Research, Content Management

Get found: What’s changed for SEO in 2014 and What it Means for Higher Ed

SEOAre you working to increase your institution’s ranking in search results? You should be. Search engines drove around 38% of all new visits made to college websites in August 2014 (Putting web analytics data to use in higher education). So, it goes without saying, getting found easily is critical.

Colleges and universities can take advantage of some of the changes to the way Google and other search engines rank web pages by looking at these four trends in search engine optimization (SEO) for 2014 from Digiday:

1. Optimizing your institution’s website for mobile translates into SEO value. Why? Because Google likes mobile-friendly sites. Of course, SEO is just one reason to go mobile. Our E-Expectations report found that 71% of seniors have looked at college websites on their mobile device. Beyond the SEO bump, using responsive/adaptive design or mobile sites improves the user experience for these visitors. OU Campus supports both these approaches, and the OmniUpdate team can help you make it happen for your college website.

2. Fresh content – whether blog entries, videos, or infographics – can add SEO value. Check out OmniUpdate’s new OU Blogs to see how schools can leverage the power of blogs to encourage site crawling, promote content and link sharing, generate other social media pickup and activity, and drive more organic traffic.

3. Inbound links matter, but don’t buy links. Work the old-fashioned way – work with your peers and constituents to build up the number of links pointing to your site. According to our customer, Robin Kelly from the University of Texas at Tyler, one way to achieve this is to incorporate SEO into your OU Campus Training. You’ll not only want to train contributors to create new, quality content that others will want to share, but also have them link to pages within your site. This will give your visitors and the search engines more ways to move through your website and access the content they are searching for. (Robin will be presenting at our User Training Conference in March, 2015 on SEO!)

OU Mashup

4. More so than your school’s Facebook fan count, “positive social media signals” help with rankings. Social sharing modules on your website leverage this by helping visitors more easily share your content through their social media accounts. These buttons can be easily placed throughout your website using an Asset. Visitors will want to share content when they see it show up on your social media hub using OU Mashup. This module gathers content posted by user or hashtag, from any number of networks, and showcases everything in an interactive display.

The Digiday article offers one more trend – using Google Authorship as a tool to help increase search rankings. However, Google just ended Google Authorship. That change actually inadvertently underscores another key trend in SEO – search algorithms are constantly changing, and SEO tools are in constant flux. So, focusing on the basics, and continuing to research and learn, is the best SEO strategy out there!

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