When it comes to search visibility, Premier League football clubs could be described as having a league of their own.
From their status as high profile brands (thus benefiting from traffic from brand searches), to delivering sometimes complex and demanding interactive content, there are many various factors working for and against these websites.
Earlier this year, Foss Digital published the Digital Premier League Table 2018 which examined how 20 Premier League teams measured up on multiple data points. The report was a top-level snap audit that analysed the digital efforts of the 20 teams and compared them against their 2017/18 positions.
Quite surprisingly, the analysis identified a number of issues football club websites are facing in terms of their websites’ suitability for ranking in search engines.
We’ve highlighted these in more detail below.
How does your club’s SEO match up?
1. Only nine out of the 20 clubs own a mirrored domain that is 301 redirected to their main domain.
A mirrored domain will hold a website and content that is identical to the main website, but are hosted on a different server to assist with high volumes of traffic. These are helpful for football sites to avoid potential downtime and ensure a positive user experience.
The report found that of the 20 clubs, 11 of them aren’t directing the mirrored domain back to their main site, and in some cases, didn’t even own the mirrored domain.
This means that those clubs are missing out on potential traffic from users entering the wrong ending to a URL (perhaps using .co.uk instead of .com). This is also a poor user experience and is something that can be avoided very easily with a simple 301 redirect.
2. Only six of the 20 clubs have a multi-lingual website, and only one of these clubs is using hreflang markup tags.
Having multi-lingual versions of a football website is massively important to accommodate the Premier League’s growingly diverse audience.
However, from a search perspective, these websites need to be coded correctly, using hreflang tags to indicate which version of the content should be served in search engines results.
Though six of the clubs offer multi-lingual versions of their site, five of these did not have hreflang tags in place. This means Google could serve the wrong results to users which can minimise search traffic from these countries.
3. Five clubs dominated the rankings for high-volume search terms.
Key words or search terms are one of the biggest ways a website is discovered via search engines.
Though much of football clubs’ traffic comes from brand searches, they can still benefit from related non-branded search terms, if their content is optimised well.
It was found that many of the highest volume search term rankings are dominated by five clubs, meaning these clubs are more likely to be found for key terms like ‘premier league table’, ‘premier league fixtures’ and ‘la liga table’.
For the other 15 clubs, more work is needed on their content if they intend to provide users with the information they need.
4. Only nine out of the 20 clubs had a desktop site speed of above 60 - the recommended minimum level.
Page speed is a key ranking factor with Google, so it’s more important than ever to have a website that loads quickly and performs well.
Not only this, but page loading times are a key factor to ensure users have the best possible experience when using your website. This will make it easier for them to engage with the site (e.g. buying a ticket or something from the online shop), and ensure they return to the site in the future.
Of the 20 clubs, only nine managed to score a Google desktop Page Speed score of 60 or above – the recommended minimum. On mobile, 14 clubs scored below 80, which is the recommended minimum for mobile.
5. Domain authority across football club websites isn’t as consistent as you may think.
Domain authority is an indicator of how reliable and influential search engines perceive a website to be. It can be determined by multiple factors including the number and quality of root domains linking to the site.
Many of the big clubs performed well here, with nine of the clubs having a DA of 60 or above. But it’s assumed most football clubs should have good domain authority due to the very nature of their business (household names, lots of content).
One reason some clubs have lower authority scores could be the quality of linking root domains and total number of links pointing to their websites. A backlink audit and potential disavow process could be of great benefit here for most.
Are you concerned about your club’s performance in any of these areas?
Our Digital Advertising team has over 10 years of sporting heritage working with the likes of Arsenal in football as well as within cycling, horse racing, coaching and the athletic sporting arena, providing award-winning innovative strategies.
Our comprehensive SEO audit report will dig deep into your website and help you identify any problems, as well as laying out next steps for fixing them.
Whether you’re concerned about your site’s ability to rank for international audiences, or want to rank for more industry keywords, a reliable SEO company can help.