Over the years, I've noticed in order to rank well on the search engines for certain keywords, you need backlinks to get ranked. Backlinks are links to your site. Let's say you want to rank for "Virtual pets" or "Virtual world" without the quotes, that means you'd need to link to your homepage and have virtual pets or virtual world as the link anchor.
You should also link inner pages on your site, especially your forums or blogs if they're opened to the public. Each page on your site should have a different title and meta description especially if those pages are opened to guests. It is also a good idea to tag your site name at the end of a page title.
Now back to back links, did you notice how Neopets received a ton of attention from bloggers, newspapers and a few press releases? This is pure marketing and had them get more back links, which is why they rank well for some keywords, but they could do a lot better. These links helped propel Neopets to the top of the industry. Nobody in this industry has as many backlinks nor indexed pages that Neopets does. That's because all their backlinks have kept the site alive over the years. You can also browse certain pages on Neopets as a guest.
You notice how sites rank well on google? Their content is quality and their backlinks keep the search bots coming back to crawl their content. You should always get links from bloggers, article marketing, tumblr, twitter, facebook, Google+ and forum signatures. These methods would help you get more backlinks and get your rankings up. You could also write press release, submit news to Digg and news/reviews to Apexwebgaming, TopWebGames and other gaming sites that allow you to post updates or information.
These backlinks are fresh and would help you a lot. Its always a good idea to get your game submitted to a gaming directory because it gives you another link. You could also try getting your game listed on DMOZ and the Yahoo directory, these two directories are pretty huge and their page rank is pretty nice. Also helps to list your site on VPL and on this directory http://www.virtualpet.com/vp/links/links.htm
So, the moral of this, build backlinks and attract new players to your game. Without backlinks, people won't be able to find your site on the search engines. If you're looking to build links to obtain quality rankings, make sure the sites you get linked from are of quality. You never want to get a link from a bad neighborhood or anything.
Also, if your content is good on the site, then the backlinks will help the search engines crawl and index your content faster. You could also have an RSS feed for your news so that it updates certain places and gives you another link.
Which brings on adoptables, these sites grow because click on someone's egg and that's a new link for them. Adoptables are quite popular because their links are everywhere. Users link to them so that their eggs grow and become hatched. This is a good marketing method and it works greatly. You could try setting your create a pet page to tweet out or facebook like when a pet has been created.
When you run referral contests, make sure you tell users to obtain more links for you. Tell them to refer on forums, blogs, tumblr, facebook and various other sites. That way, you don't place all your eggs in one basket and have more than one link method. Banners work nicely but they don't give you as much link weight as regular links.
Also, without backlinks, it'll be a tough time for your site on the internet. Backlinks are easy to obtain, you need to just do research and see what links work great for your site. Remember, even Google has a lot of backlinks that keep their rankings alive. Neopets fansites rank for "Neopets" because they've built links around that keyword and their content has a lot of neopets-related keywords, thus, their content and backlinks brought them to the top. Remember, the more backlinks you have, the higher your chances of ranking well on the search engines. Sites that rank well now didn't do it overnight, it took them a few years to rank well on the search engines. It is quite possible to rank well in a short period of time especially if you're building links of quality fast, but I'd recommend building a couple a month and growing from there.
The more backlinks you have, the more visible your site becomes to other people on the internet. You never know who may search a keyword and come across your site. This is why its important to have good content on your index page and also inner pages. That way, search engines are crawling a quality site that deserves fresh rankings.
Backlinks help your site become an internet success. Especially if you're spreading your backlinks out on various different sites. Such as, get a link from a major blog or an outlet/article site and then turn around and get some forum signature links. These are easily obtained if you become active on the various forums across the internet. It's a good idea to make sure that their links are rel="Follow" and not "rel="nofollow" because if its nofollow, it won't pass any link juice to your site. So, be sure to check your links. A good way to obtain links are via one way links, that means you obtain a link and you don't have to link back.
Site wide links are nice especially if you're running a blog or forum website. Which means, your blog or forum is opened to crawling from the various spiders on the internet. Spiders crawl and help index your content on the internet.