SEO transforms visibility and increases sales by 40%

increase in ‘Retro’ searches

increase in organic traffic

increase in organic revenue

The Hornets Shop is the official shop and ecommerce channel of Watford Football Club, stocking official Watford FC merchandise, apparel & accessories.

The brief

Watford FC is an English association football club, currently playing in the Championship but also in the Premier League (including 2021/22 season). The Hornets Shop is their official kit and merchandise store that sells everything from replica football shirts to homeware and gifts for Watford fans of all ages.

In 2020, The Hornets Shop commissioned Distinctly to improve their visibility in search results, as they were being outranked by resellers and classic football shirt stores.

With a market as competitive as football shirts, The Hornets Shop needed to protect its brand search engine results page (SERP) and ensure that no other suppliers were ranking above the official store and stealing their traffic, and more importantly, their sales.

Watford FC, like any online retailer, was also concerned with how they could improve their eCommerce conversion rate and sales performance. So once we improved Watford’s organic visibility, we focused on Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and ideating ways to increase revenue across the core product lines.

What we delivered

The nature of Watford FC’s brand and their fanbase means that naturally, their traffic is almost entirely branded. Therefore, it was essential for Watford FC to protect their brand SERP.

Watford FC were being outranked by resellers for the key term ‘watford retro shirt’. This was due to subcategory pages being canonicalised back to a parent page, thus making them non-indexable and unable to appear in the search results.

Therefore, our first priority was to fix this canonicalisation issue and then optimise meta data to improve the relevancy of search results. In time, we recovered the first position rankings. This also brought increased traffic to these deeper pages too.

Our next challenge was to keep reinforcing Watford’s dominance of their brand SERP. We did this by registering The Hornets Shop with a Google My Business account and using Local SEO tactics to optimise the profile and create a ‘Watford Hub’ within the search results. This allowed us to leverage customer reviews to make the business stand out to local customers, and we were also able to add products to the profile, creating a storefront where customers could buy products directly from the search results.

Finally, we were tasked with ways to improve conversion rate across the site and increase sales. For this, we utilised our eCommerce SEO team to dig into data from Google Analytics and Microsoft Clarity heatmapping software.

Example of being outranked by resellers


The results

Through technical fixes and concentrated on page optimisation of meta data, we ensured all key pages were targeted around the correct keywords and we recovered first position rankings for all of the key pages. This came with increased traffic to the deeper pages on the site.

  • Retro Organic Sessions increased from just 105 in 2020 to 1,560 in 2021
  • Homepage traffic increased by 60% in 2020 and 50% in 2021.
  • Organic revenue increase by 40%

Our Google My Business profile was also a great success, with the Google storefront providing 7% of total revenue since it was optimised in July 2021. 

Finally, with traffic recovered, recent work has revolved around conversion rate optimisation to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find and purchase the products they are interested in. We used a variety of methods including:

  • Google Analytics eCommerce revenue and sessions data to understand which products were performing well.
  • Google Analytics Site Search data to understand which products people were searching for.
  • Microsoft Clarity heatmapping data to understand how users were behaving on the site.
  • Competitor analysis of other Premier League (2021/2022) football clubs

From this analysis, we uncovered that the retro lines were some of the most popular on the website, so we used this intelligence to promote these lines further across the site. We saw that retro terms were consistently searched within internal search and that the retro line was one of the most significant revenue drivers beyond the main kits, despite being relatively hidden deep in the navigation of the site.

We used Microsoft Clarity to understand which areas of the website were being clicked on and if there was scope to replace any weaker performing areas with the Retro line. We recommended replacing weaker performers on the hompage with Retro to see the effect. By adding Retro to the Shop By Department section and adding it to the main navigation., we achieved a correlating increase in traffic and revenue for the retro lines, as shown by the graphs below.


Product Revenue

As a result of our work together, Watford FC has been able to drive considerable traffic to The Hornets Shop site, has complete control over their Brand SERP and is now using complex and nuanced analytics to understand user behaviour and drive increased conversions and sales.

If you are interested in improving your eCommerce performance, get in touch today.

What the client thought…

“As our online business has grown organically, Distinctly have ensured that The Hornets Shop is now always the first result when searching for Watford FC merchandise.

“As well as SEO, Distinctly have helped us to develop our website further with online retailing techniques and support. As a result, we have improved the look and feel, and simplified the customer journey, leading to increased sales and heightened fan perception.

Kevin Newman, Head of Retail, Watford FC

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