5 September 2013 By Northern Lights
The university business blog is a relatively new phenomenon. While students themselves embraced social media early on, the universities at which they study took a little longer to see the engagement potential of blogging and social media. My specialist areas are around website development and search engine optimisation (SEO), so I’ve a particular interest in how university business blogs have been developing and what makes a good university blog for SEO.
Below is a round up of some of the top ones ranked by Google, and my thoughts on what makes them stand out. All are very different, but each displays certain elements of good SEO practice.
(1) The Open University Business School – This blog ranks extremely well on search engines. Hardly surprising as The Open University is famous for offering remote / e-learning, but how else is it successful? I really like the combination of written blogs, videos and webinar content. A rich content mixture is valued not only by readers, but by search engines too. Blogs are regularly updated (a couple of times a week during term time), which will also help with rankings.
There is a different theme each quarter, so the blog is able to cover each topic in lots of detail, enabling this multi-author blog to become established for thought leadership and attract different academic and specialist audiences each time. This quarter is change management, and The Open University uses its blog particularly well to complement and cross sell the various events and masterclasses it hosts.
(2) Bradford University School of Management – The Management Experts blog was set up a few years ago and has had time to mature into one of the most popular university business blogs on Google. It is currently ranked #2 across the UK by Google for “university business blog” [as quoted in this blog on social media for academics].
With several thousand visitors each month, the blog enjoys a large amount of traffic, and is very well set up for sharing through social media channels. Bloggers are briefed to write in an open style that encourages questions and comments, and so blogs regularly receive a large number of comments. The blog also has a good cross section of back links, from a mixture of authority domains. All of these factors contribute to the blog’s high ranking in organic search.
(3) Sheffield Hallam University Business School – This is a relatively new university business blog but is already ranking highly on Google. Northern Lights has been working alongside the university on various business engagement activities, and this shows in the quality of the guest bloggers – many of whom are renowned business leaders offering unique insights into how they have overcome specific business issues.
The blog has a learning and development theme “grow and inspire your workforce”, which ties in well both with the university offering and with a key concern for all employers. This blog is also well integrated with social media channels and has a supporting Twitter page, which is used to share content and drive traffic. All of these factors make this blog particularly appealing for both search engines and business audiences, and is sure to help establish Sheffield Business School as a thought leader in applied industry knowledge and the place for business leaders to go to solve their business learning and development problems.
(4) Newcastle University Business School – This blog is very different to the others as it is written for, (often by) and directly aimed at students – potential, current and past. This blog does a great job of showcasing the fantastic experience that students of Newcastle University Business School can expect.
Over the summer, blogs have been about travels and internships to India; while blogs from the end of term celebrate students’ achievements, and others are dominated by the student term time experience. The blog is likely to be ranking highly at the moment as students have been researching universities during clearing and are now looking up what to expect when they start their courses. Another great thing about this blog for SEO is that the content lends itself really well to photos, which bring this blog to life visually and ensure a rich mix of content types.
(5) Exeter University Business School – Also featuring on the first page of Google searches for university business blogs, the Exeter University blog is very different to Newcastle in terms of content and style. Blogs are highly academic but make good use of questions to encourage comments.
The home page links really well with the university’s various social media sites, although the blogs themselves could benefit from having social media sharing icons on each page.
Exeter has a fabulous presence on YouTube, with over 30 videos. It also has some excellent links from sites like FT.com and panda.org, amongst others. In addition, it has a Wikipedia page that they have clearly spent some time on. All of this helps power its Google listing.
(6) University of York Careers Blog – The University of York has always been good at linking with the business community, and offers a number of expert speaker events. The focus of this blog is around student employability, offering careers advice that is informed by its links with employers and searchable by job category.
While not as highly ranking as the others I’ve selected, this blog has potential to grow. Each blog can be rated and ‘liked’ and comments are shown down the right hand side to encourage engagement. The blog is set up on WordPress, which has a number of SEO and social media sharing plug ins that could be utilised to ensure as wide an audience as possible is able to access the great content on this blog.
I hope this analysis of some of the top university business blogs for SEO has shown what features work well for university blogs and which are favoured by search engines. If you are thinking of setting up an academic blog for your organisation, has this blog been useful? Do please post your comments below.