Don’t get hung up on domain names

(September 1, 2009) I’m seeing a disturbing trend lately of affiliates buying crazy ugly domain names, just because they’re keyword stuffed or match the phrase they are targeting.  Things like etc, where XXXXX is the poker room name.

Domain names these days don’t hold the same weight in search engines as they used to.  There are many SEO gurus that feel they don’t matter at all, as long as you do good search engine optimization for the phrases that you are targeting.  Honestly in tests I have conducted I find that the domain name still helps, but not anywhere near as much as it used to years ago.

The fact is that the domain name doesn’t make the site – it’s the other way round.  Sure a good, keyword matching domain would be nice and really lets the visitor know what the site is about from the get-go, but it’s not critical to success or anything.

Before poker rooms like Party Poker or Full Tilt Poker were born, what if I told you to register those domains?  Pretend Full Tilt Poker never existed.  Is a valuable domain then?  No, of course not – but it’s the product that makes their domain and website so valuable.  Think about some of the bigger affiliate sites.  10 years ago, would you pay more than $100 for a or a

Of course not.  The domain names aren’t valuable – it’s the website that was put on that domain, the content etc that made the domain and brand name valuable.

Exact match keyword domains may be okay for mini sites, but when you create your next big site, think of it five years in the future.  Try and think of it as being a huge poker brand, something that will be the “go to” site for poker players for whatever content it is that you serve.  Would you rather have a or a

A domain name isn’t everything.  If anything, it’s one of the least important factors when building a successful website.

Why do Affiliates have more power than the players?

(August 12, 2009) When it comes to managing an online poker room or casino, affiliates are obviously important.  Yet the core of the room is of course the players.  Even when it comes to negative feedback, the players are more important than the affiliate.

A poker room can piss off tons of affiliates and have threads on the likes of PAL, PAP & GPWA saying how bad they are – yet people will continue to promote them and make them money.  However word of mouth is strongest from players, and many times I have seen a poker room lose a lot of traffic and money due to not catering to the players, or by doing something to piss the players off.

So why is it that the affiliate still has more power on the poker room than the players?  Since August 1st, I’ve had 8 players at 6 different poker rooms try and withdraw money, only for it not to arrive within 24 hours.  They will be told there are “technical errors” or “slight delays” – any vague bullshit stock answer you can think of.  The player will send them e-mails repeatedly, talk to live chat etc – and he just never gets anywhere.  Every time he is met with these vague answers, and is still without money.

Then what happens?  Well the player e-mails me.  Some of the withdrawal delays have been around 48 hours long – others have been over a week and still no money.  I immediately call the poker room and talk to my affiliate manager, and within 10 hours the player has got their money.

That has happened every single time.


Why do I need to step in?  I don’t mind doing it – hell, it looks good for me because my players know if they have problems they can just come to me, and it builds trust.

But why is it necessary?

Why are these delays?  And why are the poker room treating the player like shit?  And why is it only when I get involved, is something done?

It seems these days a lot of poker rooms take their players for granted.  They don’t realize how important it is for a player that when they withdraw, they gain access to their money promptly.  Hey – if a player deposits the poker room gets the money immediately – why can’t it be the other way round?  And if there ARE problems with withdrawals, then explain that to the user.  Hell, throw them a free entry or something for their troubles.

While I don’t believe that the customer is always right, I do believe that you should treat a customer to the best of your abilities.  Never insult their intelligence, and make sure their experience is always satisfactory.

Poker rooms need to get their priorities straight.

Affiliate Manager Correspondence

(August 4, 2009) Like every poker affiliate, I receive the standard form template e-mails from affiliate managers asking me to promote their poker rooms, promising “the highest revenue”, “the best conversions” and all that other garbage.  I’m usually polite and respond to them that I am not looking to promote new rooms at this time, but will keep their e-mail on hand for when I am adding new poker rooms to promote.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from an affiliate manager asking me to promote their poker room, as they felt it was a great fit for my portals.  Unfortunately I received this e-mail 3 different times, at 3 different addresses, related to 3 different portals.  Seriously is it that hard to do some goddamn homework?  Even worse, I ALREADY PROMOTE THIS POKER ROOM.

I’ll be nice and not mention the name of the poker room, instead referring to it as XXX Poker.  So I replied to the person:

I already promote XXX Poker on a couple of websites.  But when I receive this same e-mail to a couple of different e-mail addresses, it makes me want to promote a little less.

I was expecting any response I would get would be apologetic.  Instead I get another fucking sales pitch!

Hi Graeme,
Thank you for your swift reply 🙂
We didn’t see XXX Poker on TheUltimatePokerGuide and with the release of the flash version, we thought it would be a great fit in the “Mac Poker Online” section of your website 🙂
Graeme, have you ever benefited from the current affiliate promotion we are running with the 70%, 60% and 50% revenue share offer during 3 months? We could adjust your account to reflect this promotion even if you are not new to the program 🙂 Also, we could create a customized bonus code to offer on your websites with a 150% bonus up to $600. Is this something you would be interested in?
Graeme, if you want, you can also send us a list of your various websites so we would avoid contacting you again in the future on the different e-mail addresses as I understand this is frustrating.
Many thanks for your time and I look forward to reading your feedback 🙂

Jesus H. Christ.