SEO for Your Sports Website or Sportsbook – Go Team!
I’m all about the niche. I firmly believe that for some fields, a run-of-the mill SEO simply can’t translate what they know to all industries. Sports is one of them.
From the action/extreme genre to the mainstream, sports is a culture that demands familiarity. With content strategy being the key to search engine marketing (SEM), both your audience and Google will know if you know what you’re talking about. If the semantics don’t fit, they’ll acquit. Page One will be a green pasture that your digital field will never know.
Thankfully, you’re off to the right start by landing on this article. So, before you attempt to manage your own SEO or solicit the services of a general SEM agency, read this playbook first.
5 Things You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization for Your Sports Based Online Business
1. Optimized Content Must Be More Engaging than Other Industries
There are many industries where website content is supposed to be purely informative. While all content should be written in an engaging manner, a real estate, health care, or construction business website isn’t expected to be overtly entertaining. It’s somewhat less challenging to write search engine optimized content that Google will rank without turning off actual readers (potential customers). But when it comes to sports, whether your brand is B2B or B2C facing, readers and prospective clients/customers demand more. They expect insightful articles, eye-catching imagery, infographics, video, and even the opportunity to reach out for one-on-one engagement via social media plugins. So, not only do you need to ensure that your meta-data (title tags, meta-descriptions, page headings) is optimized, more engaging complementary content must be present and optimized (meta-data in text and rich media) too.
2. SEO for Sports is More Competitive than the Sport Itself
With the exception of the M*A*S*H* series finale which falls in 8th place, the NFL Super Bowl claims all other 19 spots in the top 20 most watched television broadcasts of all time (US). Baseball has been touted as America’s favorite pastime for over a century. Soccer dominates the lives of the rest of the world. When a professional leagues are in season, Google Trends “stories trending now” category is jam-packed full of sports. This industry captures worldwide consumer interest unlike any other. Nothing comes close. The point, is that business flocks to where consumers are.
Sports apparel, e-sports apps/games, game tickets, broadcasting, streaming, online sports betting and everything in-between is big business. Even the travel industry is capitalizing on sporting event attendance. One needs to look no further than the shores of Orange County CA where the VANS US Open of Surfing is recognized as one of the largest professional sports competitions in the world, thanks in part to the influx of fans from all over the planet, from Brazil to Japan.
Billions of dollars in revenue is waiting for the taking and thus small businesses and conglomerates alike are flocking online to get a piece of the action. If you’ve thrown your hat into the ring you’ve joined thousands of others doing the same, all of you fighting for Google Page One real estate, where the customers are. While you’re in one of the most potentially lucrative online businesses in the world you’re also in one of the most competitive. You want your SEO strategy to account for this, and so it is advised that you devote your budgetary resources accordingly.
3. Google is the Referee and Commissioner – Play by their Rules
You have to follow Google’s explicit rules if you expect any longevity in this online game. Looking for quick results by any means necessary (black hat SEO practices) will only bring fleeting results, if any. In the end, cheating the system will have a website go down in history with Armstrong, Bonds, Canseco, and the rest of the analogous alphabetical list of violators. What are Google’s rules? Your SEO strategy must follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which includes (but is not exclusive to) the absence of thin content and strict adherence to natural link building practices.
4. Some of You Walk a Fine Legal Line – The Fantasy and Sportsbook Conundrum
Two of the most lucrative online sports based businesses are daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sports betting. Both are hot topics in the press. FanDuel and DraftKings have been under federal investigation for violating online sports gambling laws in the U.S. for over a year, with no end in sight. Offshore online sportsbooks that cater to the U.S. market continue to be the subject of federal scrutiny.
There are pundits on both sides. On one hand, you have former NBA commissioner Daniel Stern campaigning for legal sports betting (Sept 2016) and on the other you have U.S. state lawmakers calling for a blanketed ban on DFS and online betting. There is no end to this debate in site, yet there are millions sitting on the table, which has hoards of webmasters and businesses getting in while the getting is good. If you are among them, your SEO strategy needs to be more law-conscious than any other online business when it comes to geographic reach. Your site will need to be designed to recognize banned IP addresses and optimized to rank for key terms in key countries that will earn revenue while keeping you within a legal safety net, until this whole mess is sorted out.
5. Best Left in the Hands of a Professional
Turns out this whole sports marketing thing is more complicated than you originally thought, isn’t it? Chances are, you got into the sports game because of your own passion for it. You know that your creative take on it can deliver ROI, if only you have the chance to put your website on Google Page One. Stay focused on that passion, focus on delivering the best possible sport-centric offering to your B2C or B2B consumers. Bring in a coach that will build a strategy and develop an ongoing playbook that will help you compete and succeed against the field.
If you need SEO for your sports based business, be it fanfare eCommerce, eSports, editorial publishing, ticket sales, or even an online fantasy sports site contact me to discuss your next play.