Why is it so important to have a high rank on Google or other search engines?
Quite simply, if you want to attract new members to your club, then you need to be seen. To be seen you ideally need to be on page one of a relevant search. So for example how would someone in Coventry potentially search for a hockey club for their daughter to join?
Potential searches could be:
- Hockey Coventry
- Hockey Club Coventry
- Coventry Hockey Club
- Women’s Hockey Coventry
- Girl’s Hockey Coventry
- Junior Hockey Coventry
- Junior Club Coventry
- Sports Clubs for Girls Coventry
It is important for you to think creatively about how people may search for your club, in order to ensure your website is set up appropriately. Your club may offer junior / girls hockey, but if you fail to mention this on your website, or don’t use key phrases or words within your website, then the search engines may fail to register this for your club.
One challenge for a web master. Ask the next 10 people you meet what search phrase they would enter if looking for your sport in your town for their daughter (or if you are a senior only club for themselves). Then enter those phrases into Google and see how your club ranks for each phrase.
If you are ranking page one for every search – well done! What you now need to do is maintain and manage that position by keeping your website fresh and updated.
If you are ranking page one for some phrases but not others, you now know which areas you need to improve on. For example if you are page one as a hockey club, but not page one for junior hockey then I would suggest you review your website content.
So for example, do you have junior pages with a descriptive name? Is that name obvious to all? If your junior section happens to be called “The Badgers” – this will not be recognised as a junior page. However if you call it “The Badgers – Junior Hockey”, now you have made it more descriptive. Within the text for that page do you specifically mention girls hockey, boys hockey or junior hockey. Whilst you don’t want to go over the top in using key phrases make sure the search phrases do appear in your text in a natural manner.
If you are not ranking at all for any phrase, you are going to need to work a bit harder at getting yourself noticed. It may help you to understand how the search engines work so here is a quick overview.
Google and all other search engines index the web by “spidering” – which basically means they go to a web page, index it, then one by one go to all links on that page, when they get to that page they index it, and then go to all the links on that page and so on. Naturally if you have a brand new site, then Google doesn’t even know it exists and are not going to index it until they stumble across it by following a link from another site. If you have no external links pointing to your site, then that makes it even harder for the search engines to discover you and it could be quite a long time before you get indexed.
So what can clubs do:
First of all, submit your site to the search engines here are a couple of links to get you started.
Ensure there are some incoming links pointing to your site. The easiest thing to do is add the site to various directories like DMOZ (http://www.dmoz.org/). There are plenty of other free directories too, and some Sport/league specific ones – remember, the more links pointing in to the site, the quicker it will be found.
Neither of the steps above will produce instantaneous results, but should speed up the discovery. When search engines do start to index a site, they will start off slowly, probably only indexing one or two pages, and then come back in a few weeks time and index some more. Over time though, they’ll be indexing the site every single day.
Update your site regularly to make sure there is new content. Put simply, search engines like websites which change regularly and regard those with the most recent content as most relevant. A lot of value is placed on websites with fresh and unique content.
There is plenty of advice out there about increasing your rankings, you don’t need to resort to advertising, just some thought and attention to your website over a period of time and you should reap the benefits.