Optimizing Away Summer Melt: How Search Engine Optimization May Reduce Summer Melt at Highly-Ranked U.S. Institutions of Higher Education
This study sought to understand the relationship between undergraduate yield and an institution’s Internet presence. Data were collected from 2018 U.S. News & World Report national university rankings, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Database (IPEDS), and summer 2018 (June-August) SEMrush data, a web metrics database housing institutional (.edu) search and traffic information. Results demonstrate, when controlling for institutional characteristics, organic keywords/search-engine optimization (p < 0.001) predicts undergraduate yield as well as overall number of undergraduate applications (p < 0.001) and better than undergraduate admission rate (p < 0.05). Implications for research and practice are addressed, in addition to implications for theory regarding online academic capitalism and summer melt.
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