SEO Pirates – A technical SEO game

You’re a pirate, your goal is to find treasure. You do this by continuously figuring out the next URL, I won’t tell you how, it’s a mystery game! I can however tell you, that you might need to do some googling along the way.

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Technical SEO game SEO Pirates

SEO Pirates is an SEO game which will test your skills and problem solving abilities. Initially it’s enough with some general technical understanding and patience, but as you progress through the levels it becomes more and more important to look at the site from a technical SEO perspective.

The SEO game is mostly linear, and I strongly recommend that you use a Google sheet or an Excel sheet to keep track of the URLs you’ve found.

The game is divided into several levels, with multiple pages and problems to solve in each level. If you manage to reach the final URL of the last level you’ll get a spot in the not so secret scoreboard (where you might be accompanied by Google bot, hopefully the only page on the subdomain it’ll ever visit). That’s the only hint you’ll get in this SEO game, the rest is up to you to figure out!

Please don’t post any spoilers or help each other publically, the fun and the learning lies in figuring things out on your own.

SEO Pirates – The back story

For someone who hasn’t worked professionally with web development, one of the hardest aspects of getting into the business of SEO is the technical aspect.

I decided to launch my own site in order to improve my knowledge and understanding of the more technical areas of web programming and web applications, and how it eventually intertwines with and affects SEO. However, I wasn’t creative enough to come up with a particular subject to create a site about where I could test all these things, so I decided to make a mystery game which favours search engine optimisation specialists.

I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from (which I never got a chance to play but have read about) and by Alexis Sanders, but I wanted to give it my own personal touch. I decided for it to be about pirates, because pirates are pretty cool.

As mentioned, the game’s difficulty progresses from kind of easy to pretty difficult. I guess this is normal in a game, but in this case it actually comes from my continuous improvement in actually working with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and the .htaccess file (and other server side scripts and tweaks). You wont get far with search engine queries, as hopefully, there is nothing to be found in the search engine results – all you have is the website, your browser, some potential browser extensions and most importantly, your wits and your patience. Be warned, this seo game is not mobile friendly, I highly recommend that you take on the challenge on desktop!

I’m not a graphic designer, I’m actually not a visual person at all (just look at this WordPress template…), so it might not be the most beautiful SEO game you’ve seen, but that’s not the point. The point is for me (and you) to learn more about technical SEO, become more curious and to have fun while doing so! Finishing SEO Pirates will not make you a master of SEO strategy, neither will it ensure that your own website (or the website of your client) climbs to the top of the search engine results, it will however, hopefully open your eyes to some technical issues which has the potential of haltering your efforts to increase organic traffic.

A plea to SEOs who like the challenge

If you decide to share the challenge, or even link to it from your blog or website, please link to this page instead of the subdomain where the challenge starts. Partly because I want to make sure that it remains outside of Google’s index, but also because I would like to rank for the keywords “seo game” and “seo challenge”, a couple of back links from some authoritative websites wouldn’t hurt 🙂 Let’s keep the actual challenge hidden from the search results pages together, and help me get some organic traffic from the search engines to this page.

If any of you skilled search engine optimisation specialists out there happen to stumble upon an error in the game, please don’t hesitate to reach out – I am all ears!

I have started to think about adding a couple of more challenges, the rise of AI and using tools such as ChatGPT3, Bard, and Bing Chat brings some unique opportunities for SEO Pirates. I don’t want to change anything on the current pages, as I find the game quite balanced as it is (some might call i quality content) – I would probably add the url of level 3 on the last current level, and divide the scoreboard into two, keeping the original SEO Pirates intact but adding some more challenge to it.

About the creator of the SEO game

My name is Rasmus, I am the Head of Search at Saxo Bank. I make sure that our website is visible throughout the consumer journey when people all over the world decide to make more with their money.

If you like the game, or if you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn. I am a lot more active on LinkedIn so that would be recommended!


What is the purpose of SEO Pirates?

The purpose is for you to get a feel for technical SEO, and to have fun while doing so! It was also my way of learning more about the various technical aspects of a website.

Who is SEO Pirates created for?

Well, primarily for myself, so that I could learn more about technical SEO. But in that process, I quickly realized that it might be a lot of fun for other SEOs as well!

Will I get cookies if I reach the end of the game?

Unfortunately, no