Video games are a big waste of time. We all know it, but for some reason we still end up playing them for hours at a time. Why? Well, it’s because the elements within games, such as a scoreboard and action points, make them addictive.
These elements are called game mechanics. And although you probably don’t care about them, you should because you can use them to improve your search engine rankings.
Scoreboards help build links
Have you seen those funny online quizzes such as what are your chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse or how long can you last chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor?
At the end of the quiz, you’re given a badge with your score. You can then take these badges and show them off to your friends by placing them on your website.
The reason this is effective is because your friends will want to beat your score, and once they do, they’ll also take their badges (that show their scores) and place them on their websites.
This is a very effective way to build backward links and increase your rankings as long as the quiz is relevant to your website and you’re not stuffing the links with rich anchor text to manipulate search engines.
For example, bunkbeds.net created the velociraptor quiz. Now, they rank on Google for the term “bunk beds.”
Rewarding helps build content
Theoretically, the more content you have on your website, the more keywords you can rank for on search engines. So, if you reward your users on your website, you can encourage them to participate in your community.
Judy’s Book does a great job of this by featuring its most active members on its homepage. For example, Kristen H. has her picture on Judy’s Book homepage, which will encourage her to write more reviews.
In addition to showcasing its top users, Judy’s Book could also give members special badges on its profile page such as a “Pro” badge to show a loyal user. When Kristen’s friends see that she has a Pro badge, they’ll want one too and start contributing to Judy’s Book as well.
Piece elimination helps you create even more content
Comments account for 83% of the content on Quick Sprout, which is why the blog ranks for so many long tail keywords on search engines. But what you may not know is that the five most active commentators each week account for 27% of the content.
The reason the top five commentators account for most of the content/comments on each blog post is because they are rewarded with a link on every page of Quick Sprout, which helps drive traffic to their websites.
The reason this is so effective is because it is a battle to stay in the top five. Anyone can come to Quick Sprout, comment a handful of times, and knock you out of your spot. For you to get back into the top five, you would have to come back to Quick Sprout and leave more comments than the people who are currently on the list did.
By leveraging the mechanic of piece elimination, you’re not just encouraging people to add more content to your website, but you’re encouraging them to do so on a regular basis.
Goal completion helps you influence people’s actions
LinkedIn is known for using the game mechanic of goal completion. When you log into LinkedIn, you see a status bar showing you how much of your profile you have completed.
This status bar encourages users to get to 100%. And if you aren’t at 100%, it pushes you until you get there.
Now, although LinkedIn isn’t using this for SEO purposes, it could. For example, it could make users promote their resumes on their blog, Twitter, Facebook and other social sites by making it a requirement to get to 100% completeness. And although most of those social links don’t help with SEO, they still help build your traffic.
Giving people territory control helps improve your website
Wikipedia and DMOZ are two great examples of sites that are leveraging the game mechanic of territory control. Users have to participate frequently in the community to get special privileges such as becoming a senior editor of a specific section of the website.
These users are then motivated to ensure that the content on the website is high in quality, or else they will lose control over their territory.
High quality content ensures that people will find your website useful. And the more useful people find it, the more likely they will be willing to link to it.
For example, Wikipedia has over 228 million backward links according to Yahoo Site Explorer. This, in turn, helps Wikipedia get over 1.67 billion visitors a month from Google.
Although video games may seem like a waste of time, you can actually learn a lot from them. The video game industry isn’t a 10.3 billion dollar industry for no reason.
It has figured out how to get you and millions of other people addicted to its games so much so that you’ll actually stand in line overnight to get your hands on the latest gaming system.
So, take a page out of its book and start using game mechanics in your business. Not only can it help improve your SEO, but it can actually help you create a popular business. If you don’t believe me, just look at Four Square.