SEO Research and Expert Opinion on the Online Education Industry
Overview of the market
Companies are developing custom solutions to meet the growing demand using LMS (Learning Management System) and LXP (Learning Experience Platform). This business line has applications in the vocational and K-12 spheres and the academic and corporate sectors.
This concept brings a radically different paradigm to the field of teaching. With the internet of things, institutions can create more personalized and dynamic ways for students to learn, such as through immersive online textbooks and game-based studying.
Teachers also use smart audio-visual equipment, digital video recorders for lecture capture, and online tests to deliver lessons and test achievement.
- Smart boards (Infographics, tutorial videos, and complex formulae, be it for any subject and especially mathematics, could be solved in shorter time frames).
- Attention to Attendance (IoT-based attendance system, calculating student attendance and generating regularity, punctuality, and personality reports becomes effortless).
- Significant safety.
- Adjusting Disability (IoT devices have taken the initiative to provide assistance to disabled children in a constructive way using a system of connected gloves and a tablet to generate verbal speech, translated from sign language).
- Mobile Applications and Tablets — IoT experts have wonderfully shifted this excess focus from gadgets for gaming and social networking to studying.
The number of devices that will be a part of IoT is expected to reach 75 billion by the year 2025, according to the Digital Learning Industry Report. Increased connectivity will boost interest in on-line courses, as these solutions allow students to access videos and tutorials in real-time, among other benefits.
As a result of Digital Transformation, the core business processes of a company are improved to meet customer expectations more effectively through the leveraging of data and technology.
The potential impact on IT is causing a series of cyberattacks on systems. For instance, Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center has identified a new batch of malicious and disruptive cyberattacks against Ukraine's digital infrastructure.
A significant challenge of IoT is the unexplained flow of data, posing operational and management issues to network infrastructure, and increasing security risks at every endpoint. As a result, network administrators at educational institutions must adapt their traditional network design to provide new levels of network intelligence, automation, and security.
Our company specializes in developing training products for different fields of business: medical, manufacturing, energy, logistics, and so on. Virtual reality training products and simulators can increase employees' training efficiency, increase the level of safety at work, and improve business effectiveness.
How can this sector be developed, and what problems can block it?
I think that for the best user experience, companies need to use the hardware, software, and content of the best quality.
Together, LXP and LMS are the most effective combination. With adaptive paths across their devices, your employees can fill skill gaps and improve knowledge in areas that need improvement. Here personalization reaches the highest level when a person receives a defined type of content (articles, guides, videos, podcasts, blogs, etc.) based on their personal career progressions and interests. The market offers apps such as 360learning and Axonify, which combine microlearning to make it easy to study on the go.
We have found a way to solve these problems. Dynamic content lets you personalize each user's experience to make learning effective, exciting, and engaging. Every student sees precisely the information that best helps them learn effectively, and they can see their growth and put new knowledge into practice.
The company specializes in creating effective methods of implementing digital technologies for manufacturing enterprises: VR simulators for training personnel at Energoatom's thermal power plants and nuclear power plants; AR and IoT for managing company resources; VR's vehicle visualization system for postal services, etc.
Most of our clients are large industrial enterprises with 5000+ employees from the USA and EU.
What are the most promising forms of interaction between universities and IT companies?
Our company has experience in cooperation with technical universities. We've launched Sensorama Academy, where we educate students on how to create XR products in Unity and Unreal Engine (engines for creating games). It is project-based learning, after the theoretical part students choose which projects they want to deliver and work on them with the help of mentors from our team on the computers and different VR and AR equipment that we provide. After completion of the course, students know how to work in a professional pipeline, have a project in their portfolio, and can start their careers in the field of XR technologies.
Key SEO metrics for market leaders
To select a focus group of sites for research, we collected marker search queries and analyzed the SERPs for those keywords. We got the top 10 in Google US based on the search engine results analysis.
Our list of top companies includes:
Traffic distribution by channels
Next, we collected data on the key SEO metrics of these websites and started analysis:
- Traffic distribution by channels: the most significant sources of traffic to the websites;
- Organic SEO traffic: metric, estimated using the keywords domains, ranking in the top 20 to show the possible quantity of visitors.
