Without a doubt, Google search helps many online gambling connoisseurs find new and exciting places to play online casino games. Usually, a simple search like “online casinos” or “best casino site” will yield a page filled with gaming portal sites offering various types of information about online casinos, ranging from deposit information and bonuses, to complete reviews and critiques. After you’ve visited one of these pages, your next leap is to an actual casino website where you can play for real money. In turn, the website that referred you earns a commission for newly aquired players as a form of compensation for their search engine marketing. In effect, every site you visit AFTER Google gets a piece of the pie, especially if you’re inclined deposit money and take on the casino.
Once in a while, however, you might see an oddball search result, such as a Wikipedia entry for “online casino” or “blackjack”. These results don’t really help the avid gambler, since Wikipedia.org tends to serve as a reference guide for various subjects, opposed to an actual casino review site. As a result, when you’re searching for the perfect place to play roulette, your search results might have a couple Wikipedia entries for “roulette history” or even “types of roulette”. Such results are certainly informative, but are generally very out of place.
So, why does Wikipedia.org show up in the first place?
Search engines rely heavily on the reputation of a website when they score it for use in search results. Additionally, search engines like Google tend to score websites that have links from authoritative websites higher than sites that do not. A final factor to consider is the relative “competitiveness” of the search results, ie. how many other sites are competing to get placed under a certain keyword; and the value of being placed on page one. If you can place a website on Google’s first page for a major gambling related search like “online casino”, you stand to make a lot of money. The allure of quick cash and internet riches draws nearly any competent (or incompetent) 🙂 web marketer in to create a website, if not hundreds, in order to harness the power of gambling web traffic.
Wikipedia is highly regarded by Google as a vast repository of information. Many consider Wikipedia equivalent to the multi-volume printed encyclopedias that families used to keep in their libraries before the dawn of the internet. Therefore, any given Wikipedia page is generally filled with useful information, and has links from hundreds (if not thousands) of websites citing it as a reference. It’s easy to see that such pages garner more trust and higher search scores than smaller websites that either have unreliable information, or engage in shadowy search engine marketing tactics. Google inherently trusts Wikipedia more than any other website, and this means that Wikipedia pages will land in all sorts of search results, whether or not they are relevant to the actual web user’s needs.
Another factor to consider is search engine spam. As a general rule, higher profit margin industries attract a higher volume of search engine spammers, and the online gambling vertical is no exception to this rule. Quite often, sketchy marketing companies will abuse guestbooks, blogs, and web forums as sources of links in order to get their website placed highly in Google results. Two things result from this phenomenon: 1) The website that engages in illicit marketing practices eventually gets banned (removed) from Google, and 2) Webmasters who are the victims of search engine spam get mad.
What does this madness produce? Aside from the usual hue and cry at major online marketing websites, individual webmasters look to get even with the spammers that gummed up their sites. This leads us to another way in which Wikipedia captures higher search scores for gaming related searches: disgruntled webmasters, bloggers, or forum owners will link to a gambling oriented Wikipedia entry out of spite in order to push regular online casino sites off the first page of Google’s results. The theory is simple: post enough links to “neutral” gaming pages that do not produce revenue for their owners, and eventually these pages will make their way up the ranks and land in the top 10 for major gambling related searches. Then, instead of seeing casino review sites, you get useless Wikipedia pages bolstered by pissed off webmasters that were the victims of spam attacks.
So, the next time you do a very general Google search for online gambling, such as “online casino”, “play blackjack”, or “sports betting”, scan through the results carefully, because you will almost certainly see a Wikipedia page listed. Google makes no apologies for posting Wikipedia pages higher than even the most reputable of casino review sites, simply because outside of gaming, Wikipedia, as a whole, is much more valuable to the internet than some johnny-come-lately casino review website.