The 2010 FIFA World Cup has begun in South Africa. It is expected to be watched by over 700 million viewers worldwide, making it the most watched global sporting event. The tournament is expected to bring in $12 billion for the country on a short term basis. However, it would appear that South Africa has missed the opportunity to increase the appeal of the country for tourists and business investors for years to come by not using search marketing.

Offline publicity is a well documented source for generating online searches. A sporting event of this magnitude is generating un-missable levels of publicity in every participating country. The correlation between this offline publicity and the online activity is supported by a huge spike in searches for world cup terms on Google trends.

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  The first two places are taken by the official FIFA websites, followed by the ever present Wikipedia. Interestingly, though the fourth place is occupied by a website called owned by an enterprising person based in Sweden. The official South African website is currently ranking in a lowly 23rd.

This situation is further compounded by their site having very little in the way of world cup related content. You would expect to find tourist information, business investment opportunities and links to government sites where more information could be gathered.

Arguably the Government of South Africa has missed a huge opportunity here. Their strategy should have been to invest in optimising this site, driving traffic, and creating a lasting engagement by generating the country as a prime tourist destination and rapidly developing economy. The World Cup only last 4 weeks. A well ranked website could have delivered benefits for years to come.

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