Gotta Market to Them All: What Link Building Has in Common with Pokémon Go
It has been about a month and a half since Pokémon Go launched in the United States and a few other countries. The game, which brings back so many childhood memories, combines the classic Gameboy and ‘90s phenomena with a Google Maps-like interface and forces users to get and move in order to be successful at the game.
It’s estimated that the Pokémon Go app has anywhere between 9.5 million and 21 million active users in the US alone. It seems that the number of downloads and daily users is starting to plateau and even decrease, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that Pokémon go is here to stay.
- Some Countries have not been able to download just yet
- Rumors of Trainer Battles implementation
- Rumors of 2nd, 3rd, etc. generations being added to gameplay
Before the ash settles (see what I did there?) and we are actually able to see the fate of Pokémon Go play out, business owners, managers and marketers have all been asking the same question: “How can we capitalize on marketing and advertising through Pokémon Go?”
You can surf the web and find some really great examples (and some really bad ones) of how businesses and organizations are using the Pokémon theme in their marketing strategies.
Beyond that, marketers really want to know:
- “Can you advertise in the app?”
- “Can I make my business a PokéStop?”
- “Can I add a new Pokémon and name it after my business? WebFXchu?”
Yes, Yes, and No. Just No.
Niantic has confirmed that it is planning to let businesses and retailers to sponsor places on the Pokémon Go map.
If your business relies on a lot of foot traffic, making your location a PokéStop could give you a quick boost. In-app ads would definitely lower the user-friendliness of the app, but it is a wait and see game to tell if Niantic will choose to pursue some additional revenue from this monster app.
Comparing Pokémon Go & link building
Before you read any further, please know that this is not going to be a listicle of “Top 10 Ways to Effectively Market with Pokémon Go”. Instead I’d like to shift our focus to how Pokémon Go compares to one of the most important pieces of SEO and Internet marketing in general.
“What’s that,” you ask? Link Building.
Now that we have that covered, let’s set the scene with our first analogy. A Pokémon Trainer is to Pokémon Go as a Website is to the Internet.
Catching Pokémon = building links
Catching Pokémon gives you, as a trainer, Experience Points (XP). Getting more XP allows you to become a better trainer (have a more successful website), brag to your friends (become a thought leader in your industry), and catch better Pokémon (build more links).
One thing to keep in mind from this first analogy is that while anyone can catch a Pokémon, not everyone can build links.
Leveling up = building your domain authority
As you become a better trainer, you level up in the game. You start out at level 1 and keep going up from there – presumably all the way to level 100, but maybe beyond.
Sounds great! Keep catching Pokémon and you’ll keep leveling up at the same rate, right?
You will need to gather more XP to level up as you become a better Trainer. While it only takes 1,000 XP to level up from 1 to 2, it takes 25,000 XP to level up from 19 to 20.
Although there is not an exact, released, science behind Domain Authority, DA works in a very similar way. A few quality links may help a young site grow from a DA of 5 to 6 in a very short period of time. However, moving from a DA of 40 to 41 takes a lot more content marketing effort and link building.
What does becoming a better Pokémon Trainer tell us about Domain Authority? This is something that must always be nurtured. Play the game in different areas (make new contacts), catch new Pokémon (add new backlinks) and be patient (be very patient) as your site’s strength increases.
Combat Power (CP) = Page Authority (PA)
In Pokémon Go, there are currently 151 different Pokémon available to catch (this may increase in the future). There are also an unlimited number of each of those 151. Of course, some of those Pokémon are easier to find and catch than others.
Just like there are multiples of each Pokémon, websites (the good ones, anyway) have a variety of pages on them.
Each page indexed by Google is given a Page Authority. This is a number that predicts how well a page will fare in the search results.
Each Pokémon you encounter has a number attached to it called Combat Power (CP). This is a number that tells you how well your Pokémon will fare in battle. You can increase CP for a Pokémon by giving it Candy (more content) and Stardust (more traffic).
