The SEO of Pokémon nicknames
Something I’ve been doing recently is looking for Pokémon nickname ideas. I’ll search “Pokémon + nickname” and the site I always go to, regardless of rank, is PKMN.NET. They have a section called The Name Rater where people submit their nicknames and the name rater rates them with a healthy dose of snark and cynicism. The kayfabe was real!
PKMN.NET is a UK Pokémon fan website and forum, founded by Psythor (James O’Malley), which officially opened on 10th January 2000. And It does remarkably well for these “Pokémon + nickname” queries. You’ll often find them ranking in second place which is great going but the remarkable part is that the pages aren’t optimised.
Here’s the metadata for Blastoise’s Name Rater page:
- Meta title: Name Raters :: PKMN.NET
- Meta description: PKMN.NET is one of the largest Europe-based pokemon sites filled with not only plain information, but also other features to make life online that bit more interesting
- H1: N/A (in fact, there are no headings on this page)
If you’re an SEO reading this, you might be having heart palpitations right now and I totally understand if you need to stop reading to get some fresh air and calm your nerves. How could they not have optimised metadata? And that URL! And no headings???
But read that meta description again:
PKMN.NET is one of the largest Europe-based pokemon sites filled with not only plain information, but also other features to make life online that bit more interesting
Thanks to a recent interview with The Johto Times, the accolade of being “one of the largest Europe-based pokemon sites” is true. Those nickname submissions also date as far back as 2007. Sites like this would have had a lot of traffic back then and while it might have decreased, they’ll maintain a steady stream today. I did a rough Ahrefs search of over 400 “Pokémon + nicknames” queries (e.g.
fuecoco nicknames) and found average monthly search volumes of up to 900 and total of 29,000. If you’re ranking #2-#10 for something as niche as Pokémon nicknames without any optimisation, you’re doing really well.
Of course, there are plenty of other factors contributing to this and the main one is probably links. Another check on Ahrefs showed:
- 26,000 ranking keywords for the pkmn.net domain
- Over 45,000 backlinks
- 712 referring domains, of which 449 had follow links
- The domains with the highest DRs were wikihow.com, neocities.org, adblockplus.org, and tvtropes.org
Yep, that’ll do it. They’re serving the user what they need (Pokémon nicknames), adding something unique (a snarky persona), it’s technically user-generated content, and they have a healthy link profile. And all without targeted metadata and headings.
So what’s my point? Well, the reason I’m writing this besides my love of Pokémon and my habit of looking at websites from an SEO perspective outside work hours is because of CNET. You might have seen their recent announcement about content pruning to try and improve their search vsibility and traffic. It was polarising and I shared my feelings (before deleting them and resharing with added nuance). I felt that deleting archival content was a bad thing for those looking to the past for context and general discovery. Yes, information about AOL in 1996 isn’t relevant to today’s technology we can’t just delete historical data because it doesn’t suit us in the present. What’s more, CNET are publishing AI-generated content, likely at scale, which will fill the gap and arguably muddy the waters of their site quality.
Going back to PKNN.NET, I think their site is an example of keeping something outdated in modern Web/search standards and it paying off in terms of organic performance. I’m sure it could be better but it’s not terrible right now. I can’t be the only one who has visited their site when looking for nicknames and come away with some idea, even if I didn’t take what was there. The site gave me something in an old fashioned way and I think any unoptimised site owners that can do that should think really hard about the ramifications of culling large portions of their site for little-to-no SEO gains, only to then fill the gaps with AI-generated drivel.