Gamification, according to the God of facts (Wikipedia) is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. What I find really interesting as a Digital Marketer is how game mechanics are starting to affect SEO (Search Engine Optimization – the art of getting your website to the top of Google’s natural results for targeted search terms/ queries).
Up until now the zenith of link building (getting lots of good quality inbound links massively helps your Google rankings) was something called ‘Link Bait’. Essentially this involves great: guides, news creation, syndication of consumer studies and infographics that are so interesting people decide to share it with others and link back to your site. Whilst all these Link Bait initiatives are great, and are ones I have used in the past, the next evolution will surely be gamification.
As we all know games can result in increased Engagement, virality and User Generated Content and SEO also sees a huge boost in terms of Social Media syndication with various websites linking back to your site as a result (clearly as long as the game is hosted on the website you are trying to optimize). The end result? Improved rankings for the search terms you are trying to target.
You can take example of companies like Mint.com (financial fitness-o-meter) and Hallmark (their Social Gifting Calendar) have found success in generating inbound links via gamification and the last agency I worked for found success with a trolley dash game that was produced for Aldi. And as we are only at the start of gamification for SEO I’m sure there will be much better/ fun games around the corner.
My 3 point check list for creating a game for SEO purposes:
1) Set your objectives (often simply more links from relevant websites) and align them with your brand.
2) Do research of both your target markets and engage with them i.e. your direct gamers but also your target syndicators such as industry magazines, influential bloggers/ geeks and opinion leading twitter users.
3) A great game! For the gamification idea to be a success you must produce a great game. The game not only needs to be great to play but have elements of virality (sneezing it out to the target markets social circle) that will ensure it spreads across the web.
So not only is the game industry taking over Hollywood but it is already starting to affect the fundamental ways of how Google etc rank all websites.