The Name of the Game is “Google Search Friendly”

This started out as my Second Chance with the Chick review of Inferno!  But then I went off on a bit of a tangent and decided to split it up into two articles.  Here, I would like to address something that has always been a pet peeve of mine since I started this site: the generic name.

I had a little experiment I wanted to perform.  One of the few things Mr. Dave Voyles of Armless Octopus and myself agree with is that Xbox Live Indie Game developers should come up with a name that sticks out in a Google search.  Inferno! has perhaps the most generic name of any game I’ve reviewed thus far at my site, and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to do this experiment for quite a while.  So here’s how it will work.  I’ll search for the game once based just on its name.  Then, once with Xbox added to the search.  Finally, once with Xbox Indie in the search.  I want to see how buried the first result that brings you to anything related to the actual game is.  Let’s begin!

Inferno!

  • Just the name: Not within the first 100 results.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: 16 results down.  Most results point to Dante’s Inferno by EA.  First actual hit points to marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: 3rd video down is a gameplay video.  Third actual link points to my review.   Most results point to Radiant Games’ Inferno.

Obviously Inferno! was not a very wise choice of a game name.  It’s not an effective tool at landing eyeballs via a Google search.  It’s also not really catchy.  What it sounds like is a name that the developer put zero thought into.  It’s not reflective of the game’s quality of course, but it gives off the impression that it could be.  I mean, if they spent that little time thinking of the name, they probably didn’t spend that much time making a good game.  Inferno! is actually a perfectly fine game, but with a name like Inferno! who will remember it tomorrow?

Now let’s look at the Top 3 Google Searched games on my site.

Trailer Park King

  • Just the name: 1st result is a direct hit to my own review of the game.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: Same as above.  The very first result takes you to the Indie Gamer Chick review
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: The exact same.

Temple of Dogolrak

  • Just the name: 1st result is a direct hit to my own review of the game.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: 1st result takes you to the marketplace page of the game.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: #2 link is a direct link to my review of the game.  The 1st link is the link to the main page of my site.

Wizorb

  • Just the name: 1st result is a direct hit to their official website.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: 1st result is a direct hit to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: 1st result is to a Destructoid article on the game.

The name of your game is your first and possibly only chance at successfully marketing your game.  A good name will pull up some kind of article related to the game when entered into Google. The more generic a name is, the more likely it is to be buried.  Surprisingly, many of the Google searches that lead to my site do not contain terms like “Xbox” or “Indie” anywhere in them.  Now let’s look at two games that use common words as creative puns.

Escape Goat

  • Just the name: third result down, which links you to the official website for the game.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: 1st result is a direct hit to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: Same as above.

Dead Pixels

  • Just the name: eighth in the list, links to the marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: direct hit to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: direct hit to the game’s review at GamingTruth.com

As we all know, Dead Pixels way outsold Escape Goat, so maybe my concept isn’t entirely reflective on a game’s sales potential.  Of course, literal dead pixels are more common than literal escaped goats.  At least I hope so.

Now let’s look at games that all sound kind of the same, but are not.

Blocky

  • Just the name: 14th result down (I’m fucking shocked at that too), links to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: Direct hit on the game’s trailer. First non-video link points to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: Same as above, except the first non-video link points to my review of the game.

Blockt

  • Just the name: sixth result down, which links to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: direct hit to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: Direct hit to my review of the game.

Blocks That Matter

  • Just the name: direct hit to the game’s official website.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: direct hit to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: same as above.

The more complex a name gets, the more likely it is to score one of those “direct hits” that do seem to make a huge difference in the amount of people who have awareness of your product.  Of course, when a game’s name is too simple, it can be a disaster, like I already demonstrated with Inferno!  If that’s not proof enough for you, check out these games.

OTO

Plague

  • Just the name: not within the first 100 results.
  • With “Xbox” in the search: direct hit to the game’s marketplace page.
  • With “Xbox Indie” in the search: direct hit to the game’s official website.

Here’s something that I’ve noticed since starting my site: most of my search results do not include the words “Xbox” or “Indie” in the search results.  People mostly search just for the game’s name.  The games that have the less complex names simply do not get as many search results.  To hammer this home, if someone is looking for a review of the game, they in general just put the name of the game and “review” in it.  If someone does that, here is what happens with all the games that have been listed above.

  • Inferno! Review: no matches within the first 100 links.  Same with if you add “Xbox” to the search, where instead you get 100 reviews of Dante’s Inferno.
  • Trailer Park King Review: 1st result takes you to my review.
  • Temple of Dogolrak Review: 1st result takes you to the XNA Round-Up review.
  • Wizorb Review: 1st result takes you to Game Critics’ review of it.
  • Escape Goat Review: 1st result takes you to Horrible Night’s review of it.
  • Dead Pixels Review: 3rd result takes you to N4G’s linked review.  First two results are for a start-up game review website called Dead Pixels.
  • Blocky Review: 1st result takes you to an N4G linked review.
  • Blockt Review: 1st result takes you to Xbox Hornet’s review.
  • Blocks That Matter Review: takes you to the IGN review of the PC version.
  • OTO Review: 16th link down takes you to the same 1up or Poison review listed above.
  • Plague Review: 64th link down takes you to an N4G linked review.

It’s said you only get one chance to make a good first impression.  Your game’s name could be that one chance.  If a game like Plague was called Captain Shooty’s Shooting Shooter, it probably would have sold better.  It certainly would have been more likely to catch your eye.  If Inferno! had been called the Adventures of the Lava Sucking Robocoaster, you might have laughed at the absurdity of the name, but you wouldn’t have forgotten it any time soon.  So when the time comes to pick a name out, don’t just put down the first thing that comes to mind.  That’s how Sarah Palin named her kids, and you’re better than that.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

6 Responses to The Name of the Game is “Google Search Friendly”

  1. Alan C says:

    Ooh, a sound argument backed up by evidence. Delicious.

    I generally dislike stupid-sounding names, but at least they work.

  2. BrunoB says:

    I think things are a little more complicated… to be the first result in Google alone isn’t enough, because if nobody knows your game, nobody will search for it. Sure, if somebody searches for it and he/she doesn’t find it, it’s not good either, but I don’t think such a thing can determine a game to be a failure.

    The ideal case IMHO is the Dead Pixels’ one, where you aren’t the first result, but you’re still among the top results for a relatively common query. That’s the strategy that also a website like The Oatmeal adopts, and it seems to work.

    Also, I have a feeling that people who look up “dead pixels” on Google are more likely to be gamers than the average man. And also, Dead Pixel has very MegaMan-esque graphics, and I’m sure many ppl were driven to at least download the trial for that thing alone.

    So, all things considered, Dead Pixels could be a case study in XBLIG marketing…!

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