The Premier League of search: How England’s football clubs rank

By Chris Lee

Manchester United F.C. dominates the Premier League of websites much as the club does when it comes to the football pitch. That’s according to search marketing software firm Searchmetrics, whose study found that the bigger clubs’ websites all performed better than less-supported clubs’ sites when it came to search engine visibility. Searchmetrics used its own algorithm to attribute an “SEO Visibility” score to Premier League websites and also generated a league table for social media visibility of clubs.

Marcus Tober, founder and CTO of Searchmetrics, explained: “When it comes to the Web, in many ways Premier League football clubs act like media businesses. They try to attract visitors and fans to their official sites where they can engage with them and potentially sell tickets, hospitality packages and merchandise. They compete with newspaper publishers, broadcasters and online media, making visibility in search engines and social media a vital part of their online marketing.”

NMK spoke to Tober to understand the wider business significance of Searchmetrics’ findings on football clubs.

What’s the business significance of these findings? Surely search is a tiny part of a club’s marketing?

Fans are increasingly searching for information on their club on the Web and sharing links about them on social media. However there are hundreds of other sites (such as those belonging to newspapers, sports media and TV companies) that are competing for their attention when it comes to football related searches. If fans can’t find official sites they’ll go elsewhere, meaning clubs miss out on the chance to sell lucrative merchandise, which directly hits the bottom line.

While search is just one part of a club’s marketing mix it is rapidly growing in importance as Premier League teams look to attract supporters on a global basis. And with financial fair play rules coming in anything that increases revenues can only benefit clubs where it counts – on the pitch.

What’s your message to football clubs in general about their search marketing? Do tactics differ for football clubs as it would for any other business?

Look at who you are actually competing against when it comes to search – it won’t be other clubs, it will be media websites. Make sure you’ve put in place a proper monitoring and analysis framework and use this information to address any gaps in your search marketing, such as by adding content or links to your site. Most of all take it seriously – it could have a real impact on your bottom line.

The rules of search marketing apply equally to all businesses, including football clubs – understand your audience, what they are searching for and implement a programme that gets you to the top of the search engine table for your chosen keywords. And keep the programme going – search marketing isn’t a single match, it’s an on-going championship and you need to play accordingly.

And when it comes to their online shops, the tactics are the same as any other ecommerce website. You need to get traffic, work on the conversion rate and sell with a good return on investment.

SEO Visibility of English Premier League Football Club Web Sites

 

Club

URL

SEO Visibility

League position1

1 Manchester United

manutd.com

44,954

2

2 Arsenal

arsenal.com

42,784

9

3 Liverpool

liverpoolfc.com

32,176

12

4 Chelsea

chelseafc.com

30,547

1

5 Tottenham Hotspur

tottenhamhotspur.com

16,519

5

6 Manchester City

mcfc.co.uk

14,974

3

7 Everton

evertonfc.com

12,961

4

8 West Ham United

whufc.com

10,819

7

9 Aston Villa

avfc.co.uk

8,573

17

10 Newcastle United

nufc.co.uk

4,133

11

11 Norwich City

canaries.co.uk

2,846

15

12 Southampton

saintsfc.co.uk

2,635

18

13 Stoke City

stokecityfc.com

2,294

13

14 Fulham

fulhamfc.com

1,869

8

15 Sunderland

safc.com

1,799

14

16 Wigan Athletic

wiganlatics.co.uk

1,718

16

17 Swansea City

swanseacity.net

1,314

10

18 Reading

readingfc.co.uk

1,184

19

19 West Bromwich Albion

wba.co.uk

938

6

20 Queens Park Rangers

qpr.co.uk

908

20

Social Visibility of English Premier League Football Club Web Sites

 

Club

URL

Social Visibility

League position1

1 Chelsea

chelseafc.com

50,363,039

1

2 Manchester United

manutd.com

32,605,712

2

3 Arsenal

arsenal.com

22,272,385

9

4 Manchester City

mcfc.co.uk

3,613,681

3

5 Liverpool

liverpoolfc.com

3,257,427

12

6 Tottenham Hotspur

tottenhamhotspur.com

834,204

5

7 Everton

evertonfc.com

565,651

4

8 Aston Villa

avfc.co.uk

543,214

17

9 West Ham United

whufc.com

320,976

7

10 Queens Park Rangers

qpr.co.uk

232,181

20

11 Newcastle United

nufc.co.uk

231,714

11

12 Fulham

fulhamfc.com

195,739

8

13 Southampton

saintsfc.co.uk

184,548

18

14 Sunderland

safc.com

161,872

14

15 Norwich City

canaries.co.uk

118,927

15

16 Swansea City

swanseacity.net

96,262

10

17 Reading

readingfc.co.uk

85,931

19

18 West Bromwich Albion

wba.co.uk

85,353

6

19 Stoke City

stokecityfc.com

84,333

13

20 Wigan Athletic

wiganlatics.co.uk

53,851

16

1League Position correct 22 October 2012

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