Both ESPN and Leaguepedia uniquely present the coverage of the League of Legends 2018/2019 roster shuffle/swap around the world to much success. As a result, their SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Positions) compete against each other at first place. How did they manage this?

TL;DRESPN manages this because of their news platform being trustworthy while finding out high profile information. The combination of great journalism and trust gives readers plenty of reasons to follow ESPN esports. This satisfies Google’s E.A.T needs also. Leaguepedia builds extremely useful pages which is very easy to use. The information is always up to date and the vetting process to make sure the information is trustworthy seems to work. 

ESPN risks Leaguepedia dominating the SERPs in relation to the lol roster shuffle. This is because of a combination of a very bad UI, lack of information hub pages and topic categorization. Leaguepedia bathes in it’s website structure and format, always being the first place people can go to for professional League of Legends esports. Content is easy to find, information hubs are well maintained and laid out. ESPN would do well to buy over Leaguepedia to scale back it’s reliance on Reddit. 


ESPN and Leaguepedia (Gamepedia)

The two websites cover professional League of Legends esports very differently yet compete against each other for SERP space. Leaguepedia has been around for many of years and has built a reputation for vital information for scouting players. Primarily it’s a Wiki for professional League of Legends players all around the world inside of the professional and semi professional scene. It does also operate as a base for all information League of Legends however that part of the site is not well optimized.

ESPN on the other hand is a sports news platform. They’ve covered League of Legends (LoL) for a couple of years. ESPN has made sure to bring in the best of news coverage possible, reporting with trustworthy sources about what the players are up to. Paired with great journalism and a long standing platform which has a vast reputation for creditable sports news, this gives ESPN E.A.T (Expertise,Authoritative and Trustworthiness) status which helps it’s standing with search engines.

With Leaguepedia being the staple Wikipedia (Wiki) for League of Legends Professional Esports and ESPN being an imperative news platform for esports, what exactly makes these platforms so good and how can these both improve in the future?

What is the roster shuffle/swap?

After the League of Legends World championship ends, teams start to prepare for the next season by evaluating their current lineup. When the free agency period begins, teams look to strengthen their lineup while retaining their current strengths within it. A lot of the times the “roster shuffle” is very hard to predict. Players and fans have a lot of interest to what happens to their favorite teams and where their favorite players are going to or if they stay with their current team.

What is there to gain from covering this news?

As there’s a lot of interest surrounding the roster shuffle/swap, businesses/websites which cover League of Legends have a huge opportunity to bring a lot of people, unique or reoccurring, onto their website. It also helps build reputation for the platform when they find information about a roster move which is accurate before others. The bigger the player, the more eyes and interest there are.

What makes ESPN and Leaguepedia better at covering the roster shuffle, garnering them better SERP results?

ESPN is not alone when it comes to providing editorial news about the roster shuffle and those sites can be found below in no particular order;

  • Dotesports
  • Invenglobal
  • VPE esports
  • Realsport
  • Theshoutcaller
  • Dexerto
  • Rifthearld

What ESPN does better at than the others is producing breaking news. ESPN get the information out first which includes roster shuffles but also professional league news and development, what game developers are looking to do for their games to better esports and I guess a lot more. As explained, this type of news is exciting and people want to know about it. ESPN gets the information first and capitalizes on it, making them the place for getting the information first. Without Jacob Wolf and Tyler Erzberger, ESPN would not be the source for the roster shuffle.

How does ESPN getting information first help with SERP results?

ESPN does the following to help their SERP results.

  • Directly make sure the content relates to roster shuffles
  • Get people on the site directly
  • Produce highly interesting information
  • Build expertise, authority and trust
  • Lots of follow on content readers can digest afterwards
  • It’s highly shareable

Trust and authority plays a big part with search engines. Knowing the many intents of a website is also very important for search engines to get right. ESPN caters to both these factors by having a very trust worthy site where their news reporters hold authority and trust within the League of Legends community. Whenever they post about roster moves, you can be very confident that the information is correct. Because of this, more people are likely to find out about the news through ESPN first because they usually get the information first or they verify said news. This gives search engines a very good reason to rate them higher than other news platforms.

With the news reporters for ESPN esports being so effective while the type of content they are producing holds the main interest for the League of Legends community, this formula helps give ESPN the high SERP rating for the term roster shuffle. You can know that when you go onto the site, you will find information about the roster shuffle but you can also know that it’s safe and verified information. In the same time, ESPN get the news out first which helps users grow trust in the platform, coming back again for more information.

Leaguepedia garners trust another way.

Leaguepedia doesn’t make news to attract users onto the site but rather creates a comprehensive Wiki for League of Legends. When you go onto Leaguepedia, you can know that the information you are about to see, is correct.

In relation to the “roster swap”, when the information has been verified by strong sources, Leaguepedia updates the Wiki of where the status of the player. Given that trust is very important, Leaguepedia’s site stands on that principle.

Accuracy and reliability creates trust.

While the information isn’t ground breaking and the news isn’t coming from Leaguepedia first, they’re appeal to players is all the information will always be correct. Match results, what champions players are playing, how drafts are being made and a hell lot more. You can be sure that the information will be accurate.

