University SEO | SEO for Schools, Universities, and Educational Institutions: Link bait 101

Fourteen Awesome Tips for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Link bait and Link building for Schools and Universities | University SEO That Rocks Your Socks!

Great search engine rankings are critical to your online marketing efforts. There are tons of people searching for “college” and “university” online and you should put that to use in your University SEO strategy. You don’t have to be Harvard, Yale, or Stanford to get top rankings on search engines.

But what kind of search engine rankings should you aim for? Is there a science or research based justification for marketing using seo for higher educational institutions ? Yes. Users tend to only pay attention to the results on the first page. Most studies suggest that 80% of researchers stop on the first page. This visual diagram based on eye tracking studies indicate further that getting in the top 5 is absolutely critical to your SEO efforts. What do you need to begin a search engine marketing plan for an academic institution like a university. Well, university SEO boils down to a couple core SEO principles and tactics:

• One key part of search engine optimization is content development, and specifically development of link bait. One great way to create link bait is to create a wiki like resource. For instance the Copyright and Fair Use Overview created at Stanford is amazing and in addition to having Lawrence Lessig has likely been critical in pushing Stanford to being a thought leader on that subject.
• Aggregating content is a great form of link bait. Alltop, which is described as an “Online Magazine Rack” is a great example. Here are Education, Science, and Career on Alltop (Another fantastic example of aggregating content is Seeking Alpha which aggregates investment information, in addition to providing original articles)
• Original research, especially research including data and clean diagrams serves as great link bait.
• Of course blogging, videos of course content, and releasing and announcing publications.
• Blogging + speaking at conferences + power point publication on Slideshare is particularly helpful as these tactics work well in combination. (of course you can upload course content and other presentations on Slideshare)
• Of course online and offline PR Releases can also be used to increase link building.
• User generated content like reviews on Amazon (see also: Yelp) or answers to questions onYahoo Answers is another way to help your search rankings.
• To increase your SEO for your college, you will also want to target long tail search phrases that people looking for your type of college are seeking. (for instance: online colleges and universities, online education, community college, higher learning, and e-learning. Perhaps, “graduate schools” along with the specific niches you focus in and are the best offerings for searchers.) Google’s keyword tool combined with SEO Book and the free keyword search tool at Wordtracker should be more than sufficient.
• Providing easy access to financial aid information from most of your secondary landing pages, can also help ensure your prospectus students never have to leave your site, except to go to a .gov site.
• Of course getting links from the Chamber of Commerce, .govs, and other .edu can increase your search rankings.
• Having a natural link footprint is important for increasing your link equity and ensuring you don’t sabatoge your relationship with Google.
• You will also want to look into creating a Yahoo Local Listing, Microsoft Live, and Google local listing…in addition to other key local seo best practices.
• Using Google sets to help shape your keyword choice as well as provide brainstorming ideas for developing depth to your content. (Attempt using the larger sets and smaller sets to adequately filter your results). This keyword inspiration post can help provide more SEO keyword tools.
• Mr. Clay also recommends website structure themeing your website for SEO
• Add content for your area with a
Google map is a fantastic strategy that has local search optimization advantages.

Here are several fundamentals of search engine optimization campaigns for educational institutions:

Tips for how to optimize .EDU sites:
• TITLE tags & keywords

• Research your keywords

• Optimize your H1 tags.

• Use good on-page text just like in the TITLE and H1, use good keyword text within the body of your pages.

• Use good link label text.

• Make your URLs easily crawlable if possible

• Create a detailed hierarchical site link index page/section.

• Use Sitesearch/Websearch to provide your internal site keyword search utility Google service to provide universities with their own site search engines is very useful, and some people feel that it could help get your pages indexed in Google.

• Use RSS in your news section.

• Police your own .EDU domain!

• Provide a link to us section, and provide copy-and-paste HTML code for textlinks, badge links, and banners to your university site.

• Watch your referral traffic through your web analytics program.

To focus some of the above list, the link value factors study from a group of leading SEO experts has some very informative:

Top 10 Most important factors
1. Robots.txt excluded page (DF) – 4.75
2. Anchor text – 4.56
3. Link is on penalized page (DF) – 4.50
4. Page authority (in inbound links) – 4.38
5. Domain authority (in quality of backlinks) – 4.38
6. Amount of outbound links on page – 4.25
7. Total amount of links on page – 4.06
8. Age of domain – 4.06
9. Relevant authority (in rankings on relevant keywords) – 3.94
10. Javascript link (DF) – 3.88

Inbound links, anchor text, and outgoing links to authority sites is absolutely critical to search engine ranking algorithms. For anyone interested in university marketing or university seo, I suggest taking a look at Google’s guidelines for search rankings.

Have a great link bait or search engine optimization tip for educational institutions?

Search Engine Optimization for Universities and Non Profits Guides and Resources
Check out my SEO for Nonprofits and Charities Guide for increasing your search engine rankings.


5 responses to “University SEO | SEO for Schools, Universities, and Educational Institutions: Link bait 101

  1. Nice post. I just started working a .edu site so I will implement these suggestions. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Be a DIY Search Engine Optimizer « Nashville SEO | Ethical SEO | Christian SEO and Social Media Agency

  3. Hi, nice post about SEO and the top 14 points where pretty much spot on – good job!

  4. Great EDU SEO tips, thanks!

  5. It is a nice thing that they are introducing this in the Univeristies as well.

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