University of Central Oklahoma Case Study

Improving Search Engine Visibility Through Optimized Content.

University of Central Oklahoma Case Study

The Challenge.

The University of Central Oklahoma sought to increase search engine visibility for both its on-campus and online (“Connected Campus”) programs.

The Diagnosis.

Beginning with a content assessment, we discovered online programs available through the University of Central Oklahoma’s Connected Campus contained duplicate or nearly duplicate content pulled from the on-campus program pages.

Concentrations for certain programs—the online MPA in Urban Management and the online MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management, for example—also contained nearly identical copies, as did two online MBA program pages. We also noticed that for tracked keyword phrases, Google chose to rank the on-campus program over the online program page.

Along with duplicate content, many program pages had short or thin content that relied on links to PDF documents or an interactive widget for additional information. A crawl of the site found that many of these pages were being flagged for low text-to-HTML ratios. To the search engines, pages containing 10% or less text appear less authoritative and are perceived as providing less substantial information to the user.

University of Central Oklahoma Case Study

The Strategy.

Online program pages perform better when given a separate identity from on-campus counterparts. This entails writing unique copy, emphasizing online-centric long-tail phrases in the metadata, header tags, and body copy, and considering the needs of the online student—typically, a working adult looking to complete their bachelor’s degree or earn a master’s around an existing career. We knew UCO could benefit greatly from this approach.

The content strategy for UCO involved a mix of online degree program pages, on-campus program pages, and admissions content. This case study isolates the online degree program work and related impact. To optimize the online degree program pages for UCO’s Connected Campus our team:

  • Researched specific online-related long-tail phrases and incorporated them into the metadata, header tags, and body copy;
  • Fully utilized the title tag, meta description, and header tags to naturally incorporate these terms;
  • Revised and expanded the body copy to stand out from the on-campus program and to provide more detailed information for a prospective student interested in an online degree program; and
  • Lengthened the copy to provide key program information outside of a PDF document and increase the amount of valuable text on the page.

Digital Marketing
Search Engine Optimization
Content Optimization + Copywriting
University of Central Oklahoma Case Study

The Results.

A total of eight pages for UCO’s Connected Campus were revised to eliminate duplicate content, emphasize online-related keywords, and lengthen the copy to stand out from related on-campus programs. After the new content was up for two months, we examined organic traffic, clicks, and impressions for the month of December 2021, and compared them to December 2020, when the pages would have featured the older, duplicate content. In comparing these periods, we noticed the following improvements:

155%

increase in organic clicks

386%

increase in organic impressions

201%

increase in organic traffic

Visibility for New Keywords

The Carnegie team also analyzed keywords between September 1, 2021 and January 28, 2022. During this period, Google began to associate tracked keywords with the online programs’ URLs rather than defaulting to the on-campus programs. In local search for Oklahoma City, we noticed increases for 21 tracked terms, including multiple new long-tail phrases entering Google’s top 10 pages. We observed a similar pattern for national search: 21 tracked terms saw increases over this period, with multiple new terms entering Google’s top 10 pages.

Page at a Glance: Online BBA

In analyzing impression-generating phrases for the page with the greatest gains—the online BBA in General Business—optimization resulted in the page ranking for several new phrases it had no presence for the year before, including “business degree online”, “online business degree”, “online business administration degree”, and “online business management degree”.

Before and after of UCO.edu

 

 

Across the eight UCO Connected Campus pages optimized, organic traffic doubled from December 2020 to December 2021, and Google Search Console results show significant year-over-year increases for organic clicks (62 to 158) and impressions (19,800 to 96,200).

Google Analytics Data for UCO.edu

Google Search Console Data for UCO.edu

UCO recently awarded Carnegie a contract for University-wide market research, brand identity, and web design as the result of a competitive RFP process. University leadership noted confidence in Carnegie's partnership through previous partnerships as a driving factor in the decision.

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