An Undergraduate Student Survey brought to you by Carnegie and CollegeXpress

SEO + Website Impact on Prospective Undergraduate Students' College Search

In spring 2022, we asked 6,590 soon-to-be college students to weigh in on the journey from search engine to higher education website. They told us how SEO factors—such as where and how a school appears in Google Search results—impact their likelihood to click through to a website. They also told us how website structure, design, and content affect where they decide to apply and ultimately enroll.

An Undergraduate Student Survey brought to you by Carnegie and CollegeXpress

How search engines and college and university websites impact prospective undergraduate students’ college search

We all know web presence is important for driving growth and enrollment. But to know what matters most to students, you have to go right to the source. Through CollegeXpress, we asked over 6,000 students questions like:

  • On average, how many pages deep into the search engine results do you click through to find the information you need?
  • When you get to a college or university’s website for the first time, what do you look for first?
  • Is there any information you look for on a college website but frequently don’t find?

Thousands of free-form responses unearthed all the information prospects need but don’t find on higher education websites. We’ve compiled it all here with actionable insights!


“The more information and the easier it is to find, the better, and if I don't see all the information I want on a website of some place I don't know about, I'm likely to just close the page and forget about it.” Survey Respondent

Download the white paper.