Andrew Kropff

Marketing + Digital Design

Use Landing Pages and Keyword Analytics to Generate Passive Web Traffic

I’ve been managing NerdSourced.com for almost a year and a half as of writing this blog and I’m very satisfied with where we are as a brand. We’ve gotten over 1,200 followers on our D&D Twitter account, over 300 subscribers on Pinterest, and quickly nearing 400 likes on Facebook.

Social media is great for getting spikes in web traffic for new articles and posts, but what I’m really excited about is the fact that our passive traffic so far in 2016 has doubled since the same time frame in 2015. This is traffic that comes from organic searches on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

And while it is gratifying to see our hard work pay off with the spikes in traffic from our latest content, I love seeing people find our blog on their own. To measure the performance of our passive web traffic, I use Google Analytics and I look at two metrics: landing pages and keywords.

Landing Pages

Landing Pages are the pages of your website that people arrive at when they find your site in a search. To find your most popular landing pages in Google Analytics, first go to the “Reporting” tab and make sure your date ranges are defined. I define my research in 3 month increments, up to a year. Once you have your date range defined, look in the Reports sidebar on the left and click on “Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
How to find landing pages in Google analytics

Here you will see the landing pages of your site with the highest traffic in your defined date range. The longer the date range, the more indicative of the lasting value these landing pages have, because they are passively generating the most traffic to your site over time.

This is a good indication of the kind of content that is working for your site or blog. The most visited traffic pages tell you what topics people are searching for when they find your site. Knowing these topics is great information, but it is equally important to find out how viewers are finding you when searching for these topics.

Keywords

That is where keywords come in. These are the terms or phrases that viewers are searching for when they find your landing pages. Each landing page may have multiple keywords that viewers use to find your site and some are more popular than others.

To find the keywords of your landing pages, click on one of the pages listed in your “Landing Pages” report that we looked at above. This will bring up a more detailed report of that landing page along with a few more options to drill deeper into, one of them being keywords.

Click on the “Keyword” link listed in the Primary Dimensions row, just above the landing page’s stats table.

How to find keywords in Google Analytics

Now you’ll see the keywords that people have searched for in Google, Bing, and Yahoo that landed them on your pages. If you see “(not provided)” or “(not set)”, these mean that they are views not associated with a search engine which usually means they were linked from social media or direct sharing.

Keywords will give you the exact thought processes that your visitors had when they found your site. The most popular keywords should be taken into consideration when you write new content. Try to word your content in a way that aligns with the keywords of your most popular content, because those are the terms potential viewers will search for in a search engine.

These keyword terms can also be used in the title or meta data of your pages and images. Landing pages and keywords will generate you passive traffic while you focus on generating new content. Use them!

Selah.

Experimenting with D&D and Flat Design

In my limited free time, between projects and wedding planning, I’ve been putting together some artwork for a Dungeons & Dragons custom setting I’m building. The setting is inspired by sci-fi themes, so I looked to one of my favorite UIs for inspiration: Destiny.

Destiny’s UI was designed by David Cadland and it is my favorite UI in a game. The flat design is clean, minimal, and perfectly organized for use with the analog sticks of console controllers. When setting out to design my own content I decided I wanted to communicate my campaign setting’s sci-fi themes with similar flat design elements. The result is a fairly successful mockup.

Creature-Codex-Template-Flat-01

Although overall a successful exercise, the format and styling was ultimately too sci-fi, so I opted to change the color and background to give it a more traditional fantasy feel.
Creature-Codex-Template-Flat-03-copy

I’m still not thrilled about the colors, and will probably end up making further modifications once the content is finalized. In the meantime, this has been a very fun project working in a style I haven’t had much experience with until now.

Selah.

Design Your Ideal Self

Sometimes it is hard to get inspired. If you are looking for a way to take your vision and aspirations and make them into a reality, this is a great start.

Simply take a few minutes to write  down what your ideal day would be like. Try to fill in as many sensory details as you can and remember to only write down what you’d like to happen on that day and leave out everything else.

The idea is to commit to this ideal scenario of yours by taking it out of your head putting it out on the material world. By doing so you are creating a goal to achieve and designing a solution oriented towards your specific goals.

A friend of mine who did this exercise started with a page which turned into three pages and eventually an entire novel and screenplay.

We all need focus, and this exercise is designed to help keep us focused on solving the problems that come between us and our ideal reality.

Remember, focus only on the wanted awesomeness of your ideal day in your ideal world.  Let’s get there.

Selah.

High Concept, Low Fidelity

Managing an indie game project is a daunting task. We all know how it starts off; a grand brilliant idea for a game comes to mind and the first instinct is to either jump into development or start designing all the cool features that the game will have.

But I think this is the wrong approach for most people. Granted, there will always be the Brendon Chong of indie dev discipline. But for the rest of us mere mortals, we need strategies and processes to help keep us focused and motivated from start to finish. Goodness knows it’s a long journey.

Our initial excitement for a new game can cause us to bite off more than we can chew. I experienced this myself in my senior year at CSUMB. Luckily I had a smart adviser that convinced me to take a different approach. His philosophy was simple, “high concept, low fidelity.”

