You graduate your marketing course at uni, start working in the industry and all of a sudden you get hit with a huge part of digital marketing that you know little to nothing about – SEO. Despite the years you dedicated to the vicious cycle of groan-worthy group assignments and coffee-induced long nights of working on essays that you started the night before they were due, you still weren’t prepared to encounter SEO. So why are Australian Universities not teaching SEO – which mind you is one of the most important features to take into consideration when creating content or embarking on a digital marketing campaign?
Australian universities with SEO courses
Whilst we can probably all understand that there is a knowledge gap among students when it comes to SEO. I wanted to know exactly how many universities in Australia take SEO as a taught subject, so I made a list of all the universities in Australia offering SEO even if it was simply taught within an overarching digital marketing paradigm rather than a subject in itself. I went on each of their respective websites to do a little bit of research. On every site, I searched both ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and ‘SEO’ to identify courses covering it as subject matter. Of the 41 Australian universities that were searched, only 14 were found to be currently provide teaching on SEO. What I found was not surprising, in that less than half of Australian universities teach specific material around the SEO phenomenon. Additionally, it does not come as a shock that basically every course that involved SEO in its teaching did not have it in its name; the most common courses to cover it had ‘Digital Marketing’ or ‘Digital Media’ in their titles. So, one can assume that SEO as a subject in these cases forms part of a broader course, rather than a course itself.
Having a look at the university courses that did involve SEO, I saw this very notion for the most part was all too common: SEO was just a small part of a course that focused on something a little more broad, such as a Bachelor or Master’s degree, or even a tech elective of some sort. The most seemingly in-depth course that I stumbled across was a short course run by the University of Sydney, ‘Web Writing with SEO’. Good on you for kind consideration towards SEO, USYD. Also, a great, big shout out to the other Australian Universities who also teach SEO.
- Digital Business and Marketing
- Examines the planning and marketing of products on the internet
- Topics include web design, SEM
- Digital Marketing
- Introduction to marketing theory and how is applies on the internet
- Topics include internet marketing communications and analytics
- Introduction to SEO Course
- Covers the introductory SEO techniques for a website to rank highly on Google
- Topics include SEO vs PPC, Web Design Analysis
- Web Writing with SEO Course
- Appropriate for business owners, copywriters, or marketers, this course provides the skills necessary for your writing to attract your target audience
- Topics cover basic SEO techniques as well as effective structuring and writing of web content
- Digital Strategy Course for SMEs
- Helping you reach your customers easier for Small and Medium Enterprises through digital marketing
- Covers introductory techniques for digital marketing, as well as tracking and ROI related analysis
- Computer Science Bachelor Degree
- Focused more on the technical side of things, this course includes heavy coding, algorithm creation, and data structures
- If you are looking for a more specific SEO-related course, this may not be the one for you
- Professional Media Practices: Creating, Publishing and Publicising Digital Journalism
- A masters-level course that prepares you for all things web content and digital journalism through modern mediums
- Note that there are some prerequisites for this course
- New Technologies in Tourism, Events and Hospitality
- This course focuses on modern mediums in different industries such as tourism.
