SEO for Sports Teams and Sports Team Websites – How to Do It Right
When building a sports team website, the goal is usually to get traffic. Nobody sets out thinking “I hope this will fade into obscurity!”. After all, traffic means more potential fans, sponsors, players, publicity and opportunities.
Where does most of the traffic on the Internet come from? Search engines. In fact, 93 percent of online experiences start with a search query. For that reason, one of the best ways to get traffic is to achieve good rankings in Google and other search engines.
As you might know, the field concerned with achieving high search rankings is called search engine optimization or SEO for short. SEO matters for any website, including sports team websites. However, many people think it confusing and overwhelming and, as a consequence, stay away from it.
Time to change that. In this article we will show you the basics of SEO for sports teams and sports team websites and help you lay a foundation to get to the front page of search engines. Below you will learn a number of important steps to improve your site’s search rankings from basic to advanced.
Are you ready? Then let’s get started right away.
SEO Tips for Sports Teams and Sports Team Websites
The tips below will help you improve the search engine optimization for your sports team website. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do all of them at once. Take it slow and improve bit by bit.
Define Your Goal
Before getting into SEO, the most important thing is to figure out what you actually want to achieve. Your entire SEO strategy depends on the end goal.
While you can just implement some strategies and see success with them, it’s better to start off with a direction in mind. After all, you don’t just want to be found but found by the right people and for the right reasons.
For example, your approach to search engine optimization will be different whether you want to find new players or just get more fans (hint: you can also do both, however, you need to know that beforehand). Do you want to promote your site locally? Build a brand? Something else? Think it through before making the leap.
Doing so makes understanding the upcoming steps much clearer, such as the pages you create, keywords you use, calls to action on your site and everything else. If you need some help with this point, start off doing some market research to clarify your vision.
One of the single best decisions you can make for the SEO success of your sports team website is to use WordPress. Why is that? Because by doing so, you already take care of 80-90 percent of SEO right from the start.
That’s right, just building your site with WordPress automatically puts you ahead in the SEO game. But don’t just take my word for it. Listen to Matt Cutts, former head of the web spam team at Google, who said so himself.
It’s true, Google loves WordPress and using the CMS gives your sports team website a solid SEO foundation to start from. In addition to that, the platform comes with plenty of plugins to further improve the SEO performance of your site, not to mention, SportsPress Pro which makes creating a professional-looking sports team website a breeze.
Use a Mobile Responsive Theme
You might not be aware of it, but over the last couple years mobile traffic has gotten much more important. These days more people are accessing the Internet with their phones and tablets than they do with laptops and desktop computers.
Naturally, search engines have picked up on this trend. In fact, by now Google has started punishing any websites that are not optimized for mobile devices. If your site is not mobile friendly, it will not even show up in mobile search results anymore!
For that reason, one of the first steps to optimizing your sports team website for search engine success is to choose a mobile responsive theme. The WordPress theme directory is full of them but here at ThemeBoy we also have a number of themes for different sports that are all optimized for mobile devices.
Install an SEO Plugin
Earlier we mentioned WordPress plugins that can greatly improve your site’s search performance. The WordPress sphere offers several of them, but here at ThemeBoy we are a fan of Yoast SEO.
Just installing it will make up for some shortcomings of the WordPress platform and improve the way search engines see your sports team website. However, it offers much more:
- Complete control over almost all matters SEO for WordPress
- Ability to configure title formats for pages, taxonomies and archives
- Control over SEO titles and meta descriptions of posts and pages
- XML sitemap generation to submit to Google and other search engines
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The best part about Yoast is their content analysis module. Simply provide the focus keyword you want to optimize your content for and the plugin will tell you exactly how to get the technical SEO aspects right and include your keyword in all the right places.
It’s like having an SEO expert looking over your shoulder at all times and invaluable advice to improve the SEO for of your sports team website. Of course, there are also alternatives like All-in-One SEO Pack.
Find and Use Keywords
Talking about focus keywords: before you can use them on your site, you first need to know which ones make sense. Keyword research is actually one of the main concerns of SEO. By picking and using the right search terms, your site can be indexed and found for the right reasons by the right people.
However, how do you find the right keywords?
Basically, keyword research comes down to understanding your audience, their needs and intent. From here, you can use tools like Keywordtool.io to expand on your list of ideas. Your site’s Google Analytics and Google Search Console will also give you valuable input.
However, going over the entire process of keyword research is a topic for an entire article, so you are better off following that link.
Implement Local SEO
While any website can benefit from implementing general SEO measures, with sports team websites it often makes sense to take things a little further and also focus on local SEO.
The reason behind that is that sports teams most often operate on the local level. Unless you are playing in the major leagues, fans, players, sponsors and everyone else is usually coming from the local community.
So, what does local SEO look like?
