Our SEO League Table
SEO and football seem like polar opposites: the latter involves grotesquely overpaid athletes at the peak of human physicality (and Wayne Rooney); the former, marketing nerds slowly wasting away in front of their computers.
Still, the two disciplines have more in common than you might think. SEOs and footballers alike compete for a few coveted places at the top of the rankings, they’re punished for foul play, and they’re tasked with accumulating points. There are definitely some other, completely non-tenuous parallels, but you shouldn’t ask us about them, because you’ll just feel silly when we rattle off our full list of flawless comparisons.
The football season has come to an end, and, with the exception of Manchester United, we know where each club finished. Congratulations to Leicester, commiserations to Villa, and good lord, Chelsea – what happened?
When it comes to our SEO league table
, however, the results were rather different – and almost as interesting (hey, it’s not every year that Leicester City wins the title). What separates the mediocrities from the Sultans of SERP? Why do Aston Villa suck at everything? And how the hell did we compile this, anyway? Take a trip to our SEO league table
to have a look.
The champions: Arsenal FC
The recent history of Arsenal FC as a footballing entity is a story of underwhelming respectability. For ten years running, the club has placed either 3rd or 4th in the final table: it qualifies for the Champions League, it sometimes wins the FA Cup, great players cycle in and out, but it rarely threatens the top two positions.
When it comes to SEO, however, the club can take heart: with a final score of 9.11/10, it sits proudly atop our league table and deservedly so. No single factor has influenced Arsenal’s success in this area: for no criterion is it definitively first, so there is no individual area of colossal over performance to skew the data in its favour.
Its average inbound link DA of 50.83 (9/10) is lower than Manchester United’s DA 53.47 (10/10), as is its average link PA of 28.88 (9.5/10) to United’s 29.38 (10/10). The number of followed links is hard to quantify, but like United, Liverpool, and Chelsea, it’s over 9,999 (the limit of Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool).
Even if it’s not clearly superior in any category, it does well across the board: its SEO success is a direct by-product of what appears to be a sustained, coherent search strategy.
Congratulations and credit are due, though Arsenal’s success must come with certain asterisks. There’s no denying that, in certain respects, the club has benefited from the negligence of its competitors.
For example, Arsenal benefited from the fact that it was only one of seven Premier League clubs (alongside Man United, West Ham, Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton, and Sunderland) that bothered with responsive design.
Here, oil-rich Manchester City – 10th overall – is particularly worthy of scorn: the club that once paid £18m for Roque Santa Cruz apparently can’t afford a responsive website. They do host a mobile version of their site on a sub-domain, but for a team that’s won two titles and three cups in the last few years, it’s also received embarrassingly small number of followed links: with 2,180, it ranks second from bottom in the entire league (below AFC Bournemouth). This poor show may reflect City’s status as relatively new entrants to football’s global elite: money, it seems, hasn’t quite bought everything.
Notably, City and Bournemouth also have the lowest spam scores, which suggests a slight negative correlation between the number of links a site has and the amount of garbage it attracts. There were anomalies – Watford F.C.’s score was an abysmal 1.0/10, for example – but this hypothesis is largely borne out at the top end of the link table, where champions Arsenal recorded the second worst score (4.8), United recorded the third-worst score (4.9), and Chelsea recorded the fourth-worst score (5.0 – tied with Newcastle United).
There’s always next season
Putting Arsenal’s uncharacteristic success to one side, our SEO rankings generally reflected historical Premier League orthodoxy. Leicester City, for example, did not replicate its stunning underdog victory, placing an entirely mediocre 13th. Spurs finished 11th, which is bad by the club’s standards (and by the standards of its excellent 2015/2016 season) but it’s done worse before. In a sad day for the Midlands, Aston Villa and West Brom were relegated alongside Watford – but a far from inconceivable occurrence, given West Brom and Watford’s past propensity for relegation.
Arsenal, United, Chelsea, and Liverpool took up the top four spots, as they did in the real Premier League table for much of the 1990s and 2000s. These clubs benefit from considerable international support – Manchester United is renowned for its Asian fanbase, for example – substantial budgets (Chelsea and United in particular), and a significant presence in national and global media.
Of course, the dominance of these clubs might not last forever. After all, Liverpool have been in decline since the 1980s, Manchester United are in the middle of a long period of post-Fergie malaise, and judging by this season, Chelsea may be at the beginning of their own irrevocable slide into irrelevance. Maybe Leicester will steamroll the league for the next twenty seasons, and generate a higher score accordingly.
Whatever happens, Google will adjust to reflect it – eventually.
1. Clubs with more resources have higher overall scores.
With the exception of Manchester City – which, let us remind you, recently paid £49m for Raheem Sterling – Premier League clubs with the highest revenues
had the highest overall scores. We don’t know if they’re investing this money in SEO, but there are certainly worse ways to spend it (£49m? REALLY?).
2. PR and SEO have amazing chemistry.
Clubs with a higher media profile tend to generate more followed links.
3. Aston Villa is having a really shit year.