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Newspapers, football, sitelinks, and London bias

February 4, 2009 One Comment

Newspapers are accused of ignoring football news outside London or the north-west. And as every Arsenal fan knows, the commentators on Match of the Day are anti Arsenal.

What it there was an independent way to judge websites' football coverage - to analyse who they really favour (and how much thought they've given to the structure of their sites)?

Well there is - google sitelinks. The list of links that google shows under its search results for certain important sites.

Google sitelinks explained

Google says this about sitelinks: "Our algorithms parse the structure and content of websites and identify pages that provide fast navigation and relevant information for the user's query".

In English, they show you links that they think are important or useful to the site in question and to the searcher. They are influenced by the structure of the site itself - so where they appear, they can be used to assess what a site thinks is important ...

Not all sites have them - google hands them out only to sites it considers important enough. So what sitelinks do the newspaper  sites have ...?

Mail Online: London and North west bias

Mail sitelinks

Mail sitelinks

The sitelinks shown for the Mail Online when you search for mail online sport are:

  • Football
  • Fantasy football
  • Tottenham
  • Man City
  • Man Utd
  • Rugby
  • Arsenal
  • Chelsea.

A clear London and northwest bias. Where are Liverpool though? Not quite sure why Tottenham are there ...

The Times: North west bias

Times sitelinks

Times sitelinks

Search for Times football, and you see:

  • Premier League
  • Liverpool
  • Scotland
  • League video highlights
  • 50 worst famous fans no 32
  • Gerrard's wife confronts burglars
  • Fink Tank
  • Alex Ferguson.

The Times is so obsessed by the northwest, Gerrard's wife merits a place, and there's a special link for Alex Ferguson.

Mirror: spreading it around

Mirror sitelinks

Mirror sitelinks

Maybe there's a logic to the Mirror's selection that I'm missing when you search for Mirror football.

But they have:

  • Arsenal
  • Liverpool
  • Match reports
  • Man City
  • Chelsea
  • Aston Villa
  • Everton
  • Hull CIty.

So they're spreading it around.

The Sun: weird selection

The sun sitelinks

The sun sitelinks

A search for Sun football shows:

  • Live match centre
  • Transfer news
  • England
  • Tottenham 2 Liverpool 1
  • Chelsea target Owen
  • Has Ronaldo met his match.

An eclectic selection - and one that suggests The Sun have some work to do on the structure of their site. What's that old Tottenham report doing there?

Telegraph: London and north west bias

Telegraph sitelinks

Telegraph sitelinks

Search for telegraph football and you get:

  • Premier League
  • Liverpool
  • Club pages
  • Paper view
  • Premier League transfer talk
  • Arsenal
  • Fixtures
  • Tables.

So, london and north-west again, even if only one club from each area.

Guardian gets it right

Guardian sitelinks

Guardian sitelinks

The Guardian seems to have a perfectly sensible set of sitelinks, implying they've given some thought to the structure of their site, and actually care about how they look in google.

A search for guardian football reveals:

  • Matches by date
  • Fantasy football
  • Sport
  • Football weekly
  • Rumour mill
  • Fiver
  • Sport blog
  • Premier league.

Total mentions

So leaving aside Gerrard and Ferguson, the mentions for each club are:

  • Liverpool - 4
  • Arsenal - 3
  • Chealsea - 3
  • Tottenahm - 2
  • Man City  - 2
  • Man Utd - 1
  • Aston Villa - 1
  • Everton - 1
  • Hull CIty - 1

Who would have thought Hull City would be mentioned as often as Man Utd?

Premier League sitelinks

Premier League sitelinks

Premier League love Arsenal and Man Utd

Although if you want proof the  Premier League favours Arsenal and Man Utd, look at its site.


Some newspaper sites - the sun and the times in particular - need to look at themselves and wonder if they've really got their site structure right, and are giving out the right impression.

A sitelink to an old football report is not a good use of space in google's results.

The Guardian have the best selection - the other papers should learn from them.

Oh, and clearly there's some sort of anti-Man Utd agenda ... Perhaps being secretly orchestrated from Hull? Or by a burglar in Liverpool.

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One Comment »

  • Alex says:

    Yeah, who would've thought? These newspapers should do something about their site structure to get it right. People use the internet to search for stuff they are interested in, and that certainly includes millions of football fans.

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