The online casino market in the UK remains one of the most fiercely fought and turbulent search engine marketplaces anywhere on earth. Previous updates to the Google algorithm – such as Penguin and Panda –have enormously impacted some well-known brands in recent times, and the market continues to look crowded, with brands and their affiliates battling for search prominence against each other.
In January, we scrutinised this highly competitive area, and tested it again in August of 2016 to discern if there were any significant changes even in that short time frame.
Paddy Power lead the way
At the start of 2016, Paddy Power was out on its own. Betfair lagged quite a way behind, with Paddy Power claiming 60% more visibility than them. The cluster of brands with Betfair is testament to the competition across a small keyword range.
Paddy Power has this impressive domination even though they don’t rank at number one for any of the five most vital keywords for driving traffic in this sector. They got where they are by, instead, getting visibility for nearly half of the top ten ranked keywords.
By way of contrast, Ladbrokes Casino attributes much of its success to the market’s most important term – “online casino” – for which they rank number one and which delivers 70.5% of their non-brand organic search visibility. Other top ten brands also lean heavily on strength in a handful of high volume keywords at the expense of coverage across the spectrum.
The big losers
Moving on to August 2016, we can discern a very different picture. Yes, Paddy Power retains the top slot, but their supremacy is looking a little shakier due to some successful new arrivals. NetBet.co.k and MrSmithCasino.co.uk have both entered the top ten while, even more impressively, Slotboss.co.uk and 21.co.uk have really made a splash.
Where there are winners, there must be losers, and the success of these new brands has impacted on bgo.com, 32red and Ladbrokes, all of whom have plummeted out of the top ten.
Ladbrokes have been stymied by their aforementioned reliance on “online casino”. As their visibility for this single term has dropped, they’ve freefallen to 28th position overall, showing the weaknesses of a ‘eggs in one basket’ approach to keywords.
The building of brands
The new kids on the block – Slotboss.co.uk, 21.co.uk and the other fresh entries – can attribute some of their success due to brand awareness and the impact that’s had on organic search success. They’ve spent big on TV advertising in that period, increasing their brand equity, which in turn has helped to override potential weaknesses in their more conventional metrics.
Moving our analysis away from sector keywords to brand-specific ones, we can chart a stratospheric rise in the search volume for these new top ten brands. Netbet achieved a 181% increase over the previous 12 months, the best in the market.
Diversity is strength
Having warned about the perils of employing an SEO strategy that plumps for a small amount of high-volume keywords in January, the August picture confirms our analysis. The casino sector is so dog-eat-dog that even established, household-name brands can be deeply impacted by ranking or algorithmic tweaks. Ladbrokes’ approach should be a cautionary tale. Equally, Paddy Power’s decision to rank well for a wide range of words lessens their exposure to such volatility – that’s largely why they’re still at number one.