OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


PBEM or Play-by-post

I’ve been questioning for a while what to call the games that people will run on the OngoingWorlds site, and have been disputing between calling them PBEM games, or play-by-post games.

I’ve recorded a short audio comment for this article:

What are people searching for?

As a website owner, I have to think about what people are typing into a search engine to try and find my site. So they would type in “PBEM” or “play-by-post”, often they would be more specific and want to find a “Startrek PBEM” or a “fantasy play-by-post”. It’s important that I get the wording correct on the OngoingWorlds website, so that it appears in the correct search results.

When Google and other search engines show you the results of your search query, they want to show you the most relevant websites. Which means that the wording I use on my website has to match up with the wording that people are expected to be searching for.

I’ve wondered for a while which is the most popular term for the type of game that OngoingWorlds allows you to play. Most people call them either PBEM games, or Play-by-post games.

I’ve done a simple comparison test by searching for these terms on Google.


Google search results

Results for a Google search for "PBEM" and a search for "Play-by-post"


Google has returned 353,000 websites for the term “PBEM”, and a whopping “250,000,000” for the term “play-by-post”. This of course could contain the same website appearing twice in this list, and some inaccurate results, but the difference is clear. There are more websites mentioning the phrase “play-by-post”.


I’m going to change the terminology which I’m using, and use the phrase “play-by-post” to describe the types of games that you can create and play on OngoingWorlds.