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The Washington Post Shows LeagueApps Some Love

Company News, LeagueApps Team, Press, Product News

Recently, LeagueApps was featured in the Washington Post in the Capital Business Section. Both fair and balanced, we appreciated the overview and description of both Sportsvite and LeagueApps and really liked the line that “LeagueApps aims to be the behind-the-screen shop that keeps the field, and beer mugs, full.”

Below is the full article and here is the link.

For adult sports leagues, LeagueApps helps teams get off the bench
By Steven Overly, Published: July 10

As the region slides further into summer, adult recreational athletes often flock to fields in Capitol Hill, Rockville, Arlington or just about any other patch of grass where a post-game trek to the bar isn’t far.

It’s a sort of seasonal migration that plays out all across the country through a network of sports leagues large and small. LeagueApps aims to be the behind-the-screen shop that keeps the field, and beer mugs, full.

A trio of University of Virginia graduates in 2006, the company has developed Web properties to connect prospective players, and most recently, to help leagues streamline the process of getting a team off the ground.

Co-founder Steve Parker said the company will soon close on an investment and now aims to expand its footprint. It currently collects a portion of player registration fees, but plans to form a network for national advertisers to reach local audiences.
“We want to be the leading media company in recreational sports. Eventually our goal is we’re going to have this aggregated hyper-local audience across the country totally focused on recreational sports,” he said.

The firm made its first move into the recreational sports market with Sportsvite.com, a social network to connect prospective players. About 2,500 leagues across the country created and update profiles on the site.

“What we were doing with that strategy was connect individuals, and the more we worked on it, the reality is that sports are played through leagues and clubs, so we needed to do more to work with these organizations,” said Parker, who is also chief technology officer.

That’s when the founders, who are split between Vienna and New York City, began to craft a Web platform, called LeagueApps, that would allow organizers to manage player registration, fees, scheduling and other operational tasks in one hub.

For some of the nation’s bigger leagues, such as the World Adult Kickball Association, or WAKA, that’s quite an undertaking. Since 1998, WAKA has grown from a group of friends in the District to thousands of players across 35 states.

“There is a quite a bit of work that does have to go on to get a league up and running at the start of the season,” said Mike Holden, director of marketing. Holden is familiar with LeagueApps but WAKA uses its own software. “All of the systems and practices and procedures are things we have developed and refined over the last 14 years.”

But not every league has WAKA’s footprint or resources.

“They basically do everything manually. There’s a lot of that going on,” Parker said of smaller leagues. “So the number one competitor [for us] is switching the league away from their home-grown process.”

The market isn’t exactly wide open. Many sports leagues have moved to online platforms that they’ve put together or acquire through other software providers, such as Blue Sombrero or e7sports, to name two.

For WAKA and many other leagues, the administrative duties involve more than sports. They also include coordinating weekend happy hours or movie screenings. The leagues are often as much about social outings as sports.

“We have a substantial number of players who are in it only for that,” Holden said. “The win-loss record is not as important to many players as meeting people, networking with people and getting out and having some fun.”

Parker said LeagueApps and Sportsvite seek to bridge those in-person meetings into the digital world. Facebook is integrated into their sites and mobile products are in the works, too.

“This is something that’s way far off from what sport organizations can do now,” he said. “We see that as a necessary channel for any kind of Web venture that has a social or community element to it and that cares about engagement.”

Search Engine Optimization For LeagueApps Websites

Best Practices, Value of LeagueApps

The sabermetrics of local rec sports is SEO. It’s the secret ingredient that can give an organization the edge over its competition.

SEO should be a key focus of your website strategy. By ranking highly in search results, a sports league website is easier to find for both perspective and current members. It will reap new players and teams. It can also help potential sponsors, marketing partners and local media find discover your organization.

LeagueApps is SEO friendly and allows league partners to optimize their website for search. We’ve coded our platform specifically to allow for optimization. The rest is up to you. The first step is to choose relevant keywords. Keywords are the search terms used by people who you want to find you league. You can use a tool like Google Keyword Editor to help see popular searches. Once you identify your top keywords there are a few simple steps to take that will improve your league website ranking.

Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you are fully utilizing these SEO features.

CUSTOM DOMAIN NAME

LeagueAppps allows an account to have its own custom domain name. When choosing a domain it’s natural to first think about branding. But Google tends to give weight to keywords in the domain so there is also an SEO opportunity. Pick a domain name that is catchy so that other websites can easily link to your website (learn about inbound links below). Also, consider using a sub-domain or .org domain if the .com URL is unavailable.

For example, the domain for the LeagueApps demo website is http://leagueappsdemo.com. Try googling “LeagueApps demo” and guess what result is listed first!

HOW TO: A custom domain can be set up in “Settings” once you have acquired a domain (Check out GoDaddy to purchase a domain). Hit us up if you need any help.

