Search engine ranking for our online prospectus entries

Google search results for 'MA English Literature'

There’s plenty of online tools that you can use to monitor your search engine rankings, but I like to measure ours manually. We maintain a list of keywords pertinent to all our undergraduate and postgraduate coursefinder entries.

Twice a year (it used to be three times but we scaled it back as the results aren’t hugely changeable), we’ll measure our ranking in Google for each of the search terms (currently 337 of them). We also record which institution ranked highest for that search query and whether our position is an improvement, the same or down on the previous audit.

Avoiding personalisation

Search engines have taken great strides in recent years in personalising the results they show you. This makes it difficult to ascertain your true ranking. For our audit, we want the cleanest results possible. Our current method to achieve this is to use Google Chrome set to Incognito Mode. We use and we set our geographic location to ‘UK’ (otherwise Google automatically detects a more specific location for us).

Top 5 target, first result ideal

Our aim is for our prospectus entry to appear in the top 5 results for the search term. We achieved this for 73% of our undergraduate courses and 83% of our postgraduate courses in this month’s audit. We were the first result 37% for undergraduate and 59% for postgraduate.

I’d be interested to hear of any methods other organisations are using to measure their search engine positions.



Web Manager for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me: