London South Bank University
Established in 1892, London South Bank University (LSBU) is one of London's largest and oldest universities with over 18,000 students drawn from over 130 countries.
Was it possible for LSBU to reach the top twenty universities in the United Kingdom? The small web team – they were only three at the time – was determined to find out.
Their first step to improving their ranking was to redevelop the website with a student-first approach and hit two specific targets: increase site visits to 40,000 per month and increase student applications by 8%.
The primary goal for the LSBU is to increase the number of student applications across faculties. “We are part of the marketing department, so it makes sense,” explains Maksims Popcovs, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at LSBU.
Most Universities favor some sort of slider on their homepage to display the latest news or recent announcements. But not LSBU. Instead, they took a different approach and chose to promote their course finder tool above the fold to fulfill this objective.
And it has paid off.
“We’ve done some investigation, but I feel like carousels are probably dying,” explains Maksims. “Not everyone wants to sit and slide through the content. We already have a search bar at the top, but that’s for the website. Above the fold, the homepage is mainly for finding courses, so you can dive in straight away and see what courses are available.”
What has been the lift in enrolment since Maksims implemented the search bar on the LSBU homepage?
When it comes to contributing and approving content, LSBU is no different from other universities. While the marketing department is typically the “first line of defense” for everything that goes onto the website, many other contributors are involved in the process.
At LSBU, those contributors include student ambassadors, faculties, professors, researchers, and general admin staff. Such volume and diversity of contributors require a custom approval process, depending on the contributor and type of content, to avoid any bottleneck.
All new content goes to an inbox shared between the marketing team and the brand team, depending on the type of request.
For more specialized content (research, blog, news, stories, International etc), each type has its own approval workflow, relying on a different group of people each time.
SEO is a non-negligible traffic contributor to LSBU’s website. The marketing team is working hard to maximize its exposure on Google, leveraging its CMS and search engine to do the hard work for them.
“When it comes to SEO, we’re trying to get titles to reflect better what users are looking for on our website,” says Maksims. “It’s not always easy, as some course titles are already set, but for others, we are trying to be more descriptive and closer to users’ inquiries.”
To do so, Maksims and his team analyze not only what keywords bring visitors to their website as shown in their Google Search Console, but also what visitors search for in their own search bar.
“It’s just a lot of work - we have more than 3,500 pages to consider. Therefore, we tend to cater in priority to new courses.”
The website makeover was a complete success. Not only did LSBU surpass its initial target of 40,000 visits per month, but it also saw a 13% increase in application submissions, easily beating the target of 8%.
After the launch, LSBU’s new website reached 60th in the Sitemorse ranking, a result the team was very proud of.