- Information and Communications Technology (ICT) includes aspects of digital marketing to optimise these different industries
- If you want to explore a career in these subjects whilst utilising SEO and digital marketing, consider checking this out
- Managing Digital Design
- Similar to the course above, this course integrates digital communication for the use of digital and visual media
- Another great option if you are looking to use aspects of digital marketing and communication for other industries
- Online consumer behaviour and marketing in the online sphere, this course is perfect for aspiring digital marketers
- By the end of the course, you should feel well equipped with all the techniques and perspective to succeed as a marketer in the modern age
- Digital Marketing for Managers
- An introductory course emphasising on social media and marketing of goods and services
- Also covers topics such as brand positioning and PR
- Digital and Social Media Marketing
- Focuses on understanding how businesses should engage and interact with customers in the digital age
- Digital Media: Theory and Practice
- Provides both theory and practice of digital marketing to familiarise the technical aspects of the industry
- This is an online course, which may be of interest to you
- Digital Marketing Strategy
- A short course to learn how to create innovative and effective SEO strategies, among other aspects of digital marketing
- A short course costs little and lasts only 6 weeks
- Bachelor of Marketing and Media
- This course gives a good level of foundational knowledge on all things digital marketing
- Covers topics such as SEO, PPC, PR, Google Adwords among others
- Introduction to Interaction and UX Design
- Although not focusing directly on SEO, UX Design and Interactions is a large part of the SEO rapport
- Will provide a strong knowledge of UX and UI which can be very useful for aspiring SEO Marketers
- Web Communication
- A social media focused course that mixes web design, digital marketing, and strategic communication
- A great introductory course that can kickstart your journey for a wide variety of online communication and marketing roles
- Master of Digital Media
- A Masters degree that includes a wide variety of Digital Media such as UX, Game Design and Design Research
- As a Masters degree, it requires the completion of a prior course or diploma
- Graduate Certificate in Digital Media
- A shorter and a more introductory course for Digital Media, this better suits busy professionals with their timetable system
- SEO and Content Strategy are some of the focuses of this Certificate
- Graduate Diploma in Digital Media
- Often used to progress into the Masters of Digital Media above, this Diploma provides theory on various Digital Media practices such as SEO and UX
Why isn’t SEO focused on?
SEO has developed significantly since it first began, and is now changing on an estimatedly daily basis, which gives fair reason as to why it isn’t focused on in uni. I mean, at one point it was all about cramming in as many keywords as possible and buying links from eastern Europe link builders. Now, Google endeavours to discern meaning and credibility as opposed to simply matching keywords and counting links. On the topic of new-and-improved, another important change has been the level of value that Google now places on new content, which factors into the freshness part of the algorithm. With immediate impact on companies’ SEO ranking, it is vital for brands to focus on building more in-depth and specialised content marketing strategies for their users and that also extend to their social media content, PR links, and apps.
Additionally, mobile prioritisation, along with updates such as the Google Knowledge Graph, the Panda/Penguin/Pigeon updates and the Hummingbird algorithm (Google sure loves animals, it seems) are all huge factors that have been catalysts of unrest and change in the SEO world, since they can have a crippling impact on search visibility for brands who have thrived based on organic search traffic. All this in mind, to try and teach current day SEO to uni students can seem pointless since tomorrow it will be different, and different again the day after. What is important is that students understand the continuity of change in the field and to expect to be keeping up with this environment unceasingly.
From the beginning of SEO to present day, the focus has changed vastly; Google and other search engines are now focusing on genuine interaction and user experience through personalisation and clean cut answers, as opposed to favouring “gimmicky content-based tactics”, as DeMers from Search Engine Land puts it. Digital marketing students are already most probably aware of this and how it affects how things are done in the online world, but SEO could certainly be weaved into this teaching at university level, if it is not already, since it has also been tremendously impacted by this new focus.
Moreover, the complexities of SEO in terms of achieving genuity through tailored individual needs and creativity could be dismissed as too difficult to effectively teach. Whilst no one can really put forward SEO top methods or rules, presenting case studies of a variety of SEO clients to students is hardly unproductive. Regarding creativity, content writing, blog posting, outreach, etc. can be taught practically and they certainly enhance SEO, ergo the link between the two should be stressed during uni for marketing students.
Nowadays, search engine algorithms updates are small, discrete, and come out moderately, giving a significantly less pronounced effect on the industry. True, the rules of SEO are still ever-changing, but surely uni students can be made aware of its fundamental aspects in order to spark passion and initiative do their own research to keep up to date with new trends. Looking into marketing, statistics, journalism, business and design, reading SEO books, keeping up with industry leaders and attending conferences are all ways that students can develop their skills to prepare them for what is ahead (kudos to Weber from Search Engine Journal for the educational advice). Being future bearers of the grand SEO mantle, it would benefit students profoundly for their equipment of a changing landscape that they will enter, upon tossing their graduation caps and entering the workforce.
Want to take the first step in learning SEO alone? Luckily, a wealth of information exists online you can find online to get you started. Check out SEO Company Melbourne – the experts in providing articles and resources on all things SEO