Some niches on the internet are more competitive than others. This often has to do with there being more money in a particular niche, but it can also be due to one business simply attracting more attention than another equally lucrative (and due to less competition perhaps more profitable) business.
One very competitive niche is the gambling, poker and casino niche but despite this many sites ignore the competitive edge a well done CSS based design can have. A clever custom design can affect not only how well a visitor likes the site and how he or she behaves on it, but also have a very positive effect on SEO (search engine optimization).
In less competitive fields you might get by with just any old error-ridden HTML design, but in high competition fields you should try to get any advantage possible and it is therefore very strange and sad to see how few sites in the gambling field that actually use a well-done user-friendly design. All SEO focus seems to have been placed on building links, ignoring any and all other aspects of SEO – including design. This is however good news for you as this will give you a competitive edge if you decide to enter this competitive but also potentially highly rewarding market.
So, what are the things that you need to consider if you decide to do your own SEO and user-friendly casino layout to give you that well needed competitive edge? Personally, I recommend that you focus on three factors – ad placement, SEO and usability – as these tend to be the most important part of a gambling theme.
The goal of most gambling sites is to make money by displaying ads and referring new players to online casinos, sports books, poker sites, etc. The placement of the ads should, therefore, be considered at an early stage of the development of the theme. You want to place the ads in a prominent place where they blend with the content while still remaining very visible. You want to avoid that the site feels to ad laden while at the same time maximizing the ads. This is done by making sure that the ads feel like content as well (without breaking any rules). You should also remember that other things than pure ads can be effective marketing tools to earn you money and therefore should be given a prominent place. Such marketing tools include lists of current tournaments, freerolls, bonus offers and other campaigns from different casino sites.
There are a lot of things that can be done with CSS to improve SEO and if you want to know more about that you can read our CSS & SEO post. There are however two things that you should consider ahead of all others when using CSS to improve the SEO of your gambling related site. The first is to use CSS to minimize the size of your code. Google promotes fast loading sites and a smaller document with less code will also give you a better code to content ratio, thereby increasing your relevance for a keyword and help you climb the SERP. The second thing to consider is to always place content in the HTML document in order of importance and then use CSS to position it as you would like to have it displayed on the website. The gambling content (i.e. the actual article) should always be placed first in the body of the HTML document to give it more prominence in Google while ads should be placed last in the document as they are not something you want to rank for.
Usability is to a part a counterweight to ad placement and involves ensuring a good user experience, e.g. by making the site easy to navigate and browse. It should be easy for a visitor to find what they are looking for among the content and ads. A good way to achieve this is to stay with what the users are accustomed to and avoid overly “clever” solutions. Users are accustomed to finding the navigation menu to the left or right and it is therefore normally best to place it there. You can make the best system in the world, but if people are not used to it is likely to seem confusing and that’s why it’s normally best to stick with the classics. Make sure that all your content is placed no more than 3 levels from the first page of the site. Avoid making the site too image heavy and complicated as simplicity often gives better usability. Just look at Google – extremely easy design, extremely user-friendly.
If you consider these three factors when you start designing your new layout you will likely end up with a good theme. It might need some edits along the way, but the changes will be smaller and the result better than it would be if you had ignored these factors when first getting started.