The idea was to come up with a core concept that was so focused intellectually that it required minimal technical fumbling to achieve the desired experience. This wasn’t out of laziness to avoid doing work, but out of necessity as most projects were single student operations and time, as our most important resource, needed to be allocated towards production rather than research and learning.

It is far more valuable to design a game from the ground up on a strong conceptual foundation rather than a bullet list of technical features.

Since I graduated three years ago I have tried to stick to this philosophy and I think it is one that every small team or independent developer could utilize. With very limited resources we are forced to carefully select what aspects of a game will get the most development. It is far more valuable to design a game from the ground up on a strong conceptual foundation rather than a bullet list of technical features.

This conceptualization can take many forms and is most often found in the story lines of contemporary video games. Often these stories have all the necessary components for a good drama like betrayal, war, jealousy, or passion. But only a handful of the hundreds of games I have played engaged me cerebral enough to truly have me invested in the characters or plot like a good book can.

I think this is probably attributed to mechanics and game play. These are the areas sucking up the majority of resources during development. After all, games should be fun… or should they be? That is another discussion altogether…

In my senior project the abstraction I handled was based on ancient Greek philosophy. I have always been fascinated with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave because despite it’s age it is amazingly applicable to society no matter what place or time in history.

The Cave Logo

The Cave Logo

That allegory became my focus. While plotting out how the game would play out it became apparent that the setting of a literal translation of Plato”s cave couldn’t get my creative juices flowing. It was then that my professor advised me to use the allegory as the foundation of the game, but use a different theme to cover it. That is when I decided to cover the ancient Greek allegory in a theme of American consumerism and obsession with material goods.

From there it was easy to design. It became a very simple process of breaking down Plato’s themes, dressing it in a consumerism metaphor, and inventing game play mechanics for those elements.

What came out was something I was really excited about and to this day I still think is a strong concept that I want to revisit with my new skills and knowledge. The most exciting part, though, is that it was a design process not based on features to support the concept. Instead, it was a very powerful and historically proven concept whose features were built around it.

The whole project has given me the belief that any classical or artistic theme can be molded into something playable. And it is up to indie developers to push the boundaries of what can be explained and explored in video games.

What do you think? Are video games capable of communicating such abstract ideas as the works of Plato, Shakespeare, and Camus? Is it too young of an art form to entertain such concepts? Leave a comment.

Quality is King

It’s been a long time since my last update. I’ve been very busy with work, planning a wedding, and keeping up with my gaming quota.

On the topic of gaming, one of my biggest projects and time-suckers has been Nerd Sourced. It’s a site about creating content for tabletop games with the occasional indie game development thrown into the mix.  I’ve been experimenting a lot with SEO and social media engagement with Nerd Sourced. So far, it has been successful beyond what I’d expect for such a niche market. Since beginning in late August we average about about 600 views a day.

By far the biggest lesson learned from working on this site is quality. Everyone knows the age-old expression that “content is king.” But the quality of content goes beyond keywords and hot-button topics written in a blog post or page. Everything about making content for Nerd Sourced is time consuming, from optimizing the blog titles and meta descriptions, to creating eye catching featured images, to pushing out content where prospective viewers are hanging out online without coming off as self-publicizing.

It isn’t just about good content, it’s about quality work from start to finish. That hard work will pay off, though, when you get to see the increasing web traffic to your site. It definitely gets me every time.

Selah.

Try Something New for 30 Days

“Think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for the next 30 days.” ~ Matt Cutts

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. June marks the first month of starting this and sticking with it. But for June I’m actually doing two challenges:

  1. Thirty day ab challenge
  2. Make a drawing everyday of June

This is apart of a larger 90-day strategy that I share with my fiancee while she’s out of the country doing research.

The idea is simple enough; it’s about improving oneself and exploring new experiences. I got this from a TEDTalk by Matt Cutts. I particularly love the novel idea and have joined NANWRIMO to facilitate writing a novel in November. I can hardly wait!

But another very important aspect of this challenge/strategy is the perception of time. We all hear and feel it too often; time flies. It simply slips away never to return. One of Matt’s thoughts on this is actually what appeals to me the most…

“Instead of the months flying by forgotten, the time was much more memorable.” ~ Matt Cutts

Selah.

A New Challenger Approaches

I don’t do enough 3D modeling. I emphasized it during college but since I graduated it has fell to the way side. I’ve dabbled in it for some projects but for the most part it has fallen to the wayside. Today I decided to change that.

I decided to start using Blender, an open source 3D modeling program and invented a 30-day challenge and began throwing it all over the internet. I call it the #BlenderADay challenge in which I, and hopefully many others, create one 3D model a day for 30 days.

This is strictly to motivate me to get into good habits and to encourage me to commit to side projects. And maybe I’ll make a monthly challenge out of it with a reliable community. That would be fantastic.

Selah.

New Website

My new website is finally up (you’re on it).

This will be mostly used as a place for me to organize professional and personal endeavors that I really like.

I guess it is part portfolio/resume and part project showcasing.

Selah.