Catching a Rattata with a CP of 200 is far better than catching a Rattata with a CP of 80. Read some advice below before trying to catch every single Rattata available (getting a link from every page on one website).
Catching 151 Rattatas = building 151 links from the same domain
On a very basic level, the name of the game is to “catch ‘em all”. So the name of the game in Link Building is to “link ‘em all”, right? Not quite.
If you set your sights on catching 151 Rattatas, you would increase a little bit as a trainer and maybe be able to make some homemade ratatouille. However, you would have a very limited Pokémon diversity (backlink diversity) and would look pretty foolish as you step into a gym battle with one of your competitors.
As stated above, you’d rather have 1 strong Ratatta then 10 weak Ratattas. Catching all 11 would give you some benefit, but you’d receive more benefit by catching a Pidgey, a Weedle, a Pikachu and the rest of the 151.
To be the best Pokémon Trainer, you want to focus on having a large Pokémon diversity (how about ‘em all). There are different types of Pokemon (Fire, Water, Grass, Poison, Psychic, Ice, Ghost, Fighting, etc.) and having a solid diversity of number and type can ensure that you win any and every battle with a competitor.
In the same sense, you will receive benefit from getting two or more links from the same domain. However, it is far more beneficial to get many quality links from different domains than many links from the same domain.
Fighting in gyms = studying the competition
In the original Gameboy versions of Pokémon, you could fight/catch wild Pokémon, fight trainers along trails, and go to a gym to fight Gym Leaders. Pokémon Go has not yet added fighting wild Pokémon or random Pokémon Trainers just yet, but the game does have the ever-so-hard gym battles.
I won’t go into explaining how Pokémon Go gym battles work (especially if you are Team Instinct), but instead I’ll get right to the point of how this relates to link building.
Poké Gyms are the only place in Pokémon Go where we get to see and face other Trainers (The Competition). The basic information we get to see is what Pokémon they have and which are their strongest (backlink profile) and what level trainer they are (domain authority).
Competitor analysis is a great way to see what you are up against and where you need to improve as a trainer. Do you need to catch more Fire Type Pokémon? Do you need to catch more Ghost Type Pokémon? What is it going to take to catch up to and stay in front of the competition? A competitor backlink analysis is a perfect place to start.
Nests, lures, and incense = anchor text and page placement
A similar discussion to the analogy two sections above, placement on a website is also important.
In Pokémon Go, a “nest” is how players refer to an area where a certain Pokémon can be frequently found. “Lures” and “incense” are two items you can use to attract more Pokémon to your location. You can only use lures in certain spots (at PokéStops), but you can use incense anywhere at any time.
I know this part of the analogy is a bit of a stretch (hey, you’ve stuck with me this far), but the main point that I want to get across is that location of a link on a page is very important. There are a few parts that go into the importance of a link’s location:
- Anchor text used
- Relevancy of the surrounding text
- Where your link is on the page
In order to become a better Pokémon Trainer, you must:
- Be in the right place
- Wisely choose when to use your incense
- Know when you can use a lure
In website and domain terms, you must:
- Make sure the page and surrounding text is relevant to the page you want to link to
- Make sure the link to your site is in the body content of the page
- Know when to diversify your anchor text
Evolving Magikarps into a Garyados = local citations, industry directories & no-follows
For those of you who have never played Pokémon or Pokémon Go, some Pokémon evolve into bigger and better Pokémon. The two games differ in how this is done, but that’s beside the point.
In Pokémon Go, you have to catch a certain amount of one Pokémon in order to evolve it into the bigger and better version. You have to catch 101 Magikarp (literally the worst Pokémon ever) to evolve it into Garyados (literally one of the best Pokémon ever).
How does this relate to link building?
