SEO Competitor Analysis: Oxford University Vs Cambridge University

Oxford Vs Cambridge University - scientist in a lab coat looks at clipboard while analysing a large looking glass that shows both Cambridge and Oxford boat clubs as well as graphs
Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 18

You hear about them in the same breath all the time; Oxford and Cambridge. Usually in reference to their rivalry. Whether in the famous annual boat race or on University Challenge.

The annual rowing competition between the Cambridge University Boat Club and the Oxford University Boat Club started in 1829.

Perhaps one of the greatest university rivalries of all time.

But this is actually an offshoot of a much older historic rivalry between the two adversaries. In fact, it’s one that dates back more than 800 years to the 12th century!

In terms of education, this is how Oxford University and Cambridge University rank today. Taken from the QS World University Rankings Top 10 Universities 2021:

OXFORD UNI

  • Ranked fifth in the world
  • Ranked third in the world by academics and employers
  • Eighth in the world for faculty/student ratio
  • 44th for research impact (citations per faculty member)
  • 80th for percentage of international faculty members, and 55th for international students

CAMBRIDGE UNI

  • Ranked seventh in the world
  • Ranked second in the world by academics and employers
  • 12th in the world for faculty/student ratio
  • 85th for research impact (citations per faculty member)
  • 54th for percentage of international faculty members and 63rd for international students

However, in case you are curious, the QS World University Rankings Top University 2021 is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

For our latest report, we are going to study this famous rivalry from an SEO point of view.

So let’s meet our SEO competitors…

The SEO Competitors

OXFORD UNI

Oxford University is located in Oxford, a city in central southern England.

Oxford University was established in the 12th century.

Website Domain was registered in September 2003.

Visit The Website: ox.ac.uk

CAMBRIDGE UNI

Cambridge University is located in Cambridge, a city on the River Cam in eastern England, home to the prestigious.

The University of Cambridge dates back to 1209.

Website Domain was registered in September 2003.

Visit The Website: cam.ac.uk

In the blue corner we have Oxford University and in the red, is Cambridge University!

So far we can see that both universities were established in the 12th century. However, interestingly, both their website domains were registered in the same month and year; September 2003.

But hold onto your hats….

Bizarrely they were both registered on the same day, of the same month, of the same year. Specifically, Wednesday 17 September 2003!

So this will level the playing field in terms of analysing their websites.

Okay, preliminaries completed. So let’s kick off this report with an analysis of each university’s competing domains.

These will include other websites that rank in the top 10 results for the same keywords.

We expected that they would be in each other’s list of top competing domains. But actually, this is not the case.

Check this out…

Top Competing Domains

Oxford University’s Top Competing Domains Based on Number of Common Keywords

DOMAIN

birmingham.ac.uk

bristol.ac.uk

qmul.ac.uk

theuniguide.co.uk

brookes.ac.uk

NUMBER OF COMMON KEYWORDS

15,636

15,476

11,517

10,056

9,915

Note: Cambridge Uni does not appear in Oxford Uni’s top 50 competing domains

Cambridge University’s Top Competing Domains Based on Number of Common Keywords

DOMAIN

manchester.ac.uk

cambridge-news.co.uk

liverpool.ac.uk

cambridgeindependent.co.uk

aru.ac.uk

NUMBER OF COMMON KEYWORDS

3,814

2,622

1,528

1,490

1,280

Note: Oxford Uni does not appear in Oxford Uni’s top 50 competing domains

Hmmm…

So, boat races and top university statuses aside, Oxford and Cambridge are not really SEO rivals.

Oxford Uni’s top SEO competitor (based on common keywords) is actually Birmingham University. And Cambridge Uni’s top SEO competitor (based on common keywords) is Manchester University.

What do you think is the most important top keyword that Oxford Uni and Birmingham Uni are competing for?

It’s the keyword “ucas” which has an estimated 621,000 monthly searches.

And…what do you think is the most important top keyword that Cambridge Uni and Manchester Uni are competing for?

It’s the keyword “University” which has an estimated 31,000 monthly searches.

Fun fact: “university” isn’t actually the top keyword that Cambridge Uni and Manchester Uni are competing for.

Overall, the top keyword is actually “www”. Which has an estimated 307,000 monthly searches.

In fact, their top 8 competing keywords are:

  1. www
  2. l
  3. of
  4. u
  5. www.
  6. de
  7. kingdom
  8. democracy

Yeah! That confused the hell out of us as well.

