We all know what it’s like: you’ve started a new website – or a new business altogether – and you’re trying to start ranking on Google with a tiny or nonexistent budget. Every tool that promises to get you ranking on Google comes with a hefty price tag that just doesn’t make financial sense right now, and you certainly don’t have the budget to hire an SEO agency (no matter how great we might be).
Luckily, our Content Manager, Lisa (that’s me, hi! 👋) is here to share some tips about how she got the ball rolling on her side project’s SEO (gambling and casino website Lemons & Sevens) by focusing on an entirely free, content-only optimisation strategy.
For anyone who doesn’t know Lisa, she’s into all things gambling – but her heart lies with poker. (She actually married her husband at a roadside chapel in Vegas in between poker tournaments, but that’s a story for a different day.) Lemons & Sevens is where she hosts casino reviews and gambling guides for people who share her passion.
Note: I haven’t spent a dime on my SEO strategy, but I have had to invest a lot of time and research into this project which definitely would have been made easier and gone much faster if I had a small budget to dedicate to the cause. If you have any budget (say £50 per month) I would recommend channelling that money into link building, guest posts and directory listings in order to give your website an effective extra push.
Beginning a website
I went into the Lemons & Sevens project knowing that I was unlikely to dedicate any budget to the website for some time. With that in mind, I made sure that the chosen brand name for the website was something unique, memorable, and uncontested in terms of Google rankings. Thus, Lemons & Sevens was born.
It’s a good idea to think about how competitive your brand name is no matter what approach you’re taking to SEO, but it’s especially important if you’re going for an unpaid organic SEO strategy. For example, I know that my website would be unlikely to rank if the brand name was ‘Gambling Guides’, as that is already a keyword in its own right that has highly competitive websites vying for those top positions. (Not to mention that the initials would be GG – and GGPoker is a big brand player on the poker scene.)
Lemons & Sevens is a good choice because it’s easy to communicate, it’s easy to remember, it corresponds to gambling without being generic, and it also led to the creation of this super fun neon logo:
Simply put, you should choose a unique and memorable name for your website or brand, so you can be sure that at the very least, you’ll be able to rank for your own name.
Making the website
The Lemons & Sevens website was created on SquareSpace, which saved me a lot of time and effort when it came to designing the pages and optimising the content. You’re not given complete control over the nitty-gritty back-end details of your website, but it’s enough control to get you ranking on Google, and if you’re a tech novice there won’t be any downtime while you get to grips with the software.
Researching and publishing content
Once the website had been designed and hosted on SquareSpace (which honestly took about 4 hours to complete from start to finish – told you it was fast), it was time to start researching and planning the content.
My first keywords
I knew I wanted to rank for casino brand and location keywords, as I would be writing reviews about casinos in London, the UK, and eventually across Europe. So I targeted the casinos I was already an expert on for having visited them so frequently. It certainly helped that I knew a lot of the staff at the casinos, who could help me get extra information that didn’t exist on the internet already.
My very first piece of content was this review of the Aspers Casino in Milton Keynes. (It’s my favourite casino, and also the one where I played my very first poker tournament.) This piece was written on 20th March 2020, and started ranking for its first keyword on 13th May 2020 – with no backlinks or other financed help. Today (June 2020) it’s ranking for 10 keywords:
This leads to my second tip – your first pieces of content should be those on which you are the most knowledgeable, so you can set yourself out as an authority on those topics. Google and other search engines will always opt to give their users the most trustworthy and authoritative content on any search query.
Opting to write your first pieces of content on the topics on which you are the most knowledgeable is the easiest way to give you those quick wins you’re looking for in your SEO strategy and helps to get Google to start taking notice. (Plus, it’s just nice to write about something close to your heart before you start doing the really hard work.)
Finding more keywords
Once I had written or planned content on each of my “expert” topics, I began doing some more in-depth keyword research. I wanted to find new topics and casinos to write about, but wanted to use my time as effectively as possible. For that, I used keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs to find out which casino and gambling keywords were the least competitive and had the highest search volume.
I was in luck, as I found a keyword with a whopping search volume of 72,000 searches per month, and a keyword difficulty of 1 (out of 100). That keyword? Sky Poker.
This keyword find taught me that people weren’t just looking for information about brick-and-mortar casinos, but also for information about online casinos. So I decided to write a review of Sky Poker, and claim some of that huge search traffic for myself!
Just one week after posting this review, the Lemons & Sevens site began to rank for 7 keywords related to sky poker, spread across the UK, Italy and the USA.
This easy win is a good example of how you should use keywords to inform what your content is about. Many people think of an idea and then research keywords to fit around that idea. However, without this keyword research I never would have discovered that my audience was looking for online casino reviews, and would have missed out on a tonne of relevant traffic.
So, how long does it take to rank on Google?
From publishing my first content in late March, within 3 months I was ranking for over 50 keywords, with two ranking on page 1 of the search results. To get this result, I have followed a very lax content strategy, posting once every two weeks. With more time dedicated to the website, I could post every week, which would quickly push that number into triple digits. There’s still a long way to go, but I hope I’ve shown you how you can get started with your website’s SEO strategy without any budget.
(If you’d like to go a bit deeper, check out our post for Digital Marketing Practices you can work on right now that covers everything from social media to website user experience.)
The reason the Lemons & Sevens website began to rank for these keywords is down to four simple pillars of good SEO:
- Content that provides more value to users than that which already exists
- In-depth keyword research to exploit your niche
- Well-written and structured copy
- Properly formatted meta titles and descriptions
Obviously, given more time and money, I would have more success with my website by building a strong backlink profile, building citations across the internet, and paid-for optimisation tools, but the fact that we can make websites rank on Google without any of those things shows that there’s no excuse for a poorly-performing website if you have the right skills at your disposal.
Of course, if you’d rather hire an SEO agency who have all the skills you need – you can always get in touch with us here at Bubbli.