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linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

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english
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Joined: 12/31/1969

We are thinking of having a links page on our site.

The thing is it's a bit of a tricky area as far as business is concerned.

It's a tricky area because you have to balance not diluting your own company brand position by linking to your 'competitors' while making your web site more appealing to search engines that rank you higher based on your 'links in'.

What's your view on this?

Maybe we ought to come up with a quality mark that embodies good family fun goodness (does one exist?) and then we can be members of that group and link between other members sites.

I very interested in hearing anyone elses views on this subject.

Thanks

Carl

OrlandoPat
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Joined: 10/16/2008
We do it...

We post links to other game companies and other resources on our "Friends of Live Oak" section. It's at:
http://www.liveoakgames.com/flo.htm

These are not companies that have linked back to me, they're companies that I've personally dealt with. The games are all games that I've played (and enjoyed). It's different than the standard "link to us and we'll link to you" approach that a lot of companies take. All the Friends of Live Oak are companies that we've worked with and have our recommendation.

Actually, I need to go back and double-check those links to make sure they're still valid...

- Pat

english
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

Ahh...thanks for the feedback Pat.

I 've just taken a look at what you've done - it has a good 'feel' about it, very friendly.

I guess that by not doing a link exchange though your web site is not getting the bonus with regards 'links in' from search engines.

I think my original post was driven by two thoughts:

1. How to build appropriate links 'into' your board game web site to help drive traffic to your company (and give your site more weight with search engine bots).

2. How to protect the integrity of your own brand 'experience' (apologies for the marketing-speak) while also showing your company to be part of the overall board gaming community online (linking to other companies etc.).

I'm beginning to feel that the second point can be adequately handled by the 'look and feel' of your site, along with the 'tone of voice' on any relevant links page.

What do you think?

Carl

OrlandoPat
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Joined: 10/16/2008
I'm all for exchanging links!

I'm all for exchanging links, but, IMHO, they have to be from known entities. I'd hate to have a link to a company that ripped people off, or produced inappropriate content, or anything else like that. I view the links in two ways: as a service to my customers, and as a traffic building mechanism. To me, the service has to come first.

I've been checking those links ever since I posted, and have found several that are dead. I'm going to have to follow up and either remove them or follow up with those companies!

- Pat

P.S. If you do something similar, and are interested in getting on the FLO list, just let me know!

markg
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

A very good thread here, and an important idea.

Although I am new to these boards, I am very familiar with this forum software as I run it on my own karate-focussed website. In 2003 I wrote a book about doing karate in Japan and I made it a habit to try to exchange links with as many other authors in the karate book field. I also contacted all the clubs and schools I could as well and developed a karate school directory. People seemed very grateful for the links (which I need to update too!!) and they all linked back to my website, and my web forums. It paid off tremendously and I received a lot of goodwill towards my book, and my site.

I am hoping to do the same with our new card game too. Links are good. Links let people know that you are out there and that you are interested in the same things they are. Of course I hope that people will buy our game, and my karate book, and my used car... but that is usually a kind of side benefit that you get from greater exposure, publicity, and also meeting some very interesting people.

Cheers!

Mark G.

english
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

Thanks for your input Mark.

I agree with you about the additional 'side benefits' of links - the thing is it's like Pat said, you have to know and trust the people you link to. Particularly when it is your business offering the links.

I've noticed that the big games companies don't concern themselves with external links. Their brands are so big that they don't need the additional exposure from link exchanges. (Also they have such a huge fan base that they get a lot of links into their sites from fansites anyway).

I think it's the small independent companies that need the added exposure/search engine ranking gained from links into their web sites.

I guess it comes down to the old fashioned networking approach of searching for those who are appropriate and you wish to link with and coming to some form of agreement.

A long process but I imagine a better quality final product (links page) is created than getting anything and everything you can get.

The directory approach you mention Mark has got some mileage in it - that could be used in many ways.

I still think a Quality Mark would be a good tool so that parents could be confident that their younger kids would be fine looking at your games site.

Hmmm...there's a lot of market segmentation to look at then (content suitable for under 13s, teens, over 18s - a bit like the video games industry)

Anyone know if there such a thing for the board games industry?

Carl

PS - Mark - learning karate in Japan - much respect to you mate. I was into martial arts in my younger (fitter) days and had a bit of a dream of learning kung fu and later tai chi, ba gua and hsing yi from the masters in china - I never did it, so 'nice one' for going to the source.

markg
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

Hello Carl,

Thank you very much for the nice comments.

