Pokémon Go and SEO: The Opportunity Many SEMs Missed
Pokémon Go and SEO: The Opportunity Many SEMs Missed
Does Pokémon Go SEO make sense? I have an admission to make. I am a Pokémon Go player and I have reached level 6. I am a mature SEO and Technology professional, but am excited (sort of) that I can hang out at gyms now – though I don’t know what that means. Yesterday, somebody on the street expressed dismay at the state of our civilization seeing me playing Pokémon in the middle of the intersection being dragged by my girlfriend. What does all this mean? Where will it go?
Well, first let me explain myself. I always catch new trends, usually just before they break, and investigate them for potential business, marketing, and technical applications. I am a big believer and practitioner of the “algorithms and alphabets” ideation strategy… understanding the code, processes, and words (search) of most products and services in order to innovate upon them.
I got wind of Pokémon a few weeks back and got on board about two weeks ago. Just part of my profession you see.
What I have learned is that Augmented Reality (AR) and Location Based Gaming have arrived big time and the travel industry better get on board. There is already SEO potential as I describe below. And the potential applications derived from this experience give rise to ideas on preparing for the future.
The numbers speak for themselves. In just a few weeks, Pokémon Go is the largest mobile game ever with over 20 million daily active users. It has already passed Twitter in users, is gaining fast on Snapchat, and could actually soon surpass Google Maps for use of its own mapping data!
Fantastic! Stupendous! I am selling you like Nelson Van Alden and his irons. Maybe with a little more excitement. But now I have to translate that into a hot property for the travel business and sell like rum during the prohibition. Well first, let me pull a Trump move and put my name on someone else’s work.
On-Demand Destination Marketing
Skift, a leader in travel industry news, is already reporting on the tourism industry’s response to Pokémon. The are calling it the “Rise of On-Demand Destination Marketing.” Some of the highlights include:
The visitor’s bureau for Anaheim published a page specifying attractions in the city filled with “rare and exotic” Pokémon, including Disneyland Park, Anaheim Convention Center, and the Anaheim Packing District. Within 24 hours they were getting search engine results.
Travel Portland published its Pokémon Go in Portland page, filled with smaller independent businesses that have lots of Pokémon and PokéStops. They had 1400 visits to the page within 24 hours.
Tourism officials in many places are touting the potential. The Palm Beach Post: “If tourism attractions can capitalize on this burgeoning app, it’s a simple and free way for them to reach a potentially untapped market …The Pokémon Go game is an opportunity for businesses to latch on to a trending social phenomenon that can act as a draw for visitors and residents to visit.”
Hotelier’s Response to Pokémon Go
Hot darn! Tourism Boards thinks general traffic lose like lunatics is a good thing! Fills the streets up with people buying food and coffee. What does it mean for destinations wanting more substantial visitors – like overnight guests? Sabre, the online technology provider that helps hotels get booked, wrote an insightful blog post with some great tips on what to do:
First off, it’s has good summary of why Pokémon is catching on – it’s a cultural moment anchored in nostalgia, bridging generations and bringing friends, families and strangers together to chase whimsical digital creatures anywhere and everywhere on the globe.
It points to important characteristics that make it valuable to hotel marketing: a key element of the game is visiting in-game landmarks (called “PokéStops” and “gyms”), each of which is tied to a real-world location, which also encourages people to wander around.
Some simple quick hit marketing tactics include:
o Educating staff to be knowledgeable, encouraging, and safe about play.
o Creating Maps to educate guests on PokéStops and gyms nearby.
o Creating in-game Lures to attract Pokémon and advertising the fact.
o Give guest perks who use hotel hashtags when sending out Pokémon pictures.
Most importantly, consider players as “potential guests” and create positive experiences.
The SEO World is Slow to Respond
Part of the reason I jumped on this blog post was I didn’t see much online in the way of response by the SEO world as it specifically relates to Pokémon Go SEO:
Search Engine Journal did a post, but it was basically talking about the in-app lures and various real world marketing tactics you can do. Not very SEO related.
Clickz did a post about some amusing real world marketing examples with a brief bit of advice for content marketing at the end.
And a couple of encouraging but not informative posts like this and this.
Kudos do go out to Len Raleigh who was quick to point out the mapping content potential for local SEO.
Thoughts on Pokémon Go SEO (From Our CEO)
So now it is my turn. Get off the proverbial pot so-to-speak. I’m with Len in that you need to go after some quick hitting stuff right now. First movers on making local listings of PokéStops and Gyms should get lots of links.
If I were a hotel, I would be posting interesting stories of Pokémon captures in or near my hotel. I’d be treating players as potential guests. For all of hospitality I would sure be doing lots of mobile search optimization for PokéStops and lures near transportation hubs like airports, bus depots, and train stations.
There is not enough search data yet to do a thorough analysis, but I’d keep watching the numbers and finding opportunities as they become apparent.
For all of this Augmented Reality and Location Based Games, I would be conceptually treating the virtual animations as actual attractions. If you have a Museum next to your hotel – how do utilize that in your SEO campaign?