- Visibility: an indicator of a domain's visibility in the search engine.
Search traffic is a significant focus for our business, but our traffic strategies and goals extend into social, direct, referral, and email as well, in order to provide our audience with the best information to help them make important purchasing decisions.
Based on your experience, what types of content and pages drive the most traffic?
Our success related to IoT topics, in particular, is due to our strategies focused on researching the types of information users are searching for and then creating in-depth, highly authoritative, and trustworthy content in a variety of mediums that is crafted by industry experts and takes users through the entire buying cycle – from learning what the technology is to why businesses need it and the best solutions to help meet their organization’s needs.
We at Great Learning focus on all marketing channels, especially the strong side of paid search and organic traffic. Search ads help us to experiment with different keyword variations, test the conversions from different campaigns, and use the top-performing keywords for SEO to improve conversions that match the user intent. In addition, we concentrate on educating and resolving people's problems by writing technical articles, how-to guides, tutorials, and interview questions that will assist people in upskilling themselves in order to find employment or learn new skills.
Through social media, we provide value addition by contributing to interactive conversations with the community who are interested in learning about Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud, Cybersecurity, and other tech domains. We, from time to time, host webinars with industry experts and universities to provide the latest updates. This also helps individuals develop throughout their professional careers.
Additionally, brand campaigns with influencers or through digital PR help us bring direct traffic. Influencers and digital PR also help people remember our brand, which leads to direct visits to our website to learn more about us and our courses. This enhances our referral traffic as well.
We primarily use our email campaigns to send a weekly newsletter to our existing subscribers and students, updating them on the latest industry news and how they can stay relevant by upskilling and learning new skills for free with our Great Learning Academy. In addition to promoting new courses, partnerships, expert opinion pieces, and webinars by industry experts, our various email campaigns also include nurturing the user base we already have. Overall, all the traffic channels are important and give us relevant and valuable traffic that turns into leads for us.
Organic SEO traffic and visibility
Estimated search traffic is the approximate amount of organic traffic a website receives monthly from search engines. Calculated based on click-through rate (CTR) and keyword position, and correlates with actual traffic to the domain.
Depending on how the site ranks in search results, "site visibility" indicates the number of impressions it receives by keywords. There is no universally appropriate visibility indicator. As a result, you can evaluate your website or market niche by looking at the site's performance specific to one topic.
- Serpstat "Keyword Research" tool gathered all the word forms and similar search terms related to the main topic. We got the following keywords:
- application of iot in education
- iot in education sector
- online education
- Extreme Learning Process
- online courses
- learn online
- new technologies in education
- smart board
- virtual classroom
- rapid learning
- mobile e-learning
3. We identified the top 10 sites based on the collected data and analyzed traffic sources on websites using SimilarWeb.
4. Using the Domain Batch Analysis tool, we gathered data on these sites' key SEO metrics: traffic and visibility.
Using this algorithm, you can assess any market when developing a project.
By collecting data through Serpstat, we analyze the SERP for a specific set of keywords corresponding to the declared sector. The SERP is diverse and includes small sites with narrow semantics and services and large sites with broad semantics and scope.
For example, the illustration shows how the semantics of Coursera, Skillshare, and Udemy correlate: the volume of semantics differs significantly. However, we see common keywords for the three domains.
We will gladly provide you with a free demonstration of the service, and our experts will answer all your questions! ;)
Keywords in organic search
To move along with the leading websites, one must determine how numerous semantics they possess, what queries they rank for, and how difficult it is to move along with them.
This metric measures the level of competition for a term, which helps determine whether it is advisable to progress through it. The formula is a combination of three indicators:
- The number of backlinks from sites that are in the top 10;
- URL complexity, which is ranked by the estimated query (how many terms are associated with the page in the top 10, if the top contains narrow semantics, then this term is not competitive);
- A commercial query is calculated based on internal Serpstat algorithms according to the type of request.
- 0-20 — easy;
- 21-40 — medium;
- 41-60 — difficult;
- 61-100 —very difficult.
As you can see on the graph, most of the phrases — 35% and 36%, are characterized by low and medium KD. Although the sphere has developed rapidly, the organic promotion has relatively sluggish competition despite its rapid expansion.
