Manchester United

Manchester United

Improving natural search uplift to become the most visible football club online

The brief

Manchester United is one of the most popular and successful professional football clubs in the world. It’s achievement as a world leading sports brand has attracted a global community of 659 million supporters.

As a well-established global brand serving an international audience, it has seven language websites to better serve local tastes and interests in the team. In 2013, their websites attracted approximately 47 million page views and 5.7 million unique visitors a month, demonstrating it’s global appeal.

Oban International began it’s partnership with Manchester United back in 2010 with the goal to improve it’s international SEO across their Spanish, French and Chinese language websites.

Oban’s overall goals for its multilingual SEO activity were to:

  • Improve international natural search profile both on-site and off-site, paying particular attention to specific players, managers and brand names
  • Improve natural search visibility across the player profile pages on it’s English language website
  • Conduct short-term multivariate test on it’s Chinese and English sites to improve conversion, reduce bounce rate and provide a better online user experience for its international audience
  • Increase engagement in China through understanding the key engagement points of the Chinese market
  • Improve traffic flow and conversion rate on it’s Chinese site


What we did:

Oban designed a natural search strategy that would allow Manchester United players such as Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney to maintain consistent first page positions. Even when national newspaper coverage affected SERPs.

A monthly SEO report for each market was produced with detailed analysis of how each territory was performing. Manchester United was presented with key statistics for traffic, engagement, search rankings and conversions split out by channel. The SEO report provided tailored insights into trends and opportunities in each target market.

In order to understand key engagement points of the Chinese market, Oban implemented a short-term cultural CRO test on it’s Chinese language website using GlobalMaxer, Oban’s wholly owned in-house CRO tool. This enabled the team to improve traffic flow and conversions on the Chinese site, paying particular attention to mainland China and the overseas Chinese speaking population.


What we achieved:

Through the use of localised content campaigns Oban achieved consistent first page visibility for French and Spanish sites on both and, the latter with specific focus on the hugely popular Mexican player Javier Hernandez.

  • As a result of Oban’s expertise, there has been a significant uplift in organic traffic to the Spanish site. On Manchester United’s English site, Oban achieved first-page rankings for it’s key player profiles, particularly Wayne Rooney
  • Oban assisted Manchester United to become “the most visible football club in search” (Econsultancy report)
  • Improved user engagement in China. Increasing engagement on the sites ‘news’ page by 16% and an increase of clicks on the site’s ‘registration’ button by 10%
  • Secured stable first page results for ‘Rooney’ and ‘Ryan Giggs’ in the UK
  • Year on year (YOY) natural search uplift grew by 66% in Mexico and 283% in France.