SERP.