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Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities

Universities must now operate under increasingly similar competitive conditions. The reasons refer to the Bologna process and the internationalization of higher education and the introduction of considerate study fees, which bring the students closer to establish a “customer role”. Such factors require a strategically and operationally higher education marketing.

The "products" of a university

The education of a university is treated for the purpose of marketing a service. The offered “goods” and values are not material first of all, but a service rendered to supply and cover training needs.

The education service has the following characteristics:1)

  • immaterial
  • Uno-actu-principle (consumption and production coincide; the producer (University) and the consumer (student) are parts of the service)
  • not heterogeneity of service
  • Storage capacity and non-transportability of the educational service
  • Standardization is little to impossible.

The role of higher education marketing

University-programs are contract goods that exist when buying and thus consist of a performance bond. The buyer can make decisions all the time for or against a university, but when buying “the product” he has to trust on all promises.2)

The task of the university is the asymmetric distribution of high quality information. For the young target group of the universities, the Internet is one of the most important source of information.3) Therefore, the individual university must try to comfort the students with information in addition to the Internet. This describes the outstanding market place of a university.

The search engine optimization (SEO) for universities

Search engine optimization (SEO) as part of search engine marketing (SEM) is intended for the website to appear in search engine ranking of the university on a higher place.4) The optimization is similar to the optimization in business or public affairs done, through keyword research, on page optimization, off page optimization, landing page creation and universial search optimization.5)

Before any practical search engine optimization SEO can be started an individual concept for the University6) with the following specific questions necessary must has to be created: 7)

1. What would market the university?

The “product” of a university is the academic programs. The marketing of these offerings can be a focus of search engine optimization. Thus the goal is not necessarily high numbers of visitors but the generation of conversion. Only a lead, a defined action on the part of the provider of the website visitor, is considered a target fulfillment. This could be for example to ordering a brochure, filling in a registration form or the address to be informed about the next meeting.

Another object of the search engine optimization of a university-website may be the spread of its own scientific research. Thus the image of the university as a recognized academic institution could be increased. Reading and commenting and linking university research work to the external scientific papers would be the success factors of search engine optimization.

2. What are the target market and target group of the university?

For the success of search engine optimization it is important to know exactly what the target market is like and which target group is to be addressed precisely. The target market can be defined geographically or thematically. The target group refers to the amount of people or students who take the offers of the university in order to make progress. An audience can be defined using various criteria such as age or education level etc..

3. What makes the brand of the university?

All properties that the university is connected to make the brand of it a clear unique selling proposition (USP) strengthens a brand of the University enormously. Before the optimization it must be definitely known what the brand of the university should be like and to what extent the target group is to be expected to share the brand image.

4. Which site is available and what is required?

There already exists a structure that has direct consequences for potential optimization projects. For example if a university uses a unique online booking system for events then the optimization options are limited to the website.

5. How well can content be modified and produced?

Content is King! The best optimization will be worthless if no first class content is offered. The higher the quality of the document is classified, the better it appears at the top. High quality here means above all the measurable degree of information content.

6. What resources are available for search engine optimization?

The larger the university is, the greater the budget for search engine optimization usually is. In this context it is also thought about whether to build its own in house-SEO-department or use the connection to an external SEO-agency.

Conclusion

Today competition between universities requires a modern web presence. For the success of a website of a university is crucial that the site is also displayed. This requires a professional search engine optimization. This is where SEO is different for universities not to SEO for mid-size companies, enterprise companies and public offices.

Arnd Wenzel 2011/05/16 11:59

1)
Meffert, H. / Burmann C. / Kirchgeorg, M. (2008): Marketing – Grundlagen marktorientierter Unternehmensführung – Konzepte – Instrumente – Praxisbeispiele. Wiesbaden, 10th edition, p. 67.
2)
Woratscheck, H. (1996): Die Typologie von Dienstleistungen aus informations-ökonomischer Sicht, In: Der Markt, p. 71.
3)
Reckenfelderbäumer, M. / Kim, S.-S. (2009): Strategisches Hochschulmarketing – Einflussfaktoren und Entscheidungsbereiche, In: Voss, R.: Hochschulmarketing, 2nd edition, p. 35.
5)
Ledford, J. (2009): Search Engine Optimization Bible, Indianapolis, 2nd edition, p. 135ff.
7)
Erlhofer, S. (2011): Suchmaschinen-Optimierung - Das umfassende Handbuch, Bonn, 5th edition, p. 49ff.
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at del.icio.us
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Digg
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Furl
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Reddit
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Ask
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Google
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Netscape
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at StumbleUpon
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Technorati
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Live Bookmarks
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Yahoo! Myweb
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Facebook
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Newsvine
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Twitter
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at myAOL
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Slashdot
  • Bookmark "Search engine optimization (SEO) for universities" at Mister Wong
best_practices/seo_universities.txt · Last modified: 2011/05/16 12:27 (external edit)