What is Rat DOTA?

DOTA can be an exciting game, where two teams clash against each other in order to take down the opponent’s Ancient Structure. Often at times, one team works exceptionally well in team fights – perhaps their combinations are better timed, or their heroes have synergies … or they are simply the better players. In which case, they keep winning team fights. This is where Rat DOTA comes into play.

The Concept

Rat DOTA is about consciously staying away from team fights and instead focusing on split pushing other lanes. Since the goal of the game is to tear down the opponents’ structures, Rat DOTA is about focusing on that final goal and stay away from all engagements.

Huh, so we do not get Kills?

Yes, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. If the opposing team is crazy overpowered, or well fed due to your earlier mistakes, then Rat DOTA is the way to go. Stop feeding the opponent and start farming. This is the way you can catch up with their levels and then force them into making mistakes.

Err … so no team fights?

Well, you tried that already and that did not work out so well, did it? This is where the maturity of the team comes into play. It’s more of a mind game and you are testing your powerful opponents if they are going to go out of their way to engage in team fights.

So how does this work?

The thing about team fights, is that if all the team travels together, then that leaves the other lanes empty and ideal for split pushing. That’s what you do! You strap on Boots of Travel on your Carry, and get another hero who can quickly travel around the map. Then using these two heroes, you keep attacking structures in undefended lanes.

By the time the opponent team rushes to defend these lanes, you have done the damage and are away in another lane attacking another structure. Imagine the kind of frustration the opponent will feel, the anxiety of anticipating where you are going to strike next, versus holding the urge to rush you alone and getting ganked in the process.

Which Heroes does this work well with?

Furion, Meepo are classic heroes to use this tactic. Crystal Maiden can be a good support for this strategy as well.

Does this approach work?

You bet it does! It is even done on the professional circuits, where the level of game play is far higher than pub matches. Here is a video of a top tier team showcasing their Rat DOTA skills.

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Terracotta Army in Rise of Nations

When playing Rise of Nations, one of the concepts in the game are wonders.

One of the wonders that arguably gets rushed is the Terracotta Army. What this wonder gives you is an unending stream of Light Infantry units at regular intervals, the interval is dependent upon the number of units already produced by the wonder. So that over a period of time, the production rate of Light Infantry goes down and plateaus.

History of the Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures showing the armies of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. This was to be his funeral decorations, and is meant to be an art to pay homage to the emperor. Estimates show that these figurines number upto a humongous 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots each with 4 horses, and 150 cavalry horses (the generals of the armies).

Apart from this huge army, there are even non-military terracotta figures to keep the emperor company.

Why Build the Terracotta Army?

Terracotta Army

Within the Rise of Nations game, this wonder represents a stream of LI. Keep in mind, that having this wonder in place does not necessarily change your strategy. So, why go for this wonder?

This wonder gets unlocked in the Medieval age (Classical if you are Egyptian).

Well, the minute you get this wonder in place, it frees up Food and Wood that you otherwise would have to spend on Light Infantry. This can now be spent on booming, on building additional Light Cavalry and Siege weapons. Due to this wonder, you can build an army and boom with resources at the same time.

Important Points to note when building the Terracotta Army

  • The stream of LI units that this wonder keeps spawning ensures that you have to be on the attack to keep your population in check. If you decide to turtle, then you will be forced to do Military Research in order to produce more units.
  • Everybody else on the map knows you have the LI army, they will build counters for LI. Keep building counters for these counters. Do not go with an LI heavy army.
  • The strategy here is not to rely too much on LIs. It’s rather to use those resources to either build a larger army, or to boom.
  • Hunt for the Peacock Rare resources to increase your population limit
  • Augment this wonder with the Colossus to increase your population limit

Great to have Civilizations

Although you can use any civilization with this wonder, there are certain civilizations that rock with this wonder.

  • Americans – With their instant first wonder bonus, and the Marines special unit, you are set for the long haul
  • Egyptians – You get ample time to rush this wonder, since you get this in Classical age. Earlier wonder, more LI units!
  • Aztecs / Chinese – Better LI units now for free
  • Bantu – Higher population cap + Special LI units

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FoodForThought

Food for Thought: Series II

I had shared some noteworthy articles last month and decided that it’s a good habit to keep up.

Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future

What happens to SEO efforts and Digital marketing when one of your major chunks (organic keyword level data) is not available. Avinash Kaushik gives advice on how to go about working with keyword data and why Google started encrypting organic traffic.

This is a far better approach than simply bitching about Google and hatching conspiracy theories of Adwords trying to maximize their revenues!!

Google+ Guide for Small Businesses

A detailed and step by step guide for Small Businesses to develop their presence on G+. Not only is it very thoughtful, but also it provides links and answers to all the quetsions that you might get stuck. And an awesome UI to boot as well!!

Disillusioned with Facebook? Here’s a way forward

It’s easy to dismiss Facebook as a time sink and a negative ROI generator. I did that. However as time went by, I realized that maintaining a presence on social networks is almost a health factor these days. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger walks us through some of the more important things to keep in mind as you go about trying to rustle up a community on Facebook. All the Social Media Managers out there, you HAVE TO read this.

How to track online RoI of offline marketing

This post is quite close to my heart. It is about measuring the Return on Investment (RoI) of Offline advertising. Traditionally to calculate the RoI, brands would use agencies which specialized in marketing surveys. However, with the boom of Indian e-commerce and the influx of venture capital, most of the online mediums have started offline advertising as well. How does the digital marketing manager of such a firm tackle the RoI calculation? Here is a basic explaination of how you go about Trackign RoI of Offline advertising.

What is Life?

What is Life? is based on a series of lectures delivered at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies by Erwin Schrodinger. This was first published more than 50 years back, and it has found its way in the blue nothing. The PDF file is a lengthy dialogue which meanders through the physical composition of a cell to the destruction of the identity of life using means such as hypnosis. I have to warn you that if you do not take lightly to abstract concepts and discussing them for the sake of discussion itself, then do not read this document. Having said that, this is Food for thought after all!

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Audience Interests

5 Ways to use Audience Interests in Google Analytics

Google Analytics updated their UI and offered a new feature for all the free users. This lets a site owner see the interests of the site’s audience. What this means, is that from now on you can actually track what kind of an audience is viewing your site, and what kind of content are they going to like.

For those of you who haven’t enabled Audience Interest yet, here is the help document.

Check out the Interests screenshot of this blog

Audience Interests
Audience Interests lets you check which topics interest your audience.

A quick look will let you know that the top segment of visitors are technophiles, so how can we use this data to drive higher engagement or even traffic to the site?

Identifying your Niche

Now that you know what kind of an audience frequents your site, write more of that type of content. I used to post frequently about Games, however the data that you see before you clearly suggests that I should write more on Tech, Updates in Technology and even Arts!!

Having a site with a broad interest range has it’s traps, this tool will help you get out of that trap and identify your niche … a niche which clearly works for you!

Deciding the Language for your site

Look at the Age Demographic of your site. Correlate that with your Audience interests. Is the copy you are using on the site apt for this demographic?

Would you be a grammar nazi on a blog where a young audience base visits to read about the games you have played? I guess not. Would you watch writing the f*** word when you know your audience is 35+ yrs and the main interest group is Finance? No again. Would you swear at badly written code with sample snippets and screenshots on a blog such as this? Yes!!

Sometimes in creating content for our site, we do not necessarily close the feedback loop that is available by such data. This is a big mistake that serious content marketers need to avoid.

Tailoring Content for your Audience

A high traffic site needs to do two things –

  1. Get new visitors
  2. Make the new visitors keep coming back for more

Easier said than done! Getting new visitors is the simpler part, there are multiple ways for doing that … social sharing, optimizing content, buying clicks, etc. However, now that the user has visited your site, how do you keep them coming back?

Well, keep writing about subjects which are of interest to the user, and do that on a regular basis! I was tempted to blog about multiple games that I have been playing in the past week, but the data that I have seen shows that I need to focus more on articles such as these instead of Gaming … oh, well!!

Connecting to your Audience

This tool can also be used to generate relevant traffic for your site. If you can find sites which have similar audience profiling, then you can start connecting with that target audience either by Display Ads or by participating in that community and developing your cred. Google has a great product to do this, it’s called Doubleclick, which lets you plan your Display Campaigns properly.

