This article was written by one of our members (mypokercorner) at PAP and is a great perspective on SEO for Poker Affiliates.

I am in no way an SEO expert. In fact, I just discovered SEO in December 2007, but it has changed my entire perspective on ways to market my websites. After just two months of reading about SEO and slowly editing my existing web pages, I saw a HUGE difference in my traffic and my search engine rankings have improved significantly. Overall, my traffic has tripled in a two month period, and I am just getting started with SEO. The sky is the limit baby!

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which should a primary goal for any webmaster seeking to improve their search engine rankings and increase their traffic. Essentially, SEO is about ways to organize your content and code your pages so that search engines understand your content better. It also has to do with linking strategies with other sites, blogs, etc. This in turns allows you to fine tune your marketing approach by successfully targeting specific keywords for various pages in your site.

What are Keywords?

To make it simple, keywords refer to the string of text people type in search engines. “Poker bonus” and “Texas Holdem” are examples of common keywords. Keywords are extremely important and you should put a lot of thought into which you’ll want to use for your site or sites.

What keywords should I target?

That is a critical decision, and there’s different ways to look at it. First, to determine if a keyword is a good or bad, consider the potential traffic it can generate, but also consider the competition. For example, the keywords “Online Poker” generate thousands of visitors to various sites every day. On the other hand, getting good rankings on this keyword is hard because so many other sites use it. It will take a lot of time and effort before a new site gets linked to the first page of a search engine on this particular term.

What this means is that popular keywords aren’t necessarily the best choice. Consider niche keywords, which are keywords that generate less traffic overall, but where the competition is also limited. That way, this allows you to actually achieve good search engine ranks with much less time and effort. Consider that your site will be targeted by a series of various keywords and that at the end of the day, you’re better off to diversify and include a mix of more generic and niche keywords. What I mean by niche keyword is something that is very specific such as “best poker bonuses for US players”. There’s a lot less people that will actually type that in the search engines word for word, but there’s also a lot less websites that will target those keywords also. It therefore makes it much easier to get listed on the first search result page with a niche keyword.I’ve selected keywords I want to target, now what?

Well, the first thing is simple: Your site must have a lot of unique content and they keywords you selected must be related to that content, and integrated into it as well. More importantly, your site should continue to evolve with new content being added regularly. To be more effective, the keywords you target should be seamlessly integrated in your content, and should also stand out in some fashion.

For example, you can make them headers in your text and use the H tags around them (H1, H2). You can setup links on your keywords and link to other relevant internal pages, bold them, or use italics and underlines. You don’t want to overdo it either because then it becomes painful to read and it may turn off your visitors. That’s why I personally prefer to integrate keyword in H1 tags because that says “The following section is about this, and I want to make that very clear” (Where “this” refers to your targeted keyword).

I’ve modified my web pages to make my keywords stand out. Is that it?

Boy, I wish. That’s was the easy part! What you have done so far was essential but now you need to build on your keywords by doing at least three more things:

1. Include meta data on all your pages. I’ll explain what meta data is in a second.
2. Include a descriptive title to all your pages using the <title> tag. This is critical because this is what appears in search engine results as the clickable text.
3. Start trading links and make sure that sites that link to you use your targeted keywords when they do. For example, if you have a page about Omaha strategy, and you’re targeting “Omaha Lessons” as a keyword on your page, then make sure the anchor text in the external link to your site is setup as “Omaha lessons” and not “OMG! OHAMA ROXX()RZ!!11″.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes. One critical step in making SEO work for you is how you organize your content, and how your URLs are written. For example, many webmasters use content management systems (CMS) which is the backend software that drives your website. A lot of these CMS don’t generate Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLS. Meaning that your poker article about “Poker and Table Position” is listed as http://www.yoursite.com/index?id=1284?cat=34 (or a similar non descriptive string of text).

Your URLs should be descriptive. You should be able to read it and know exactly what the page is about, so in this case you would want a URL like http://www.yoursite.com/poker-and-table-position/ or http://www.yoursite.com/articles/poker-and-table-position/ or even http://www.yoursite.com/articles/poker-and-table-position.html (Or something like that). Make sure you pick a CMS that can produce SEF URLS, or that can be modified by a third party component to do so. Stay away from any CMS that can’t generate SEF URLS because you will struggle with SEO constantly. Not only that, but it will also turn off webmasters to do link trades with you. For example, if you use a website directory component that generates my URL as http://www.yoursite.com/diectory?link_id=36 as opposed to http://www.my_actual_link.com, the I won’t even want to trade links with you because the way your link is written provides no advantage to me in terms of how the link will be interpreted by search engines.

Another critical factor you want to look into is meta data, as I mentioned earlier. Every single page should include two meta data statements. The first is meta data on keywords which is a listing of all your targeted keywords for that specific page. Each keyword is to be separated by a comma. The meta data info goes in the <head> section of your webpage. Here’s how it’s coded:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”online poker rooms, poker room reviews, bonus codes, referral codes, poker promotions, deposit bonus, online poker” />

These are pretty much generic keywords I use in this example, but it gives you an idea.

Now, to illustrate what I’ve been talking about: Check out my online poker rooms page where I list various poker rooms I promote and where you can find great poker bonuses.

OK, that sentence alone does a lot for me. First, I link on the words online poker rooms. Why is this important? Well, if you look at my page and view the source code, you’ll see that I have that identified that particular string of text as a keyword in my meta tag. It is also included in my meta description and also in my page title.

Additionally, it’s also included in the URL of my page (well… partially, but that’s my fault. Bad planning actually!). Plus, I am linking from this great external website and I’ve managed to integrate the link seamlessly into the text of this article. All of these things combined make this little simple sentence above work very hard for me. It would be even more effective if this article talked just about online poker rooms, as the overall content would have been much more relevant to my link, but to compensate, I do make my targeted keywords stand out in this article by bolding them and that will help. Now imagine if my link was integrated on 100 different content pages, or even 1000 for a wide range of related websites! That would really help improve my search result ranking for that keyword. In fact, if you like this article and want to thank me for it, feel free to do just that if you run a poker website! Haha!

Anyway, you can sort of see the SEO logic via this example. SEO really has to be planned and structured for it to be effective. If you haven’t done the basic steps outlined in this article, this should be your priority right now. Stop goofing around and start tweaking your website now! I wish you the best of luck with your efforts.

Here are some free SEO resources you can look into:

Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Search Ranking Factors

SEO Tips

SEO Guide