Natural Search Blog

Tips for University & College Website Search Engine Optimization – SEO

A couple of weeks ago when I spoke at the American Marketing Association’s Hot Topic day on Search Marketing in San Francisco, I got a lot of SEO questions from attendees who were from the educational community. I realized that college and university websites have a lot of unique aspects to consider in natural search optimization, and that there’s not a lot of specific advice out there specifically for them, so I thought I’d put together a brief list of tips which could be beneficial to any .EDU webmasters who are looking to improve their natural search marketing. Read on for more info.

SEO for .EDU Sites

There’s lots of sites out there who have general search engine optimization (“SEO�) advice, so I’m only going to touch lightly on those tips. I’ve spoken at a WebDevShare conference before (oriented to college webmasters – WebDevShare was since merged up with another conference, perhaps Educause, I think), and I know that university webmasters are aware of SEO, so it’s not that they’re unsophisticated so much as that they’re typically asked to wear way too many hats at once, making it hard to do as much as they’d like to.

Typical EDU webmasters are often working multiple roles like: Marketer, Public Spokesperson, IT expert, Graphic Designer, Usability Expert, HTML Coder, Server Administrator, Copywriter, Photographer, etc. All at grossly underpaid rates of academia! So, it’s little wonder that many .EDU sites have some faulty infrastructure from the standpoint of being easily indexible by search engine bots and easily findable by people searching for info through search engines.

Even so, colleges and universities (particularly smaller ones) should pay attention to natural search optimization, because they often have limited advertising budgets or even no campaigns in paid search marketing.

So, what to do about SEO for college and university site(s)? In most cases, an entire website overhaul is going to be expensive, and other priorities will make it difficult-to-impossible to accomplish. So, I recommend trying to incorporate most of my tips into general webpage design standards so that as you work on new pages and adjust old pages you can iteratively improve your site rather than trying to bite off too much at once. At very least, try to first do improvements to your homepage, and then work your way down to other sections and pages of your site in order of precedence.


Tips for how to optimize .EDU sites:

Stay tuned for some Advanced Online Optimization Tips for Universities and Colleges! I’ll post a followup article within the next few weeks which outline some advanced tips which could help in your online promotion efforts.

Also, the AMA Hot Topic Series on Search Marketing will be coming to New York later this month, and Chicago in June, so plan to attend if you’re able and you can get some more details on basic optimization steps for websites from my presentation.


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