On the most basic level it means that you include your whereabouts on your site. For example, you can add your city, county or any other regional information in your page title, H1 tag, URL, content, image ALT tags and other important on-page SEO factors in the following form:
- [your team name] — [your sport] in [your city] since [founding time]
- Want to play [your sport] in [your locality]? Join [your team name]!
- [your team name] playing [your sport] proudly in [your city]
However, local SEO goes beyond that. To really knock the SEO for your sports team out of the park you definitely need to get on Google My Business. Claiming your Google business page will put you on the map (like, literally, on Google Maps) and allow you to pop up for local business listings.
When you do set up your page make sure to
- include a detailed description of your team
- choose the correct category
- upload photos (learn how to take great sports team photos here)
- add a local phone number
- include the correct address
- add a profile image and cover photo
With a Google business page you are also able to get reviews (another positive search signal) and, most importantly, pop up on local search requests.
Finally, don’t forget to embed Google Maps with your location (like SportsPress does automatically for games and competitions).
Set up Schema Structured Data
By the way, you can make events even more findable with structured data. It’s a special kind of markup that helps search engines better understand your content. You have probably already seen it in action:
Anytime you see images, reviews, ratings or similar in search results, that’s due to Schema markup. As you can see it makes search results much more helpful.
As a consequence, structured data improves click-through rates (meaning the amount of people who click on your link when seeing it) and is a very good way to distinguish yourself. Since search engines take click-through into account, this is another possibility to improve SEO for sports teams.
That is especially true since there is a whole host of markup specially for events like games and tournaments. When you mark them up correctly, Google can recognize it and serve them up to their users for relevant searches (the search below was for “new york baseball games”).
In WordPress they are relatively easy to implement. To do so, follow this guide. Google also offers tools like Markup Helper which can generate the necessary code for you. Of course, WordPress also has several plugins at hand, the most popular of which are All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets and WP SEO Structured Data Schema. You can also find more in the guide mentioned above.
Use Content Marketing
A while back “content is king” seemed like the official motto of the Internet. You could hear it on all corners and on every single marketing blog.
However, beyond all the hype it is true that in today’s online world great, relevant content is one of the best ways to get noticed by search engines and visitors alike. Google loves it and regularly rewards publishers with top placement in search results.
For that reason, content creation is also a great tool for sports teams to improve their SEO, earn links and attention. Besides that, it also helps develop an audience and position your brand.
Content marketing doesn’t necessarily have to mean running a blog for your sports team (though certainly doesn’t hurt). As mentioned in how to get started with content marketing, you can also do videos, a podcast, social content and more. The most important thing before striking out is to develop a content marketing strategy and not just run blindly.
Leverage Social Media
We have already mentioned social media above as part of content marketing. Social networks are great marketing channels in and of themselves. They help sports teams find fans, promote themselves, their events and more. For that reason, we have already published a number of articles on this topic:
- How to Use Twitter to Market and Promote Your Sports Team
- How to Create a Professional Sports Team Facebook Page
- How to Use Instagram for Your Sports Team Marketing
- 7 Effective Snapchat Marketing Ideas for Sports Teams
- How to Use Pinterest for Sports Team Marketing
However, believe it or not, search engines also care about social media. Google uses it to gauge the popularity of websites and their content and takes that into account for their ranking algorithm. Besides that, social networks can also bring in traffic by themselves.
Implement Link Building
No article about SEO would be complete without talking about link building. Backlinks remain one of the strongest ranking factors for websites and you’d do well to work toward acquiring them.
The good news: While in former times it was all about link quantity, Google has by now shifted their focus much more toward link quality and relevance.
In fact, engaging in link building campaigns that only concentrate on acquiring links no matter from where can do you more harm than good. It’s better to get a few links from relevant websites with high authority than hundreds of low-quality sites pointing to you.
For sports teams, that means shooting for links from other local relevant businesses, associations, teams and other figures in your discipline.
However, how to do that?
Well, the first step is to build something worth linking to. If you have a high-quality site full of relevant information for others in your sport (for example, super helpful blog posts), why wouldn’t they link to you?
The second step is to actively build relationships and cooperate with others. Reach out in your niche, ask your sponsors to link back to you, work with local sports organizations, the works. Yes, it’s an investment, but one that makes sense beyond SEO efforts.
SEO for Sports Teams in a Nutshell
SEO is not just for business websites but matters to sports team sites as well. Search engines remain one of the biggest traffic sources in the world and optimizing your site for them helps attract visitors, fans, players, sponsors and more.
There are a lot of myths revolving around SEO that make it sound unnecessarily complicated. As you have seen, it doesn’t have to be. As long as you know what you want, take care of the technical groundwork and don’t forget to position yourself locally, you can make a great difference in your site’s search performance. After that, advanced techniques like structured data, content marketing, social media and link building will get you to the next level.
The tools are readily at your disposal, all you need to do is start implementing them. Just do one thing at a time and you will soon see your performance improving. Good luck!