The Premier League is back! The goals, the drama, the talent, less so the frustrating VAR decisions, are all back with a bang for the 2022/2023 season, incidentally, the Premier League’s 30th birthday. And, even with just half a dozen games played, this season is already looking like it’s going to be one of the best in recent years with quality teams up and down the table (something that couldn’t have been said in recent years) all vying for whatever they deem a ‘successful’ season.
We’ve seen moments of sheer quality, see Ivan Toney’s hattrick against Leeds, brute force in the form of Erling Haaland who simply doesn’t care if a defender tries to tackle him, huge VAR-shaped controversies, and one of the greatest goals to have never counted in the form of Alexis Mac Allister’s thunderbolt against Leicester.
And, while we could go on talking about football ala Alan Shearer and Ian Wright, it’s not really our speciality at Embryo HQ. Instead, we’re going to analyse which Premier League club has the best SEO as of September 2022. Using one of the nifty SEO tools that James Welch has created, which gives us detailed reports full of important search metrics, we’ve looked at which clubs are winning in the online world.
Top of the League, or Heading For Relegation: Which Premier League Club Has the Best Online Optimisation?
What Is the Online Search Visibility for Each Football Club?
This first table is a good place to start, it looks at the overall search visibility (OSV) of each Premier League club’s website. Overall visibility is an indicator of how visible a domain is in the organic search queries – it’s about as close as you can get to a metric that summarises how good your overall search engine optimisation efforts are.
Of the 20 clubs currently vying it out in England’s top flight, Manchester United, despite their recent on-field issues, have the highest OSV (5.098) with currently high-flyers Arsenal a close second with an OSV score of 4.634. Making up the rest of the OSV top-four is Liverpool (3.134) and Chelsea (2.707) in third and fourth respectively.
It’s clear that Manchester United and Arsenal are in a considerable lead over the other teams, even those in 3rd and 4th. The reason? One immediate thought is the fact that both clubs, United, in particular, are truly global clubs with fan bases across the world, causing their website to be more visible.
Just like the Premier League, this OSV table has a clear top-6 followed by a muddied picture of 14 teams that all seem to blur into one – Man City and Spurs make fifth and sixth in the OSV table.
Looking toward the bottom of the visibility table, Brentford, Brighton, and Fulham make up 20th, 19th, and 18th respectively, however, the likes of Crystal Palace, Leeds, and Bournemouth and really not far behind and only have a few decimal points more than the bottom three. In fact, the 14 teams outside the top 6 are only separated by 0.778 points.
This shows that there is a real opportunity, with significant SEO investment, for a club in that bottom 14 to climb out of the quagmire and be the best of the rest.
Number of Unique Organic Keywords That Each Team Ranks For
Now that we’ve looked at the overall picture, in the form of OSV, let’s dig a little deeper and look at some more specific data. This table looks at how many unique organic keywords each Premier League club ranks for – these keywords could range from branded to non-branded terms (though I suspect that football clubs will rank for a huge number of branded keywords). Let’s face it, you’re not really a supporter of a team if you’re searching for ‘Best Premier League club near me’, you’re searching for the team that your family support, the place where you went to your first game.
Here, we can see a clear winner, and it is Manchester United once again who ranks for a staggering 292,674 unique organic keywords. As I predicted, United ranks for a huge number of branded keywords such as ‘man united fixtures’, ‘man u’, and man united legends’. Unlike the OSV table, the team in second isn’t Arsenal, it’s a close London rival of theirs, Chelsea, who rank for 187,554 keywords.
A quick look at United’s website is a good indicator as to why they rank for so many keywords – they have huge sections on their history, with sections split into decades, as well as buckets of information on their Women’s, Under-21s, and Under-18s teams, and an extensive news section. Obviously, other websites – Chelsea included – will have extensive sections of content but it appears that United are doing something right, be it the length of content, or the amount, or it could be something more technical such as internal and external linking, ontology, or Core Web Vitals.
Beyond the top two, Arsenal, Man City, and Liverpool are battling it out for third, with the Gunners currently owning that position, followed closely by the Cityzens and Liverpool in 4th and 5th. Despite having a solid start to life back in the Premier League, Fulham FC is bottom when it comes to how many unique keywords they rank for. In total, they only rank for 18,223 unique terms.
What Are the Link Profiles of Each Premier League Team?
Backlinks are a strong indicator – the indicator in some people’s view – of how respected a website is and how good its content is. Now, in the case of Premier League clubs, most sports teams for that matter, they’ll receive a great number of backlinks just because of who they are. For instance, Tottenham Hotspur would never need to write a blog called ‘The 8 Best Things to Do before Going to Watch Spurs at the New Tottenham Hotspur Stadium’ and still receive hundreds of backlinks from other websites.
