If you search for US facing sportsbook BetOnline on Google, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Sure, you’ll find plenty of references to the oft troubled sportsbook but none of those links will point you directly to the operator’s BetOnline.ag website.
It seems that Google penalized BetOnline for one reason or another so we reached out to BetOnline to try to find out more about the situation. BetOnline’s marketing director issued this statement: “BetOnline outsources portions of its marketing effort, including portions of search engine optimization, to various marketing vendors. One of the marketing vendors, and more specifically one employee at one of the marketing vendors, appears to have been ‘playing the edges’ of the rules at Google. Google has placed a search engine ‘penalty’ not only on BetOnline but all sites for which the marketing vendor performs search engine optimization. BetOnline is in direct contact with Google, and is currently going through the process of resolving the issue.”
Their response didn’t answer any questions so we reached out to CalvinAyre.com contributor Nick Garner of 90Digital.com to see if he could offer some suggestions as to what caused the penalty. “It looks like a classic case of not being careful with their link building and having too many site wide links. Things like this trigger filters and that draws the attention of the Google Police,” Garner said.
It seems that in the past week or so, Google discovered BetOnline trying to game the system by buying inbound links in an effort to boost their own search engine results.
Link buying, while frowned upon by Google is still a common practice in the gambling industry where landing on the front page for highly searched keywords can make or break a sports season.
What companies will do is pay a marketing company to solicit high ranking websites to add a static link to a particular page on the online gambling company’s website. For example if the Sportsbook was trying to rank high for March Madness Betting, they would have these highly ranked sites embed a link somewhere on their site for March Madness Betting and the link it back to the gambling operators website, depending on the page rank of site, individual links can cost between $80 and $500.
With so many high quality inbound links from reputable websites, it’s proven to boost the rank of the gambling operators website.
Of course, Google doesn’t appreciate it when you game the system, they can’t catch all of it but if you get greedy in your link buying strategy, the Google Gods will spank you down and that’s what appears to have happened to BetOnline.
According to Garner, BetOnline will have to “clean their link set and file a reconsideration request with Google to be allowed back in the search results.” Meaning they’ll need all of those links to be removed, likely even some clean ones, then ask for a reconsideration and then slowly add back those purchased links to boost their Google ranking.
It’s going to be a long road back but owning your company’s search results is imperative to maintaining a healthy bottom line. As of this moment when a new bettor wants to search for March Madness Betting at BetOnline, they’ll find a BetOnline Affiliate site who will happily direct them to the sportsbook but it will probably cost BetOnline 25% of all their future revenues earned from those players being directed.