How higher education is failing at SEO

As academic institutions continue to focus on providing quality education and research, their online visibility is often neglected.

This means that potential students may be unable to find them easily on search engines, leading to missed opportunities for growth and impact.

In the fall of 2022, Search Influence commissioned a study with the research team at UPCEA, the preeminent trade organization for professional, continuing and online (PCO) education. Here’s what we found.

With the millions of dollars spent in higher education digital marketing and advertising, there is very little understanding of search engine optimization and its role in attracting new learners.

With this belief, we commissioned a multi-part study which:

  • Reviewed 100 websites of university professional and continuing education departments.
  • Surveyed marketing leaders and institutional leaders.

In this mini-audit, the UPCEA team reviewed several factors we call SEO readiness. These include common SEO and user experience metrics, such as:

  • Number of unique pages (titles).
  • Unique meta descriptions.
  • Number of inbound links.
  • Domain and page authority.
  • Accessibility.

The UPCEA team surveyed both marketing teams and institutional leadership to understand their perceptions of – and alignment around – their own readiness.

At the risk of telegraphing the punchline, there are some big disparities.

In his introduction to the published research study, Jim Fong, Chief Research Officer at UPCEA, emphasizes the need for innovative practices, models, and credentials tailored to nontraditional and professional audiences, such as stackable degrees, non-credit programs, and micro-credentialing, among others.

Fong points out that reaching new adult learners requires precision, planning, and better prospect and student interfaces. These learners are savvier than previous generations, relying on various sources of information and influencing others through their outcomes.

One critical area of improvement lies in optimizing the degree programs’ “storefront” – the institution’s website – for better user experiences.

While Fong is cautious not to create panic, he believes a greater sense of urgency is needed to address the impending challenges in higher education.

With the labor shortage and a decline in the population of college-age students, universities need to do more to stay relevant to all learners, not just recent high school graduates.

It’s not unusual for individual PCO units in major universities to spend a million dollars or more on digital advertising.

And as we see in the research, those same departments are not even sure their teams are doing SEO.

The state of SEO in higher education

The UPCEA/Search Influence research highlights the perceptions and comprehension of SEO among institutional and marketing leaders. It also points to the potential impact on the SEO preparedness of the institutions involved.

Some key findings from the study:

  • Marketers and institutional leaders see SEO as foundational but admit their units lack an SEO strategy.
  • Institutional leadership often lacks reporting.
  • UPCEA members performed poorly in an SEO audit.

84% of marketing departments see SEO as a core part of their marketing strategy, but half (51%) do not have an established SEO strategy 

The disconnect is pretty striking.

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One particular of Pratt’s Earliest Net Design and style Instructors on Cultivating a Artistic Education

Amy Egner, MS Communications Style and design ’95, is a chief in the interactive style industry, performing on all facets of the imaginative digital procedure with a focus on written content method. She was among the the very first to style and design web sites for important companies, together with functioning for Shiseido cosmetics and on various Time Inc. publications. She has continued to focus on the user experience in an expanded digital globe across a wide range of industries such as e-commerce, fintech, telecommunications, customer credit rating playing cards, and nonprofits.

Soon after graduating from Pratt, she returned to build the initial curriculum for Pratt’s Expert Experiments program’s initial HTML and net style and design study course, which she started instructing in 1997. She is presently the senior manager of UX content material approach at Silicon Valley Bank. For Offering Working day, she shared how researching at Pratt affected the path of her profession at a time when many regarded it a possibility to change focus from classic layout to the rising on line industry.

What evokes you to give to Pratt?

I figured out so much during my time at Pratt. And I personally sense that design and art are not just good to have, they are crucial to things—whether devices, encounters, or other things—functioning effectively and bringing people pleasure. Pratt is a extremely one of a kind institution in that it focuses on the two of those people aspects. It was established as a craft college wherever individuals uncovered technical skills, even ahead of the Bauhaus promoted those tips.

Pratt gave me the frame of mind to remodel my passions into a viable vocation, which is magical.

What is something you learned from finding out Communications Design and style at Pratt that you have carried into your perform?

I often try to remember layout instructor Alisa Zamir indicating to us, “design have to have a cause why.” This mantra has carried through my vocation, and it’s served me effectively. If a style does not have a cause why guiding it, it’s not heading to perform.

In 1997, you ended up the initially to produce a curriculum for and educate an HTML and net layout Expert Reports class at Pratt. What interested you in moving into the then-new area of web style?

I was actually passionate about typography and the motion of type on the display. When I arrived to Pratt, my intention was to style and design film trailers and probably commercials. And then all people was speaking about the world wide web. We all experienced our AOL accounts and the CD-ROMs that we obtained in the mail. As a graduate pupil, I grew to become intrigued by this space and the need for suitable, considerate design on the monitor. So that turned my thesis task. I made a prototype for an e-commerce encounter of the potential with this strategy of connecting people from distinct locations to shared experiences. It’s so standard now, but back then,

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