How a Leading Sports Betting Website Won Big with Prerender
Guy Sasson is an SEO team leader at 888 Holdings, currently leading the 888poker SEO team in international markets across Europe & the U.S.
With his background in web development, Guy specializes in technical SEO, advising on rendering solutions across 888 products. Prior to entering the industry, he worked as a local DJ and a public-school teacher. Follow Guy on LinkedIn.
Q1. Tell me more about your background. How did you get into the SEO space? And how did you join the 888 Holdings team?
A: Before I started my first job in SEO, I was on the path of becoming an English teacher for junior high school. During my last year of college, I became obsessed with online marketing and building websites. Actually, it was my sister who asked me to build a website for her makeup business. I managed to rank on several uncompetitive KW, but it still felt amazing at the time.
So I knew that my teaching career would have to wait as I was going to search for my first job in the SEO field.
After several years in a local digital agency as an SEO manager and later as a WordPress developer, I decided to take the next step in my career and join a global company. I was lucky to hear that 888 Holdings was looking for an SEO Account Manager, and during the recruiting process I was happy to see that my prior technical skills were appreciated and would contribute to my additional role in 888 Holdings as the Prerender focal point.
Once I joined 888, I landed into the 888sport SEO team. Alongside many SEO tasks, I had to tweak and adjust our Prerender service in order for it to output the best results for its use of pre-rendering our client-side website in two of the company’s products: 888sport and 888casino.
Q2. Online gaming is considered a taboo niche in SEO, similar to tobacco or alcohol in that websites in these spaces often resort to black-hat and gray-hat SEO tactics to boost traffic despite search algorithms working against this type of success.
888 Holdings is an outlier in this space — serving the users first and working according to Google’s guidelines. You’re a reputable company that has won accolades and awards across the online gaming space, with a commitment to offering a safe environment for players while always complying with responsible gaming requirements.
How did you do it? What were your first SEO goals, and how did you achieve them?
A: 888 Holdings is operating in regulated markets, and we in the SEO department believe we must follow white-hat tactics and general Google guidelines. This approach is especially needed after the last Google spam update in the past year. We saw Google catching up with black-hat tactics — telling more and more industries to follow the right path.
My SEO goal regarding Prerender is to serve Google the best version of our pages, and close to the live version as much as possible. I was happy to find useful and to-the-point information in the Knowledge Base on Prerender.io. With the addition of fast responses from the support team, I was able to tackle every issue to completion within reasonable time.
Q4. What was the decision-making process behind choosing Prerender? What SEO problems were you trying to solve, and how did you hope Prerender would solve them?
A: Since a few of our products are running on client-side rendering, we knew we had to find a solution for our crawling and indexation. Prerender is a great solution for us when taking into consideration the resources needed for server-side rendering. This way we keep all the benefits of client-side rendering in our products, and we are not compromising when it comes to serving Google a fully rendered page.
Another important thing to mention is that Prerender is easy to configure and in no time, we could serve Google fully rendered pages — instead of putting our trust in Google crawls to fully render all our pages on a very large scale.
Our large-scale and dynamic sports betting site uses Prerender because the number of sport events we offer for users to place their bets is big. And they’re being served in different languages via more domains — specifically ccTLD, folders and subdomains.
Q5. What features or configurations would you like to see built into Prerender in the future? What do you like best about the Prerender web tool? How can it be improved?
A: I would suggest an email notification regarding rendering issues like rendering a blank page. Another suggestion is to have the ability to crawl our sports site several times a day, as the “cache freshness” option is limited for at least 24 hours. In our sports betting site we offer multiple sports events to gamble on, so our home page and different sport category pages are changing very frequently and we want to be able to serve Google the most updated cache version possible.