The Settlers of SEO

Before every game of Catan, I spend a lot of time surveying the board, trying to determine how I am going to compete in this world of sheep, brick, ore, wheat, and wood. Although every game is different, three key components always come into play when deciding my strategy:

  1. What resources are going to be hard to get this game?
  2. If you can’t get these resources, how will you be able to trade for them?
  3. Once your initial placements are down, where will you be able to build next?

Being the nerd that I am, I noticed these strategies aren’t that different that some SEO basics. When determining how to make your business’s website stand out from the rest and succeed, you must also ask yourself these questions:

  1. What keywords should be targeted?
  2. What social media outlets should you be using?
  3. What back links can you build to drive traffic to your site and increase your rankings?

This might be a bit of a stretch in actual terms, but it is a fun way to look at both Catan and internet marketing.

Finding Sought After Resource with High Probability or Keyword Research

You will need to take a long look at the board before placing your first settlement and road. Many people will look for the 6s and 8s to build on first. What is just as important is to look at where the 2s, 12s, 3s and 11s are. These are going to tell you what resources are going difficult to get. If one of the resources has two of these numbers, your plan better include finding other ways of getting it.

When building, or improving, your website for search. It is important to start with keyword research. You need to know what your market is searching for. Doing keyword research will let you know what pages you will need to include on your site as well as what words to use on those pages.

A great place to start your research is with the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. This will give you an estimate of how many people are searching for certain keywords. It will also give you an insight as to what the paid search competition is for each keyword. This isn’t necessarily a true representation of what the SEO competition is, but it is pretty close.

Longest Road Always Wins or Link Building

There is always somebody who I am playing with who will insist that they need the longest road. This can be a good strategy, but it can’t work on its own. Just building a road for the sake of it being the longest can be a strain of your resources and often leads to dead ends. When laying down your network of wood and brick, it is important that it will be going to places that will help you in the future.

Link building strategies are crucial to boosting your websites visibility online. Directories are a great place to start, especially if you are a business is local. Google+ is a great place to start. Claim your local listing and complete your profile as much as possible. By placing keywords into your listing, it will help your site rank when people are searching for those terms. There are a number of other free local listings out there that can also help get you noticed.

Just as it doesn’t make sense to build a road to nowhere in Catan, it doesn’t make sense to build, or even buy, low quality links from irrelevant sites that don’t have any traffic related to your business. In fact, if Google notices you have a large amount of low quality links, they will even punish your site for this.

When building links think to yourself, “Would somebody who cares about my business click this?”

Winning by Trading or Trading to Win

The best part about Catan can be the haggling that is done near the end of each turn. The trading. The deals that your opponents can’t pass up on. The unavoidable “wood for sheep” jokes. A good trade in the beginning of the game can set you up for the rest of it. A number of good trades can lead you to the win. On the other side, sometimes these trade offers fall of deaf ears, or can lead somebody else to victory.

If you can find where your target market is online, social media can do this for you too. Finding the right platform is crucial to your social strategy. If you are selling crafts, Pinterest might be a good place to start. If your company is B2B, LinkedIn will be where your leads will research your business before reaching out.

Once you find your audience, be sure to give them something they will value. Like making a self-serving trade in Catan, if you are just selling your product online, nobody will listen.

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