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One year to go… but who is winning the Olympic SEO race?

Annie Wakefield
Digital Marketing Manager
27 July 2011

With the Olympics only one year away it seems that most of our official worldwide partners, official partners, official supporters, and official suppliers and provides are yet to get their SEO hats on!

Such a tragedy that these sponsors have spent millions with the Olympics to gain the right to incorporate keywords like “London 2012”, “Olympics” and “Olympics 2012” in online and offline messaging, and yet when a UK user like myself searches for these terms there is only ONE sponsor in the top 10 for any of those 3 keyterms.

That one shining example of SEO prowess is…. Cadbury’s! They rank as position 9 for the term “Olympics 2012” with a website focused around their Spots v Stripes campaign, in an effort to promote local team sports.

As you can see, they have been taking advantage of their ability to use the words “Olympic” and “2012” in their content, as with this emboldened H2 tag. Surprisingly, they haven’t used these relevant terms in the title tag “SvS – Cadbury Spots v Stripes – Let The Big Game Begin” nor the meta description “We’re asking the nation to choose sides and split into Spots or Stripes in order to play, what’s quite possibly, the biggest, longest game ever.”

Beyond Cadbury’s and official Olympic websites, the other top 10 organic slots are taken up by news sources The Guardian and The Telegraph. Checking out the popularity of these terms in Google Trends, it seems that searches increase steadily with news cycles. For instance, in late April the ticket lottery results were revealed to those who had signed up months before, causing a surge in searches for the three terms:

Regarding PPC, it appears that while the official worldwide sponsor Coke is bidding on “Olymipcs 2012”, Google Adwords is not discriminating against non-official sponsors also bidding on these terms. For instance, “GoTickets.com” is able to bid along with Coke:

Will Google bend to the IOC rules and freshly passed UK laws which forbid non-sponsors from utilising phrases like “Olympics 2012” in their advertising?

At the very least, and in an effort to save some money on AdWords, these sponsors should maximise their potential in the organic SERPs! They’ve paid for the right to optimise their content around these terms, and the brand exposure will be huge, as Google Trends suggests.

Lastly, on a food for thought note, I wonder what the IOC would say to a sponsor like Acer utilising “Olympics 2012” as the anchor text in a purchased link? Assuming Acer has the IOC’s permission to use terms like “Olympics 2012” and are purchasing the link, does it matter that such a link would be a website which is not sponsoring the Olympics?

I don’t see why not! Do you?

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