Are you in a heated game of SEO and tired of being the Google bots’ last pick for the search results roster? If so, you might want to draw upon your youthful years to help you succeed. While raising your organic search ranking is far from child’s play, there are a few classic childhood games that can help you gain a better understanding of how to rise to the top of the search charts.

20 Questions

If you sell swimming pools and you’re solely focused on the #1 search engine ranking for “buy pools,” you’re in over your head. It’s perfectly fine to make these short-tail keywords your end goal, but if you’re just starting out, you need to focus on more attainable keywords.

It’s time to start asking yourself some questions. Twitter bird icon What’s great about your product? Who needs your product, and what specific value can your product provide to those who do need it?

When you find an immediate, specific correlation between your good or service and the value it has to your customers, you’ve found your keywords.

Instead of setting your sights on the #1 Google organic search ranking for “buy swimming pools,” try “swimming pools for elderly,” “pet-proof swimming pools,” “swimming pool kits,” or “8’ swimming pools.”

The slow and steady traffic you receive from conquering the top spots for these long-tail keywords will show the Google crawlers that your site is relevant and valuable. You’ll start gaining authority, which will naturally raise the ranking of those short-tail keywords you really want.


Why are the keywords we just talked about so important? They tell the search engine crawler bots what your site is all about. These bots are coming for you, and that’s okay—you want that. What you don’t want, though, is for them to misinterpret the relevancy of your content to your keywords when they reach you.

Google can’t read images, so if you’ve got photos on your site tagged “picture1” “picture2” and “picture3,” the search engine has no idea what you’re trying to show your audience. You need to edit your HTML to include appropriate alt tags on all of your images.

What else should you tag with your keywords? In most cases, your title and meta description.

Your title tag is your audience’s first experience with your site. It’s the big blue line of text that shows up at the top of each search result. Your meta description is the short blurb underneath that blue title line.

As with image tags, the web crawlers will take both your title tag and meta description into account when determining the value of your site. If the bots see that you’re selling pools, and pools seem to be a recurring theme on your website, your site appears relevant.

When people find your site because the Google crawlers deemed it relevant, and they click through because you provided the info the search engine promised, you’ll gain popularity. In the world of Google, relevancy + popularity = higher organic search ranking.

You’ve got about 50 – 60 characters in your title tag and 160 in your meta description to tell both query seekers and search engine bots what they’ll find on your site, so stay clear, concise, and relevant to your content.

The SEO tagging game has but one rule—don’t be deceptive. Twitter bird icon If you can’t naturally and accurately fit your keyword into your title tag, image tags, or meta description, then don’t do it. Without any players, there’s no point in the game and both the web crawlers and your audience will quickly walk away if you promise them a prize and give them an empty box.

Mother May I

Equally important to correctly tagging your content is telling Google when it’s not okay to display site content in search results.

In a perfect world, every single link that leads to your page would be exactly the same. In the real world, though, you can expect a variety of different backlink formats. You might find people arriving at your site via,,, or

If you don’t tell Google to pay these duplicate domains special attention, the bots are going to get confused and divvy up your hard-earned web cred among them all.

When you have duplicate domains, you need a special canonical tag that says “No, Google. You cannot index this page. Instead, I want you to redirect those who try to access to my preferred page,”

With a canonical tag in your heading, the Google bots will ignore your duplicate content and give all link credit to a single, preferred domain. Twitter bird icon

Be forewarned—if you’re new to SEO, canonical tags can be a bit tricky, so avoid common configuration mistakes by reading up on the topic before you dive into creating canonical redirects.

Red Rover

Linking to and from other websites is a lot like a game of red rover. Consider your audience your teammates, and you their captain.

You’ve got to choose some websites to call on over to your teammates, and if you choose the wrong ones, you’re going to lose.

Before you link to, ask yourself if that site plays fair. Do they follow the rules of providing clear, accurate content that solves problems and answers questions? Do they have links on their pages that lead to spammy sites? Are they competition-focused, or just here to help out their teammates?

Whatever site you choose to rover on over with a link, make sure that it’s a high-authority site that is relevant to your content and adds value to your audience’s experience. Twitter bird icon

Likewise, don’t summon upon low-authority sites to link to you, or the Google bots might just lower your search engine ranking for hanging out with the wrong crowd.


In this classic game, one person thinks of a sentence and then must whisper it in another player’s ear. The whisper-receiver then must pass the sentence on to the next player, and so on. The goal of the game is to make each whisper so clear and enunciated that the final player can repeat the original sentence verbatim.

In order to achieve a high organic search engine ranking, you’ve got to make sure that your content is received well by your readers.

What sort of content will your audience best understand? They want content that is organized, accurate, and easy to read. They want content that solves their problems, answers their questions, and proves to have genuine value for its readers.

When your audience hears your message loud and clear, they’ll have no problem passing it along to the next guy or gal. Twitter bird icon They’ll share it readily, and the next person in line will receive it and share it, too. This is the key to organic traffic, and organic traffic is the key to high organic search rankings.

There are a lot of tips and gameplay strategies that can help boost your organic search ranking, but they all boil down to one main technique—making everything about your site audience-oriented. To take charge of your organic ranking, gain an understanding of who your audience is and what they want from you, then use this knowledge to create valuable keywords-focused content that satisfies this correlation. If you’ve done these things correctly, optimization will occur naturally and you’ll win this round of the SEO game.




  • Caz*, June 25, 2015 @ 11:35 pm

    Red Rover is a fav!!!! I love how you approached this topic with a very unique and completely relatable subject. Where did you get the idea from?

  • Lindsey Potter, June 26, 2015 @ 1:57 pm

    I love how clear and concise this article is! It has a lot of great foundational information for people who are still figuring out how best to improve their rankings, and you present it in a way that is relatable for everyone. But it also has meaty information for those of us with a little more experience.

  • Becca Watters (Vaughn), June 29, 2015 @ 1:25 pm

    My favorite part was “Tag”! Tags are so important, and emphasizing that you must not be deceptive! Your overall feeling of the rules: You must play fair, and give correct information! Be honest, concise, and direct! These are great tips for SEO! I love the game concept, too. Fun way to approach it.

  • Sarah, July 5, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

    Good article! Let me try and see the result.

  • M Andrew Eagar, July 6, 2015 @ 2:25 pm

    Great post Anna! It is fun to think of SEO as a bunch of games…makes it easy to remember…and kind of fun. Let’s face it, SEO is fun by iteself anyway. I loved the article. I thought you would be interested in this link:

    This post is about a year old but it shows that Google is getting better at reading images. I think knowing this adds additional emphasis to what you said to putting “appropriate alt tags” in place. If they are not appropriate, Google will know… Anyway, thought it would be an interesting read for ya.

  • Maria Williams, July 22, 2015 @ 9:34 am

    Anna this is a great post ! a Good way to explain SEO and how we can have a successful campaign ! I like the telephone game I think is important to have quality copy in every website.

  • Robin Johnson, July 29, 2015 @ 2:50 pm

    Have you ever played Red Rover as an adult? It’s terrifying! But also exhilarating. Something about the risk of breaking your arm severely…

    Regardless of my experience playing it as an adult, I think you really make a good point about how you have to choose the right teammates. (Also, I really just like saying “rover on over.”) Thanks for a fun–but still informative–post, Anna!

  • Tonya Davis, October 22, 2015 @ 9:27 am

    This is a really great way to remember basic SEO strategies and tips! I never thought to relate them to childhood games, it’s so clever! I will for sure be using these as some examples when trying to explain SEO to people whom have no concept of it.

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