The client

The client is an online casino platform who came to The Content Works in June 2016 hoping to compare their website against a rival’s.

Their issue

Despite using the same online platform and back end as their competitor’s website, our client was generating less revenue than their competitor. They therefore wanted a site audit and in-depth comparison of the two websites to allow them to identify areas in which they were being outperformed that they could optimise.

Their missed opportunity

Carrying out an extensive audit, our team at The Content Works were able to establish 7 key reasons why our client wasn’t ranking as highly as their competitor.

HTTPS - The first thing we noticed was that the competitor was using the secure https protocol, whereas our client was using the normal http. The https secure protocol is more trusted by search engines because code is scrambled, meaning greater protection from security breaches. This is especially advisable to an online casino given that they handle transactions and bank information.

Backlinks - Whilst our client had just 4 backlinks from 2 separate domains, their rival had 1088 backlinks from 113 domains. Of these links, over 60% were dofollow links, meaning they were high value, trusted links. What’s more, the number of separate domains involved implied that the links were natural and not managed by the competitor.

Casino website case study
The pie charts show the total pages on each site and ultimately the potential crawl efficiency

URLs - Although our client had approximately 6x the number of URLs that the competitor had, almost all of the competitor’s URLs were unique. In comparison, our client had minimal unique content due to their use of a single template for nearly all of their pages. These pages had almost no content on them besides a link to the respective game.

Images - Another issue with our client’s site was that most of their images linked to the image itself. This is not good for SEO as it adds unnecessary URLs that dilute the crawl budget of the website and compete with the site’s ranking pages. Image links also offer no options to the user other than to bounce back to the main site, increasing the site’s bounce rate and thus lowering a search engine’s opinion of it.

Paginated pages - Our evaluation also found that there were a large number of paginated pages in our client’s site. Though generally used for web pages that are part of the same overall series, our client was using them to link every game to the other. Whilst this could be useful to the user, it was only available in the page code, and there were no front-end links to the relevant pages, resulting in a large number of unlinked paginated pages.

Casino case study content issues
The opportunity to improve crawl budget

Canonicalised pages - In addition to paginated pages, our client also had a number of canonicalised pages. This means that instead of being indexed themselves, they tell search engines to count them as another page. Whilst this can sometimes be useful, in this case the page being canonicalised to was a blank template with zero content. This would never rank well in search engines.

Site map - The final thing we noticed was the lack of a site map, making navigation more difficult for users and also for search bots.

The solution

Having determined the site’s major issues, we then made a number of straightforward yet effective improvements for our client to implement onsite.

Our first recommendation to the client was to begin using the more secure https protocol for their website to encourage trust. Secondly, we recommended that they begin an affiliate driven backlink campaign in order to gain some much needed backlinks to boost their credibility.

The next area in need of some renovation was the site’s actual content. We advised our client to remove unnecessary image links and add content to their pages to ensure they were both useful and unique. Equally, it was important that our client either remove paginated pages or make them useful by using them to make links available to the user rather than just search engines. Additionally, we recommended that they remove incorrectly configured page canonicalisation or canonicalise to a ranking page.

Finally, it was vital that our client add an XML sitemap for search engines and a regular sitemap for users to ensure that both search engines and users could better understand the website.

Our comprehensive audit of the site revealed a number of simple and actionable changes that the client could make in order to put them in better stead to take on their competitor.