Running an RPG Blog and Search Engines

Phil, the Chattydm has a four part series on running a gaming blog up this week.  I agree with many of his points, but there is one area that I thought he gave insufficient attention.

Search engines.

If you write a blog, I assume you want people to read it.  You want your opinion to matter, your voice heard.  In order for that to happen, readers have to find you. Excluding link exchanges, which are excellent ways to generate traffic, search engines are the next most common source of visitors.

A short interruption with a few words on link exchanges.  Just ask a blog to swap links with you. Do not fear rejection! Many bloggers require evidence that you are serious about your blog. Nothing says “serious” like regular posting for a couple of months. If you get rejected, just try again at a later date. Now, back to our search engine discussion.

If you are serious about blogging, check out a few books/sites on search engine ranking systems and techniques. It will give you a better idea on how to move up the rankings when someone searches for a specific topic. Higher rankings usually means more site visitors   If you are not interested in doing the research, I can boil it down to a few bits of advice.

1. Original content counts for more than copied content.

Feel free to quote another site, with the proper citation, but do not overdo it.  Quoting a hundred words from a site and writing 1000  original words about it is fine. Doing the reverse counts for less in a search engine’s (SE) rankings.

2. Keywords, keywords, keywords

Never, ever pass up the opportunity to throw out a keyword in the proper context. Search engines are retarded. They cannot turn “WOTC” into “Wizards of the Coast.” If you only reference WOTC, then any search for “Wizards of the Coast” will not return your site. Use both and cover all of your bases.

3. Do not try to cheat at search engine rankings.

Search the web and there are many sites that offer “magic bullets” to increase your search engine ranking. Some are legitimate companies that can help you optimize your site. Many are scammers using questionable methods that could get you kicked out of the major indexes.  If you are just starting out, focus on relevant, well written content and link exchanges.

4.  Link everywhere

Part of the ranking calculation is links to your site and links from your site. If you reference a site, then include a hyperlink to it.  Especially do this if you are linking to a fellow blogger.  Swapping links is a great way to boost your ranking. Besides, it builds good will among your fellow bloggers. 😉

One final item and it is critical you remember this even if you forget the rest of this post.

Search engine rankings can be influenced, but never truly controlled.

There are many variables you cannot influence. Higher ranked sites might have more links going to them, or they might be older sites, or they might have a magic widget you do not have.

And there is nothing you can do about it.

I have an excellent example that I found personally very informative. Back in May, I did some research and discovered that “Gen Con” owed “Hasbro” $400,000.00 .  This was before “Wizards of the Coast” indicated they would attend GenCon and no one could determine why there was a delay. It was a  big deal, at least in the gaming community. The research was totally original and I was the first blogger that reported it. Many sites linked to me and my technorati rating shot up.

A couple of days later, I put “gencon bankruptcy” into Google and discovered I was seventh on the list.  I trailed several sites that commented and reported on my post.  They were ahead for some of the reasons I mentioned above.

And there was nothing I could do about it.

That is not to say that search engine awareness is a waste of time, it is not. The more times you appear on the first page of a SE result is another chance to earn a new reader.

Regardless of why you chose to blog,  being aware of SE rankings can only help you. Blog about what matters first and if you can sneak in some SE friendly content or links, then by all means do so.

Trask, The Last Tyromancer

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trask

Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.

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