Therefore when the roster shuffle happens, if you want to know what’s happened to all the players or the teams, you can checkup by checking the Wiki. This is where the magic is. Leaguepedia is very accurate and these Wiki’s have become very SEO friendly. Searching for something LoL esports related should show Leaguepedia in the top four results.

This is a testament to the administration staff at Leaguepedia for making the site extremely useful. It is highly needed within the LoL professional scene and it. The information is very valuable.

The SERP difference

As ESPN doesn’t have a laid out resource for the roster shuffle, it can’t compete with Leaguepedia here. Leaguepedia doesn’t doesn’t have an editorial department investigating player acquisitions so it’s stomped there. Both websites tailor to the same people but for different reasons. Search Engines need to figure the difference.

Here’s why Leaguepedia wins out in the end.

  • Breaking news becomes normalized very quickly. ESPN loses out to the long game.
  • Leaguepedia’s information is far better laid out, though still needs improvement. 
  • The roster shuffle will eventually end and ESPN hasn’t structured it’s news correctly.
  • While the roster shuffle ends, a comprehensive way to see what happened, will always be available to Leaguepedia.

This is why if you look at the majority of search results, Leaguepedia wins out over ESPN whilst ESPN only ever beats Leaguepedia on the term (roster shuffle). ESPN is far more vocal than Leaguepedia and therefore can create new search trends which works. No one will talk about a lol roster swap because no one is actually swapping players one to another as free agency exists. Therefore calling it a roster shuffle and capitalizing from it is great. ESPN esports didn’t coin the term but they certainly are playing to it and it makes sense. Leaguepedia

It would seem to be that ESPN are heavily pressured when retaining control of this term and rightfully so. If you do a page to page comparison for ESPN esports best page for the roster shuffle and Leaguepedia’s one, it’s a night and day difference.

The roster shuffle is in Leaguepedia’s court long term.

Leaguepedia’s information is sort-able and easy to manage. On the other hand, ESPN only offers a simple page which doesn’t have sort-ability options and it’s badly laid out. It’s fairly clear from using the ESPN esports sided site, they’re great in getting the information to you. They’re not so good at web functionality afterwards. My user experience on Leaguepedia, is far better than ESPN’s. Leaguepedia could do small things to help with the UX but given the scale of the site, I honestly can’t condemn them.

What should ESPN esports do?

ESPN stands for quality and trust and their content is very well done. What ESPN need to do is make it easier for us to access the information.

  • Roster shuffle page should be a full page experience.
  • Clicking on League of Legends should only show LoL Esports news and related news.
  • <section> for the the global sports should be replaced or taken of until the leagues begin.
  • ESPN should create an updated resource on each team with news relating to them afterwards.
    • Clicking on news about Liquid CoreJJ should also give you the option to learn more about Team Liquid and more news about them.
  • Related post news should relate only to the game chosen. People reading about League of Legends generally only want to read information about LoL.

Ultimately ESPN relies on social media to allow people to know when they’ve posted something new. While users can always come onto ESPN to find out information, the navigation hinders it. Fixing on navigational options and relating the ESPN LoL section to just LoL, will help users find the information they want faster. Under my opinion, ESPN’s esports section doesn’t feel like a full esports news hub. While I can get information from it, the lack of easibility retracts from it’s platform.

Independence from Reddit

It’s very well known that many of these news sites rely on Reddit to gain a lot of traction to it’s content. This isn’t a bad thing but unfortunately the r/leagueoflegends community relies heavily on aggregation of the content to find the most interesting stuff. Unfortunately this means if the community deems the content not interesting, it won’t be upvoted and while many could be interested in the content, those users may not find the content because of the aggregation from Reddit.

As ESPN doesn’t control r/leagueoflegends, policies can affect if their news is seen and this has happened as of recent.

ESPN successfully utilizes on social media and also has direct traffic that comes onto the site but it’s clear that Reddit can affect ESPN and other news outlets and therefore tactics needs to be put in place to protect themselves.

Opinion: Leaguepedia holds a lot of results which ESPN would love to be involved with. League brings in the correct demographic that ESPN wants and also relieves the need to worry about Reddit. I believe it would be a fantastic idea for ESPN to acquire Leaguepedia from Gamepedia.

Conclusion

ESPN has done a great job getting involved with Esports. Their League content has been great and their roster shuffle coverage has been excellent. ESPN produce great news but don’t present it in the best manner.

The site structure could be bettered and should be acted on. Bettering their site structure will help ESPN garner more views without the need for Reddit. It’s starting to become better understood that Reddit misses out on a lot of great content. Searching for said content can be hard and is something ESPN can capitalize on. Evident from it’s main focus of the roster shuffle, they need to fix that before trying to battle for more SERP results.

Leaguepedia on the other hand seems to be a really well made site. The information is easy to find and navigable. Their only weakness is their mobile layout but apart from that, Leaguepedia serves as a great opportunity for ESPN. While Gamurs failed to make use of the Wiki, ESPN should be able to use the Wiki very effectively.

Alan Reid - Author

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