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Is Online Poker On A Downswing? SEO Metrics Say Possibly, But Opportunities Are Present

 Is Online Poker On A Downswing? SEO Metrics Say Possibly, But Opportunities Are Present

Here in the United States, we are well aware that poker isn’t the “hot thing” that it was a decade ago. The aftereffects of “Black Friday” – now going on five years ago – has put a pretty serious dent in the popularity of the game. But what about on a worldwide level? Is poker on a downswing? According to research conducted for iGaming Business, it is definitely a possibility.

In an article entitled “SEO:  Where Have All the Poker Players Gone?” iGaming Business enlisted the aid of Luke Ormerod, the director of Blueclaw in the United Kingdom (a company that analyzes companies and their reach through search engine optimization (SEO) reviews), to look into the history of poker, at least online through its searches. The original searches were for “poker” and “online poker,” with poker overall peaking massively in 2007 while “online poker” showed a slight uptick that same year. Since that point, however, the picture painted is a dismal one.

By 2015, searchers for “poker” have become miniscule compared to their 2007 peak and “online poker” basically doesn’t exist. Blueclaw and iGaming Business then set out to figure out where these players went – a sizeable bloc of people just don’t dry up and go away – and the team found some other interesting data.

In looking for particular disciplines of poker (such as Texas Hold’em), the research showed the same predominant peak of search engine results pages (SERPS) in 2007 and a similar decline to 2015. The Blueclaw/iGaming Business team then decided to look at the major players in the arena – PokerStars, Sky Poker and 888 Poker – with the interest peaking in 2011 (perhaps because of “Black Friday?”) and declining through 2015 (PokerStars has been able to maintain about half of its peak interest since 2011, but searches for both Sky Poker and 888 are way under their previous highs).

With the advent of cellphones, the researchers thought that maybe “mobile poker” was where everyone had headed. After not even registering in 2006, the search for “mobile poker” rocketed out of the gates in 2007 and has been on a steady decline ever since. The research began to take a turn, however, when Blueclaw and iGaming Business started looking at today’s world.

Initially the partners found that the search term “sit and go” had kept its numbers fairly steadily since 2009, with wavering numbers over the past six years indicative of possible marketing trends. Looking a bit deeper, Blueclaw and iGaming Business looked into the PokerStars lottery style “Spin and Go” development (a traditional sit and go where the players do not know what they are playing for until the single table tournament starts). This is where the numbers started to change.

In reviewing the statistics, Blueclaw and iGaming Business show that the popularity of the “spin and go” poker format has gone through the roof since the beginning of 2014 and completely reverses the trend in other poker search metrics. Currently, the “spin and go” format is extremely popular not only at PokerStars but at any of the popular online rooms in the international online poker industry.

The news is also good when it comes to another search metric whose true potential may not have been totally tapped yet. In searching for “poker twitch,” Blueclaw and iGaming Business found a tremendous spike in searches since 2013. It is also demonstrating that this metric is still on the climb, especially over the 2015 calendar year. Not coincidentally, Twitch has become a popular platform for poker players to reach their fans directly and for companies and poker tours to broadcast their content directly to a waiting audience.

So what does the research from Blueclaw and iGaming Business state? The online poker sector will likely never return to its pre-2007 glories but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still opportunities to be exploited,” the researchers state. “Instant ‘Sit and go’ games are proving that there is still an eager market out there and it will be interesting to assess whether brands are able to leverage the rising popularity of poker on the Twitch TV platform by converting that interest into new signups.

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