On top of that, both Cambridge Uni and Manchester Uni rank terribly for these keywords:

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 17

Moving on, we’ll now take a look at their overall domains.

Domain Overview

OXFORD UNI

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 16

CAMBRIDGE UNI

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 15

Both universities have very similar domain overviews. With domain ratings that most online businesses can only dream of.

But, Cambridge Uni has almost four times the amount of backlinks (15) from fewer referring domains.

Of course, we’ll dig into the quality of those backlinks in a bit. But next up we will examine each Universities linking metrics:

Linking Metrics

OXFORD UNI

Crawled Pages                                 11,941

Ranking Pages                        7,362 (62%)

Referring Domains                          50,043

Total Backlinks                           5,386,977

Dofollow Backlinks         5,190,074 (89%)

CAMBRIDGE UNI

Crawled Pages                                 13,828

Ranking  Pages                       4,867 (35%)

Referring Domains                          42,960

Total Backlinks                         15,304,227

Dofollow Backlinks      14,936,357 (98%)

First, we discovered that Cambridge Uni has a slightly larger website than Oxford Uni.

However, Oxford Uni has a higher percentage of pages that bring traffic to their websites (62% versus 35% Cambridge Uni).

As we saw earlier, Cambridge Uni has almost four times the number of backlinks (15,304,227 backlinks). This is compared to Oxford Uni’s 5,386,977 backlinks.

But Cambridge Uni also has the most number of ‘dofollow’ backlinks (98%).

Referring Domains and Referring Pages

OXFORD UNI

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 14

March 2013

22,088 Referring Domains

1,174,840 Referring Pages

November 2020

50,043 Referring Domains

2,791,143 Referring Pages

% Change Mar 2013 – Nov 2020

Referring Domains   126% Increase

Referring Pages         138% Increase

CAMBRIDGE UNI

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 13

March 2013

22,039 Referring Domains

746,273 Referring Pages

November 2020

42,960 Referring Domains

2,796,469 Referring Pages

% Change Mar 2013 – Nov 2020

Referring Domains     94% Increase

Referring Pages        274% Increase

Both universities have had similar growth in referring domains since March 2013. That is, the total number of unique domains linking to their websites.

However, Oxford Uni wins for the most pronounced growth. With a 126% increase between March 2013 and November 2020. From 22,088 referring domains to 50,043 referring domains.

And the similarities continue when we look at their referring pages since March 2013.

But Cambridge Uni owns the referring pages crown.

Not only do Cambridge Uni currently have the most referring pages (2,796,469). But they also experienced the greatest growth in referring pages between March 2013 and November 2020.

That’s a 274% increase versus Oxford Uni’s 138% increase.

Organic Traffic

Let’s take a look at traffic growth for both universities since May 2015.

OXFORD UNI

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 12

May 2015

5,131 Visits

November 2020

1,894,290 Visits

% Change Mar 2013 – Nov 2020

36,818% Increase

CAMBRIDGE UNI

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 11

May 2015

2,855 Visits

November 2020

3,639,499 Visits

% Change Mar 2013 – Nov 2020

127,378% Increase

Even though Oxford University had double the amount of traffic in May 2015. It seems that Cambridge University has enjoyed almost four times the amount of growth.

For instance, in November 2020, Cambridge University’s website received 3,639,499 Visits versus Oxford University’s 1,894,290 Visits.

Organic Keywords

Next, we will examine the number of keywords that each university ranks for in the top 100 organic search results.

We will focus on the number of keywords that rank in position 1-3 and in positions 4-10.

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 10

OXFORD UNI

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 9

May 2015

169 Keywords in positions 1 to 3

231 Keywords in positions 4 to 10

Total of 400 Keywords in top 10

November 2020

55,051 Keywords in positions 1 to 3

91,007 Keywords in positions 4 to 10

Total of 146,058 Keywords in top 10

% Change Mar 2013 – Nov 2020

Positions 1 -3: 32,474% Increase

Positions 4 -10: 39,296% Increase

Top 10 Keywords: 36,413% Increase

CAMBRIDGE UNI

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 8

May 2015

77 Keywords in positions 1 to 3

248 Keywords in positions 4 to 10

Total of 325 Keywords in top 10

November 2020

50,164 Keywords in positions 1 to 3

83,960 Keywords in positions 4 to 10

Total of 134,124 Keywords in top 10

% Change Mar 2013 – Nov 2020

Positions 1 -3: 65,048% Increase

Positions 4 -10: 33,754% Increase

Top 10 Keywords: 41,334% Increase

Once again, the overall “shape” of keyword growth is pretty similar between the two universities. However, when we take a closer look at the data, Oxford University once again outperforms Cambridge University.

