The Importance of SEO for Universities

Search engine optimisation may be a foreign concept to some. It is part science, part marketing and part white hat magic. …

Published by 

Alexis Pratsides


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Search engine optimisation may be a foreign concept to some. It is part science, part marketing and part white hat magic. In recent years the importance of a holistic digital marketing strategy, to include an evolved SEO campaign plan for universities’ digital marketing has become imperative.

A constant worry for universities are their rankings against competitor institutions, as rankings are a contributing metric as to why incoming university students attend certain institutions.  The same concern should be shown for the website’s domain ranking online. With the evolution of online higher education programmes, educational institutions popping up online, it is becoming increasingly difficult for bricks and mortar schools to compete.

Let’s try this experiment. Go to Google and try to find your institution or company without looking it up by the name. If you are not able to find your website through the search engine, you need an all-encompassing SEO strategy.

Get a Website Health Check

Before beginning any digital marketing campaign, our SEO department would advise that your university website should undergo an SEO audit and website health check. Universities have especially large websites, featuring numerous landing pages with a multitude of different content mediums, at different stages of development.

It is no uncommon to have many professionals, both in-house or from an agency, working on content creation, code and development structure. With so many stages of expansion, it is not uncommon to find cluttered code, missing Meta tags, abandoned pages, broken links, 404 errors, poor backlink profile and slow loading speed.

SEO for Universities

To ensure that the site is left in top health, an in-depth SEO audit and health check will ensure that any and all issues are flagged and repaired. With everything in working order, the site will be in the best position to produce the most effective SEO strategy.

Do Your Keyword Homework

Keywords are the foundation for search engine marketing efforts. Selecting these keywords can set the tone for the rest of your holistic digital marketing campaign. These keywords are instrumental as universities construct their title tags, create content and and deliver inbound links to the university site.

The following outlines a few different approaches taken to ensure that you are performing effective keyword research:

  • Keyword Planner Tool: This third party generator tool searches and suggests keywords best for your site and campaign, based off of your initial suggestions
  • Competitor Site Analysis: A better method is a keyword competition analysis. This tool looks at what is working for your competitors, but remember that doesn’t mean these words will necessarily work for your university site.

Both tools, plus creating your own keyword mapping strategy, will help define the terms to be targeted for on and off page SEO optimisation. SEO for Universities

Optimise Content

In the world of SEO, content is what drives campaigns. No longer can digital marketers stuff their websites with keywords. Search engines depend and catalogue a site based on the links embedded, code and content on the page. For any university, topical content is crucial to gain organic traffic and higher rankings.

The hardest part of an SEO digital marketer’s job is to develop a strategy that is engaging and compliments the optimisation process. Each page should be carefully crafted around high volume keyword search terms . Poorly optimised content will not rank well limiting the possibility of reaching intended audience. Algorithm updates like Google Panda and Penguin can penalise sites for bad links and “black hat” SEO practices. By optimising your site, including the website design, you’ll help in bringing in the right traffic and reaching your target audience.

Tailor SEO Strategy to Audience

The aforementioned tips are building blocks to create a SEO optimised website. To understand the mind of these perspective students, current students and their families, it is important to look at your university’s website content and user journey from the eyes of the audience. Further development should tailor the journey, navigation of site and content to student interests.

Why Should University Websites be a Priority?

According to Think Education with Google 90% of students when searching for higher education institutions don’t know which school they want to attend at the start of their search, which makes perfect sense. This is a large percentage of prospective students that can be persuaded to attend an institution of a functioning, informative and creative university website.

These prospective students look first to a variety of online, print and human resources, reading information to make this important decision. Additionally, 67% of the surveyed students used Google, Bing and other search engines to determine their top choice of university.

SEO for Universities

Work With Us

MintTwist, a digital agency in London, has worked with higher education institutions to assist with SEO rankings. For a more in-depth look at our work and results, contact us via today and take a read of our City University London case study.


Created by

Alexis Pratsides

Published at 

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