The number one traffic mistake poker websites make

The number one traffic mistake poker websites make

traffic-jamI keep finding myself talking about traffic with fellow poker industry professionals, and I keep finding myself correcting a big fallacy within the industry, so I had to write it up.

I’ve spent the last year focussing on improving the traffic at PokerStrategy.com, and I’m pleased to say we have made some considerable improvements. I’ve learned a lot about what works, much more about what doesn’t work, and what impact it has on a website overall. It has also opened my eyes to this perpetual poker marketing problem that poker media websites and businesses make, which is:

Assuming that lots of traffic is the only metric that matters.

It makes sense at a basic level. Every visit to your site is a potential customer and therefore the more visits, the more potential customers. It completely makes sense to work to increase your traffic and I advise everyone make it a priority.

However there is a big difference between targeted traffic, and any old traffic.

The clickbait problem

click-baitThe most evident way I see people making mistakes is too rigidly following a Buzzfeed/Upworthy type model of creating ‘clickbait’. I’m not just talking about headline writing, I’m talking about any cheap trick to get traffic from anywhere, like spamming forums or deceiving people into visiting your site.

Don’t get me wrong, we can learn a lot from these sites about crafting good poker headlines, but these sites have a different business model to poker.

Websites like Buzzfeed have business models where they get paid a small commission for every single page view (Usually a few dollars per thousand views). So their only priority is to get as many page views as possible. They don’t care if you read the thing or not. This is why they will often resort to tricking you into reading the piece by deceptive methods, because they don’t care what you think of the actual content.

This is a massive mistake in poker. First of all, the poker industry is much smaller than most people realise. No poker site gets even remotely close to the views that clickbait sites do, so such a revenue model would not be worth bothering with. Secondly, most poker websites and businesses are reliant on your reader making a deliberate and conscious decision. Whether that is joining a poker room you are an affiliate of, going to your poker tournament, or buying your product like software or training material.

The same issue is often pertinent with SEO. Sure with some great SEO skills you can bring in lots of traffic, but if the content is shitty (As a lot of SEO stuff is), then the reader will close the browser right away.

The Dan Bilzerian problem

415bcb80-b374-11e3-88ac-05121e256ff8_Dan-Bilzerian_kika3767748For this reason, the biggest priority should be to engage the audience. To entertain them so that they trust you and want to see more of your content. Tricking your audience (especially by spamming) into viewing your content is only going to alienate them. More importantly, you won’t get the right traffic.

By ‘right’ traffic, I mean targeted traffic who could be potential customers. Getting 5,000 page views is completely pointless if it’s the wrong type of traffic. You would not try to send 5,000 One Direction fans to a MegaDeath website, and the same should be true in poker. I’d rather get 50 highly targeted page views to my website than 2,000 broad ones. For example, let’s say I had a poker strategy book to sell, I would much rather get 50 views from a Cardrunners guest post, where I know the audience is suitable, than get 2,000 views from a free poker app like Zynga, which is mainly made up of play money traffic. Both are poker traffic, but only one is highly targeted to my product.

I call this the Dan Bilzerian problem. Every day as an editor I can guarantee some easy traffic by just posting a picture of whatever porn star Mr Bilzerian is cavorting with that day, but is that really what I’d want for my site? Is that really what the target audience wants to see? I’d say that for most poker businesses where the target audience is serious players, the answer is no.

Increasing the right kind of traffic is very important, but traffic for traffic’s sake is not.

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