You would imagine that two of the world’s most famous universities would not need to compete for Google rankings – after all, how many times have you met someone who needed to search for one to know what it was?
The Boat Race is the most obvious instance of Oxford-Cambridge rivalry, but both cities are synonymous with punting (from different ends of the boat) as well as world-famous hospitals, publishers and universities.
One SEO expert based in Cambridge has worked out, however, that the rivalry between the two UK cities extends in new ways online.
In what Andrew Cock-Starkey, founder of networking and learning group Optimisey, called an SEO showdown,
he discovered that the dreaming spires of Oxford were better optimised than Cambridge.
Scoring both cities across seven match-ups between similar institutions, Cock-Starkey awarded points for SEO basics, page speed and number of backlinks.
Though the two universities tied, Oxford’s football team – Oxford United – pulled ahead of Cambridge’s – also United – thanks to a superior number of links (and, perhaps, league position).
Other measures included pitting Oxford rockers Radiohead against Cambridge stalwarts Pink Floyd, which the Oxford quintet comfortably won (rather than Comfortably Numb), as well as the two punting techniques, of which Cambridge’s was far better optimised.
In the end, Oxford came out on top in four of seven pairings, while Cambridge won two and one was tied.
Cock-Starkey said that although the project started out as a “fun idea”, it illustrated some interesting SEO takeaways for organisations around the country when it comes to showing how even small differences can make a world of difference to a search engine.
Poor metadata, messy page headings and slow mobile loading speeds were some of the most obvious mistakes made by Oxford and Cambridge’s institutions, he adds.
He advised: “Good SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. ‘SEO’ tends to conjure ideas of spotty nerds, on a laptop in the basement but – as this study shows – if you can just get the basics right you can elevate yourself above a lot of your competition.”