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Case study

Enhancing SEO for Hawthorn’s Membership Website: A Strategic Approach.

Navigating the competitive landscape of AFL membership websites requires a strategic SEO approach tailored to unique challenges. Here's how we optimised Hawthorn's membership website, driving significant growth in both traffic and conversions.




Increase in organic sessions compared to the same period last year.

Increase in organic clicks on the 'buy membership' button year-over-year.

Increase in organic sessions compared to the previous quarter.

01 The challenge

The AFL membership market is inherently brand-centric, with fans typically choosing memberships based on team loyalty. Hawthorn’s primary challenges included:

Intense Competition Among Clubs for Memberships
Every club competes fiercely to attract and retain members, making it challenging to stand out.

Membership Interest Fluctuated with the Team's Performance
Fan engagement and interest in memberships varied depending on the team's performance during the season.

Competition with the Main Hawthorn Website
The main Hawthorn site, which features ticket sales and other team content, competes for branded search terms, affecting the targeted membership site's visibility.

Our strategy was multi-faceted, aimed not only at resolving technical SEO issues but also at establishing a long-term plan to enhance brand visibility and engagement:

Brand Term Optimisation
We focused on optimising key brand terms where we were competing with the main Hawthorn site. Our goal was to convert general ticket interest into membership commitments by ensuring that our site ranked prominently for these terms.

Content Strategy for Brand Engagement
We developed targeted content to answer common questions from fans, thereby improving the quality of sessions on the site. This approach helped engage visitors more effectively and encouraged them to explore membership options.

Non-Branded Traffic
To attract a broader audience, we identified opportunities to create content around common queries and lifestyle topics, such as weekend activities. This strategy is earmarked for further development to continue expanding our reach beyond the core fan base.

Enhanced User Experience
Collaborating with the Hawthorn team, we developed FAQs tailored to address potential members' common concerns. This aided in conversions and boosted organic traffic through the strategic use of relevant keywords.


By addressing these areas, we significantly improved the performance of Hawthorn's membership website, driving traffic and conversions while enhancing overall user engagement.

02 Our approach

Resolving Technical SEO Issues
We identified and resolved 17 critical technical SEO issues, including:

  • Fixing Duplicate Sitemaps: This improved crawl efficiency by eliminating redundant sitemap entries.

  • Creating a Robots.txt File: We established a robots.txt file to guide search engine bots and improve site indexing properly.

  • Correcting Orphaned Pages: Addressing orphaned pages helped enhance site structure and navigation, making it easier for users and search engines to find relevant content.


Comprehensive Keyword Research and Integration
We tackled duplicate meta titles and descriptions by:

  • Conducting In-Depth Keyword Analysis: We identified high-impact keywords through thorough keyword research.

  • Integrating Keywords into Meta Titles, Descriptions, and On-Page Content: This action boosted search engine rankings by ensuring all content was optimised for relevant keywords.

Optimising the Entire Website with a Smart Content Strategy
We implemented a content strategy focused on both branded and non-branded keywords, including:

  • Creating Additional Content: We added more content to improve the text-to-HTML ratio, increasing the chances of achieving better search rankings.

  • Optimising All Content with Target Keywords: By integrating target keywords throughout the content, we provided value to users while enhancing SEO performance.


Continuous Collaboration with the Hawthorn Team

Our collaboration with the Hawthorn team included:

  • Creating FAQs: We developed FAQs to address audience needs and common search queries, which enhanced user engagement and drove organic traffic.

  • Regularly Reviewing and Updating Content: Based on feedback and performance data, we consistently reviewed and updated content to ensure its relevance and value.

03 Actions taken
04 The result

The results from the first quarter of 2024 were outstanding:

  • A 40% increase in organic sessions compared to the same period last year.

  • A 345% increase in organic clicks on the 'buy membership' button year-over-year.

  • Organic sessions rose by 63% compared to the previous quarter, and clicks on the membership button increased by 67%.

We are thrilled with the strategy's success and the invaluable support from the Hawthorn team. Our efforts significantly reduced irrelevant queries, improved session quality, and enhanced rankings for both branded and non-branded terms. As a result, organic sessions and revenue increased substantially. This project bolstered Hawthorn's SEO performance and deepened fan engagement, proving the power of a well-rounded digital strategy in the competitive sports market.

05 Conclusion
Melanie Armstrong
Marketing Manager at Hawthorn Football Club

MindArc’s exceptional digital strategy for our membership site has exceeded expectations and has been a real game changer! Their data-driven approach resulted in a 40% increase YoY in organic traffic. We truly appreciate their collaboration as trusted partners, who are always looking out for our best interests and proactively identifying opportunities to improve and drive results. Importantly, their team is incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, professional, efficient, and their clear communication keeps us informed every step of the way.

Marvin Fathi
Search Engine Optimisation Manager at MindArc

Working with Hawthorn has been a fantastic experience. Collaborating closely with Melanie from Hawthorn FC, who always prioritises SEO, makes everything easier. Our collaboration feels like we're part of the same team, leading to amazing results. Her work on other marketing channels and website changes really helps our SEO efforts. Together, we've seen significant growth in traffic and conversions, and it's truly a pleasure working with such a dedicated team.

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