4 Tips to Improve Your Youth Sports Program’s Website
By Melissa Wickes
November 3, 2021
We all know it’s crucial to have a website for your organization, and yesterday we had a frank conversation about how to make sure your site is mobile-optimized. Once you’ve gone through that checklist, it’s time to make sure your youth sports program’s website is following best practices for 2022 and beyond.
Here are the latest and greatest things to consider for your website.
Improve the Site’s Navigation
Andy says, “Little things make a big difference. Your website navigation is a great example. The structure and labels of your navigation can have a huge effect on results.”
- Navigation affects traffic: how high you’ll rank, how much traffic you’ll get from search
- Navigation affects conversions: how easy the site is to use, what percentage of visitors convert into leads and customers
In your navigation, there are several things to consider:
- Be descriptive. “What we do” doesn’t actually say what you do. Neither does “events,” “locations,” or “shop.” People don’t search for those things. They search for “volleyball camps in CITY.” Descriptive navigation that uses keyphrases is better for SEO and conversions.
- Avoid format-based navigation. Navigation labels such as “resources” and “programs” tell visitors what type of information they can find on your site, but not the topic. People don’t go to websites looking for resources or programs. They visit websites looking for answers and information, such as “baseball coaches” or “lodging recommendations.”
- Limit the number of menu items. Some websites have hundreds of links on the home page. Limiting the number of links in your main navigation is good for search engines and for the humans who visit your site.
- The order of your website navigation is important. The number of items matters, but so does the order of those items. In website navigation, just like any list, items at the beginning and the end are most effective, because this is where attention and retention are highest. It’s called the serial position effect, and it combines primary and recency effect cognitive biases.
- Mobile optimization reigns supreme. Responsive web design has brought with it mobile navigation best practices and standards. It can be summed up in two words: “hamburger icon.” It’s an icon made up of three short horizontal lines, representing a menu. But it looks a bit like a sandwich, so people call it the hamburger icon. It appears in the top right of mobile websites and clicking it reveals the navigation menu. This works beautifully on a smartphone or tablet.
Use Social Proof
Star reviews, upvotes, share metrics have one job to do: make the visitor believe that thing is popular, and therefore credible.
But those are just a few examples of social proof.
Evidence, along with answers to questions and calls to action, are one of the three main elements of a high-performing page. Social proof usually isn’t what the visitor came to find, but it’s what we want them to see while they’re here.
And it’s one of the biggest differences between weak and strong webpages.
- A page with evidence gives the visitor reasons to believe.
- A page without evidence is basically a pile of unsupported marketing claims.
Compare these two pages, one with supportive evidence and one without:
SEO Is Not Magic
The most general tip for SEO is to simply “indicate relevance.” Make sure that the page goes deep into the subject. It should touch on all the related topics. It should mention the adjacent phrases and answer all of the relevant questions.
Target the topic and not just the specific keyphrase.
The idea of SEO is to make the best possible page on the subject, but also to indicate the relevance broadly.
Want a clue into what Google believes are the related questions? Just search for the phrase and look for the “People Also Ask” box…
Cross-Promote with Other Youth Sports Orgs
One thing that can help you show up more in searches and help people find your program is to have other businesses or organizations link to your site. Reach out to your sports governing body, to any organizations that you might partner with—such as your practice facility—and ask them to link back to your site.
There’s no magic formula for the perfect website; it’s a mix of balancing what you want to convey about your organization and understanding the needs of people who return to your site regularly for information. But if you work on these four things, the SEO results from your site will improve dramatically.