WEBPAGE URL’s

Even if an organization already has an existing domain it can still optimize its URL’s for custom pages. The second part of a URL is the filename. Including keywords in the file name can help optimize specific web pages. If you want to use multiple keywords separate them with a dash.

HOW TO: In the Content section click to edit a custom page or create a new page. Edit the Internal URL field to update the file name and page URL.

PAGE TITLE and META DATA

Including keywords in the page title and meta data fields can further optimize your website. Every web page has a page title. It is usually displayed at the top of a web browser. Most web visitors don’t notice the page title so it’s real value is how it influences search rankings. It’s essential to have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page. If you want to include your league name, put it at the end.

Meta data is hidden within the code and not even visable to web visitors yet it is crucial for SEO. Meta data is the information that helps search engines to best recognize and index your web pages. The meta data descriptions are often used on the search results page. Include as many keywords as possible!

HOW TO: In the Content section click to edit a page or create a new page. Click on the Advanced Properties tab and add keywords to the Head Include, Meta Description and Meta Keyword.

PAGE CONTENT

Content is still king when it comes to SEO. Actual text content on webpages influence search engine rankings. The content should be well written and easy to read for both search engines and human beings. Although it takes a bit more effort to consider SEO, it’s well worth the effort. Beware of repeating keywords unnecessarily. This is know as “keyword stuffing” and search engines consider it spam.

HOW TO: Be sure to use content or copy that includes keywords on the homepage, for program details and anywhere you use the text editor or add custom HTML.

BACKLINKS

Perhaps the most important SEO concept is to get other highly ranked website to link to your website. These are called backlinks. Google uses backlinks as an indicator of relevancy, popularity and importance of a website. It’s fairly easy to modify a webpage for SEO but it takes more effort to influence other websites and get them to link to your website. This is why search engines regard backlinks as an important factor.

Make sure all of your partners are linking to your website and try and find other websites, blog and social media platforms (Digg, Yelp, del.icio.us, Facebook, etc.) to link website. Linking to your website from your Sportsvite league profile is a great way to build “link juice”. Quality links are also the best way for your site to be “spidered” so that your pages are indexed and appear in Google.

 

Hopefully, these tips will help you fully optimize your LeagueApps website. If you are using a web developer or designer to help you setup your LeagueApps site be sure to share this blog post with them. Shoot us a note if you have any questions or want to discuss SEO strategy.

More Registration Enhancements! Plus Updated UIs

Feature Highlight, Product News, Release Notes

We pushed out a release this week to improve the registration system! Here’s what was included:

New Console Page Layouts

The User Interfaces (UIs) of two of the most important pages in the console have been completely overhauled. These changes were designed to make it easier for you to access the most frequently needed information. Each page is reviewed next.

Programs Listing Page

The programs listing page now looks like this:

This new layout displays each program’s key information in a more detailed manner, making it easier for you to gauge how registration is going.

Here are the details of what’s in this new layout:

  • A new Timeline display shows key dates, allowing you to track your registration lifecycle better.
  • A more-detailed summary of Payment Activity shows how much money is paid, invoiced, committed, and expected (based on your maximum capacity settings).
  • Registration counts for free-agents and teams are displayed in a simple to read format.
  • An ‘indicator’ icon clearly shows you if a program is ‘Live’ and accepting registrations or not.
  • A quick-edit control for the Registration Status allows you to easily change this label right from this page.
  • Short-cuts to each program’s sub-option menu bar (Dashboard, Edit Details, Registration Settings etc.). Simply move your cursor over the bottom portion of a program to access this menu bar.

 

Program Dashboard Page

The program dashboard was updated to include a lot of the same displays that were added to the programs listing page (and then some). Here’s what the new program dashboard looks like:

Similar to the above preview of the programs listing page, the new program dashboard contains the most useful information for tracking registration progress. Additionally, the Registration Activity section now contains registration counts by gender, broken down by player status.

Registration Improvements

To go along with the above UI updates, we also made some significant improvements and fixes to the way the underlying registration system works. Here is a summary of these updates:

Team Registration Status
We introduced the concept of each team having a registration status. A team can be either Incomplete or Complete. You decide (in registration settings) the criteria for a team becoming complete. You can choose to enforce that (a) team roster capacity requirements have been met and/or (b) team payments have been half or fully paid. The system will promote a team to complete status only when the team has met the specified criteria. This will help you track how many legit teams you have registered so far.

Capacity Rules
We made sure the capacity rules were working properly as they relate to wait-list, team gender requirements, and to teams’ registration status. We also added capacity settings to enable gender-requirements within teams.

Registration Form Fields
We made a few improvements to the way registration form fields are handled:

  • Required (not optional) registration properties are now editable right when captain is manually adding players to the team.
  • Team Captain can edit a player’s registration properties, even for pending/invited players who have not yet finished their registration.
  • Lastly, we verified that registration form fields stay with players when players and/or teams are moved from one program to another

 

Hope these updates help! Please send us your feedback.

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