Gamasutra: Rafal Pietraszek’s Blog – SEO Optimization for Game Developers

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.The


The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


 

In today’s digitalized world, an online presence is no longer optional for success-oriented brands. Due to the ever-growing number of businesses out there, the competition is fiercer than ever. 

That, in turn, evokes a question: how can I get the competitive edge and expose my brand into the global spotlight? The answer to this question is search engine optimization. SEO is great for building brand authority, recognition, and organic position in Google as well as other search engines.

Using GamerSEO experience, authentic examples and research data, we will prove that SEO strategies for the video game industry can significantly help websites of game developers. We will also refer to industry authorities. Let’s find out:

  • What SEO is,

  • Why your website needs SEO,

  • What you should do to rank high in Google search results.

 

What is Search Engine Optimization?

When a prospective client visits Google (or any other search engine) and types in “game development agency” you’d like your website to show up in front of their eyes instantly. That’s what, among other things, SEO is used for. Therefore:

Search engine optimization is the process of exposing your site to users who need services related to your business. The better exposure and visibility your page has the bigger chances of attracting the attention of prospective customers. 

However, good SEO doesn’t end there. Nowadays, people make snap judgments. It takes about 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about your website. In most cases, it determines whether they’ll stay or leave. That’s why making a great first impression is so crucial. With well-designed SEO activities, your website will provide an inimitable user experience and engaging content. As a result, the searcher won’t have to click the back button and start searching for a better website.

 

Why Does My Website Need an SEO Strategy?

Search engine optimization puts your product in the path of users that are already looking for what you have to offer. That’s the first step to increased brand awareness, leads, and, finally, sales. But is ranking high in Google really essential? Let’s see.

 

Google’s First Page Is All That Matters

In 2019, Brian Dean and his Backlinko team analyzed 5 million Google search results to better understand the organic click-through rate. According to their findings, only 0.78% of searchers clicked on a link from the second page.

The graph above proves that ranking anywhere behind the first page of Google search results means that your website is almost invisible in search rankings. Therefore, not taking care of proper search optimization will most likely result in losing a lot of prospective customers.

 

Content Quality Is a Ranking Factor

Today, Google’s main priority is to ensure that users get detailed and useful answers to their queries. In fact, high-quality content and link building are the two most important signals Google uses to rank websites.

Let’s now have a look at search results for the query “game development agency.”

 

As it turns out, three out of the top five search results for the query are homepages of specific agencies. It should come as no surprise that all of them have a company blog. While providing users with high-quality, educational content, they build their position as industry experts. That proves their expertise and credibility. In return, they are awarded high positions in search engines. And that guarantees access to people interested in their services.

 

Your Website Needs Backlinks

In 2018, Ahrefs conducted a study that analyzed two million websites. The key finding is that 91% of all pages never get any organic traffic from Google, mainly because they don’t have backlinks.

The screenshot above shows the top 5 pages ranking for the query “mobile game development.” Now, have a look at the rubric “backlinks” and “traffic.” As you can see, all of them (besides the featured snippet) have a significant number of backlinks. What’s more, the more quality backlinks a website has, the higher it usually ranks and the more traffic it drives.

 

How to Get a High Position in Search Engines?

As it’s been proven by various studies, every well-planned online marketing strategy can’t leave out the SEO game. So, what steps are needed to improve search engine visibility and satisfy users’ expectations? Most importantly, all the moves have to be personalized, that is tailored to the goals you want to achieve. That being said, your SEO marketing efforts should start from defining your goals. 

To find out how to do that, head to the section below.

 

Selecting Right SEO Goals

Understanding the proper SEO goals for your business can be difficult. Typically, you should start by checking all the most important performance metrics. Then, decide which ones require more effort. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be SMART, that is:

  • Specific,

  • Measurable,

  • Achievable,

  • Relevant,

  • Time-based.

Having clearly defined goals helps you be more intentional with every decision you make. Additionally, each of your moves can be measured against one or more of your SEO goals to estimate their success. Here are some goals that may serve as an inspiration for your company:

  • Increase organic traffic by X%,

  • Achieve X position in SERPs,

  • Maximize page speed,

  • Decrease bounce rate,

  • Improve on-page time,

  • Convert more organic traffic,

  • Increase e-commerce sales by X%. 

