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“A website is not a marketing plan.”

Without an effective marketing plan, you’ll be unable to communicate your unique selling point to your intended target audience (Jantsch and Singleton, 2016. ). Your website is the cornerstone of strategy, provides the content, provides your product and your marketing strategy should properly convey to your target audience what it is you do and what you can offer for them.

Amongst my reading I came across some discovery questions which help become the basis for your strategy which i’ve yet to answer:

  • Who, exactly, is your ideal target audience?

My targeted country/region is primarily united kingdom, united states of america & japan where most games industries are present.

Nintendo’s ideology for animal crossing as a series is primarily directed towards an urban demographic (large populated areas where people can connect with each-other easily e.g. streetpass) so it makes sense that this is also my demographic.

Most animal crossing players i’ve come across tend to be varied from 10-30, this is my target age group. Gender and education is unimportant as animal crossing as a series is loved by a wide age group of male/female users.

  • What type of content does your target audience like to consume?

Animal crossing players seek to forums for these primary reasons: to play with others online, to trade items in game & to discuss the series. The areas of use on the forum I have designed, are to cater to these interests including categories for discussion, areas for trading items, sections for offering your friend code and playing online with others and guides/tips to aid the experience.

We’ve also produced our own animal crossing database to provide info/content about the items that can be found in game, a sort of wikipedia.

  • What are the goals that you hope to accomplish with your website and marketing?

To provide a family friendly community that people can make friends with other animal crossing players and get the help they need with their game.

The social mediums I use to provide news and insight into forum activity should be those used by my target audience which i’ve narrowed down to: discord, facebook and tumblr.

  • Which search terms does your target audience use when they need your product or service?

These are usually the obvious terms such as animal crossing, nintendo and precise item names from the game. Most of the search terms are shortened to the particular series names: ‘acnl’ = animal crossing new leaf.

In order to create a great marketing strategy, having goals and setting out the specific needs of your website can help aid the conversion process:

  • Why do you do what you do?

I created forums as hobbies because I loved meeting new people and creating helpful communities. Animal Crossing is a series which i’ve grown up with and is dear to me so naturally I make an animal crossing forum.

  • Who you do it for?

I created a forum for all the people who wish there were a centralised space where people can share their love of animal crossing. It is a hobby but in my life I always like to be pursuing at least one productive project as it gives me goals and satisfaction that i’m making a difference.

  • What do you do that makes your company remarkable and unique?

This is a difficult question and one that I need to work on but we do have an animal crossing database which includes every single item from the game: animal crossing new leaf. The data was provided by an already made website database, however our design is much better and easier for people to use.

I find alot of forums are strict on their rules, so our forum is unique in the sense ou can discuss and relax without feeling constricted too much about what you say (as long as it’s family friendly).

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What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Let me answer this by posing another question. Imagine two stores, located at the centre of Oxford Street in London and that Google is the street. Both are clothes stores, both have a clear sign and both show clearly what they are selling.

One shop has the latest fashion in their window and their store is easy to navigate. Inside they have a big catalogue on all their products and outside they have multiple signs along the street showing advertisements/social media.

The other shop’s window shows outdated clothes, whereas their store is difficult to navigate. Their catalogue is just a small brochure and they have no outside adverts or social media.

Which store are people more likely to go to and has a better presence on the street?

If these stores were websites, shop A would be showing great practice of using SEO techniques. They’ve shown great functionality (layout), authoritative content (catalogue) and great public relations (advertising).

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), a term originally popularised by Danny Sullivan as ‘SEM’ (Search Engine Marketing) is a tool which helps increase a website’s presence and rank in unpaid or ‘organic’ search engine results. In order to stay relevant and at the forefront of search engines such as Google, your website must be constantly optimised to reflect what their current algorithm is looking for. It is becoming increasingly common that if you’re not found in a search, you’re seen as non-existent.

As of 2017, Google’s search engine is locating not only large amounts of content, but high quality content as well. It used to be that content farms could easily bolster a website’s rank, but now search engines are much more intelligent than that. Having unique epic content is crucial for marketing your business and “well-written, authoritative , long form blog-posts SIGNIFICANTLY outperform filler blog posts” (Jantsch and Singleton 2016, p. 8).

Every business must pass three stages of growth. These are: traction, expansion and conversion. Initially, your website will have no brand, no content and you should focus on marketing your website so it gives a clear message to your target audience about what’re you’re selling. Optimise your layout so it’s fluid and seamless to navigate. Create interesting content that will bring customers to you. This is known as traction.

Once your brand is clear, you can expand your website using content marketing & link building as a primary SEO tool. Affiliating other websites can be a mutually beneficial way of advertising and offering your epic content can get you high quality back-links. It is important to note that the quality of your back-links is more important than the quantity.

Lastly, you now have a high volume of traffic and it’s time to convert them into paying customers. A highly ranked and shared website with good content will help convert visitor’s into taking your offers. A useful tool for scoring how your domain will rank in search engines is MOZ.

A good understanding of what SEO is will lay the foundation for a successful SEO strategy. Search engines are a medium for shouting out your latest projects and achievements and it’s easier for people to hear you if they can see where the noise is coming from.

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Gameo – a gamer in the world of seo

I’m often known as ‘Ray’ across my forum The Sapling and the web. My name is Steven Ford, I am 26 years old, co-habiting and from Manchester in the UK.

I am a interactive games design graduate from the University of Gloucestershire, somewhat of an entrepreneur, a major video game enthusiast (a little bit crazy) and looking to break free into a career in the world of SEO.

Gameo is a blog foremost where I can share my projects and discuss everything i’ve learnt about SEO along the way! I’m currently freelancing a project: an animal crossing forum: ‘The Sapling‘ which consists of graphics editing, content creation and web/event management which I have been optimising for google for quite some time.