Amidst much fanfare, the 2010 FIFA World Cup is underway in South Africa. The tournament is the most watched sporting event in the world with an expected viewership of over 700 million. The estimated economic impact to the country is $12 billion. But has South Africa missed a golden opportunity to increase the appeal of the country for tourists and business investors for years to come?
It has been well documented that offline PR generates online searches and staging major sporting events create one heck of a lot of publicity. Google Trends tells us that there has been a huge spike in traffic for searches related to the World Cup in the months leading up to the tournament.
The Google Keyword Tool reports an average of 3 million searches conducted globally per month for the term “World Cup 2010”. Yet no South African websites appear in the first page results on Google.com.
The official FIFA website takes the first 2 spots but lying in third (ahead of Wikipedia) is a website called worldcup2010southafrica.com owned by an enterprising fellow based in Sweden. The official South African website for the world cup is ranked 23rd.
Furthermore, this website’s content is relevant to the World Cup only and has no significant use after the tournament has been completed. There is no mention of tourism or business investment opportunities or even links to other government sites that provide this information.
I would argue that the Government of South Africa has missed a huge opportunity here. Their strategy should have been to invest in optimizing this site, driving traffic, and creating a lasting engagement by generating lasting in the country as a prime tourist destination and rapidly developing economy. The World Cup only last 4 weeks. A well ranked website can deliver benefits for years to come.