Of course, this is completely inline with the traffic growth we saw earlier.

In May 2015, Oxford Uni had 169 keywords in the top 3 ranking positions versus Cambridge Uni’s 77.

However, by November 2020, Oxford Uni had increased their top 3 keywords by 32,474% to 55,051 keywords!

Despite this, Cambridge University managed to pip Oxford University to the post with 1,149 more top 3 keywords.

Top Pages

We took a look at the top pages for each university based on their monthly organic search traffic.

Oxford University Top Pages

URL TRAFFIC KEYWORDS TOP KEYWORD VOLUME POSITION
ox.ac.uk 64,206 1,856 oxford university 60K 1
login.canvas.ox.ac.uk 26,850 62 canvas 218K 1
ox.ac.uk/students/life/it/email 25,175 662 oxford nexus 6.3K 1
canvas.ox.ac.uk 24,459 62 canvas 218K 2
law.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxlaw/oscola_4th_edn_hart_2012.pdf 21,395 407 oscola 11K 1

Oxford University’s first five top pages account for 162,085 website visits. In other words, 0.08% of total website traffic.

Cambridge University Top Pages

URL TRAFFIC KEYWORDS TOP KEYWORD VOLUME POSITION
cam.ac.uk 63,956 5,627 cambridge university 47K 1
webmail.hermes.cam.ac.uk 63,669 424 hermes webmail 51K 1
talks.cam.ac.uk/show/index/123424 50,005 182 fmovies 352K 4
talks.cam.ac.uk/show/index/123421 36,600 703 123 movies 510K 7
talks.cam.ac.uk/show/index/123433 33,879 108 go movies 124K 3

Cambridge University’s first five top pages account for 248,109 website visits. And that equates to 0.06% of total website traffic.

Naturally, as you may expect, the homepage brings in the most traffic for both universities.

However, Oxford University’s homepage attracts more visitors. With 64,206 versus 63,669 for Cambridge.

However, Cambridge Uni’s homepage ranks for more keywords. With 5,627 versus Oxford Uni’s 1,856)

In other words, Oxford Uni’s homepage attracts more traffic but with far less keywords.

Let’s take a closer look at keywords.

More specifically, we will analyse the Content Gap between the two Universities.

Content Gap

In this section of the report, we’ll uncover the keywords that one website ranks for but the other website doesn’t.

First, we will look at the keywords Cambridge Uni ranks for that Oxford doesn’t. And then, we will flip this to look at the keywords that Oxford ranks for but Cambridge doesn’t.

Oxford Vs Cambridge Content Gap

At the time of this report, there were 20,201 keywords that Cambridge ranked for that Oxford didn’t.

However, that is a lot of keywords to sort through. So, for each analysis we used the following criteria to filter the keywords.

As such, our keyword focus was on those that:

  • Had a CPC over $1
  • Had Keyword Difficulty less than 51
  • Ranked in positions 4 to 10
  • Had over 1000 monthly searches

This brought the number of keywords down to 78 keywords.

Below is a selection of these keywords.

Each has a high search volume and high CPC, which Cambridge rank poorly for.

This suggests opportunities for Oxford to capitalise on. Simply by creating content that targets the most suitable of these keywords.

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 7

We followed the same process for Cambridge University.

Cambridge Vs Oxford Content Gap

At the time of this report, there were 16,529 keywords that Oxford ranked for that Cambridge didn’t.

Again, we followed the same filtering process.

Our focus was solely on keywords that:

  • Had a CPC over $1
  • Had Keyword Difficulty less than 51
  • Ranked in positions 4 to 10
  • Had over 1000 monthly searches

And this brought the number of keywords down to 65 keywords.

Here is a selection of those keywords:

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 6

PPC Keywords

Next, we analysed all the keywords that each university ranks for in paid search results.

Oxford University PPC Keywords

In total, Oxford University ranked for 744 paid keywords in 39 countries.

The Top 4 Countries Based on Number of Paid Keywords Are:

Country N° of Paid Keywords % of Total Paid Keywords
UK 205 28%
Canada 128 18%
US 96 13%
Australia 85 11%

Here are top 10 keywords that bring in the most traffic:

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 5

Cambridge University PPC Keywords

Overall, Cambridge University ranked for 351 paid keywords in 38 countries.

