Most professional sports teams have a director of public relations, a director of community relations, and a director of social media. Colleges have the Sports Information Director and sometimes the other staff members previously mentioned. This blog post will emphasize the underlying need to add a member to the staff or outsource a very helpful function. That is the need of search engine optimization / SEO for sports teams and leagues.
One element of attracting either first-time attendees to any professional or college sports team or league (or conference) event is to get the word out to where those prospective fans are spending time AND open to your message. In the real world this could be the local newspaper, local school events, chamber of commerce meetings, and other venues where large numbers of people are spending time. What can’t be denied is that, just by looking at your audience on their phones at your games and other events, the average fan is spending much more time online than a decade ago.
Their propensity to be online, even at live sporting events, should be indicative that your fans trust their online searches more and more. For whatever reason, sports teams have bypassed the element of SEO in favor of social media. Remember that search engine optimization helps you answer the “Who, What, Where, When, Why, How” questions sought online by your current AND prospective fans. By blending your current social media efforts with intelligent SEO, your sports team can open up many new options.
SEO can benefit a sports team (professional or collegiate) in many ways:
- Reach out of town people, who do not know that your team exists, and who will be in your area when your games are happening
- Local people who are looking for things to do, but they either don’t know your team exists or otherwise didn’t know that you had a game on the day/night they want entertainment
- The “untapped gold mine” of how first-page exposure in the search engines can make a team popular nationally AND bring in entire new revenue streams
SEO For Sports Teams Reaching Out Of Town Prospective Fans
For out of town people who will be in town during the times you have games and other team events, you will want to know what they are seeking in the search engines. For example, someone may go to the search engines and type in the phrase “nightlife YOUR CITY”. Instead of bars, dance clubs, restaurants and other traditional websites ranking on the first page of the search engines your team’s website and/or social media properties should be there instead.
The reason why is that if they do not know that your team exists (or forgot that your team will be playing during their stay), getting them to your games will increase overall revenues from tickets, parking, concessions and possibly a purchase of merchandise. In addition, these people even may join your social media properties and share your content which could produce online revenue. *
(* – if you don’t already have such content then be sure to contact us for a simple method to potentially monetize your social media audience without having to ask them to buy anything)
SEO For Sports Teams Reaching Those Who Live Locally
Regarding your fans who live in town, they likely are going to the search engines typing in phrases like “things to do in YOUR CITY”. Why are they doing this? There are a number of reasons:
- a change in their relationship status, so they are looking for things to do which are different than what they know
- they may need to have to entertain friends, family or clients who are in town
- they may now have kids who are old enough to go to sporting events
- new to town and they want to meet other people
Of interest, as of the date of this blog post (early September 2013), if you go to the major search engines and type in “things to do in X” – where “X” is each of the top 20 cities in the U.S. based on population – you will NOT see ANY sports team’s website ranking on the first page!! While a stadium or team may be featured, it usually is listed on someone else’s website which means the team has minimal control over that content. The bigger thing is, however, that….
… each major sports team’s website is already “authoritative” enough to rank on the first page of the search engines for these phrases. All they have to do is optimize the desired pages and have interns and fans do their “link building” for them!
The other reason why ranking for “things to do in YOUR CITY” matters is that Google’s keyword tool (now “keyword planner”) indicates that that phrase (and similar ones) get entered over 10,000 times PER MONTH for each city. This means that teams in big cities are missing out on over 100,000 people per year who are looking for things to do in your city!
Yes, even minor league and college teams in these large markets have the potential to get first-page exposure. It may take a little bit more effort, but it can be accomplished with some expertise.
Remember that you will be reaching mostly people who are NOT already on your Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Instagram or other contact lists. Since “new fan acquisition costs” could be escalating in your market, one way to lower the cost to get a new paying fan is to leverage what your team already has:
- “authority” in the search engines based on your getting links consistently from local TV, radio, and newspaper websites
- lots of fans on your social media properties who can “like”, “retweet” or otherwise share your pages which would be optimized for phrases like “things to do in YOUR CITY”
The Untapped Gold Mine Which Most Sports Teams Can Leverage In The Search Engines
Finally, most sports teams do not know how to tap into one of the most coveted assets they possess: intellectual property. They know how to do virtually anything being searched by parents and players around the country who are participating in that particular sport. Using baseball for example, here are some of the phrases which get entered in the search engines EACH month several thousand times across North America:
- “how to throw a knuckle ball”
- “youth baseball team drills”
- “how to choose a pitchers glove”
- “increase vertical leap”
Go ahead and type those phrases (and other ones which you believe will have lots of queries in the search engines across all 50 states & Canada). Take a moment to notice…
… that no pro team, minor league team (affiliated or independent), college team or summer collegiate team has a website ranking on the first page. The teams are missing out on HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of searches EACH MONTH being entered by parents and players across the country.
Yet, each professional (MLB, MiLB, or independent) or collegiate (actual school or summer collegiate) team’s (or league’s) website is ALREADY authoritative enough to outrank the current websites getting first-page exposure — and tons of traffic thanks to that exposure!
“That’s Great And All… But How Does My Team Make Any Money By Ranking # 1 For These Phrases? All I Care About Is Butts In Seats And Selling More Hot Dogs & Beer And Getting More TV/Radio Ratings”
The mindset in the quote above is pervasive throughout the industry. By believing that your team’s SOLE purpose is to dominate the entertainment market in a 15-20 mile radius in the physical world will hurt your team’s valuation. This is because such a mindset automatically excludes three other ways to make money for your team:
- making money in the online world within the same 15-20 mile radius
- making money nationally in the physical world
- the big one – making money nationally in the online world
There are MANY ways to monetize people who join one or more of your online lists. By getting intellectual property (e.g. your pitching coach giving an exclusive video of “how to throw a knuckle ball”) you can get people to either:
- buy a DVD (or online video course) of “how to play baseball” sold by your team. Remember, your team likely is doing at least one local camp/clinic each season teaching the VERY SAME things; and now you can monetize that information NATIONALLY
- join your e-mail list to get the video for free
- forcing the fan to “like” your Facebook page to get access to the exclusive video
- same as the above with Twitter
Once they are on your mailing lists and/or social media pages you can monetize the list with methods that are applicable to people in the online world in all 50 states and Canada. Here are just a few examples:
- putting revenue-generating click ads next to daily trivia questions
- inviting them to an annual camp/clinic at your stadium or arena which teaches the “how to” information to thousands of attendees over one weekend
- upselling them to tickets when they are in town
- upselling merchandise to them, which they may buy from your online store since you gave them “value” with the helpful video content
- selling a complete “how to” training DVD
- encouraging them to click an affiliate link to buy equipment (where you get a commission) which your players actually wear during official college or pro games
- many, many more methods to monetize a national audience in the online world
Please note that all of what you have just read is just the beginning of the benefits of SEO for sports teams. Additionally, you can monetize your local audience who searches for local services online. Furthermore, you can monetize some of your older website pages (about which you no longer care) by selling links on those authority pages for monthly revenues. The list goes on, so please contact us with your questions about how we can help you to possibly increase your short-term revenues and longer-term increase in team valuation.
Both professional and collegiate teams in all sports are welcome to contact us.