 

Measure Key Performance Indicators

KPIs (key performance indicators) are objective metrics that help measure and give clarity to the success of a given strategy or campaign. They tell you whether you’re going through the right path or if maybe you’re a bit off course. Therefore, constant monitoring of KPIs lets you know if you are nailing your goals, staying competitive, and growing your business. 

 

Focus on KPIs that are relevant to your company and your current project. Additionally, you should be able to influence them actively. All that means that key performance indicators will vary depending on pre-selected goals.

How often should you track your KPIs?

  • Track weekly when it’s super important and when the strategy can be easily and quickly adjusted. 

  • Track monthly if you’d like to see percentage growth rate month-over-month,

  • Track quarterly when the strategy requires time to bring tangible results.

 

Choose Right Keywords And Use Them Strategically

Keywords are the words (or phrases) that people type in search engine queries. They also let search crawlers understand what the page is about. This helps them decide whether particular content is relevant to a given search query or not. Thus, they play an important role in bridging the gap between your website and search engine results. 

If you are not doing so already, you should practice placing keywords unique to your content in: 

Let’s now conduct a quick analysis of two companies offering QA testing services. Here’s Starloop Studios that have optimized their service page with specific keywords. They have chosen long-tail keywords with proper difficulty. What’s more, these keywords are relevant to search terms in their niche. That means these terms most likely would be typed by someone looking for their services.

The page ranks for mid and long-tail keywords “game testing companies,” “game testing services,” and “game qa” on the first page of Google search results. This gives them improved visibility and extra exposure to potential users searching for these phrases. 

Below there’s another example. Even though Elinext and Starloop Studios have the same target audience and services, their positions in search results pages differ significantly.

The highest position of the Elinext QA testing subpage for related keywords is 20. And we already know that the first page is all that matters. This is partly due to the inappropriate selection of keywords. Sometimes “the best keywords” are too competitive for a particular company. The problem may also come from an insufficient number of backlinks and weak overall domain strength.

Key takeaway: neglecting relevant keywords results in a lack of organic traffic. This, in turn, translates into an insufficient number of orders and a weak market position. However, make sure that your keyword research considers the competitiveness of keywords you’d like to rank for. 

We already know that keywords can significantly help with getting traffic to your website. However, it doesn’t mean you should use as many of them as possible. “Keyword stuffing” can actually do more harm than good. Today, Google is analyzing context to judge what a piece of content is about. Thus, placing keywords strategically is more important than ever for solid SEO performance.

Examples of potentially interesting keywords for a computer game developer (should be related to your business):

  1. 3d game development

  2. Casino games development

  3. Cross-platform app development

  4. Designing hyper casual games

  5. Gaming outsourcing

  6. Unity game developers

  7. Game qa

  8. Game testing services

  9. Game localization services

 

Start a Company Blog

A business blog is an easy and cost-effective way to promote your business. Gaming blogs drive traffic, establish you as an industry authority, improve visibility in Google (and other search engines). Done right, they also help promote your products. 

The key to a successful business blog is giving your readers unique and relevant content. It has to precisely answer users’ search queries and provide them with valuable knowledge. That’s how you establish your brand as an industry expert. In addition, giving your readers valuable content will increase their trust in your expertise. Interestingly, 81 percent of consumers claim they need to be able to trust the brand before they buy from them. 

For example, the iXie Gaming blog has generated 475 backlinks and ranks for 1,600 organic keywords. What’s more, they secure a spot on Google first page for more than 30 keywords.

Sadly, many small businesses are yet to wake up to the pros of blogging. The reasons range from lack of time for writing content to a lack of ideas for quality posts. But your blog content doesn’t have to focus on your brand only. A good practice is to write about the industry’s latest trends, game development techniques, creative tips, tricks and tools, the world of games, and other elements of your niche.

Here’s a great example. Even though iXie Gaming primarily offers game testing services, they don’t lock up within just that. They create content about industry latest news, trending games, and other gaming-related topics. That helps them build industry authority, domain strength and show readers the “human face” of their brand.

