Back in December 2016 when we relaunched the Newcastle United website, we were determined to ensure the platform met the standards of a modern media publisher, not just a football club.
Here’s some data showing why that was worthwhile, and why 16 Premier League clubs are missing out by not following suit.
Back in March 2017 when the site was nominated for a Sports Technology Award, we wrote about some of these features and first on the list was Accelerated Mobile Pages format.
We said at the time that we’d return to some of these features when we had interesting data on their impact, and while the intervening time has seen a General Election, Tottenham Hotspur win the league in all but name, and cricket come back to terrestrial TV, we know you’ve been waiting for that update.
To recap, AMP is a stripped-back page format that loads very quickly and is looked on favourably by Google for that reason. It’s explicitly surfaced in mobile search, although you can read an AMP version of this very article to get an idea of the format.
The Newcastle site publishes every article in AMP format as well as a regular page, and Google indexes both versions.
In May, the club announced the launch of a new kit – 2017/18 will be NUFC’s 125 year anniversary season, and unsurprisingly the new kit with a special commemorative crest was a much-searched term.
With the aid of Google Search Console, we’re able to see detailed information on those searches, and the degree to which they led to visits to nufc.co.uk.
(Hopefully someone in your organisation uses Search Console, which is free, to do this for your website. They really should do).
This screenshot shows mobile search¹ data from Search Console, split by site page, for a 4 week period in May/June 2017.
The Impressions column shows the number of times each site page was displayed in search results.
Clicks is the number of times that people clicked those search results, and Click Through Rate (CTR) is the % success rate (Clicks/Impressions).
You can see that both the regular and AMP version of the article revealing the kit are in the top 6 pages for the time period (by clicks from search results).
Both drove similar traffic volumes – but the AMP page is only shown in mobile search results, and AMP traffic came from 60% of the impressions and consequently had a significantly better CTR: 6.12% for the regular page is pretty healthy anyway, but 10.64% for the AMP page is very good.
The AMP format has helped Newcastle capture additional traffic for one of the most important revenue-driving events in any club’s calendar, for a minor tech development outlay.
Bournemouth recently switched to running on the Stadion platform, which Newcastle was the first site to launch on. MCFC are also in the process of moving across.
That’s a total of two technology providers across 20 of the richest football clubs in the world who’ve implemented a format that any serious web publisher would consider a basic hygiene requirement.
For any club or sports organisation that has regular big news stories, Mobile Search should be a key traffic driver; attracting that attention without AMP is only going to get more difficult.
¹Edited to specify that this is mobile search data on July 10, 2017