Statistics, part 1

Alternate title: Are these the droids you were looking for?

For the past few weeks, getting The Tabletop General running as a fully operational battlestation has been a big focus for me. I want to produce content worth reading, but I also want that content to be true to my personality and contain legitimate gaming insights, not just anything I can throw onto a page. Because of that, while I’ve been building up content, I’ve had to really resist the urge to shout from the rooftops “Hey! Come look at this thing that I’m doing!”. Until very recently, I haven’t made a big push to advertise the site. Even now, pretty much all of my “advertising” is posting something relevant to a conversation with people I already discuss gaming with. Yet somehow, people were finding the site on their own, and I find that intriguing enough to want to take a deeper look.

Being the tech nerd that I am at times, I searched Google for “The Tabletop General” (without quotes) a couple days after my first post to see how deeply I had to dig in order to see something that I wrote appearing from the oracle that is Google. I found my site buried behind other results, perhaps on page 6 or so (aka the “It has to be here somewhere!” zone), I was too dejected to remember exactly where. In the process, I found someone else going by the exact same alias over on Blogspot, but listed the first page. We may have to have a battle for the name one day, by the looks of things my starships and lasers will have an advantage over his viking hordes.

After a few weeks and several more articles, I currently have an article that appears as Google result #32 for “The Tabletop General” (no quotes), so things are getting better, still not likely that people are searching for that and finding the site. On the other hand, searching for “thetabletopgeneral” (no quotes) brings back #1-3 as the blogspot competition, and results #4-10 are all either from my Facebook page, or from this site.

But still, I doubt many people know my site by name yet, so there has to be something else, right? Turns out, there is. In the modern internet age, secured browsing (https://) is becoming more and more prominent as we all worry about our privacy and our data. One of the side effects of using the secured version of search engines is that sites no longer send along search terms as a part of the referral link. So as of the time that I am writing this entry, just under 10% of visitors have come to The Tabletop General via search engines, and in turn I only know what search terms about 10% of of those users found my site with. Still, it’s better than nothing, and I’ve re-run most of those searches, and my inner nerd is happy with where my site appears ranked in several of them:

star trek attack wing collective op3 fleet ideas – #6 & #7
star trek attack wing borg overpowered – #12 & #14
star trek attack wing enhanced hull plating – #10 & #11
how to use thr soong effectively star trek attack wing – #2 & #5
quark and advanced hull plating attack wing – #3 & #4
system error e305 after factory restore – #4
(Side note: search engine rankings are constantly moving. Many of these rankings have changed slightly since my initial draft of this article about a week ago)

The duplicate results are a factor of WordPress’s tagging system, the actual article is one of the results, then a summary of posts with a given tag has a copy of that same content and appears as the other result. Still, that’s multiple distinct ways (mostly for Star Trek: Attack Wing articles) that my content appears really highly in search engine rankings, and that makes me a very happy author. There’s a couple other things that people are using to find my articles, and they aren’t quite as highly listed. For example, here’s how X-Wing Miniatures players have found The Tabletop General:

soontir fel x-wing build – #25 & #29
x wing miniatures epic play lists – #63 (that’s dedication!)
rebel aces – #125 (that’s desperation!)

Why the disparity? From what I’ve observed around the gaming community, X-Wing has proven to be a more popular game than Attack Wing. As a result, there’s a much larger community of authors and content contributors to compete with for the X-Wing traffic. Scenario play is rare in X-Wing, so players are working with the ship build that best suits their own play style and skill set, and aren’t building custom lists for events as often, or looking for ideas to do so. And along with hosting their own forums for their games, the Fantasy Flight Games website provides almost all of the information regarding X-Wing, which is a vastly different from finding Star Trek: Attack Wing news.

All the news for Attack Wing is coming from different places. Ship previews appear on StarTrek.com. Pictures and a rough release schedule show up on BoardGameGeek, along with a lot of rules discussion. The forums on DakkaDakka tend to have lots of posts of photos when a new ship’s contents are first fully revealed (either in expansion or blind booster form). Sometimes Attack Wing news comes from retailer catalog listings, and the descriptions therein. And let’s not forget that Wizkids actually does provide some content directly, as the Organized Play scenarios are hosted directly on their site. So it’s little wonder that players are just turning to their search engine of choice to look for this data.  Because of the steady stream of new previews and scenarios being released for Attack Wing, I’ve written more about it than any other game system thus far since launching my site. So it’s understandable that more Attack Wing traffic is finding its’ way over here.

For our next round of statistics, I’ll be digging in to where my traffic is coming from, both in a geographical and a referral sense. But don’t worry, there will be several gaming articles between here and there. This is enough digital navel-gazing for the week.

So for those of you not covered by the methods above, how did you get here? And what can I do to make sure you keep coming back?

— The Tabletop General