[CASE STUDY] How To Rank In The Most Competitive Niche In SEO

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-

SEO doesn’t have to be complicated.

And usually its the simplest strategies that are the most effective.

I have worked to improve search rankings & organic traffic for hundreds of clients all around the world with great success.

And honestly…. there’s no secret sauce to what we do!

The SEO process often boils down to-

  1. On Site Audit – A complete technical SEO audit while developing a keyword strategy with short term quick wins & long term core terms
  2. Link Building – Deploying an effective link building campaign carefully from relevant sites

So I wanted to show the results of that process from a client in the Gambling ​niche.

I am going to explain exactly what we did and reveal the link building strategy we used!

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The Proof Is In The Pudding

Before I show you the “How”, I want to show you the “Why”.

We deployed the strategy you are about to learn in ​June 2018 which saw traffic grow from ​506 to ​21,946 visitors per month in a very short period of time-

That makes for a total of​ 76,000+ clicks from Google which converts into cold hard affiliate cash.

The Strategy Behind The Case Study

Now let me be clear – this is one of the most competitive niches in SEO period.

The affiliate payouts are huge and your competing against the most experienced SEO’s on the planet.

The Challenge

When my agency first started working on this site, ​traffic from Google had flatlined.

The problem with working on old sites like this is first of all you need to reverse engineer everything that past SEO companies have done to build a full picture.

That often brings up a host of problems we wouldn’t normally have to deal with if we were working on a newer site but its nothing we haven’t faced before.

Step #1 – The Audit

Knowing we had an uphill challenge the first port of call was to complete a high level technical SEO audit.

Sites of this size and age almost always have a lot of legacy on-site and technical SEO problems due to numerous site redesigns, CMS changes and overall structural changes the site was go through as it grows.

crawl results

This client was no exception, so we began the campaign by addressing the most pressing on-site issues that our comprehensive on-audit diagnosed. These included:

Migrating The Site to HTTPS

The site had mixed protocol issues, with both HTTP and HTTPS pages indexed and internal links across the site pointing at both protocols.

We took this opportunity to migrate the whole site to secure HTTPS, setting up URL rewrite rules in the htaccess to ensure that all pages automatically resolve to HTTPS, no matter what protocol a visitor/bot tries to access it through.

We then made sure that all internal links pointed directly at the HTTPS version, so that a consistent protocol was served to spiders and there were no unnecessary redirects.

Sitemap Optimisation

The site had a number of superfluous sitemaps listing dozens of low quality pages that should not have been indexed in the first place.

We removed these sitemaps and replaced them with one definitive sitemap that solely listed the Google facing pages we wanted indexed.

Rich Snippets and Structured Data

The client had a large number of informational and review pages, however they were failing to take advantage of structured data and rich snippets.

so we marked these up with schema tags so that ratings and other content showed in the SERPs.

This delivered results pretty quickly as they gained new knowledge graph entries for a small number of long tail keywords.

On-Page Optimisation

Alongside technical on-site optimisations, we also did a full audit of important on-page elements such as title tags and headers.

We re-wrote 50+ title tags that were poorly keyword optimised, excessively long or missing.

We re-wrote or created 150+ H1 tags that were missing, poorly optimised or duplicated.

We also managed a content overhaul across 21 core pages to update the content and better optimise it for the target keywords.

Backlink Audit

At the same time we completed a full, manual backlink audit – a long process considering the 300k+ number of backlinks the site had.

As you’d expect from a site that had be actively working on link building for over a decade, there were a lot of risky links from old-fashioned techniques.

This is a common problem that we see but its nothing that can’t be fixed.

Step #2 – The Link Building Strategy

After creating a solid foundation to build on during the link audit, we moved onto link building.

We needed to be extremely strategic in the way that we built links to the site.

Due to the volume of powerful links going to the homepage and core internal pages, we knew that the number of links we were building would not make a big proportionate difference to the overall domain authority and link profile.

Instead, we spent a good amount of time studying the existing visibility and rankings of the site in order to identify very high volume keywords that the site had not yet achieved good visibility for.