However, using this tool you can also find sites which have similar interest profiling for their audience. Once you have narrowed down to a list of 10-15 sites, go ahead and see how to acquire traffic from them! If the audience cannot come to your site, then you might as well take the site to them!!

Finding the right Audience

This tip is useful for you especially if you have configured Goals on Google Analytics. Goals could be a simple metric such as getting more than 3 Pageviews per Visit, or it can be a purchase on your online store.

If you are familiar with the standard set of Advanced Segments that Google Analytics has, then you would know that there is a Converters segment. This is a segment of all the traffic that converted to a Goal  that you have configured in Analytics.

Obviously, increasing the number of Goals would be a metric for you and your content strategy. The Converters segment alongwith the Audience Interest report will help you find the audience which is converting the most.

Wrap Up

Digital marketing is moving closer to traditional marketing paradigms (the 4Ps, Audience Demographics). The good part about this is that data is immediately available as opposed to conducting surveys which consume a lot of time and money (and of course a few summer interns!).

What about you, how useful do you find the Audience Interest report in Google Analytics? Do share your thoughts!

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How to Ace a Job Interview

When I was going for my first interview, no one told me this … however as time went by, all of us learnt the hard way.

  • Always sit upright in the chair, slightly lean forward
  • Never cross your arms or legs, that makes your posture defensive
  • Always smile and be forthcoming about your weaknesses
  • Be honest and do not be afraid to say “I don’t know”

After a decade of working and interviewing people, this infographic is a great summary of what are the basic things you should do when going for an interview.

How-to-Ace-a-Job-Interview

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Why should you use Annotations in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a tool which often amazes me. It contains so many features packed into it that it would take years simply to understand and appreciate all of them! One such feature which I do not see being used as much as it should be is the Annotations tool within Google Analytics.

What are Annotations?

Annotations in Google Analytics

Annotations are comments which you can put for a particular date. So in this picture above, I have indicated at what dates did I publish a post on my blog. I have been busy in the months of April and June!

You can see the annotations bar in the Audience Overview of your Google Analytics profile, there is a small expandable div which you need to click on first.

The thing with Annotations like most of the Google Analytics features is that in order to retain flexibility, it is an open framework. Meaning you can use it as you see fit. Which could be one reason why its not used as often as it should be!

Why should you use Annotations?

Annotations are a simple way to Attribute certain action that you did to a rise in traffic.

Annotations in Google Analytics Peak

In the figure above, there are two trends which I want to explain using annotations.

  1. One is a clear spike in traffic which fetched me around 350 hits in a day. This I am attributing to commenting on a popular gaming blog with my link (I cross referenced that with the referral traffic coming to that site and they match)
  2. The other is an increase in the site traffic, this I am attributing to the increased frequency of posts that I am publishing on this blog

So, How does one use Annotations?

Well there are multiple scenarios how you could use annotations –

  • If you are a team working together on a site, then you can decide on a format for annotations such as Dev. Post, SEM. Having this communicated across the team helps ensure that too many annotations do not clutter your dashboard and confuse you or your team members.
  • If you are a blogger like me, then simply noting the time of the day you blog will help you maintain some regularity on the blog, with a clear sight on how this is impacting your traffic.
  • If you are a marketing manager of a site and handle additional campaigns, say a product launch or a TV Commercial, then you can correlate the increase in traffic and goals on the site to that particular campaign. Remember the first step in attribution is measurement!
  • Cyclicality and Seasonality can be tracked and predicted in the future using annotations. A simple example of this in action is when I had written about the Sunday Dip.

Enough of ideas on how one can use annotations, did you use annotations before and how did you use them?

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How to setup your Google Authorship correctly

I was intending to write this post for some time now, however this brilliant infographic by Mervik Haums was available and its a great resource of tips of getting your Google+ Authorship setup.

Google Authorship Checklist

To put this in a nutshell,

  1. Ensure you have put your best DP on your Google+ profile
  2. In the post you are writing, ensure that your name is displayed as the anchor text with a link pointing to your Author Profile with rel=author
  3. In your Author Profile, have a link to your Google+ profile with rel=me

I did this the earlier day for Good Home Advisor, and it worked within the next couple of days.

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