Mary Hoy

Mary Hoy

Director of Marketing Analytics and Performance

Getting Started with Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The Basics

Mary Hoy

Oct 04, 2017

Your Problems

Any of these sound familiar?

  • You've got a website full of good information, but if you "Google it" you never seem to find your content.
  • You've been checking your Google Analytics reports and your organic search traffic is dropping.
  • You've looked into running paid search campaigns, but the higher education market is very expensive relative to paid search campaigns.
  • You've heard that SEO is a good way to increase traffic to your website, but you don't know where to start.

Welcome to the first of a three-part series designed to provide you with enough information to be dangerous, find the value in search and offer a few ways to get started with improving your organic search results. In this first post, we'll cover some definitions and illustrate value. Already got this down? Skip ahead to learn more about the basics of what works.

What is SEO? Google it!

Screen capture of online definition of search engine optimization

That "process" essentially means making Google happy. What makes Google happy? Making users happy. More on that in the next post. Why make Google happy? Approximately 6.6 billion (yes, billion) searches take place every day. Google owns 77% of the market for search.

Employing happiness-for-Google-inducing SEO practices for your content ensures that articles have a higher likelihood of being found by searchers and increases the volume of non-branded traffic to your website. Being able to capitalize on non-brand searches through SEO allows a new audience to find your brand.

Stop! "What’s 'non-branded'?"

Brand v Non-Brand Search Terms

Non-branded terms are general words that are common across multiple brands. They are utilized when a person doesn’t know a brand offers something or they want general topic information.

“Ohio State University” or “The Ohio State University” are our “brand” search terms. You can infer that someone using our brand terms is already familiar with the University.

For example, say you are a prospective student looking for information on majoring in neuroscience. If you live in Ohio, there is a high likelihood that you know that Ohio State University offers more than 200 majors and neuroscience may be one of them. In that case, the user would likely search for "ohio state neuroscience major." Another likely option would be searching for "ohio state university,” landing on our homepage and navigating through to find out if we offer a neuroscience major.

Alternatively, prospective students in Kansas, interested in neuroscience, may find out that none of the institutions they are familiar with offer a major in neuroscience.  So, instead, they search for “neuroscience major.”

These are the results from Google:

Screen capture of neuroscience major google search

Opportunities abound in the non-branded term search space. Luckily, Ohio State enjoys considerably high rates of branded search traffic within the Midwest. If you are attempting to attract individuals that are less familiar with what the university has to offer, look to optimize non-branded search through search engine optimization.

Itching to learn more? Skip to the next post – What Works or reach out to us. University Marketing has access to tools that can help you with this process if your department or College does not have them – please reach out to us for a consult, help with an audit or other questions.


About the author