Weblinks are, to some, an extremely important way of generating traffic to their sites. The big boys have names for themselves and are widely linked to by fanboys far and wide. It's the smaller guys who have to struggle a bit... so, why don't the smaller guys struggle a bit together?

I am somewhat concerned if smaller game makers see other smaller game makers as "competition". What do you think about that? As far as I am concerned, now recently becoming a game creator myself, I would be just fine with having reciprocal links with other guys that make games. That would be just fine. Of course there are some kinds of games that I am not interested in linking to, but generally speaking, games that make people laugh, have fun, and enjoy their friendships with others would be most welcome links.

As for the karate stuff, thanks for the nice comments there too. Yes, it has been a wonderful 11 plus years in Japan. I am now in the process of moving back to Canada with my family so we expect quite a few challenges ahead.

Best regards,

Mark

english
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

markg wrote:
I am somewhat concerned if smaller game makers see other smaller game makers as "competition". What do you think about that?

I agree to an extent with what you're saying here 'we're all in it together' but at the same time 'business is business' so I feel a pull in opposite directions on the issue.

The reason I've mentioned the idea of a Quality Mark is that if it was membership based it would give people the opportunity to link to fellow members which they knew were okay as far as content of their site was concerned etc.

From a customers perpective it looks like the company is part of a group which stands for good quality, family values etc. (whatever the group stood for).

The members are ultimately still 'in competition' with each other for the customers disposable income but now they are working together through the link exchanges generated by their members network to raise the collective profile on the web and hopefully give each members site more chance of being found by people searching for 'board games'.

As an aside I've been watching the search terms people use (I've worked with web developers in the past so know a few bits) 'buy board games' was high in the 250k searches bracket in Dec & Jan in the UK, it's since tailed down to 50k-80k searches month on month.

Obviously some of these are people looking for online games but even so there must be quite a few people genuinely looking for a game to play around a table.

There's a lot of birthday presents needed every month after all.

Carl

Azzarc
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

The whole linking thing has really been ruined by the link farms. The major search engines can actually penalize you for some types of linking.

markg
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

I am sorry, but I have no idea what a "link farm" is. Is it some kind of automated computer program that picks up links?

Also, and I may be speaking from total ignorance here, but aren't rankings in search engines also determined by traffic to sites, and also calculated based on "unique" users visiting?

It would be great to know a bit more about this, and how links (or lack of links) impacts a website--particularly a website trying to promote a game! LOL!

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

There's a lot of information out there about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but rather than trying to summarize it, I'll say this: Google bases your ranking almost exclusively on how many other sites point to you. That's how they determine relevancy. Googling "search engine optiization" will give you all kinds of relatively useful info about the concepts.

-- Matthew

seo
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Joined: 07/21/2008
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

Here and here you have two good pieces of information from Google on how they rank pages and what to do to improve your ranking.

Seo
(Which comes from Seoane, my lastname, and has nothing to do with SEO as mentioned by Matthew) ;-)

english
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

seo wrote:
Here and here you have two good pieces of information from Google on how they rank pages and what to do to improve your ranking.

Good info there SEO, I was aware of it but it's good to point it out.

I've recently started experimenting with boardgamegeek's advertising (too early to measure effectiveness but it's showing some good progress already).

The offshoot of doing it though is that it puts links from a very good site (IMO) relating to board games (ranked top two on google for 'board game' alongside boardgamecentral) to our web site.

I imagine that over time this sort of thing can help the weighting within google's ranking system (see SEO's links).

We've certainly seen an increase in site visits since being on BGG (these are visitors coming in from the BGG site itself) which is great!

Anyone know the guy who runs boardgamecentral?

His name is Randy (it looks like he must be a really busy guy running several web sites). Anyone had any dealings with him?

Carl

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

It's fun to know that buy linking all my website together, I increase their popularity.

OrlandoPat
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Joined: 10/16/2008
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

Thanks for the tip, English! I just created a signature with my website in it...

OrlandoPat
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Joined: 10/16/2008
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

...and then I figured out how to attach it...

Azzarc
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Joined: 12/31/1969
linking to other board game publishers websites pros vs cons

Markg, A link Farm is a site that just has hundreds of links.

There are many "Black Hat", "White Hat" ways to get decent rankings in the search engines. And BTW, if you are only using Google, you can really limit yourself.

The Google link http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769
that SEO posted has several "White Hat" suggestions. But, Google is not going to tell you how their system works.

Greg
www.wargamedownloads.com

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