Although most countries and sports governing bodies are entering the final stages of their preparation cycles, it is not too late for your organisation, whether large or small, to start preparing your digital platforms for the anticipated traffic boost during this period.
As the most flexible owned-channel and the lynchpin of a solid digital marketing mix, your website enables you to tell an enticing story about your brand to clients, fans, future participants, sponsors, broadcasters and more. Hence properly preparing your digital platforms ahead of the Olympic games is an opportunity not to be missed. Team Sotic are sharing seven quick wins to help you start preparing today.
1. Adopt SEO best practices
Google and other search engines thrive on up-to-date information, however, keeping content fresh can be a challenge. We’ve seen some excellent results with a good common sense approach without clients having to spend additional money.
Using tools such as Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, Semrush or similar, organisations can gain valuable insight to steer your content refresh efforts. Revisiting old content and ensuring keywords, meta descriptions and image tags on key pages are up to date is good practice. Furthermore, H1, H2, H3 and all other headings should be set and in the right order. This allows the search engines to identify key information accurately and rank them appropriately.
2. Content Planning
With the proliferation of social media platforms and content formats, eclectic content will no longer suffice. Organisations can establish cadence with a good content strategy and planning. One way to achieve this is with a monthly or quarterly plan which is robust enough to drive engagement, yet flexible enough to change as needed.
Keeping a couple of non-time-bound pieces in the locker also ensures there is a ready supply of useful content to share with your audience. When it comes to the type of content, organisations can choose from a wide range including news, articles, long-reads, videos, memes and polls. Paying attention to the data on how your audience interacts with each content type empowers your content team to make the right tweaks to boost your conversion rate.
3. Mobile optimised/mobile-first platform
It had been previously thought reader attention is more scattered on mobile than on desktop, but data from chartbeat.com shows otherwise. With regard to mobile homepages, the data shows that, the average visitor spends 40% more time actively engaging on mobile pages than on desktop. Mobile readers also are 20% more likely to click-through to articles than those on desktop.
With increasing numbers of site users browsing on mobile and tablet, ensuring your website is mobile-ready before any major event is a good strategy which should increase on-page time and click-through rate.
4. Website speed
Half of website users expect a page to load in less than 2 seconds while 46% say waiting for pages to load is what they dislike most when browsing. As a further incentive to prioritise site speed, Google has made a change to its search algorithm by adding site speed as a determining factor in page ranking. This means, the slower your website, the lower it will appear on search engine results pages and the more difficult it is for potential customers to find.
Preparing your digital platforms by optimising images by decreasing their size (without sacrificing quality) can help the loading time of your pages. Furthermore, introducing lazy-load onto your site allows web content to load as needed rather than all at once thereby optimising content delivery and speed.
5. Prepare for traffic hike
Granted this is a best-case scenario, but hosting errors resulting from low site bandwidth can be avoided/mitigated using scalable hosting solutions such as AWS. We, at Sotic, are advocates of the cloud and all of our clients enjoy the stability and agility of cloud hosting solutions. As an agency, we have achieved huge successes by moving to the cloud.
To give an example, during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Union Championship, where we run the official sites, and those of two of the competing nations, Sotic were able to scale up our sites by more than a factor of 10, to meet huge spikes in traffic. Such a feat would have simply been impossible or cost-prohibitive to achieve without the cloud.
6.User journey and navigation
Continual review of your site’s usability is excellent practice. We suggest asking users outside your organisation to undertake a series of important tasks such as finding info on ‘X’ to test the ease with which the task is completed. Tools such as Google Analytics or heat mapping software will highlight some areas where you can make small changes for a big benefit.
Are your tags up-to-date? Do menus need renaming or rearranging? Are the main search terms reflected in menus and buttons? Are clickable elements clearly differentiated? These are good starting points to help users navigate better and find what they need on your website.
7. Olympic inspired content and pages
The Olympic games traditionally generate a lot of excitement and economic impact and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be no different. The Olympic logo and accompanying brand assets are trademarked so a bit of creativity is needed to create content and engagement around the Olympics brand.
Playing on words and imagery which your audience will easily associate with the event is a good starting point and between ‘Game of Throws’ and ‘Lord of the Olympic Rings’ this is the one time you can ‘go for gold’ on cheesy sports puns and get away with it!
For many organisations, particularly those without large broadcast deals, the Olympics is an opportunity to be seen by millions and will lead to a legacy of a boost in participation and non-brand search terms, so make the most of it.
This is a non-exhaustive list and with a year to go, there is still plenty of time to prepare your platforms for the greatest show on earth.