Since the very first days of lockdowns being announced across European markets, both online poker and bingo have enjoyed huge spikes in Google search term activity. While an interest in sports betting has continued to tumble.
Soft gaming verticals in particular have been enjoying a flurry of interest online – as self isolating workers look for ways to while away the days during lockdown.
Playtech, the world’s biggest supplier of technology to online gaming operators, said an immediate impact of Europeans being stuck at home has been a notable rise in online games – singling out bingo a strong gainer. While 888 and PokerStars have both reported a surge in their mainstay poker verticals.
Global figures from GameIntel show online poker players hitting a five-year peak in March – up 50 percent on the previous month.
According to Greg Tickner, Managing Director at igaming SEO agency, Panoptic Media, a sharp rise in poker and bingo search terms through Google was evident already within days of European leaders announcing strict stay-at-home directives through March.
With all major sporting events suspended until further notice, search engine activity for sports betting has understandably “taken a massive nosedive,” said Tickner, with only a third of those searching the term by the end of March compared to a month earlier.
Meanwhile, data from Google Trends showed “online casino” making a clear, albeit still marginal, upward pattern. Yet the same marginal increase cannot be said for online poker related terms.
“Rewinding back to the end of December, when Covid-19 wasn’t the household term it is now, and wasn’t causing the devastation we’re seeing today – searches around ‘Online Poker’ remained fairly constant,” Tickner added. “However, since the world has gone into isolation and lockdown to varying degrees, the surge in these types of searches have been somewhat staggering.
“In a nutshell, searches for topics around ‘Online Poker’ have seen a sudden surge, to the extent they’ve seen almost a 400 percent increase,” he added. Interestingly online bingo rose by a tandem degree: also 400 percent. Moreover both verticals lifted to an almost exact correlation with the worsening of the crisis in Europe.
For Tickner, the changing relative rates of search terms per vertical (less for sports betting; more for poker and bingo) means gaming websites would be wise to adjust how they rank on Google accordingly.
Tickner takes as an example the now massively more common search term “play poker online” – for which Party Poker is the top ranked result in Google. Search data from Ahrefs shows organic visitors to this page have increased from around 143,000 a day to 165,000 a day – an uplift of 22,000 visitors each day.
“The iGaming sector needs to channel its efforts into the relevant products, where applicable,” said Tickner. “Of course, some operators only offer one product, and some gambling affiliates only send traffic for one particular product – but that’s not the case for everyone.
“Whether you’re an operator or an affiliate, search traffic is key to success – and just like every other industry, keyword rankings in Google, for relevant search terms, form the forefront of that battle. And we’re far better off ranking for search terms with greater demand – as we’re seeing in the online casino, bingo and poker areas.”
According to Serge Mukhanov, CEO at Connective Games, adding poker to your site can offer a “much-needed additional revenue stream in this time of uncertainty” – especially given the cross-sell from betting is not such a leap.
“If one compares poker and betting we see that the audience is similar in psychological and strategic features. “In poker, just like in sports betting, you need to skilfully manage your play, with good, informed decisions making a positive result more likely. Both generate excitement and offer the capability of earning money without leaving home.
“In addition, these types of gambling are available to a wide range of people on any device.”