Spying On Your Paid Search Competitors refers to several tools that allow for competitive analysis even if you don't pay for search terms. They are
I ran a Spyfu search to see how we show up for a search on "kinesiology Phd" and found that there's not much competition for that set of terms. However, once I dug a little deeper I found searches for "PhD programs in education." And that's not a phrase I've tried to optimize for. I assumed that students ready for a doctorate would have a more specific program or field in mind. And right in front of me is evidence that the search economy finds that phrase profitable. So I immediately changed the page we have listing our doctorates in education and human development. Gone is the word "doctorate."
The Compete tool will allow you to compare traffic from three top level domains. So I can compare how the University (umn.edu) stacks up to Columbia (columbia.edu), but not how my college (cehd.umn.edu) stacks up against Teacher's College (tc.columbia.edu/) at Columbia. it's too bad because this site gives information on how engaged the visitors are and it gives the top three keyword phrases which drive visitors to the site. Paying for the service might make this site more helpful.
Alexa hasn't changed much over the years. And while it also limits data to the top level domain, it provided this little tidbit:
Where people go on Umn.edu:
When many of us think social media we think Facebook and MySpace and YouTube. It also includes other tools and platforms that allow for interaction. It doesn't only have to be "social" conversation. It includes bookmarking adn content sharing tools such as Delicious and Digg.
Higher education hasn't made the most of this media yet. But here are a few good tips on how to optimize current Web pages for the social media.
I encourage you to read the entries, but here's the synopsis (really not that different from general optimization rules):
1) Increase your linkability
2) Make tagging and bookmarking easy
3) Reward inbound links
4) Help your content travel
5) Encourage the mashup
6) Be a user resource, even if it doesn’t help you
7) Reward helpful and valuable users
9) Know how to target your audience
10) Create content
11) Be real
12) Don’t forget your roots, be humble
13) Don’t be afraid to try new things, stay fresh
14) Develop a SMO strategy
15) Choose your SMO tactics wisely.
16) Make SMO part of your process and best practices
I have to confess that while I've used many social networking sites and visited many others, I rely only on a few. I subscribe to newsfeeds of a few blogs for work and pleasure and I've watched what others in higher education have been doing.
Right now I'm interested in making it easier to share and bookmark our college's research. But I have yet to add the widgets to make that possible from our Web site. Our blog site has the RSS feed and a simple script I found for adding the feed directly into iGoogle. Our internal audience isn't filled with early adopters and many have no idea what an RSS feed even is.