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Academic Programs and Search Optimization: Key Steps to Help People Find You
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Academic Programs and Search Optimization: Key Steps to Help People Find You


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What do potential students want to know about you first? The academic programs you offer. And many students will do an online search for the particular program or programs that interest them. …

What do potential students want to know about you first? The academic programs you offer. And many students will do an online search for the particular program or programs that interest them.

This presentation covers the basic steps that any content creator can take to improve the visibility of individual academic programs when potential students search for them.

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  • 1. Academic Programs & Search Optimization: Key Steps to Help People Find You Carol Aslanian – Education Dynamics October 20-21, 2011 Chicago, IL Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 2. Search Engine Optimization
    • Most important: content that people want
    • “ Organic search”… fix your website first
    • Content stewards: high impact possible
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 3. 4 steps to success…
    • “ Eternal” SEO success points:
      • Good title tags on your pages
      • Good body copy
      • Great content
      • No barriers on your website to block the search
        • No broken links
        • Links lead to the expected content
          • Danny Sullivan, editor,
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 4. 4 top elements you can impact… Internet Business Promoter:
    • “ Essential” SEO elements…
      • Keyword in page title tag
      • External link popularity of your website
      • Link text of in bound links… press releases
      • Keyword use in body text
    • “ Very important” SEO elements
      • Age of your website
      • Keyword use in primary (H1) headline
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 5. You can impact these 8 elements…
    • Keywords in H2 – H6 headline text (important)
    • Keywords in ALT text for images (important)
    • Keywords in bold body text (important)
    • Keyword use in links within your site (moderate)
    • Keywords use in outbound link text (moderate)
    • Keywords in the meta description (moderate)
    • Readability level of the web page (slight)
    • Keyword in first sentence of body text (slight)
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 6. Can you impact these elements?
    • Keyword use in the page URL (important)
    • Links from social networks (important)
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 7. Thriving in the “online MBA” jungle…
    • Penn State
    • Drexel University
    • Northeastern University
    • Marylhurst University
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 8. Start with Google Adwords… online MBA, online MBA degree, online MBA programs Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 9. Search for “online MBA”
    • Organic search results…
      • Northeastern #3
      • Penn State #6
      • Marylhurst #10
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 10. Search for “online MBA degree”
    • Organic search results…
      • Penn State #2
      • Drexel #4
      • Marylhurst #5
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 11. Search for “online MBA programs”
    • Organic search results
      • Northeastern #3
      • Penn State #5
      • Drexel #10
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 12. Top performing organic page… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 13. Checking the pieces… URL
    • Other URLs…
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 14. Checking the pieces… title tag
    • Penn State – Online MBA Degree Program – Overview
    • Other title tags…
      • Online MBA Degree Programs – Northeastern University
      • AACSB Accredited Online MBA Programs at Drexel University Online
      • Online MBA, Online Business Degrees – Online Business Degree Programs / Marylhurst University
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 15. Checking the pieces… subheads
    • 1 st two subheads:
      • “ Put a Renowned MBA on Your Resume”
      • “ What Makes the Penn State Online MBA Program Different?”
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 16. Checking the pieces: Link deeper into your site… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 17. Visual style is not a factor… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 18. The social media element… Social media impact is growing… Goal: network of links that include the primary website Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 19. Social media impact for links… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 20. YouTube is 2 nd in Social Media… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 21. Multiple LinkedIn groups… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 22. The impact of “Panda”…
    • New importance for the quality of website pages
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 23. Important Google change in 2011…
    • “ Panda” raised the value of web content editors everywhere…
    • For example…
      • “ Removing low quality pages, merging or improving the content of individual shallow pages into more useful pages, or moving low quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher-quality content.” (
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 24. 23 “high quality” questions to ask… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 25. Especially for content stewards…
    • “ Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?”
    • “ Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?”
    • “ Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?”
    • “ Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?”
    • “ Would users complain when they see pages from this site?”
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 26. Key metrics for “quality” content…
    • SEO specialists are watching two measures of “quality” content…
      • Time spent on website pages by individual visitors
      • Number of pages visited on a site
    • Recommendation for high education sites:
      • Check & compare “bounce rate” from entry page to academic program content
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 27. Find the “Top Landing Pages”… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 28. Compare results for academic program pages… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 29. Find the least visited web pages you control… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 30. Write for the humans visiting the site, not for search robots…
    • Use keyword words that real people use…
    • Add content “Carewords” that people want to read
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 31. Don’t “stuff” keywords…
    • The page title and description, primary headline, one subhead, twice in the text…
    • More and the page won’t seem well written
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 32. Tips for success… page headings
    • Title tag:
      • 8 to 10 words – 50 to 80 characters
      • Main key word at or close to the start
    • Different title tag on every page
      • If not, Google may think content is the same
    • Meta tag:
      • Write for the person visiting the page, not for search
    • Primary heading (H1)… one per page
      • Write a “Carewords” headline for the visitor first
      • Then try to work in a primary keyword
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 33. Tips for success… page content
    • Keyword word or phrase
      • In the first sentence if you can
    • Links
      • In the first paragraph if possible
      • Write a link using key words rather than “click here”
        • But “click here” might be best for highest response
      • In ideal world, link words will be words in primary heading on the following page
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 34. Final notes…
    • SEO isn’t a mystery… be careful of gurus, ninjas, and evangelists
    • Content is the most critical element in SEO performance
      • Web editors should leverage this point
    • Keywords, content presentation, links are still important
    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 35. Buy this book… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 36. Read “Search Engine Land”… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 37. Learn the Periodic Table… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 38. Read Matt Cutts’ blog… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
  • 39. Thank You! Bob Johnson, Ph.D. President Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 226 Chauncey Court Marshall, MI 49068 248.766.6425 [email_address] Customer Carewords Research for Online Marketing Success: Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC