SEO literally means search engine optimization — optimizing, or perfecting, your website’s performance in the search engines. The goal is to get your site as close to the #1 spot in search results as possible.

SEO can be tackled on a number of different levels. There are basics you need to know to get your website up and running. But after you’ve learned those basics, you’ll want to continuously upgrade your SEO to achieve even better marketing results.

Today, we’ll tackle what SEO is from a beginner’s perspective.

Does SEO always mean Google?

When people talk about search engine optimization, they’re generally referring to Google, since that site has two-thirds of the U.S. market share. Here are the most recent figures, taken from comScore’s May 2011 report.):

1. Google (65.5%*)
2. Yahoo (15.9%*)
3. Bing (14.1%*)
4. Ask Network (2.9%*)

So, how do you get to that top spot on Google, or the other search engines? That’s the million-dollar question. In the past decade, an entire industry of SEO “experts” has sprung up. All of these SEO experts claim to offer expertise on getting websites the fast track to number one.

But that’s easier said than done. For a number of reasons, SEO has gotten pretty hard to pull off in recent years. Why?

1. Because search engines constantly change their algorithms.
2. Because the exact nature of those algorithms are not exactly known in the first place.
3. Because competition has grown enormously, with many more affiliates and webmasters trying to make money online. (And they’re all competing for that top search engine spot.)

All the same, there are basics to SEO that are consistent. Engineering your casino affiliate site to rank high in the search engines depends on these crucial factors:

1. Creating a system of backlinks throughout the internet. The means of doing this have changed a lot in recent years — shifting from directories and article marketing to blogging and social networking via Facebook and Twitter.

But the eventual goal is the same: To get as many high-quality links to your site on as many other sites as possible. The better PageRank those sites have, the more beneficial that backlink will be in boosting your site’s SEO power.

Casino affiliate angle: A positive side to all the online marketing competition we see these days is that there’s a much larger community of online gamblers and affiliates, providing many more opportunities to get the backlinks you need for SEO.

Here are a few ideal places to start networking in search of links: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Casino Affiliate Programs forum. Also consider Poker Affiliate Listings, Affiliate Guard Dog, the Two Plus Two Poker Forum, and any other online gaming sites related to your niche.

2. Creating unique, fresh, and regularly updated site content. This means your site is constantly refreshed. This is one of our favorite topics at, as it is for many other online marketing websites.

But it’s also the most frustrating factor for many affiliates. If writing isn’t your strong suit, how can you possibly be expected to crank out the kind of awesome content that people (and search engines) love?

Casino affiliate angle: Using the same resources listed above, network and find writers experienced at creating content and enlist them to help write articles or blog posts to your sites.

Or do it yourself, with practice, practice, practice. Update your blog regularly and work on finding topics people are interested in. (Use the Google keyword tool to figure that out.) If you plug away at it often enough, and your interest is genuine, people are likely to read it. And your writing should improve as you progress, too.

3. Making sure your site is free from technical errors like broken links, and that it loads as quickly as possible. If you handle all your site’s design and content management yourself, do quality checks as often as possible — every day if you can. Make sure everything’s working as it should be, and that there are no dead ends to frustrate visitors (and search engine bots).

Your hosting provider could come into play here. If you’re with a low-tier hosting provider that doesn’t operate nationally, you may experience more downtime than with a larger operator with national and international presence. And those larger operators usually cost less, too.

What else?

What other SEO basics can you recommend to fellow affiliates? Have you found any tricks of the trade or shortcuts to reaching that top spot on Google (or elsewhere)? Sound off and let the CAP community know!

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