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How We Generated 2,680,000 Qualified Visits to Our Sports Websites

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-raising-charts-image14636638When we launched our sports network, we faced the same question you face everyday: “How can I drive more traffic to my website?”

Sports is as competitive online as it is offline. The online world of sports encompasses teams, leagues, major publications, TV networks, and tens of millions of fans worldwide writing about their team and sport. How could we attract visitors to our sports sites when the competition for their attention was so fierce?

We produced a traffic generation plan focusing on three channels:

  1. Organic search
  2. Social media
  3. Email marketing

We knew that by consistently and methodically executing our three-channel plan we would see results, and we did; traffic increased from 652,000 visits to 2,680,000 within two years!

Our Twitter accounts also grew from 111,000 followers to more than 350,000 followers. Our email list started at zero and boomed to over 23,000 subscribers.

Most importantly – our revenue reflected our success;

Sales Increased From $731,000 To $2,460,000.

Driving traffic to a website is relatively easy for us with our combined 20+ years of SEO and marketing experience. The hard part was driving qualified, engaged traffic full of fans likely to buy something. Here’s how we did it:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO was one of our main sources of traffic, driving 40% or over 1,000,000 visitors in our site’s second year.

We faced three major challenges:

  • The league, team, and major media outlets were all viewed as authority sites by the search engine, making it nearly impossible to rank for one or two word terms. We had to find a better alternative.
  • We wanted to build relationships with fans in the US and across Europe, so we needed a customized tactical approach for each site.
  • We had to remember our goal to produce 8,000 pieces of content per year while considering SEO best practices.

How did we achieve success?

  • By implementing the SEO best practices we made sure that the important search engines could find all the content that we were publishing on a daily basis.
  • We used a combination of tools and widgets to make sure that the ongoing content had optimized title tags, had all the appropriate internal links, and automatically shared via the appropriate social networks.
  • We took the time to research and understand our audience. What topics were fans interested in? We found out and developed content for each topic that sparked major interest. We didn’t waste time and money producing content that fans weren’t interested in.
  • To make sure that we were focused on the best performing topics and keywords, we used a simple metric—revenue per search engine visitor.

Cultivating Referral Sites

Organic search was only one source of traffic. Another potential source of quality traffic was referral sites. On referral sites, sports fans looked for ways to interject themselves into conversations and share our content. The process of identifying and researching quality referral sites is worth the time and effort.

Traffic from Referral sites has a different “feel” than organic search traffic. The ability to “feel” traffic is a benefit of years of experience generating qualified traffic. It’s a sense one develops over time and exposure to many different scenarios where audience building is critical. People from fan sites were at a different phase in the buying cycle, so we offered them chances to subscribe to newsletters or follow us on Twitter. This allowed us the opportunity to build a strong relationship with them. Relationships built over time and within the context of a common interest can lead to sales down the road.

Content as a Strategy

The best way to bring fans back to our sites was to produce interesting and engaging content.

Our content was written for fans by fans. Instead of just regurgitating the news, we gave our opinion on it. That drew fans and debate to the sites and kept users coming back for more.

The network of sports websites that we started with broad content became more niched and focused as it grew. This allowed us to reach the most passionate fans, the fans with burning interests in their teams, the fans who wanted to engage and interact with other fans.

We published great content several times a day, bringing those fans back to the sites on a daily basis.

We also used the scheduled post feature to ensure that we were publishing at the most optimal time to reach our target audience. For example, with London five hours ahead of New York City, it wouldn’t make sense to email Londoners and New Yorkers at the same time. The scheduled post feature allowed us to publish at local times and ensure we reached the most fans at optimal times.

Social Media

We used social media to promote content and engage with followers and fans.

Social media was a great source of traffic. We focused on accruing followers for our social media accounts by creating a voice and tone that resonated with fans. Our Twitter followers grew from 111,000 to over 350,000. That meant more fans were exposed to our content, which drove even more visitors to our sites.

We also used a website called Tweetreach.com to measure the effectiveness of the tweets we sent out. I am a big fan of A/B testing and we found that we could triple the number of impressions and CTR on our tweets just by testing different tweet formats.

Conclusion

Increasing qualified traffic from 652,000 visitors to over 2.68 million visitors in only 24 months was the result of a traffic generation plan that included performance-based organic search by a trusted, qualified SEO professional, select fan sites, well-written, on-topic content, and the strategic use of social media.

Have a question on how to generate more qualified traffic to your site? Contact us today.