Putting research into play to prepare for 2018 World Cup website traffic

The 2018 World Cup starts in Russia next week, and your sites are bound to see spikes in traffic as readers tune in to each match over the course of the month. With a built-in opportunity to capitalize on huge audience numbers, it’s critical to understand when sources like search, direct, and social are most effectively used during live events. Putting Chartbeat research into play, here are a few important ways to make sure your team is prepared to maximize the influx of World Cup readership.

Understand typical reader behavior during breaking news

Where do audiences find content during major breaking events? We looked at a few major events, such as the 2016 US Election pictured below, and saw a trend across them all – the majority of referred traffic in the first few hours leading up to and during the event tends to come from search, whereas social traffic doesn’t really pick up until about 12-24 hours later.

Search and Social during 2016 US Election

That means that, leading up to the World Cup, concentrating on SEO, headlines, and link strategies has the most potential.

  1. Post search-friendly content in advance of the matches, and continue to update those same pieces as the World Cup unfolds.
  2. Make sure your headlines include specific player and team names: Articles following individual players, as well as the larger teams, tend to see high reader engagement, especially when they’re mentioned in the first few words of a headline. Use headlines from popular pieces leading up to each event to craft similar headlines during and after the games.

Getting stories up as soon as possible will give them more time to index on Google, and optimizing for key terms that your audience will be searching for will help your articles appear higher in search results.

Once the excitement of the live matches has died down a little, capitalize on your social strategies to keep a steady stream of visitors coming to your site.

Enhance reader experience with multimedia content

When looking at how much time visitors spend watching video relative to the time they spend with text, the most notable thing is that this line isn’t at all constant — demand for video content really changes throughout the year. Looking closer, we see that spikes in video-watching correlate with a few highly visual stories in the news, such as sporting events and Hurricane Irma.

Engagement with Video since 2017

You get the most out of your videos when you pair them with high-quality written content. One of the best ways to reach your existing audience is to make sure your highest performing pages, or your most high-traffic articles, give readers an opportunity to enhance their experience with high-quality videos.

The Chartbeat Video Dashboard can help you identify these missed opportunities. You’ll see a list of the top performing pages without video. These are prime opportunities to place the latest World Cup video clips that will really maximize play rates and reader engagement.

If you don’t have the Video Dashboard, use your Real-Time Dashboard to see which World Cup-related articles are driving the most Engaged Time, and identify the top pages that are not currently leveraging any video content. Even if you don’t have new video content to put on these pages, dive into your archive: is there an older video that’s appropriate for this story, maybe related to a specific athlete or team, that you can add quickly to capitalize on the eyeballs already on that page? The more people that see the play button, the more plays you can get.

Make your breaking and evergreen content work together

Direct traffic isn’t left out either — in fact, leading up to and during major events a lot of our customers saw a boost in readers coming directly to their sites. These are visitors who know your brand, your voice, and what information they’re looking for: they’re showing you they trust your take on the absolute latest updates as soon as they’re available.

Capitalize on this valuable traffic by making it as easy as possible for readers to find related content and watch Recirculation climb.

  1. Use evergreen content about the same teams and athletes as related links in your newer pieces, and you’ll continue to drive readers deeper into your site, improving the probability that they return to your site in the future.
  2. Think about the reverse scenario: in those older, evergreen pieces — which are bound to see new traffic as readers search for information on the same topic — add links to your most recent content about scores, injuries, and standings to direct readers to your latest updates as they become available.

While the outcomes of each match are unpredictable, your website traffic doesn’t have to be. Getting these workflows in place before the World Cup will help ensure that your coverage gets the most views possible so that you can focus on maximizing those views during and after each match. As always, let us know if you’re seeing similar trends for your site or if you have any questions, and good luck!

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