University subjects – A user approach to displaying courses. Driven by SEO research.

Most universities have hundreds of courses across a range of subjects, taught by a handful of schools or colleges. 

And their websites are often structured in a reverse order. Starting with the School or College and creating all of the subjects they teach as subpages.

Which is all great, except if you’re a potential student trying to learn about a subject and it’s not listed under the school or college you thought it would be. You’ve then had a bad experience.

It’s all too common. 

Companies love to structure their websites to match the internal structure of their business. It’s easier that way. Simpler to divide the work and plan a site map, especially in an Enterprise business with thousands of employees and thousands of webpages.

But, does that structure match the user’s journey? 

Not often.

University subject page project

I’ve been working a contract at the University of Huddersfield as their SEO Officer. First off the views and comments in this article are all my own and not necessarily the views of the University.

I’m apart of the Digital Content Team who take a user first approach. And that means thinking about the people visiting the University’s website and how our content can help them complete the task they came to do. 

This also fits nicely with my own beliefs and mindset which I’ve previously outlined in my core principle of SEO. So it’s great to work with like minded people.

One of the first big projects I’ve worked on is a number of web pages about the University’s subjects. 

Here’s what I’ve done on this project

  • Produced keyword research for each subject 
  • Overlaid keyword research onto user journey maps.
  • Created proposals for the site structure. Including options for hard or soft silos. We chose soft silos in the end.
  • Identified extra articles to create for a couple of the subject areas as an experiment (see section below)

Examples of the university subject pages 

I’ll share links to a couple of the pages I’ve worked on the closest. These are subjects where I’ve worked with the marketing team and academics to create extra articles for the subject.

The first is Criminology and Policing

Next up is Music Technology, specifically we wanted to focus on Sound and Audio engineering. The reason being is that there isn’t a dedicated page for sound engineering because it comes under the Music Technology subject. 

The Drum Sample page has also been moved to the Music Technology subject area.


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