Semantics are crucial no matter what market you are in. The keywords for which leaders rank in the top 10, however, have a low keyword difficulty score. In sectors with higher competition, it is much more difficult for novices or sites outside the top to achieve higher positions with high-quality SEO optimization.
By tracking this metric, you will stop wasting time tracking highly competitive keywords that are difficult to rank. You will instead focus on phrases that will increase your Google search ranking.
Nevertheless, one important point must be considered — that high-volume commercial SERPs will be filled with giants that are difficult to bypass. Therefore, newcomers need to take into account other factors, such as:
- Consider the volume of keywords and choose medium and low-volume queries.
- A paid promotion will have much more competition for these keywords.
- It's also important to remember that if you want to rank for a particular search query, your URL must have high textual relevance and be better than competitors' URLs.
- Explore competitors in any topic in paid and organic search.
- Find semantically related keywords.
- Check which search terms are being used with keywords.
- Assess the level of competition for the main keywords.
- Recognize the seasonality and trendiness of your request.
- Check the complexity of your keywords and find ways to rank effectively.
- Identify the most relevant keywords and content examples for your topic. Using the complete Serpstat databases, you won't miss anything.
- Create the semantic structure.
- Generate entire groups of relevant keywords for any landing page on your site.
- Create clusters based on the similarity of the SERP (i.e., take into account semantics and intent).
- Set up the logical structure of the site and the most effective advertising campaigns based on the semantic hierarchy.
- Distribute semantics across pages to avoid cannibalization (no extra pages will be created that rank for the exact keywords).
- Automatically group semantics even for massive projects with up to 50,000 keywords.
Group terms into clusters, determine the volume of each of them, and start working on the most promising sets.
We receive the most traffic from technical articles like how-tos, code snippets, tutorials with career advice, and interview questions, which helps us to fill the top of the funnel. While hub and cluster pages related to tech domains like Data Science, AI & Machine Learning, etc. drive traffic that is more likely to convert well due to the buying intent.
SERP features in the search result
We analyzed the SERP by focus keywords and identified unique elements that appear most often. Along with the SERP features, we checked the presence of advertising in the search results. It is worth noting immediately that, at present, of many types of Google SERP features, there are 28 in the analyzed domains that are related to the online education sphere:
- related_search — Related search queries, tips
- also_asks — List of questions related to the request
- ads_top — PPC unit on the top of search results
- video — Icon for video inside the snippet
- pic — Examples of pictures for request
- snip_breadcrumbs — Breadcrumbs instead of URL
- a_box_fsnippet — Information snippet in large format
- local_pack — Block with a card local SEO 3-pack
- kn_graph_card — Relevant, context-specific information on a card
- map — The unit is accompanied by a map
- kn_graph_carousel_list —one row of dice, each transitioning to a different page of search
- kn_graph_local — Knowledge graph with a map
- ads_bot — Contextual advertising block at the bottom
- refine_by_brand — List of products by the brand to request
- kn_graph_brand— information about the target organization
- a_box_card — Card with information about tournaments
- snip_reviews_stars — Article rating with stars
- shopping_top — Shopping block on top of SERP
- snip_image_thumbnail — Image in the snippet
- podcasts — Podcast unit
- snip_sitelinks — Additional links inside the snippet to other sections of the website
- a_box_some — Dates, addresses, etc
Also appear quite often: the People Also Ask (19%), Related Search (18%), and video (12%).
Read our research on Google special elements to learn more about these SERP features.
It is sufficient to structure the content so that some units will appear in the search engine. But there are still more complicated blocks that require separate creation. However, we have some good news — Google has clearly explained all these methods in its documentation for webmasters.
Backlink profile of market leaders
Link-building strategies should be formed by studying what market leaders are doing in this direction: how many links they have, what authority they have, where their links come from, whether they use dropped domains, etc.
We collected data on SDR, the number of referring domains, and the number of backlinks from the top 10 sites through Domain batch analysis. Now let's have a look at the metrics.
Domain authority is measured by the SDR (Serpstat Domain Rank), which ranges from 0 to 100. In addition to the number of referring sites to the analyzed domain, the number of referring sites to these referring sites is also taken into account. Thus, all sites in the index associated with the analyzed domain are considered.