So we concentrated all of our resources on a smaller number of internal pages, pushing them into first page positions which dramatically boosted traffic to the site.

Building The Most Powerful Type Of Backlink

Our link building strategy was simple-

“Build backlinks from authoritative website surrounded by relevant high quality content”

Now that might sound difficult but remember, SEO doesn’t have to be complicated.

And the easiest way to build these types of links is with LinksThatRank.com

The Secret Sauce

Now I want to be clear with you.

My agency works in the most competitive niches in SEO – gambling, finance, loans, health to name a few and we have had great success after great success.

Because of that we know what it takes to rank in these niches and I wanted to share a little bit of insider knowledge with you.

You see normally if you wanted to rank in the Car Niche, you would get links from related sites and that is what we would normally do.

But in the gambling niche we took a different approach.

Instead of sourcing links from relevant domains, we source links from irrelevant domains but surrounded by relevant content.

So the site might be about cars, but now it has a page about gambling and links to us.


We are seeing much better results getting links from outside of the betting niche deliver much better results than gambling specific links.


We suspect that is due to the inherent lack of trust from Google in this sector which is seen across all domains in this niche.

Essentially the trust is so low, that relevance becomes irrelevant and you can power through purely focused on authority links.

Want to read more gambling case studies? Check out my gambling seo case study & my casino seo case study.

Taking Your SEO To The Next Level

If you want to take your SEO to the next level you really only have 2 options.

The first is to let my team do all the hard work for you like the client featured in this post – who knows, you might become our next success story!

Either way, the sooner you decide to take full control of your search rankings – the better!

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What Are Your Thoughts?

148 Responses

  1. the game changer in gambling battlefield was awsome… I love your strategy toward gambling niche and the way you choose to build backlink(trust) to them… I learn a lot. thanks Matthew

  2. I’m from Brazil and I follow your work and I think it’s excellent. I am having many advantages in applying your theories. Thank you master!

  3. Hi,I’ve been doing SEO for a while and not getting proper results. Your article has inspired me, it is really one of the best case-studies I’ve seen.Thanks

  4. it is an amazing article, many people think its useless to put effort into off page Seo or link building, not true…Theres is a Seo case study by ahrefs, which show that on page factors have less importance compare to off paeg Seobottomline: if you want to rank well in google build quality links to your post , promote it on social media …go twitter , do email marketing and send new blog to your valueable online users …

  5. I am loving these case studies because you really get to see and track the results. I just wish that it would also be the same for me.

  6. I am looking forward to see more posts like this about SEO. I am starter of SEO and i have seen this case study very powerful.

  7. We are thankful for providing us such a useful Web site where in we could be able to access to our field of interest and get the information . Definitely it will be useful for all groups of people either a student , professional , business people etc.

  8. I love the idea of linking the playboy lifestyle and professional gambling and can see how this can be replicated across other niches that would have some crossover.How do you go about getting them to post an article? Do you create the article first and then pitch it to the owners of the sites?I really struggle with outreach especially in the gambling sector.

  9. Thanks for this great content, I happen to find myself in the most competitive niche (tech) and I finally landed here when I needed a great tuts to take me along the competition. Great job Matt looking forward to see more of your tuts.

  10. Wow, killer post.Just started to experemnt with DeepCrawl.Thanks for guiding us to this tool (do you have an aff link for that?)

  11. I’ve been trying to open the first video link for hours now but no luck, chrome popping “Too many redirects” Please Matthew fix the issue asapAnd thanks for the videos 🙂

  12. currently i want to start my business i search for seo in google i got ur this page and i m wondred .. i will try my best to utilize ur experince thanks for u here for us ..

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How To Rank In The Most Competitive Niche In SEO

Campaign Challenges:

  • The site had tens of thousands of technical SEO problems
  • There was no use of modern standards like rich snippets and structured data
  • The site had a lot of spammy backlinks
Campaign Results:

Organic Traffic


Organic Visitors

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