As anyone who has seen the numerous adverts that pepper the breaks on TV football coverage can attest, football betting is a key market for bookmakers, both online and in the high street. The importance of that market also make it a place of intense competition. A set comprising only 379 keywords related to football betting accounts for nearly 94,000 searches on UK Google every month. The two searches “Premier League odds” and “football betting” tally up to some 18,000 of these alone.
SkyBet retains the highest visibility of the four big players in this market, but the strong competition sees Paddy Power, OddsChecker (an affiliate site) and William Hill all vying for top spot. SkyBet’s reign at the top is bolstered by position one rankings for 122 of the 379 keywords, while they’re in the top three for 263 of them.
There’s then a significant gap back to another group of bookmakers including Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfair, Betbright, Bet Victor and Betting Directory – another affiliate. While their positions tell us that they have some keyword coverage, they’re struggling to compete with the four leaders when it comes to those commonly searched terms.
Focusing more tightly on Euro 2016, the same four sites lead the way, albeit with William Hill edging ahead of Skybet while Oddschecker drops closer to the chasing pack.
As major sporting tournaments are wont to do, Euro 2016 has contributed to a large spike in search volume for betting-related keywords. In May alone there were almost 152,000 searches, and summer-wide saw a 60% rise overall. Highlighting the opening for bookmakers here are the 40,500 searches for “euro 2016 odds” in May, showing an active market of searchers.
It’s worthwhile teasing out the reasons behind why the bookmakers who make up the top four in the generic football market are also able to make it to the semi-finals of Euro 2016. Brand power is certainly a factor, but also consider that the companies who are doing things right in terms of technicals, on-site content and SEO year-round are in a great position to profit during major events. But there’s something else they all have in common – dedicated landing pages.
As we’ve seen from the statistics and tables above, the search market for football betting is event-driven. Yes, generic searches remain important, but customers are also searching for specific matches and tournaments, which provide a solid conversion rate.
Well-known betting names that aren’t firing on all cylinders in the above analysis include Stan James, Betfred and 888 Sport. They’re toiling in mid-table obscurity because they don’t host football betting pages that are optimised for search. Instead of static pages that search engines can index, they’ve adopted a filter system leading to over-complicated URLs that search engines can’t get their heads around. The signals are muddied.
The problem is historic. These bookmakers haven’t built sites best suited to optimise this kind of search traffic, but instead are saddled with site architecture and content management systems that were developed to handle betting and not SEO. Some of these CMS systems don’t have the kind of adaptability that will let them react to changes in search patterns, such as large sporting events.
Bet Victor, which features in the top 10 of the overall football betting market, drops out for the Euro 2016 market, its place taken by Bwin. It has put in place a landing page dedicated to the Euro 2016 championship, but has sacrificed search visibility by not optimising that page.
OddsChecker also take a tumble down the rankings. The Euro 2016 content seems to be in place, so it appears that they haven’t got their technical implementation in order. It’s key to get content, technical fixes and those dedicated landing pages working together to your best advantage for organic search, and that’s something that William Hill, Paddy Power and SkyBet are clearly doing.