The new 'dot-poker' top-level domain will enter a three-stage process on Thursday, Feb. 5, when a restricted number of actors will be allowed to secure a brand new '.poker' Internet address.
Going through what is known in the online industry as the 'sunrise' period until March 7, the new top-level domain will be available exclusively to trademark holders who have their marks registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse. During this time, '.poker' domains will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
From Mar. 10, to Apr. 9, 2015, the .poker domains will then enter what is usually referred to as the 'land rush,' a phase where the new domains will become available to the public and where conflicts are resolved through (pricey) auctions.
During this time, individuals and companies will get the opportunity to apply for specific .poker domains; in case of multiple applications for the same URLs, the domains will be assigned through an auction process.
Starting from Apr. 21, the .poker domains will become publicly available for regular sale. Their price is expected to be higher than the one of the traditional 'dot com' domains.
A good investment for branding and SEO
Although it is not clear how the .poker domains will influence the industry or if their introduction will be enough to let some new actors join the online gambling party, all the major companies in the industry are expected to secure their own .poker domain already during the sunrise phase.
By doing so, online poker sites and poker companies will be able to avoid the risk that someone else will damage their reputation with an unauthorized use of their brands, and also try to position themselves better in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) battle.
"In the past years search engines - especially Google - have decreased the importance they give to the presence of keywords in domain names in terms of rankings," BizUp Media co-founder Matteo Monari told PokerNews.
Monari, who has served as an SEO specialist for many of the top companies in the gambling industry, believes that the introduction of the new .poker top-level domains could have a significant impact both in SEO and branding.
"Using a relevant keyword in a site's domain is still a good thing," Monari continues. "The TLD of a site is no doubt a powerful sign to users who see the address listed in Google; a sign that the site is no doubt focusing on the topic they are interested in."
"A meaning-rich TLD allows brand to integrate it in their brand names and save important characters in their URLs getting rid of the .com," Monari explains. "As a result, their URLs get shorter and can more easily be shared on social media sites in their original form."