Academic journal article College and University

Online College Recruiting and Marketing-Web Promotion, Strategy, and Ethics

Academic journal article College and University

Online College Recruiting and Marketing-Web Promotion, Strategy, and Ethics

Article excerpt

An Anatomy of Effective Internet Marketing and Search Engine Placement for College Admissions

After several years of using online recruiting techniques, researching Internet marketing, and consulting with companies regarding search engine ranking, we have made many observations about the evolution of the Internet as a tool for marketing to students and targeting enrollment for new admissions.

Search Engines

Prospective students should be easily able to locate your college/university on targeted search engines or directories. Consider these factors:

* The Top Engines1: If you go to www.searchenginewatch.com you will find the Net Ratings(A), which will explain the market share of many search engines and directories, along with exposure and overlap between users. Also see Jupiter Media Metrix Ratings(B). Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Google, InfoSpace, WlseNut, Overture, and a few others have the widest appeal with regards to the online recruiting market. Over the past few years, the market share of the search engine and directory industry has been very dynamic.

* Variables: Items such as domain name(C), keyword-rich text, and meta tags in the html source code affect your college exposure dramatically(D). Search engines use different methods (Algorithms(E)) of listing Web sites and ranking them when a term or word search is done for "colleges, ranking, or admissions." Positive variables include: the name of your domain and if it is germane to the search terms, the title of the page, the meta tags that include your site description and keywords, the text and content of the page, image file names, alt tag text, and link popularity.(F) As a note, the search engines and directories change the algorithms and ranking criteria from time to time. Some major engines use a partner to provide their search results, and the partner can also change periodically. Thus, the variables and algorithms are not static and IT specialists, Webmasters, and college departments need to actively watch and innovate search engine ranking strategy.

Pay for Inclusion or Pay Per Performance Engines and Programs: Yahoo and Overture have become increasingly important for Web site performance. Many search engines such as Looksmart(G) (which provides results for MSN) and Overture(H) (which sponsors results for Yahoo), have suddenly outranked Webmasters because the user has paid per click for the visitor and sponsored a listing on the first page of results.

* Your College Domain Name and Web Address: A fair percentage of your Web visitors will locate your home page by simply typing the name of the college into the browser coupled with the ".edu" suffix. Domain names and marketing of your home page are addressed later in this article.

Exposure to High School Students and Potential Applicant Pool The youth of today are much more inclined to use the Internet to research colleges and have been trained to use the Internet in grade school and high school. They will research and visit colleges from the comfort of their home or the library (Pastore 2002). In light of this, you may have a more informed candidate for admission.

Discussions with recent high school graduates reveal that many enjoy the degree of privacy in searching online and using online forms. There is less interaction with people using this method; they simply need to fill out the information online (Hartigan 2000).

Marketing the University Online: Benefits, Features, and Search Keywords

It is the job of the institution to integrate the information below with all Web pages related to the university Web site or admissions. However, there is a potential linguistics issue because students may be searching for "football" or "free tuition" when the university site uses traditional terms in their text and Web code such as "athletics" and "financial aid." In sum, universities must target key buzzwords in the search engine that prospective students may use in seeking out a school to attend. …

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