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 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)
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.
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)
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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