There are links you can build that do not provide as much value to your website but are still great to have in your backlink profile for your long-term link building strategy. Example of these links are
- Local citations
- Industry directories
- Nofollow links
If you are a local business or have a business with multiple locations, you should definitely look into building out local citations (for each location) with the correct info and optimized business descriptions.
Local citation websites do not typically provide you with a lot of link juice. However, building out your local citation profiles can be a great way to increase your ranking prowess in the local search results and get a steady stream of qualified referral traffic.
Industry directories fall into the same category as local citations. Maybe you don’t have a concrete location or don’t serve a local area, but you definitely have an industry market that you fit into. You can follow the same guidelines as building local citations.
Nofollow links are exactly what they sound like. This is when a website that links out to another website, but codes the link in a way that tells search engines not to pass on any authority or link juice. Nofollow links have little effect on SEO, but can be great for branding and referral traffic.
Your main focus should be on dofollow links, but having nofollow links pointing to your site is never a bad thing!
So that’s it. Catch 101 Pokémon and get a really cool Garyados, right?
Making sure you have all of the correct 101 (all Magikarp) Pokémon is important to get you that Garyados. When building out citation and directory profiles, it is essential that all of your business information is correct and consistent across the board! Some of the most important things to get right:
- Name (LLC, Inc., etc.)
- Address (avoid a PO box when you can)
- Phone number (each location should have a separate profile and phone number)
- Business category
Generations of Pokémon = The World Wide Web
I mentioned a rumor in the very beginning of this article that Pokémon Go might expand the amount of Pokémon available in the game. As it stands now, the game only includes 151 Pokemon from the 1st Generation.
The Pokémon games for Gameboy and the like included seven different generations and each one introduced more Pokémon to the Pokéworld:
|Generation||Games||New Pokémon||Total Pokémon|
|1||Red, Blue & Yellow||151||151|
|2||Gold, Silver & Crystal||100||251|
|3||Ruby, Saphire, FireRed, LeafGreen & Emerald||135||386|
|4||Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold & SoulSilver||107||493|
|5||Black, White, Black 2, & White 2||156||649|
|6||X, Y, Omega Ruby &Alpha Sapphire||72||721|
|7||Sun & Moon||31||752|
This growth reminds me of something else that has grown quite quickly. Okay, a lot more quickly.
In 1996, the same year that Generation 1 was released, only 100,000 websites existed online. As of the end of March 2016, there are over 1,000,000,000 websites online. Yes, that is 1 billion.
There are a lot of Pokémon out there that you can catch! (a.k.a. – a lot of links you can build!)
I am personally a 1st and 2nd Generation snob when it comes to Pokémon. However, when it comes to link building, you have what seems like an infinite amount of resources. Please remember to keep relevancy and spam score in mind before building a link to your site.
PokéStops = keeping yourself updated
As you traverse the Pokéworld, catch wild Pokémon and wound some of you Pokéfriends in battle, you’ll need to visit a PokéStop to replenish with more:
This analogy is a quick one. The game is ever-changing and you have to make sure that you have the resources, tools, and knowledge to stay on top of your game. Stay up to date in the Internet marketing industry to ensure you are always implementing with the best practices in mind.
Using all of your battery & data = not having the resources you need
Two of the biggest concerns that players have with Pokémon Go are:
- It kills my battery so fast!
- I’m using up all of my monthly data!
If you are a business owner or marketing manager, you are probably guilty of saying one of the following to yourself:
- I’m running out of energy to do this on my own.
- I really don’t have the in-house resources to get this done.
That’s what WebFX is here for. Link building, content marketing, SEO and the whole Internet marketing portfolio can be a huge task to take on in-house.
Just like gamers are going out and buying batter life extenders and bigger data plans, there is always another option to achieve your goals. You can contact us if you are considering taking a more aggressive approach to your online marketing or if you just want more information.
Catching them all = linking them all
I hope you enjoyed this nerdy analogy of Pokémon Go and link building. More importantly, I hope you learned something along the way.
Good luck “catching ‘em all”!