Gamers are some seriously intense people who are passionate about their games. It's estimated that 3 billion hours a week are spent on games, as a planet. It was estimated in 2010 that 67 percent of U.S. households play video games and that's a massive market.
No matter how you feel about the gaming industry, it's obvious that it's providing something of value to a powerful audience. The gaming industry also generates an incredible amount of links and is definitely one of the most fun niches in which I've worked. If you're lucky enough to work on link development for this industry, I'm sure you'll agree that the wealth of opportunities means that you'll never run out of ideas.
Make Use of Your Existing Audience
You would be foolish to ignore your existing gamers, but as we know, a lot of marketing time gets spent on attracting new customers for most niches. My son is a gamer and while he gets really excited about new games, he is fiercely loyal to the games he likes, so when new editions come out, he's a happy camper.
Have an email list and send your subscribers early access codes or coupons for new games. Send them information about upcoming and brand-new releases, new forays into other areas such as television or films, new toys available, etc.
Let gamers preorder the game and get more exclusive material such as extra DLC (downloadable content), extra parts of the game, maps, etc. A lot of people say that you shouldn't preorder games because it skews the whole process of companies needing incentives to sell their products and learn from their feedback.
Someone who preorders a game has bought it without doing any research, since there isn't any yet. If you're going to allow for preordering, make sure that you aren't just sitting back and ignoring feedback once a copy has been sold.
Along with this, always ask for feedback from your gamers. If you have to provide an incentive for it, do so, because it's invaluable to get feedback from your loyal audience. Surveys are a quick and easy way to get feedback, but providing other ways to generate opinions from the people that you serve is critical so ask them in emails and ask them on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Local SEO is something that doesn't always get prioritized when a company doesn't actually do business locally, but it's still a good idea to cover the local search basics for your business location.
There are lots of really good game review sites and while you might not get a followed link, you might get a nofollowed one or you might just have to be content with the review itself. Like with any niche where you want to build a loyal customer base, a good review is nothing to sneeze at.
Your reviews don't have to be limited to review-only sites, as anyone can publish a review. Sadly, like with everything else, there are a lot of paid reviews that can't be trusted, so I wouldn't advise anyone to depend on this strategy, but some naturally generated reviews on a product are definitely part of an organic link profile.
Like all of us, gamers have short attention spans when it comes to the Web, so grabbing their attention with valuable information is critical.
If all you're tweeting about is your new game on sale, that's not really valuable because they already know that it's on sale, as gamers are an incredibly informed audience. They're used to making quick decisions so you don't have much time to capture their attention, but when you have it, you have it.
Call of Duty's Twitter account has almost 2 million followers. They post photos and videos and don't just tweet out links where you can buy their newest game; they tweet about different game championships going on, concept images that inspired characters and scenes, contests, etc.
Nintendo's Facebook account has close to 3 million likes. Many of their posts have more than 500 comments and/or 1,500 likes.
They do a good job of promoting their games and telling you where you can buy them based on current promotions, but they also have some really interesting content, such as videos of game developers answering fan-submitted questions, videos of developers sharing their favorite features of specific games, tournament info, and tons more.
IGN has a great set of videos on YouTube. Their video for "45 Awesome Games of E3 2014" currently has more than 94,000 views and more than 300 comments. They also have more than 94 videos posted. One of the coolest features they have is a video list of "Stuff that will make you say 'I REMEMBER THAT,' 'hmmm, I didn't know that,' or 'I don't agree with you, here is what I think!'"
As with anything visual like games, an image platform can be a nice part of how you market online. Battlefield's Pinterest account has a lot of cool boards, including one that lists locations that inspired BF3, real-world military action, the Battlefield heritage, and Around EA.
Astro Gaming has a cool Instagram account where they photos of pro leagues, gaming news, gaming events, gaming products, etc. If you're using Pinterest and Instagram both, hopefully you can find a way to keep each stream unique.
There are a lot of gaming communities on Google+ and with the members, you'd be smart to join in here, but these communities are very strict with the link drops, so don't go into them and just start promoting yourself or your brand. If you do, you'll probably get kicked out. These communities are about sharing and helping with news, reviews, and discussions.
Topics can be shared on Twitter and Facebook to further your visibility. People ask questions on various social sites and communities, so as the provider of something that generates a lot of questions, you'd be crazy not to be on Quora. Look at the example below of a CEO answering someone:
I've always loved Quora for generating ideas for content as well. If you know the questions people are asking, it's much easier to write content that's targeted to what they want to consume.
Forums and Communities
Even though it may be a relevant thing to do, dropping links in a forum can be very dangerous. However, forums are still incredibly useful for getting keyword ideas, content ideas, and connecting up with people on other social networks. There are a lot of trolls in forums, so I'd suggest you steer clear of the ones that don't moderate comments and that allow trolling to go on and on.
Providing help in a forum can be very valuable, though, so if you are able to help someone out and answer a question, that's great. If your company is big enough, perhaps you can create your own forum as well.
Company of Heroes has a pretty active community where people ask for and offer help and they have an off-topic section for items not related to Company of Heroes, which I think is a great idea since it's a good way to keep people on the site.
If you don't know much about gaming, ask a gamer. I asked my son and his friend about what kinds of content would interest them and there isn't space to list all of their ideas that were shouted at me within five minutes. If what you're producing is shareable, it's linkable.
A few ideas:
- Different DLC available now and upcoming.
- New updates to the game that are in place and upcoming.
- MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game): different character builds, new characters, etc.
- What's the best way to build a character in a certain game?
- Online-only extra parts of a game.
- What's the history of the game?
- What caused you to make certain changes to the game?
- Responses to media coverage of the game.
- Infographic of character development throughout the history of a game.
A Few Things to Consider
- Don't assume that just because you know something about one game, you can apply the same concepts to every other one. The searches are different, and so is the audience.
- One of the most basic tactics that works is straight-up outreach. If you find a site and you'd like a link there, reach out and ask for one. People who run gaming blogs are usually very friendly.
- Set up Google and/or Talkwalker alerts for your brand and various gaming topics, as that's a great way to get good content ideas.
- Remember that there are a ton of female gamers and make sure that your content isn't misogynistic. There are a few games that are frighteningly violent and a lot of that violence gets directed toward women and apparently there is an audience for that. However, if your game isn't one of those types, you have a large array of topics related to this that are available to you anyway. If you have some strong female characters, tell their stories.
- Don't forget that there is a lot more to link development than simply immediately generating a text link. Some of the best links that you'll ever build will come about much later than you expect or hope most likely, and you have to remember that the best way to build links is to have something that people want and to point them to it.
- Pick up a gaming magazine like Game Informer. You can generate great content by seeing how a magazine in your niche does things. The latest issue that I picked up has a very cool trivia game to unite gaming's legendary teammates, for example.
Link development for gaming companies really is a lot of fun. You have loads of content possibilities, and an exceptionally passionate, loyal, and very Internet-savvy audience. It's not a boring industry by anyone's standards, but it's definitely very, very competitive, so figure out what your gamers want and figure out how to get it to them in the ways that benefit you both the most.