For hipster/game culture brands in travel, perhaps like The Graduate Hotels or Moxy, I’d also concentrate on the branding aspect of SEO. Coming up often and ubiquitous for Pokémon Go searches could easily create the association of a popular game with the brand.
Most importantly, I would stick to my SEO basics and keep running an iterative process regularly on determining and growing my Pokémon SEO strategy:
Research onto what is driving search and how
Identify who is searching and who you want to capture the attention of
Audit position, site, and traffic to find holes
Exploit Competitive weaknesses
Create Content for the target
Build Authority for the Content
Measure results, rinse and repeat.
Algorithms and Alphabets
Ok that wasn’t all that smart. But I am gonna pull a Melania Trump and blame it on the writers…no I mean the lack of data. Or should I just assert that data never and will never exist?
No, let’s go with there is a lack of data to be really smart, but there is observations you can make, combined with understanding of the Algorithms and Alphabets involved in the Pokémon phenomena.
By this I mean, when you look at why Pokémon is growing virally, you can see certain processes at work, as well as words spread via social media and used in search engines. Analyzing these algorithms, doing research on the words, can give you an understanding of the forces at work and then allow your mind to roam intuitively to generate new ideas and hypotheses to test.
As a practical example, let’s examine Pokémon Go. The algorithm is a game construct built on location based data, random entity generation, and crowd-sourced information. An app knows where the player is on the map. It knows landmarks from previous players uploading content about the location.
Apps can generate random augmented reality figures based upon internal statistics. So players are forced to move around in a physical location to find these landmarks and to generate instances of random entity generation. They can also purchase things to enhance their abilities to generate random entities.
A app allows people to meet in physical locations to play together to enhance their standings. In this algorithm there are social algorithms at play as well. For example, millennials (and some baby boomers have long history of playing with entities being generated – Pokémon’s – and know the game play already.
It is easy to understand and get started. This algorithm creates certain search and social behaviors – including people trying to find out where to find good stuff like landmarks and Pokémon’s. They want to know where lures are being set to attract Pokémon. They want to meet other people playing and perhaps travel to places that are interesting areas of play.
From this understanding we immediately can translate that into a map listing. But I think also other ideas start coming to mind. How about events where people meet at gyms. Planned lures. How about organized tours of great stops worldwide? I think the list can go on quite a bit – all of which will eventually generate search.
Getting ahead of the curve might be great idea – creating content that might not event exist in the real world yet.
Additionally, understanding this algorithm and alphabets, you can start conjecturing about future evolutions. What might replace Pokémon’s? How about Ghosts? There a lots of famous and semi-famous ghosts world wide in physical locations. Perhaps games to capture ghosts. Or big foots. OR sea monsters.
All this is ripe for invention and anticipation.
We have entered a whole new era of gaming, marketing and SEO.
Indeed, for the Pokémon newbie, the conventions surrounding the game can feel so unknown (and so complex) that ignorance seems like the easier course. This couldn’t be more misguided – particularly for the travel marketer. So we’ve curated our best strategies to marry travel SEO Marketing and Pokémon Go.
That’s because Pokémon Go uses augmented reality to enable game play take place in the real world. PokeStops and Gyms are fixed physical locations (including hotels) and they’re the two most important elements of the game, where players either stock up on game advancing “supplies” or battle other players on behalf of their team.
The location-specific backbone of the game paired with a huge, active player base can mean real audience acquisition possibilities for the savvy marketer. Hotels in particular can benefit from these elements of Pokémon Go, and the smartest online- and offline-marketing strategies should absolutely incorporate the game and player behavior.
Ready to play? Here are our must-implement tips and strategies for a hospitality brand.
First things first – check to see if your property is a PokeStop or Gym and then promote accordingly.
If you’re a designated PokeStop or Gym, you already are at a huge advantage. Market your desirable location and assets just as would do if you were, say, situated near a top landmark or laid claim to the city’s best restaurant.
For example, consider writing a blog post about your status as PokeStop / Gym in your city to take advantage of relevant keyword searches and encourage out-of-town gaming enthusiasts to select your property.
Also, promote your property’s relevant status on social media using the hashtags #pokemongo, #pokestop, and #pokemongym.
Take advantage of the “Lure Module.”
Within the app, game players can purchase “lures” which increase the presence of ever-elusive Pokémon critters in a designated PokeStop. Hospitality brands should take advantage of this easy customer acquisition tool and drop lures regularly to increase foot traffic.
Moreover, consider setting up special on-the-ground promotions during this time to (literally) lure potential customers to become actual customers. Herein lies the perfect case of augmented reality becoming actual reality.
Reward social behavior.
One of the more amusing parts of the game occurs when Pokémon creatures are spotted in everyday circumstances – say, near the check-in desk at your hotel’s lobby. Encourage your customers to screenshot and share those images on social media to enhance your status as a PokeStop hotel or Gym, and consider adding an incentive (discount, perk) for doing so.
Alternatively, target and incentivize Pokémon-playing guests to leave a review about their experience at your hotel (along with a screenshot from game play) on relevant travel review websites. This strategy will not only enhance your Pokémon -specific SEO, it will encourage eager game players (and savvy travelers) to select your property in hopes that they’ll score a Pokémon and a deal.