The Gambling Sector: Which bookies are winning the race for the Grand National?

Read our 2016 gambling trend report here…

The Grand national is known as “Christmas for the Bookies”. Last year it was estimated that betting on the Grand National exceeded £150m for the first time. 70,000 people will get dolled up to see the race live in Aintree (then get photographed for the Daily Mail when they have had a few drinks). On television the grand national’s viewing figures will be an estimated 600 million from all around the world.


Coral spokesman Simon Clare, stated last year that an extraordinary “two thirds of the adult population” in Britain would place a bet and give the bookmakers £150m (at least temporarily). So much money is spent across the 40 riders that it is almost hard for bookmakers not to make a profit.

Grand National Online Betting – Huge opportunities

However it is the online betting that is the real money winner for the bookmakers. Many of the people that bet on the Grand National do not make any other bets throughout the year. So to entice those each-way betters to their site, and to sign them up for more tantalising betting offers, is the primary objective for the online bookmakers.

The search terms’ traffic in Google’s keyword planner reflects this huge opportunity for organic search.

April 2013 traffic for major horse racing search terms:

  • Horse Racing Tips – Traffic = 64,000
  • Horse Racing Betting – Traffic = 3,000 (PPC spend of £23 per click)
  • Betting Tips – Traffic = 32,000
  • Online Betting – Traffic = 34,000 (£46 per PPC click)
  • Grand National betting – Traffic = 40,000 (£4 per PPC click)
  • Grand National horses – traffic = 80,000
  • Grand National – Traffic = 1,500,000
  • Grand National Odds – Traffic = 200,000

So to gain the same amount of traffic in PPC as a site would in position one of organic for the term “online betting”, a company would have to pay over £450,000 (in April alone) – that’s assuming that position one in organic would gain a conservative 10% of this traffic. Therefore being well placed in organic offers huge cost efficiencies.

With all this immense opportunity you’d be surprised that only a few of the players are dedicated to gaining high natural search positions by implementing high quality content.

Who is performing Best for Horse Racing search terms groups?

We take a look to see who is best placed in the run up to the Grand National 2014 in natural search and who has the best chance of gaining some of those betting novices to gambling on horse racing. Using our SEO platform Pi datametrics natural search dashboard we look at two horse racing search term groups:

  • Horse Racing General
  • Horse Race / Racing

The search terms included in these groups include “Horse Racing”, “Horse racing betting”, “Grand National Betting” and so on, culminating to around 100 major search terms within the horse racing gambling vertical. We have then given all the positions an individual score and ranked the biggest players based on those collective indexes based on positions in Google UK and Google UK Mobile.

Chart 1: Horse Racing Visibility Index – 2 search terms groups

horse racing positions top gambling sites and bookmakers SEO

horse racing positions top gambling sites and bookmakers Google UK. (click to enlarge)

In the Chart above we see that in January William Hill slipped a significant amount for these horse racing terms, this is I assume is an internal theming error. However, it looks like it’s a three or four horse race between Paddy Power, Sky Bet, Ladbrokes and perhaps William Hill to gain the most traffic for horse racing terms in the run up to the Aintree race on April 4th.

These winners are the ones who consistently offer good, shareable content. Google obviously loves this.

It’s obvious but…The winners have good content – the losers don’t

Again using our SEO platform Pi Datametrics, we now look at the positions of major gambling sites for the search term “Grand National Betting” in Google UK since September 2013. The results are simple:

Chart 2: “Grand National betting” search positions – Google UK

grand national betting google seo

Grand National Betting – positions (click to enlarge)

Above you will see that the top positions are held by Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Oddschecker for the search term “Grand National betting”.

When using the Pi Datametrics SEO platform, it’s easy to see the particular URL given by Google. It might seem obvious but all four of the top players for the search term above have a dedicated Grand National page. The other players (in pink, dark green, light blue etc) languishing between page 3 and page 10 in this chart – do not, or at least Google isn’t picking them up.

A dedicated Page: Grand national page from William Hill

William Hill Grand National Page


And a dedicated Grand national page from Ladbrokes

Ladbrokes grand national page

It Happens every year! Why not create a dedicated Grand National page?

This to me this is quite amazing, despite the massive opportunity many sites don’t have a dedicated Grand national page. Why don’t the lower placed sites invest in the content, create a dedicated page with quality information to gain better positions for this annual event? Instead the mindset for many in the gambling sector seems to be to create PPC type landing pages and rely on short term gains through paid for traffic. A dedicated page means the URL can gain links over time, encourage more sharing and therefore achieve better traffic. Plus PPC spend could be cut considerably (remember the £450K cost i mentioned earlier).

Quality content is offered by the likes of Odds Checker, (a betting affiliate) and Paddy Power. Both seem to have taken the strategy of adding resource to content and social media rather than the old fashioned promotional landing pages.

Chart 3: “Grand National betting” search positions – Google UK and the returning URLs

Grand national positions. The Yellow boxes show the sites with dedicated pages.

Grand national positions. The Yellow boxes show the sites with dedicated GN pages. (click to enlarge)

The above chart shows the bookmakers who have created dedicated pages, or indeed appear for their dedicated pages. Coral appear for a general news piece (on their news subdomain), Stan James is a general news page and SkyBet return for their homepage (though up until the last couple of days they did have a dedicated Grand National page, this is therefore down to internal page theming). Betfair, Paddy Power, OddsChecker, William Hill and Ladbrokes all have dedicated pages and will benefit from this valuable traffic.

How much are these top positions in Natural Search worth to the Bookies?

The value of these positions seems to have only been realised by a few of the players. For just this one search term “Grand national betting” the PPC click through cost is around £4 and the search traffic is 40,000 for April. So if we estimate that a conservative 10% of that traffic lands on positions 1, 2 or 3 then that is a saving of £16,000 for those three bookies as opposed to the other bookies who are competing for the PPC positions.

If you multiply that by all the numerous search terms available in this sector for the Grand National (some are bulleted above), then the value for well placed natural search far exceeds the cost for PPC. So it’s worth investing in decent content – but only a few seem to.


The Content for “Grand National” – why so few social shares?

Here we look at the Pi Datametrics Intelligent Copy tool. The tool gives an overall score for the page theming for each URL and search term we specify as well as looking at the amount of social shares per page. Here we look at the top 5 URLs for the term “Grand National”.

Chart 4: “Grand National” Intelligent Copy tool

Content for Grand national 2014 search seoContent for Grand national 2014 search seo

Every page here (with the exception of Oddschecker) in the top 5 has all the main header attributes covered for this search term – Grand National – hence the high “on page” scores on the left.

It’s an annual event – why are there not more links?

However, only Paddy Power and to a lesser extent Ladbrokes, have any links or social shares to talk about. The beauty about such a major event such as the Grand National is that it happens every year – links can build up. However, considering its annual presence, I am relatively flabbergasted to see such small numbers of links, bearing in mind the vastness of this event and the huge amount of links to the rest of the betting industry as a whole. Given the opportunity, the page can grow and continue to gain strength for ever-more. As long as the overall site structure remains the same, links can continue to build up on a page. To gain quality, natural and unpaid links as well as social shares.

The opportunity for return of investment for high quality content in the gambling sector is perhaps greater than any other. For too long sites have relied on linking and promotional landing pages, the betting sites need to offer more quality content for people to enjoy and share with friends.