Buzz: USAPlayers – You Are Welcome To Party Like It’s 1999!

Finding good quality Online casinos can be hard these days. So for this review, I’m going to introduce a website that provides links to dozens of casinos. This review will highlight some of the strengths of the website, and make some suggestions on how to improve the design, organization, and features. If you are a gambler and like online casinos, this website should help; if you’re a webmaster, you’ll get a glimpse of an online casino review site, nineties-style; and if you’re the owner of any kind of online review site, you’ll find tips that can help make your site successful, too.


The DEAL: USA Players Welcome

The deal with websites that review online casinos is that they provide links, and basic information about online casinos that gamblers can visit, register, and play. USA Online Casinos provides all of that and more: the comprehensive database is there for visitors to access the online casino guide, and the information is tucked away all over the place; in addition, there are tons of links via advertisements to other advertised websites, as well as sites officially in the database. Additionally, visitors can find which casinos offer “large bonuses, and free no deposit bonuses.” That’s the purpose of the site, I guess.

The Website: 90’s, detailed and disorganized

The website at first appearance looks very busy, but thankfully its structure is relatively simple for new visitors (if not a little confusing at times). The sidebar on the left links to a number of other pages in the website, and a number of offsite links, as well as a number of ads jpegs that add visual impact.

The center and main column is several large tables (who uses page-sized tables these days?) that provides a selection of information about each online casino: its name, the sign-up bonus, currency information, the type of gaming software, and a review. Clicking through to the review, in fact, does not provide a balanced review, more a summary of information about each casino: games, software, payment facilities, and contact information. There is no actual ‘review’ as such.

Also, I can’t decide whether links are links to pages AT the website, or affiliate links, or advertisement links. Confusing to me, though perhaps visitors who come back to the site navigate it more easily than I. Truthfully, with such 90’s appeal, it would be hard to imagine that there was much return traffic.

Suggestions: Dynamic, Clear, Pageviews, Transparency, and Community

I struggled to find any real informative pages to link to, so I’m unable to provide any links to other pages in the website. Worse, I was able to find several links that were dead: Bingo, and Slots. And this highlights one of the major problems with manually maintaining a tradition HTML website: it’s difficult to make sure that all the links are working without actually testing them all. There are tools to do this, but I’m all in favor of add the link once, and let the system take care of the rest. So here are my list of five suggestions:

  • Port the entire site over to a dynamically driven site: using something like TopSites or similar (GPL) software, and enter the entire database you have into the TopSites database. Why? Because administering the database will become significantly easier, adding new themes, mods, and multi-lingual variations. You will be able to give the website any theme you like, update it quickly, modify it as you wish, and generally make your website much more 21st century appealing.
  • Clarify, refine and reorganize: the listing seems clearer but the left sidebar is a mess. Visitors don’t know which pages are links to internal pages, external links, or advertisements. While you may feel that avoiding clarifying which is which makes better sales, it doesn’t help to build a regular audience, nor create trust with your readers.
  • Increase pageviews: don’t put all the information on one page or two. While you need to make the information much easier to access (see sidebar comments), you don’t need to layout the entire database on the first page. At the most place 10 or 20 reviews on one page. This will encourage visitors to click around more. Also, with easier navigation on the sidebar, visitors will find it much easier to click away and come back.
  • Increase transparency: What’s not apparent to many visitors is that most of the links (if not all) are affiliate links, in other words, you are earning money (nothing to be ashamed of!); but you do need to have a page of information that tells visitors that this is what you are doing. Also, adding an about page, a disclaimer, a privacy policy (if needed) and even a contact page, all will help make it easier for people to find out who you are, ask questions, purchase more advertising, etc.. Most importantly, it will build TRUST with your visitors, whoever they are.
  • Increase community: by adding some feedback features such as a community forum, a blog with comments enabled, even just a contact form, you will help to increase people’s motivation to return to your online casino. By increasing your community, you will increase your own standing, your PR (currently just three), and your traffic (Alexa: 1.8 million) as visitors will RETURN. I’m pretty sure your bounce rate is pretty high – oh wait, what are you using to track your statistics? It’s certainly not Analytics.

In reviewing this website, the heyday of the online 90’s was brought back to me: and it was fun to remember those exciting times, when large tables, static websites, and garish colors were all the rage. But this is the 21st century, and much has changed in the online world: some of it making webmaster’s jobs easier (dynamic sites, easily modified themes, web 2.0) and some of it making our jobs a little harder (SEO, web 2.0, and greater visitor expectations). After looking at USA Online Casinos, I can only be thankful the InterWeb has moved on.

Isn’t it time USAPlayersWelcome did the same?

This post was a paid review of the website, though the opinions expressed are entirely the blogger’s own.