English Football Clubs - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q1 2024

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The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for English football clubs has just been published. Learn how 12 of England's top 12 teams perform on the digital pitch.

The latest Q1 2024 benchmarking report for English football clubs has just been published. It covers 12 English football teams including Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool FC, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield United, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Everton, West Ham, Crystal Palace, and Chelsea.

Football Clubs - LOGOS

The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for each team to drive traffic to their site. Though, with built-in brand loyalty, these teams aren't strictly competing with one another on a digital level, the report highlights quick wins that will improve enquiries from their online strategies and identifies the barriers that may be reducing a site’s ability to optimise digital performance and drive sales to tickets and merchandise.

To see a preview and contents page of the Q1 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call. Football Clubs - COVER


For a glance into just six of the metrics we evaluated these 12 English football teams on, check out our quick-look table below;

Football Clubs W&L Jan24

Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's best and poorest-performing English football clubs or request a copy of the report for the full review.

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What The Industry Research Report Covers

The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each site based on 50+ metrics and indicators of a successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.  

Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels

Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing and Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from £30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing.  Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.

Technical Website Compliance

Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance.  For the football teams in our report, they'll want to ensure key, profit-driving pages such as ticket sales and merchandise stores are easily accessible, and that fans aren't struggling to find what they need by being directed through old or broken links.

In our last audit, Liverpool FC reported 706 4xx errors, which it’s reduced to 173 this quarter. However, Crystal Palace is the football club to watch, as it recorded 546 4xx errors in this quarter and must adopt a well-maintained linking structure to eradicate these errors.

Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance

When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load will see a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. English football clubs will want to ensure every touchpoint for their fans is high-performing and provides an excellent user experience - especially if there is frustration elsewhere!

The mobile site speed for this quarter ranged between 51 and 9, with Chelsea in last place. Only Newcastle United scored above 50% (a benchmark that all brands should aim for to prevent customers from becoming impatient with slow site speeds).

Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority

Domain authority (DA) is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance, and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. Football clubs are likely to have high DAs, due to them being long-standing institutions which will naturally gain significant press coverage from highly-reputable sites.

The DA range for this quarter ranged between 82 and 68, with all football clubs in the ‘excellent’ category. Manchester United reported the highest DA. All football clubs must regularly update their website and increase their site speed to further increase their DA rating.

Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop

A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for core, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. For English football teams, they'll need to ensure their targeted keywords meet their business goals for their site and are optimised in line with any commercial targets that are in place.

Four of the 12 brands reported an increase in organic mobile traffic compared to last year, with Everton seeing a 55% rise. On the other hand, Manchester United and West Ham landed joint bottom place with a 66% traffic loss.

Universal Search Opportunity

Google Universal Search Results are an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a site can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. Football teams can use the 'image pack' search result to highlight their merchandise to fans looking for their store, or 'people also ask' results to quickly answer questions about their stadium or facilities.

Liverpool FC reported the most appearances for overall Universal Search results, landing most of these in the ‘image’ category and ‘reviews’. The football clubs in this report must ensure that they’re continually working hard to rank high in SERPs and not get comfortable, despite having a high chance of being the go-to for football-related content.

The Longtail Keyword Opportunity

Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for new search terms as they enter Google’s index. Longtail keyword opportunities for English football teams can tie nicely into merchandise and ticket sales, including terms such as "Aston Villa season ticket price" or "new Manchester United kit full range".

Manchester United landed the most appearances in the top 3 search engine results. Manchester City reported most of its appearances (13,505) in positions 11–20, and it should evaluate its longtail keywords to improve its performance in the top 3 searches.

Facebook Adverts

With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) forecasted to hit over 42 million users by 2022, it is not surprising that brands have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached £2.6b in 2019. Football teams can use paid social advertising to drive awareness of new kits, special fixtures, or featured deals on either merchandise or tickets.

We’ve included 3 examples of Tottenham Hotspur’s sponsored Facebook posts. This football club incorporated two vertical videos and a static image across its posts and text across a maximum of 3 lines — Facebook’s recommended amount to improve scannability.

Football Clubs - FACEBOOK Spurs Ad

Top Social Shares & Content

When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for a long period of time. It's great for your engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. Social media could be especially useful for sharing information about team news, post-match analysis, new kits, and upcoming fixtures.

All brands favour Facebook, and Manchester United has the largest Facebook page, with 82,900,000 Likes. This football club also has the largest Instagram account, with 63,300,000 followers.

Website Readability & Accessibility

Around 20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. Football teams will want to ensure they are welcoming to all fans at any point in their customer journey, so should take care to consider accessibility when planning their digital strategy and image.

In our last audit, we expressed concern for Manchester United, which reported 92 alerts. It’s since reduced this figure to 60 in this quarter, and Liverpool FC is the one to watch, as it reported 74 alerts, most of which came from redundant alternative text — an issue this football club must address to improve accessibility for those using a screen reader.


To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.

Photo by Chaos Soccer Gear on Unsplash

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