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Most colleges and universities have surrendered their rightful claims to keywords to lead aggregators, content/link farms, ranking/rating agencies and personal opinions. Why would colleges let this happen? I have heard many reasons: “It’s too hard”, “We tried it and we failed”, “We tried it and didn’t see any real results”, “We invested in it and didn’t see any impact on our enrollment”, “The game keeps changing”, “I didn’t know we could influence the rankings”, and so on.

So many colleges are putting their legacy and reputation at risk. If US News & World Report says that your college offers one of the best peace studies programs, and your college doesn’t appear on the first page of Google when someone types in “top peace studies programs”, the question is “do you really offer one of the best peace studies program?” If you don’t claim what’s rightfully yours, then others will claim it – and the truth is they are claiming it, commoditizing you and profiting from it.

If I were on the board of a college, I would recommend singling out the star programs and engaging in higher education SEO to ensure that the college gets ranked on the first page of Google for each star program. Anything short of that is unconscionable and irresponsible. Just like Harrison Ford in the movie “Air Force One”, I would tell the profiteers, obfuscators, and tarnishers of my college reputation: “Get off my plane”.

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