The Top 4 Countries Based on Number of Paid Keywords Are:

Country N° of Paid Keywords % of Total Paid Keywords
UK 96 27%
Singapore 34 0.10%
India 29 0.08%
Australia 27 0.07%

Here are top 10 keywords that bring in the most traffic:

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 4

Top Landing Pages

Finally we looked at a report on the top landing pages. This shows us which pages of both Cambridge Uni and Oxford Uni receive the most paid search traffic.

OXFORD UNI TOP LANDING PAGE

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 3

Visit The Landing Page

This landing page ranks for 15 keywords in paid search results and it is associated with 13 different ads.

CAMBRIDGE UNI TOP LANDING PAGE

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University 2

Visit The Landing Page

This landing page ranks for 12 keywords in paid search results and it is associated with 11 different ads.

Conclusion

The very first boat race between the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge

University Boat Club took place on 10 June 1829.

Oxford won the race.

And, the last race took place on 7 April 2019.

Cambridge won that race.

In fact, Cambridge have won 51% of the races.

Seo competitor analysis murray dare marketing consultancy Oxford Vs Cambridge University

And when it comes to SEO, Cambridge also just edges ahead of Oxford.

In this report, Cambridge and Oxford competed in 12 SEO areas:

  1. Domain Rating
  2. Ranking Pages
  3. Dofollow Backlinks
  4. Referring Domains
  5. Referring Pages
  6. Organic Traffic
  7. Top 3 Organic Keywords
  8. Organic Keywords in Positions 4 to 10
  9. Top Pages
  10. Content Gap
  11. PPC Keywords
  12. Top Landing Page

Overall, here are all the results based on performance statistics in November 2020:

  🏆 WINNER 🏆
Domain Rating TIED

Both Uni’s have a domain rating of 91

Ranking Pages OXFORD

Oxford Uni had the highest number of pages ranking in Google’s Top 100 search results

●        Oxford had ranking 7,362 pages

●        Cambridge had ranking 4,867 pages

Dofollow Backlinks CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge Uni had the highest number of dofollow backlinks

●        Cambridge had 14,936,357 dofollow backlinks

●        Oxford had 5,190,074 dofollow backlinks

Referring Domains style=”color: #d01111 !important; font-size: 20px;”OXFORD

Oxford had the highest number of referring domains

●        Oxford had 50,043 referring domains

●        Cambridge had 42,960 referring domains

Referring Pages style=”color: #d01111 !important; font-size: 20px;”CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge had the highest number of referring pages

●        Cambridge had 2,796,469 referring pages

●        Oxford had 2,791,143 referring domains

Organic Traffic CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge Uni had the most traffic

●        Cambridge had 3,639,499 website visits

●        Oxford had 1,894,290 website visits

Top 3 Organic Keywords CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge Uni had the highest number of top3 organic keywords

●        Cambridge had 50,164 top 3 keywords

●        Oxford had 55,051 top 3 keywords

Organic Keywords in Positions 4 to 10 OXFORD

Oxford had the highest number of organic keywords in positions 4-10

●        Oxford had 50,164 keywords in positions 4 to 10

●        Cambridge had 83,960 in positions 4 to 10

Top Pages CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge Uni’s first five top pages account for the most amount of traffic

●        Cambridge’s top pages accounted for 248,109 website visits (0.06% of total website traffic)

●        Oxford’s top pages accounted for 162,085 website visits (0.08% of total website traffic)

Content Gap CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge had the smallest content gap

●        There were 16,529 keywords that Oxford ranked for, that Cambridge didn’t

●        There were 20,201 keywords that Cambridge ranked for that Oxford didn’t

PPC Keywords OXFORD

Oxford University ranked for the most paid keywords

●        Oxford ranked for 744 paid keywords

●        Cambridge ranked for 351 paid keywords

Top Landing Page CAMBRIDGE

Unfortunately, we didn’t have access to any landing page conversion rate data

However, from a purely visual POV, Cambridge’s top landing page is definitely the more compelling landing page

And the overall winner is Cambridge!

The Cambridge University website outperforms Oxford University’s website in 8 out of 12 SEO areas.

Congratulations!

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    About Murray Dare

    Murray Dare is a Marketing Consultant, Strategist and Director at Dare Media. Murray helps UK businesses find better ways to connect with their audiences through targeted content marketing strategies. Please follow Murray on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


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