eduweb2008: Using Search Engine Optimization to Optimize Your Marketing Campaigns

Dave Reske (NowSpeed Inc.)  & Jennifer Brady (uMass)

76% of advertisers use organic SEO and  71% use ppc advertising

85% of all internet sessions involve a search engine

Why is SEO/SEM vitally important to higher ed marketing?

  • Cost to generate one lead is averating $55 CPL in our industry (some paying $100 CPL)
  • This means to generate an average of 2,000 leads per month, it would cost $11,000 per month – or $1.3 million and up annually
  • Search provides opportunity to engage with the prospective student from point of first interest aka “the search” (rather than waiting until they get in touch later in the funnel)

Organic SEO

  • The actual search results (rather than sponsored top or right bar)
  • Google has 50.8% of market share; yahoo has 24%, MSN 8.4%, AOL 6.1%, Ask 2.1%
  • Goals: increase search engine rank on selected keywords; increase overall traffic to the site.
  • Spiders index everything (not pictures
  • Listings appear beneath paid results, ranking cannot be controlled
  • Free
  • natural ranking is based on the quality and quantity of relevant site data indexed and the number of quality inbound links to the site
  • Results displayed based on a match between the search terms used

SEO Steps to Good Rankings

  • Keywords: High traffic, low competition, good fit for business
  • i.e. don’t rely on Catholic if you are a Catholic college – too much competition
  • Content: must  be relevant to search term and contain quality information
  • Page Elements: body copy, title tag, meta keywords, meta Description, Alt Tag – make these all what search engines want to see
  • Link popularity: directory submissions, press releases, blogging, article submissions
  • Make it easy to crawl: clean HTML, no “black hat” techniques (can get you blacklisted)

Keyword Strategy:

  • Start with a wide universe of keywords
  • Select keywords with the right combination of low competition and high traffic
  • select keywords that are relevant to your site and to your business
  • Broke site into sections (i.e. title tag) and made sure keywords were mentioned within each section
  • Embed keywords in outgoing content – press releases etc.  You get a link, and keywords!
  • measure by visibility score and organic search traffic


  • Visibility Score, Traffic, Link popularity
  • Visibility of keywords by search engine

You can get a lot of this data from google adwords reporting – can see exactly which keywords are getting clicks etc – mmbc

Paid Search

  • At the top/side
  • Google has 74% market share of paid search marketing.  Yahoo! 19%, MSN 6%
  • Placement: Determined by CTR and how much you bid – you can’t just bid your way to the top
  • Cost: bidding for a spot, bid for position against others buying the same terms; you pay $0.01 more than the next highest bid

Some thoughts on AdWords:  find a lot of keywords have a required minimum bid unlike facebook.  These are crazy high – $8, $12 – but you end up paying much less.  Have to raise the bid to the high amount or Google simply won’t activate your keyword – mmbc


  • Search Network & Content Network (1000’s of extra websites were Google places ads – if your search word appears in the text of that website or gmail message than your ad will be displayed, can target by site, time of day, geography, age)
  • You control the budget, demographics, keywords – everthing
  • Adgroup – groups of keywords (100’s of 1000’s keywords at no cost)

Paid Search campaigns

  • Build comprehensive keyword list
  • Create Adword groups for similar words
  • Select offers

Best landing page practices

  • Clear headline and  compelling copy
  • picture of the offer
  • minimal navigation
  • appealing image


Made a very specific, page – took CPL from $300 to $40.

Then did custom pages for each degree and certificate program – took CPL to $22.74

battery is dead!

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