Leicester’s City’s winning of the Premier League came as a shock to many, and this long-odds triumph has focused attention on sports betting. As the 2016 European Championships get underway in France, the top brands will be aiming to make the most of the expected peak in search traffic.

While the odds are against search and betting levels reaching the levels we saw for the 2014 World Cup, it should still be a big summer. We analysed the content marketing strategies of the big players to see how well they’re prepared to benefit from the surge in football bets and traffic.

The power of link velocity

Our volume index shows that Paddy Power and Skybet lead the way in regard to links and content volume, but they both got there a different way.

Skybet’s score is attributable to their ‘link velocity’, gaining a notable number of external links in a short timeframe. The number of links a site gets in a calendar month gives us the ‘link velocity’, and this tells us that Skybet’s strategy is probably geared around digital PR and content – tried and trusted ways to engineer backlinks. Skybet’s ties with sites such as TEAMtalk.com, Football 365, Oddschecker and Sporting Life are central to achieving good authority links quickly.

On the other hand, Paddy Power have succeeded through having the largest number of indexed pages of all the leading brands. This is because they’ve decided to focus on a large amount of content as part of their marketing strategy. The high score they can also boast for ‘average page views per visitor’ also tells us that this content is ‘sticky’, and offers visitors both a common-sense on-site journey and is interesting enough read to get them wanting more. They score very lowly for link volume, but these other metrics manage to make up for this.

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Ladbrokes are mid-table and, as the chart shows, their good work in providing plenty of content is undermined somewhat by their ability to use it to generate links. Both link volume and velocity are low.

Engaging content

Just throwing up content on your domain is no guarantor of a successful content marketing strategy. It has to be the right content – material that will resonate with your key audience at the right time. Content shouldn’t just sit there, it should be working for you. Our analysis shows that Betfair are really getting good value from their content.

We looked at their engagement metrics for ‘bounce rate’ and ‘average time on site’, two strong signals for Google search ranking. Betfair had the lowest and highest for these, respectively, which shows people are finding the content they’re searching for and are staying to interact with it. Drilling down we can also see that the links they are getting are from respected sources, meaning Betfair also performs very well for average linking page authority.

Something else that jumps out from our Engagement Index is that, while Ladbrokes might not be the best at link-generation, they’re outperforming the whole sector in on-page social shares, which tells us their content is doing something right.

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The engagement metrics of Bet365, however, have them positioned toward the lower end of our index. Low average time on site and a high bounce rate suggests that visitors aren’t in love with the content they’re finding on site.

The key takeaway from all of this is that it’s not enough just to have lots of lots of content if that content doesn’t engage your audience – and wasted content that just sits there is going to give a brand a poor ROI. If brands want to take advantage of events like Euro 2016, they need to think about what content people want from them, and how to promote it effectively.