“Some colleges get a massive amount of free attention by having these kinds of names,” he said. “This has major benefits for the college. People who would have never stumbled across your school now see it on Google.”
Gannett pointed to American University, ranked No. 3, and No. 4 National University as more beneficiaries of school names that always rank high in searches for colleges and universities in the US.
“People have said to me, ‘There’s no way American University is one of the most Googled schools,’” he said, “and they’re probably right. … These are schools with some fantastic names.”
Oyen said Central College It officials don’t rely solely on the good fortune of Google’s search results. The college’s website is moving away from an admissions-based approach centered around student recruitment and toward a news-driven strategy targeting readers interested in compelling stories.
“The hope is that we’re creating thought provoking pieces that can be shared [on social media sites] and open up communication channels,” he said. “This is a relatively new idea for us.”
CampusSplash used Google’s traffic estimator to create the most-Googled list – a tool bemoaned by some web analytics experts.
“I wouldn’t put too much weight on these rankings,” said Karine Joly, a writer for HigherEdAnalytics.com, a site that shares strategies for connecting with college audiences and increasing web presence. “The results are highly dependent on the size of the institutions, obviously, and might be skewed by many things [and] events.”
Joly said colleges looking to draw more search clicks should focus on proper HTML coding – ensuring all pages have “descriptive, useful title tags” – and becoming consistently active on popular social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.
Google has begun factoring social media activity and clicks into its search results, and will continue to incorporate social sites as the company grows its brand new Google + social networking site, said Joly, founder of the professional development site HigherEdExperts.com.
Facebook’s list of the most popular colleges and universities is chock full of the country’s biggest-name campuses.