Optimising for SEO

October 16, 2017

TLDR; Try to have your keyword focus before you make the page, and be prepared for surprises.

I think I’ve done a fairly decent introductory dive into SEO over the last week. Man, was that a shock, almost everything has changed. But it’s a lot better now. It seems like the old junk of keyword stuffing, link farms and hacked blog comments, is basically dead now. It seems Google have done really well with minimising search spamming, and are getting things well under control. But it also means thinking more about how to put things online.

I’m making things that people are liking, and I’m getting some really good feedback from Japanese language teachers that are using my games in their classes. I have access to a decent number of Australian teachers via Facebook, but once I’m out of he Australian teachers zone, I really have to think about how to build a network of teachers. Teachers are always looking for good content, and search engines are a good way to find them, so SEO seems like a good way to go.

I should point out, teachers aren’t my ‘big picture’ idea for this site. I’m more than happy making games that teachers are using in their classes. On top of that I get some really good feedback from teachers, which is amazingly valuable. My intent is to keep anything I put online here for free should stay free forever. If it helps kids learn, excellent!

My main learnings from SEO over the last week are combined with finally getting some search data in – me realising that I’ve done things totally wrong :)

Take ‘Kana Bento’, a game in which you select a kana alphabet to drag onto a grid of another kana set. Excellent for familiarisation with different kanas. But no one is searching for ‘kana bento’, or ‘kana drag and drop’. Well, maybe someone is, but I’m not seeing them. I am, however, seeing searches for ‘Hiragana drag and drop’, ‘drag-n-drop katakana’, and many similar combinations, none of which I am anywhere near the top of the rankings for.

My solution – split the game up. I’ve made some minimal changes to the code, and now have three games (OK, so it’s just one game being passed different starting parameters). One is a Hiragana drag and drop, one is a Katakana drag and drop, and the other lets you pick the kanas to use before the game starts. This is better for everyone. Teachers can send a link out and kids don’t have to pick options to get the game running correctly, and I can optimise the games for their respective kanas.

That’s not going to make a huge difference in the numbers coming to my site. But a the moment I’d be happy with an extra 50 people a week, so this little example of getting more targeted content should be an excellent (small) way to get into, and test, SEO optimization.

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Written by Adrian Gray making games in Sydney. Find him on Mastodon or Twitter.