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Ten games for search marketers

A selection of games that may someday be on every search marketers shelf.

Games always seem to capture a lot of attention this time of year, in part because of kids and toys for Christmas or adults and getting together for the holidays. It would seem that search marketers enjoy games, too. While this often revolves around contests or challenges to get a site to rank No. 1 in the SERPs, at PubCon this year, SEOmoz even got some search marketers to unplug long enough to play an SEO version of Werewolf.

With only a week before Christmas, I couldn't help but wonder what games might be dancing around in search marketer's minds. While these classic renditions probably haven't made it to the shelves yet, maybe this will plant the seed for next season.

When it comes to games, it's hard to beat the classics, of here are 10 searchized-games for search marketers:

Connect Four Reciprocal Links — (based on the classic Connect Four game), This game is based on the outdated concept of reciprocal linking. The winner is the one who can create the biggest reciprocal linking circle. Of course, this game is purely for fun.

Battleship Text Link Buys — (based on the classic game of Battleship) This text-link-buy smack-down game puts each opponent in the role of seeking out the other's text link buys and reporting them to Google. The one who sinks the other's PageRank first is the winner.

Keyword Scrabble — (based on the classic Scrabble game) Keywords are a foundation of the search world. Players take turns building on keyword phrases, earning points based on the smallest keyword phrase that achieves the highest rank in Google, Yahoo, or MSN.

Twister Search Career — (based on the zany classic Twister) Like any industry, the search industry often features moving from one company to another. In this game, instead of colored circles, the playing mat features company logos. Just like the Web industry, each player must reach out and touch a number of different company logos, constantly moving from one company to another without falling down.

SERPs Memory — (based on the age-old game of Memory) Test your visual and memory skills by viewing a listing of top-10 SERPs from Google, Yahoo, and MSN before they disappear, and then matching up the listings across the SERPs. The one who gets the most matching results across the engines wins.

Spammer Mouse Trap — (based on the fun game of Mouse Trap) Ever wonder what a day in the life of Matt Cutts would be like? Find out with this exciting game where you get to build a trap to catch search spammers.

Search Operation — (based on the nerve-racking game of Operation) Search marketers have to have nerves of steal when every move they make can result in a site plummeting in the SERPs. Test your skill by removing bad bits and pieces from a Web page; but be careful--alert the spiders and you may get a shock.

Stratego Search Position — (based on the battle strategy game of Stratego) Search marketing, like most forms of marketing, is often a matter of strategy. Position and move your Web pages to overthrow your competition, gaining stronger search positioning, winning more site visitors, and achieving the highest ROI.

The Game of Life Search — (based on The Game of Life) One of my favorites growing up, this version has you go through the life of a search marketer, mastering your trade, building your skills, moving from company to company and site to site to achieve your search life goals.

And quite possible the grandest game of all...

Search Monopoly — (based on the classic game of Monopoly) This game can provide hours of fun and is one of the most involved of search games. Chose your playing piece, from exciting favorites like white hat, black hat, Googlebot, Slurp, or MSNbot, and work your way around the game board, accumulating Web properties. Beware--landing on a Made-For-AdSense site or SPLOG can cost you, as can landing in the Google sandbox. Pull a Chance card and find that "Matt Cutts caught you buying Text Links. Lose two PageRank points and wait a turn to file for re-inclusion." But it isn't all bad...pull a card from the Community Chest and you may find that you "Win a one year SEOmoz Premium Membership," or "A free pass to SMX." The winner, of course, is the one who accumulates the most Web properties and finishes with the largest amount in VC funding.

As far as I know, none of these games exist yet, but a lot can happen between now and next year.

*All of these game concepts are based on related games that are the property of Hasbro. Until these games exist, you'll just have to buy the classics and pretend or modify to make your own.