If you are struggling with blog topic ideas, here’s a list of 23 suggestions for a good start:

  1. What are shaders in games

  2. Gaming design patterns

  3. What is ar/vr development

  4. What are io games

  5. Unity vs unreal enginge

  6. Types of bugs in game testing

  7. Java vs kotlin

  8. Game designer vs game developer

  9. Game development books for beginners

  10. Best game jam games

  11. How to make a SNES game

  12. How to make 3d models

  13. GameBoy programming

  14. How to get started in game development

  15. What is meta in gaming

  16. How to name a game

  17. How to develop a game for steam

  18. How to make weapons in blender

  19. How to come up with game ideas

  20. How long does it take to develop a game

  21. How to make a game engine

  22. Best programming language for mobile games

  23. How much does it cost to hire a game developer

 

Ensure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly

Today, mobile optimization is more important than ever. Have a look at the numbers provided by Statista, Digital Examiner, and McKinsey. They speak for themselves:

  • 52.2% of all website traffic comes from mobile phones.

  • 61% of users will never return to a website that is not mobile-friendly.

  • 80% of B2B buyers are using a mobile device to make purchases.

Here’s a quick rundown of best practices regarding a mobile-friendly website:

  • It has a responsive design. The site’s design and content adjust to the different screen sizes. Therefore, it provides comfort for users browsing your services on tablets, smartphones, or desktops.

  • It’s easy to navigate. The menu and navigation elements are well organized. They let mobile users browse through the website while holding the phone easily. Additionally, the buttons are big enough to click them without zooming.

Want to find out whether your website is mobile-friendly or not? Have a look at Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. The tool will point out the major errors and give suggestions on how to fix them. Unfortunately, there is an endless number of gaming sites that ignore mobile optimization. Here’s a quick example that we easily found. Then, we analyzed its issues with the tool as mentioned above.

 

Optimize Page Speed

Page performance is so crucial because longer page load times have a severe effect on bounce rates

Bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site. Here’s what Google has to say regarding bounce rates and lack of page speed optimization:

  • If page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 32%.

  • If page load time increases from 1 second to 6 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 106%.

In case the stats aren’t convincing enough, several years ago, Google released an algorithm update, saying:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and significantly impact our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results optimized for their devices.

All things considered, mobile optimization is a key factor in terms of SEO and user experience. The visitors of your game development site expect it to load as fast as possible. According to Google recommendations, “two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website acceptability.” 

Despite that, many game dev websites don’t even come close to these guidelines. That may result from too big images, not optimized code, too many redirects, or render-blocking JavaScript. As with mobile optimization, Google has created a special tool to check page speed. PageSpeed Insights shows page loading issues and gives some basic suggestions for fixing them. The screenshot below shows yet another website from the game development niche. As PageSpeed Insights points out, it clearly needs improvement in various areas.

 

Create Detailed Service Descriptions

While performing research to write this text, we thoroughly looked through many game development websites. Then, we have selected the most frequent problems. It turns out that one of the most common issues is perfunctory service descriptions. This has a negative impact not only on search crawlers but also on the user experience. 

As we already know, today’s users are immensely impatient. Suppose a potential customer visits a website and is unable to quickly find the description of services. With plenty of competitors to choose from, they will most likely leave the site and check other SERP scores.

This is just one of the brand descriptions we have encountered. Here are the key issues we have noticed:

  • It’s too short. Three sentences of introduction aren’t enough to get the trust of users. This is also a wasted opportunity to present industry expertise.

  • It lacks search engine optimization. With important keywords, the website would hugely increase its chances of ranking higher in SERPs.

  • It’s non-specific. Phrases such as “several mobile games,” “grown in numbers,” “brand new games” are too general. The exact numbers would look way better here. They are more evocative, attention-grabbing, and trustworthy.

 

The screen above presents a part of the Juego Studio website description. Firstly, it is much more specific. Most importantly, it has been enriched with specific numbers. That’s how the company creates the image of an industry expert with tons of expertise. What’s more, the website has an attractive and attention-grabbing graphic design, which helps create a positive first impression.

 

Describe Your Expertise

We also noticed that many sites boast really big names in their portfolio. The fact that a given company served services for such giants as EA Sports, Paypal, or Ubisoft can undoubtedly attract the desired audience. This proves the well-established market position and the overall trust towards the company.

Even so, listing the names alone is not enough. Clients want to know what services a given company provided to a particular client. Suppose a customer whose product is a soccer game lands on your website. He sees that you have implemented similar projects before. This is why he perceives your company as an attractive business partner. However, nowhere can he find information on how you helped your previous clients.

