Interlinkamania is Running Wild Brother
What Are You Going to Do When Google Comes for You?
Written: February 15, 2022, Jesse Eddleman (potentialeight)
Quality Interlinking is Super Important
I keep seeing a common pattern over and over: People in the online casino marketing realm don’t seem to understand how critical high-quality interlinking is to search engine algorithms at this stage of the game.
Gone are the days that automatically generated “related posts” and “related pages” are sufficient. Google drastically undervalues those links, and they also undervalue in-paragraph links that aren’t as contextually related as they could be.
The devaluing of this type of interlinking is one reason why so many big name sites have gotten smashed by Google algorithm updates over the past seven years. However, it’s something that’s definitely worth fixing if it’s happened to your own sites, and it’s absolutely worth putting extra money into when building out new pages.
- Chapter 1: Micro and Macro Context – Connecting at the deepest levels.
- Chapter 2: The Fight for Relevancy Supremacy – Building the ultimate foundation.
- Chapter 3: Grand Strategy in the Long Term – Setting up systems to win big when algorithm changes happen.
Chapter 1: Micro and Macro Context
Google Is Out for Heads Right Now
In February 2011, the first round of the Panda update(s) came out from Google. For some of the giants of the online gambling industry, this was absolutely devastating. A lot of people had tons of pages dropped completely out of the top 100 that had dominated their target terms for years.
Since then, Google has been coming out with core algorithm updates pretty regularly (like Penguin specifically and its follow-up updates) that continue the slaughter that Panda began. Every single time you see people complaining about the effects of new algorithm updates, this is one of the sources of their woes.
But let’s be clear about something: It’s not necessarily their fault that they’re getting smashed. We’re not here to shame them, point and laugh or dish out any type of haterade whatsoever. We’re here to look at what has happened, what’s going to happen in the future and what can be done about it.
A good model for understanding how to roll with new Google algorithm changes instead of getting the taste slapped out of your mouth is the relationship between macro- and micro-level context and how that relates to interlinking properly in the new relevancy-based environment.
Going From Macro to Micro
The macro level is what your site is about at the highest level. For virtually everyone reading this, it will be some component of online gambling.
From there, you can “zoom in” a bit to go just slightly smaller. Is it online casino games, sports betting, bingo or what?
Let’s suppose it’s casino games. Now “zoom in” once again. You could have your site be specifically about online slots.
“Zoom in” one more time. Now we could be talking about samurai-themed slots specifically.
When you continue this process over and over, you start to get a bit of a tree that breaks up the different portions of your site. Back in the day, some people would use this to break things up into entirely different websites that they would then link together. While I recommend against that today, it’s a good model for the different sections of your website that you can have.
Connecting at the Deepest Levels
Google places a value on each and every thing that you do on your site. Each section, each page, each paragraph, each sentence and each word has values assigned to it that they then use to make a variety of different calculations. The end result of these calculations are then compared to others competing in the same SERPs. That’s why connecting things at the deepest level is so important, and it’s the part of interlinking and general online gambling SEO that so many are missing today.
For an example, let’s consider the progression that we just offered up above when we repeatedly “zoomed in” on our example site.
This breaks things down from online gambling all the way to individual samurai-themed slots as an example. However, that’s not the end of the story by a long shot. Google breaks that down even further based on the individual paragraphs of those slot reviews. From there, they break those paragraphs into sentences. Google can use tf*IDF (great post about that here in the context of keyword research) to do this on a level that’s absolutely ridiculous now, and it’s only going to get more nuanced.
And here’s why it matters: For the two decades before Panda (and later Penguin), Internet marketers primarily cared about where their links were pointing. Now they have to think about the pages those links are coming from. Not only that, but they have to think about the paragraphs and sentences where those links are coming from.
Chapter 2: The Fight for Relevancy Supremacy
Google Isn't Just Taking Heads: They're Taking Foundations
Pretty much everyone reading this will be familiar with the analogy of a castle being built on sand. It doesn’t matter how strong the castle is; if the foundation gives way, then it’s all going to come falling down.
What’s worse is that the bigger the castle, the more likely the sand is to collapse under the weight of it. The more you build, the more pressure gets put on your foundation until you get to the point that you will be tested.
