Anyone that knows me will know that I do a bit of work in the online gambling niche. I have a couple of gambling affiliate sites and it is actually how I got into Internet marketing to start off with. In the past 18 months or so most small to medium sized gambling affiliates that rely on search traffic will tell you it has been an absolute minefield, and for sure most have seen sudden drops or surges in traffic. A lot of sites that used to consistently rank in the top 3 positions for particular search terms don’t even show up any-more. All of this while some of the big boys seem to have been cemented into top spots. This is mainly down to Google’s cute and fluffy Panda and Penguin armed to the teeth and wielding algorithmic machetes with their eyes set on annihilating any site that has been manipulating search results. So, to any of us negatively affected it’s all too easy to get upset and think that Google hates us and gambling period. Putting feelings to one side though I don’t think that Google hates us but instead we really need to look at our niche, how we do things and see how we fit in to Google’s ideals and goals.
First, Google has openly been stating time and time again that they want us to focus on producing great content, use rich snippets and do on-page optimisation period. The bottom line is that the higher the quality of the content and its presentation, the higher they want it to rank for the most relevant
keywords topics. This is plain and simple and we can all agree that this will create a better web but short of having a qualified human read and rate every single web page in existence it has to be done with an algorithm. I have to say that Google have made leaps and bounds towards making their algo better at identifying what’s great and what’s spam but lets face it, they’re still not there yet.
So in an ideal web Google would like us to produce engaging content, optimise our site structure and mark-up and wait for others to read our content, +1 it, like it and link to it so they can work out how great our content actually is. They now have a set of factors to determine how great our content is, OK this is not rocket science and you’re probably thinking tell me something I dont know but bear with me. This is where Google’s ideal breaks down in the gambling niche, and in-fact the p*rn niche too.
The thing is, while I might want to tell the world how I managed to set up a complex WiFi network using the tutorial on my mate Dave’s blog by liking it, linking to it etc I probably wouldn’t do the same if I had found a casino site that tells me which online casinos offer the best odds on the roulette table. This is simply because very very few people want to tell the world that they are gamblers; most do it on the quiet. Even if some people are open with their friends about their gambling they probably don’t want their boss or work colleagues to know about it. No one wants to tell the world they lost £500 playing slots online and even if someone wins £1,000 they are not too keen on letting people know they have a vice, which could raise questions. The same goes for p*rn but its much worse, people hide it more and its downright embarrassing but essentially for this reason gambling and p*rn fall into the same category – no one wants to tell the world about their favourite gambling or p*rn sites… that’ll be a Facebook like and a Google +1 for P*rnhub… and while I’m at it I will put on LinkedIn I love playing at casinos and gambling on the horses… yeah right!
So, for the gambling affiliate this means that no matter how great a gambling site you produce its probably not going to get many natural backlinks in the way Google likes and we are more or less forced into building unnatural links that look as natural as possible… and that is what Google hates, not the gambling niche itself. If they did hate the gambling niche or the p*rn niche for that matter they would just de-index our sites, but they don’t. They are tolerant of these sites, you can rank well (someone has to rank well for particular topics) but how we are forced to go about it do not fit into their ideals of how we should rank our sites. And dont expect Google to make any special adjustments for our niche any time soon.