In the first article in our Starting and Running a Poker Site series we discussed the first steps for planning your new poker website.
After reading through that article, you should have a basic understanding of picking the name and general focus of your site. Will you be doing a poker directory? Will you be doing a poker feed site? Maybe you’ll do a poker review site. Whatever the case, you should start off by focusing your energies in one direction, and only plan to branch out when you’ve been successful with your narrow niche. Once you’ve picked your site topic, then you select a site name. The site name is important for a variety of reasons, both in the branding sense and in the search engine optimization sense.
In this article, we assume that you’ve already selected your niche and your name. Now we’ll move on to the steps necessary for getting your site organization, infrastructure and content in place.
When setting up a site from scratch, you want to make sure that it is organized in a user friendly and logical way. Typically, it is recommended that you branch out 2-4 pages deep from the the main website (by using subdirectories of directories). You’ll want to organize your site into categories which will be represented by directories on your web server. So, if you run a blog like we do at PokerMoments, you might break your blog articles down into 10 or so different categories. This makes it easier for someone who is interested in a particular topic to tunnel down into relevant content on your site. Say someone visiting PokerMoments is only interested in the posts we make on Philosophy or Culture. We’ve made it easy for him to do so by visiting the relevant categories at the bottom of our site.
Let’s say that you run a directory or maybe a poker room review site. Again, you need to think deeply and clearly up front about how you want to separate your content into sections to make it more human-usable. It is important to nail this step up front because you can create a lot of confusion if you change the site structure mid-stream. Not only will regular users be uncomfortable with the change, but search engines such as Google could end up sending visitors to non-existent pages. Plus, since Google rewards stable and aged sites, you’ll be undermining the good faith that you’ve built with Google by changing your site organization in radical ways.
Navigation & Usability
It’s one thing to organize your site into categories and sub-categories. It’s a completely other thing to utilize the organization in your site navigation. However, the two are closely related. Organization is the logical representation and infrastruture for usable navigation. For our purposes I’ll use “navigation” and “usability” interchangeably.
So even though you’ve organized your site into a nice, clean logical structure, your next step is to present this to the user in the form of navigation. For example, you should list your main categories on every page so that people can jump around your site easily. It might also be good to make it clear to the user where your “newer” content is located. Another good idea is to provide a search function. One of the best usability features I’ve ever seen is a “Most Popular” list or a ‘recommended Reading” list so that new users can get up to speed on the basics of your site as quickly as possible.
Content, Content, Content
As tough as it maybe to swallow, a website’s overall worth comes down to its content. If you’re developing a poker directory, you should make it useful by including good sites as opposed to junky ones. If you’re developing a poker room review site, you should put a lot of hard work into writing in-depth, unique and informative articles about various online poker rooms. If your articles are good and provide useful tips, then your readers will come back for more.
If you’re doing a poker blog, then it’s all about the readers. You want your readers to check back frequently, so make sure to pace out your blog entries. Also, make sure that your blog feed is easy to subscribe to. Feed subscribers are worth money. Don’t forget that. Also consider making your blog easily diggable, redditable, etc.
In the end, content is king. This means nothing more than the fact that the purpose of any site is its content. Visitors come for the content. More and better content brings more and better readers brings more and better income.
In the end, organization, navigation and content work together to be the foundation of your poker site. You should put a lot of effort into getting these three things right from the start. Not only will the hard work position your site for success, but you’ll quickly learn whether you have what it takes to develop the site over the long haul.
So that’s it for article 2 in our series on starting and running a poker site. In the next article, we’ll discuss the importance of site design and how to find a great designer to implement your vision. Following that, we’ll talk about how to promote your poker site. We’ll conclude with an article on monetizing yoru site. Stay tuned.