That test could come in the form of a new algorithm update. It could also come in the form of a manual review. But you have to know, understand and accept that one day, sooner or later, you’re going to meet your match. The goal is to meet it head-on and be ready for it with a super strong foundation.
Quality Beats Quantity: Post-Panda SEO
If we go back to our samurai slots example, we can see that the foundation isn’t just those slot reviews themselves. It’s the individual paragraphs and sentences that make up those reviews. As such, consider a few possibilities for interlinking:
Example 1: We link from samurai slot A to fruit machine slot C. The paragraph is about free spins, and fruit machine slot C doesn’t have a free spins feature.
Example 2: We link from samurai slot A to samurai slot B with an automatically generated list of “related slots” at the bottom of the post.
Example 3: We link from samurai slot A to samurai slot B. The paragraph is about wild multipliers, and samurai slot B has them.
So consider the value of each in the eyes of Google.
While Example 1 isn’t great, at least they’re both slots. It’s a good example of the type of semi-random interlinking you can get content mills and other cheap writers to do for you (sometimes).
Example 2 is better, but the context isn’t as zeroed-in. They’re more related than Example 1, but the list at the end doesn’t provide nearly as much micro-level context. Moreover, Google already actively seeks out these types of links and devalues them just like they do site-wide links from sidebars, headers and footers.
Example 3 is clearly the best. It has the best relevancy, and it provides the best context. This is the type of interlinking that will give your site a rock-solid foundation that will help your rankings improve with Google algorithm updates instead of you having to watch your sites get demolished.
I realize that this comes across as a bit preachy. That’s fine. It’s your business, and you can handle it however you want to handle it. I just want you to know the layout of the land, what’s happening with these updates and what you can do about it. The rest is your choice.
Other Considerations for Interlinking Relevancy
Something interesting we’ve started to see over the past few years since Penguin is that interlinking from a page can actually increase its rankings. That flies directly in the face of the common meta when it comes to the value of linking out. Most people today think that you can only increase a page’s rankings by linking to it and not from it.
But again, you can only get these boosts in proportion to how relevant your links are from a micro-level perspective. If it’s in the right paragraph and sentence, it’s worth a lot more to your immediate rankings than if it’s not. At the time of this writing, I actually have a case study in the works that looks at boosting rankings by doing nothing but adding new links from a page. I expect it to be published and available inside of the next month or two.
Chapter 3: Grand Strategy in the Long Term
Building Systems to Win
You basically have two choices if you want to incorporate these types of strategies in new content. On the one hand, you can hire some variety of content manager or similar role to oversee writers and handle all of the interlinking (along with other duties). On the other hand, you can have your writers do it, but you need to have someone you can trust to make that work (I offer this as an add-on for my own writing, and it’s free for my main clients – see pricing).
Either strategy can work, and it really just depends on scale and how you want to set things up.
But understand this: Interlinking isn’t the “it doesn’t really matter” kind of thing that it has been portrayed as in the past. It’s a key part of the foundation of your content (along with keyword research and proper depth and breadth combinations). Without a strong foundation, it doesn’t matter how much content you build because the nature of the game has changed. Your content will not scale like it can without this.
The more you build on a weak foundation, the more it cracks until it finally gives way and crumbles. This is why interlinking strategy has to be a core part of your overall content plan to win in the long run. It used to be something that sounded good on paper but was easily written off as long as you made up for it in volume.
But that’s no longer the case, and we’re seeing the results of it every single time that Google releases a new algorithm update. Now it’s all about quality over quantity on even the smallest details.
A Fundamental Change in Perspective
Right now, the viewpoint of the vast majority of people in the online gambling SEO world is that they dread the next Google update. That’s the prevailing perspective, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With that said, it does betray a complete and total lack of faith in the quality of your product and of your systems for building and maintaining your business. You’re essentially afraid of Google finding out about all of the corners you cut in building your sites.
Instead, you can switch perspectives to the point that you look forward to the next update and hope it comes faster. You achieve this perspective by realizing that quality is the only thing that Google really wants, so if you invest in that with smart systems instead of cutting corners and taking shortcuts, then you’ll be taking the first steps towards having that mindset.