Further, as you can see, the biggest clubs, the most popular, the ones that are spoken about the most, receive a far greater number of backlinks. Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal fill positions one, two, three, and four respectively – surprised? Not me. They are four of the biggest, most historic clubs in the country, and have been for decades, yes Spurs and Man City might shirk at that comment but it’s an undeniable fact.
Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth make up the bottom two positions (20th and 19th respectively) with less than 10,000 backlinks between the two of them.
How do the Forests, the Bournemouths, and the Southamptons of the world combat this? A stronger digital PR presence wouldn’t hurt in improving the number of links pointing back to their sites. Despite their comparatively small backlink profiles, these clubs are still extremely popular and well-known, the content they produce will earn links and improve their backlink profile over time – it’s certainly something they should consider.
However, with all that in mind, the top four’s incredible link profiles won’t be matched for many, many years to come (though, to be honest, I can’t imagine the owners of the clubs underneath them will lose any sleep about it, matters on the pitch matter far more). Any content they produce is likely to be successful and win links from hugely reputable websites such as newspapers within hours.
The Domain Rank of the 20 Premier League Clubs
Domain rank, domain authority, DR, DA, whatever you call it, it’s a strong metric to judge how seriously a website is taken by Google and other search engines. Unlike the majority of the tables we’ve looked at, this table is a little closer, with plenty of clubs having a high domain ranking. Every club, bar one, has a domain authority of at least 70 – an incredibly high score. Newly-promoted Nottingham Forest is the only club with a DA of less than 70 and is hovering around 68 (a very respectable score it should be said).
It’s not a huge surprise that the vast majority of clubs have high domain authorities, after all, Google will almost automatically give authority to established football clubs’ websites. There is no alternative to Fulham FC’s website, or Liverpool’s, or any of them for that matter! In this somewhat unique case, Google doesn’t have to decide which website offers the best content or provides the best user experience, they just have to rank the club’s official website.
With all that said, Man United, Liverpool, and Chelsea are tied for 1st, all with a DA of 81/100, Arsenal are very close behind in second with a rating of 80. Interestingly, big, established clubs such as Everton, Leicester, Newcastle, Spurs, and West Ham, who all have ratings of 75 and above, lack the keyword reach that you’d usually associate with such a big number. This discrepancy indicates a lack of solid content marketing strategy, something that could be remedied with investment in expansive, consistent, long-form pages.
Core Web Vitals, Who’s Got the Pace?
Core Web Vitals (CWV) is the term used to describe the three ways that Google measures the user experience. Each CWV measures a different facet of UX and it is a ranking factor that Google values highly. In short, if you have bad CWVs you’re going to suffer online.
The three aforementioned ways user experience is measured by Google are as follows:
– Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which measures how fast a page loads. A good LCP is 2.5 seconds or under.
– First Input Delays (FID) measures how interactive any given page is. 100 milliseconds or less is considered good.
– Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures how stable the visuals on a web page are, a CLS of 0.1 or less is good, according to Google.
Now for Premier League clubs, their CWVs aren’t as important as, say, a start-up business because they don’t have to worry about a direct competitor overtaking them in the rankings for branded terms. However, I still think they’re worth looking at, especially when you see how poor the vast majority of clubs’ CWVs are.
None of the 20 clubs passed all the CWV tests, with less than half passing just one, interestingly, those that do pass at least all pass the CLS one. This test was carried out on 7th September 2022 using Experte’s bulk CWVs tool.
Which English Top-Flight Football Club Is the Most Popular on Social Media?
Moving away from SEO and Core Web Vitals, let’s take a quick look at the social media followings across Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook for the current Premier League teams.
To make it more readable and user-friendly I’ve elected to use a logarithmic scale. Quelle surprise, Manchester United have the highest followings for every platform, as you can see here.
Conclusion: Man U Reign Supreme, Online at Least
As we’ve seen across the data that our SEO reporting tool produces, Manchester United, despite their turbulent on and off-field antics comes out on top. There’s definitely a solid link between Man United’s historic dominance and global popularity and the current state of their SEO.
As for the rest of the field, there are certainly those that have – Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool – those that nearly have – Spurs – and those that definitely haven’t – Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth.
Those in the middle are swapping places every month it seems, indicating that there is a real opportunity for one of them to make a big splash in the online world if they invest in the next two years in high-quality content and technical SEO.
The rewards of doing this, while nowhere near the riches that the Premier League offers are still worth doing.
Infographic: Premier League Clubs SEO Rankings, in a Table
We’ve summarised all the information we’ve just spoken about into a nifty, nice-looking infographic. It allows you to see each Premier League club’s key stats in one row.