The solution to this problem is adding a section with case studies. The obvious reason for writing case studies is that you show expertise and experience in a gaming niche. What’s more, it’s a great way to explain how you can help your prospects and what results they can expect. A well-written case study may also highlight specific features and benefits of your product or service.

Here’s a showcase of Pingle Studio case studies. What’s great is that they don’t refer to one service only (which often happens). In this way, various prospects will be able to see if and how the company is capable of taking its game to the next level.

 

Summary

In modern digital marketing, presence in search engines is an absolute must for game development websites. A customer looking for help in optimizing their game will most likely begin their research in search engines. Thus, the best way to get them to visit your website is to rank high on Google’s first page.

When determining the position of websites that show up on search result pages, Google considers many different ranking factors. Their primary task is to find content that’s relevant to the user’s query. Additionally, a high position in SERPs means that the website is a trusted and verified source of information and services. That means when your gaming site ranks higher than your competitors, you have a much greater chance to get discovered, generate more downloads, and obtain new leads.

 

FAQ

What’s the Difference Between SEO and ASO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is about ranking a website or content on search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) while ASO (app store optimization) is about ranking mobile apps in app stores (Google Play Store or iOS app store).

SEO, however, creates more opportunities for promotion through organic traffic. Users may find your website searching for information on various industry topics, not only your products or services specifically. Thus, thanks to SEO, the website can be successfully promoted from scratch. 

A basic example from the gaming industry: when gamers are looking for information on “how to choose a gaming mouse” in Google, they may find themselves on the Razer blog. Theoretically, they may not even know that the website is a hardware manufacturer. Later, they find out about their products from the blog post.

Nevertheless, Google Play or Apple app store optimization requires a well-designed product and a group of recipients since day one. The whole optimization takes place on one subpage. Therefore, it is difficult to promote a given application without external advertising with so limited possibilities. Sadly, the competition is enormous. Thus, without proper promotion, the application will drown in the sea of alternatives that have invested in paid promotion activities.

Concluding, SEO can be used from the very beginning of the company development process. Theoretically, it doesn’t require any other traffic source. ASO, in turn, is more of a product optimization technique that’s useful on a further stage of app promotion. Thus, it should come in handy when the app already has some recognition coming from somewhere else. It needs a particular number of users, good download ratio, and positive reviews. Then, ASO can boost these numbers. Overall, it supports and can enhance other traffic sources.

Despite that, ASO and SEO also have certain similarities. First of all, keyword research is an important factor in both the SEO and ASO process. App store optimization is about including them in descriptions, creating a perfect title, and optimizing other attributes to rank higher in organic search. That lets potential users of new apps discover them in app store search results. Thus, SEO and ASO put major emphasis on the relevance of the results to the query.

 

How Do I Get SEO Optimized Content?

To create SEO-optimized content, it is advisable to follow certain best practices. Here’s a quick rundown of them:

  • Use strategic keywords. Make sure that your website contains relevant keywords that are relevant to your niche. That will help users find your services and let search algorithms understand your content. 

  • Take care of title tags. Keep your titles relatively short and attention-grabbing. Studies show that titles with brackets generate significantly more clicks than titles without them. Besides, always include your main keyword in the title.

  • Optimize your URLs. Your URLs should be understandable for users and search crawlers. Thus, make sure they don’t contain a set of random numbers and letters. A good practice is to include main keywords in the URL structure.

  • Optimize your images. Search crawlers can’t read images, so their titles and alternative descriptions should explain the contents of the image. Additionally, pay attention to image sizes and formats as they may affect the loading time of your website.

  • Write compelling meta descriptions. These are the short summaries that appear below the link to your website in SERPs. They should include a brief rundown of how the article can help readers and a strong CTA that would encourage them to click.

  • Link to related, authority websites. Anytime you quote data, someone’s thoughts, or infographic, always link to it. This lets users see that you’ve done proper research. It also proves that your content isn’t trumped up. 

  • Internal linking. Having links to your own content creates a website hierarchy, drives traffic through your entire website, and encourages visitors to stay on your website for longer. What’s more, using internal links and anchor text strategically helps search engines to understand your content more effectively.

  • Build domain authority. One of the most important elements of today’s SEO is building the strength of your domain. This will significantly help in achieving higher positions in SERP as your website will look like a trusted and authoritative source of information. That can be done by creating quality content that will naturally acquire backlinks or publishing guest posts on authoritative websites (like this one!).