Referring domains — the number of unique domains pointing to it.
Backlinks are the unique links that you can find leading to the website under analysis.
To determine whether leaders use drop domains, we took the top 100 results for each of the targeted keywords, left unique domains, and found information about redirecting domains. Now, what can we conclude from this?
A redirecting domain is a domain that completely redirects to the analyzed domain, allowing the link juice to flow to that domain. Such links indicate that the website purchases drop domains and bring them to life or uses some related domains, which are then attached to the main domain to gain their backlinks, history, and traffic.
Expired domains: for what purpose do they serve?
- Such domains attract their audience.
- You can achieve the desired results very quickly.
- Domains that have been dropped have their authority, reputation, and backlink profile.
- If your domain matches your purpose and product, you will be promoted faster;
- This will result in an influx of visitors who are clearly interested in your offers;
- Visitors will be redirected to your main website, which brings more traffic.
Advantages of this approach:
- Since the drops have already been indexed and have passed Google's sandbox, there is no need to promote them.
- Their reputation is excellent (if you pick the right ones). Regardless of their initial reputation, purchased domains are often indexed quickly.
- As a result, you will attract a relevant target market to your website: one already interested in your product or service.
- A developed backlink profile will save money on creating your own.
- Penalties for search engines. You will only aggravate your situation and decrease your ranking if the site has already been banned.
- Negative reputation. When choosing a dropped domain, you should pay attention to a domain's reputation. Otherwise, such a "helper" can drag your business to the bottom of search engine results.
- Search engines can cancel the purchased dropped domain's entire history after registration with the new owner.
Moreover, many sites from the top are using the strategy of sticking the dropped domains to their web resource, which indicates the effectiveness of this method of building up a backlink profile in the analyzed sector.
- Check and get relevant backlinks from trustful websites;
- Identify low-quality backlinks that can lead to search engine penalties;
- Check the websites linked to your competitors' websites and assess the quality of their backlink profiles;
- Learn and track where your backlinks are coming from;
- Find your competitors' most valuable backlinks and study their backlink profiles to identify patterns and link-building opportunities.
- Analyze competitors by any 5 out of our 230 Google databases and 18 metrics simultaneously. You can include visibility, traffic, keywords in SEO/PPC, inbound and outbound links and referring domains, site authority (SDR), etc.;
- Check the types of backlinks as your competitive benchmarking;
- Select trustworthy websites as backlinks sources;
- Analyze the SEO metrics of the competitive domains.
Because we focus heavily on creating high-quality content, links from other trustworthy and authoritative sites come naturally.
Yes, we do rely on doing relevant content and digital PR campaigns to get backlinks. We also outreach to relevant websites that are related to our core business and see if we can collaborate with them by sharing our experience with their audience. Apart from this, we do participate in HARO, doing original research and reports and pitching them to different publishers if they are interested in covering the story.
Our specialists will contact you to guide. This on-boarding may include a personal demonstration, a trial period, comprehensive training articles, webinar recordings, and custom advice from a Serpstat specialist.
Contextual advertising, or PPC, is a way to quickly attract the targeted audience to the site. Unlike search engine optimization, PPC has an immediate but short-term effect and requires payment for each visit to the website.
Promoting without advertising in a rapidly developing market with high competition becomes challenging. Therefore, many market players are willing to pay for clicks that bring clients to the site.
We analyzed the top 100 search results for a dozen of keywords and concluded that representatives of the education industry are not so actively using PPC:
Using paid search results, we checked the level of competition for keywords that representatives use.
Competition shows how difficult it would be to rank well for this keyword. In general, the more domains using this keyword in their ad campaigns, the higher the level of competition is.
Our educational partners receive free access to Serpstat data and more than 30 tools for teachers and students. You will work with a manager to prepare the course and receive materials including essential blog articles, Serpstat Academy, Knowledge Base issues for your tasks, and a video library.
As technology advances, large businesses must study various technological tools' roles in promoting more effective social interaction and the growth of an interested community: social networks and virtual reality environments.
Here's a quick checklist to summarize:
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