Hewlett: Search Engine Optimisation for Educational Sites

March 13, 2008

Robbin Steif of Lunametrics looked at the ways that we can help people find and get to our sites. She started with the analytics data from using Google Analytics as an example to look at: 

  • Visitors v goals: how many visitors make to a particular page (e.g. the full content page for a course).
  • New visitors v returning visitors: in general visitors who come back are more valuable
  • Sources for references: relevant links give more serious users 


She pointed out that we should work together as OERs: co-opetition – link to “rivals” and comment on their activity. Robbin showed eye-tracking data that demonstrate how the top actual (non-sponsored) links are where the attention is, so it is better to have good page rank through links than to provide paid for adwords. However just swapping links was not a good strategy.

Keyword selection can be aided by using Google Trends to compare and see which keyword are the more popular. She also showed quintura.com mapping the connections between words, so I tried this for OpenLearn:

OpenLearn keyword map 

How to use keywords:

  • Title text – keep short (truncated at 150 characters) with most important words at the beginning.
  • Links – in to your site are most important. Within the site: link on keywords not on e.g. company names.


SEO mistakes: No SEO, No Keyword research, Ignoring title tags, same title tag on all pages, too little text/content – too much Flash/pictures, no links, reciprocal links, poor internal linking, ignoring URLs, no site upkeep.


Get the site linked to in Wikipedia – will not get higher SE but bring in good users from it. [We know from experience thought that this can be tricky, and some suggestions of creating new identities seemed a bit beyond what we would want to do.]


Niche audiences: give content information to professional associations etc.


Mailing lists: care needed, Robbin suggested www.constantcontact.com for smaller lists.


Taylor Pratt then talked about Viral marketing.

Make it easy to:


  • Send to friend
  • Integrate the ad
  • Encourage response
  • One click to social bookmarking
  • Social media – dig, stumbleupon, facebook, myspace, reddit, flickr, del.icio.us, twitter. But often don’t give good conversion.


Inside these there are behaviours that will help get attention e.g, engaging titles – it was suggested that we study the front page of popular magazines! The key though to high attention in social sites was getting involved – and that takes a lot of time.



4 Responses to “Hewlett: Search Engine Optimisation for Educational Sites”

  1. Laura Says:

    Tick, tick, tick go the sounds of the boxes…

  2. Taylor Pratt Says:

    Patrick – I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. Let me know if you have any additional questions.


  3. simonfj Says:

    “She pointed out that we should work together as OERs: co-opetition – link to “rivals” and comment on their activity”. What heresy is this? Next thing she’ll be suggesting is that the Web is World Wide. Don’t listen to her. Sign all the inter institutional agreements (on paper) that you want. But please don’t be seen to be encouraging communication, much worse, cooperation between silos.

    If water coolers are seem to spring up between clusters of interested bloggers, their smoky signals to one another might be extinguished; we would lose all the entertainment of watching another conference of the converted talking to one another, about the obvious, in splendid isolation, through the smokescreen,. That is, before they run off to their wigwams and start their bloggled smokestacks again before the haze clears.

    “The key though to high attention in social sites was getting involved – and that takes a lot of time”. It really does. Far to much for busy professionals educators. We should keep “the markets” the way they are, every silo spreading their cheer to an unknowledgeable world through an avalanche of duplicated software and content, beautifully presented so far as it can be with such tiny budgets), wrapped with forums whose frame of reference is tight enough to stifle the smallest innovation, and whose interaction is limited to one reply per visitor. (we must be democratic, eh?); that is, if they are spoken to at all.

    Didn’t mind this suggestion though. “Get the site linked to in Wikipedia – … bring in good users from it”. Of course you could go the whole hog and share a few good OCWC users with Wikiversity. We could all probably use the education.

  4. Patrick Says:

    Jerard also went to a clinic session – and got some good feedback and praise for the work already done on OpenLearn (well done Laura!). One suggestion passed on was to work on the way we title the learning units as we tag on labels such LearningSpace and OpenLearn which are not very meaningful. Another was to submit the XML site map to Google – which I know was planned already.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: