How Oxford Summer Courses Use Classic SEO to Reach 28,000 Monthly Visitors

In this Growth Through Content case study, I’ll be examining the website of Oxford Summer Courses.

We’ll be looking at their explosive growth that has seen them reach 28,000 monthly organic visitors in a short period of time.

You’ll learn:

  • How they used classic SEO content techniques to grow so quickly.
  • How a few great posts can rapidly grow your traffic.
  • And how you can do the same.

Let’s dive in.

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What is Oxford Summer Courses?

Named as one of the Financial Times top 1000 growing businesses, Oxford Summer Courses is generating over £9 million in revenue.

Created when two friends wanted to share their Oxford experience with others, the business runs courses in both Oxford and Cambridge that combine education and a holiday in some of Britain’s most well-known educational cities.

What Does Their Growth Look Like?

As you can see, Oxford Summer Courses has almost quadrupled their organic traffic in 2021 alone, yet when we look at their SEO metrics we can see that they truly aren’t a heavy hitter.

With a DR of 33 and a UR of 44, and with just 7000 backlinks from 520 referring domains, this isn’t anything a serious SEO specialist couldn’t replicate.

But if I’m honest, you just couldn’t, or I should say, you wouldn’t.

This is one of those business models that are so unique, you wouldn’t target their keywords or approach unless you too were operating summer courses in Oxford or Cambridge.

The good news. As you’ll see in the next section, they are just using classic SEO techniques to grow online and yes, you can do this for your niche, and I’ll explain how.

How They Are Growing Their Search Traffic

When you examine Oxford Summer Courses, you’ll see that about half of their organic traffic growth is down to just a handful of pages.

This isn’t uncommon in SEO but given their current tactics, I can see that they will quickly grow even more pages.

But it's worth noting because I see so many businesses struggle to generate decent traffic levels, a handful of posts can change the game for you.

Of course, traffic vanity is not something you should chase.

But as we'll see, the classic SEO methods used by this site tend to reveal great ways to grow. 

So what are they doing?

Take a look at their biggest page.

This page on creative writing is generating good traffic.

This page and the other examples of what we see are what I refer to as classic SEO.

This is the core type of search queries that tend to do well in any niche.

Such as . 

'What is...'

'Best...'

And 'How to' style content.

Sites that focus on these types of posts can quickly generate traffic that is relevant for their niche/ customers.

Take this page as an example.

‘How to stay focused while studying’ is doing well by generating over 5000 visitors a month according to Ahrefs.

And this next page is an example of a ‘best’ style post.

This ‘10 best apps for students in 2021’ is another one doing well.

This is good and classic SEO. 

By focusing on their ideal customers and creating content that actually helps them, they are promoting their business and also generating traffic.

So how can you use these tactics?

We’ll cover this next.

How to Focus on Your User to Grow Traffic


When it comes to growing traffic, the best ways are often the easiest.

To do this you need to make a list of all the questions your target audience asks on search engines.

A good tool to do this is Answer The Public.

Let’s look at the subject of ‘University’.

Answer The Public lists hundreds of questions and variations in seconds that you can download into a spreadsheet.

And now, using your own subject expertise, it’s a case of working your way through them and creating the answers on your website.

Yes, this is hard work and of course, you could take this data and put it into a search tool to tackle those that have the highest search traffic.

But I personally wouldn’t advise this.

Instead, work on a likely conversion basis and go backwards.

To do this, look at the questions and consider if your target customers need this answer.

Usually this will be a pain point for the customer. 

Some pain points can be life goals, or life challenges such as trying to find the right University.

Or even the right books or courses.

Take this article on Universities like Hogwarts.

While this might seem like a low traffic page, it actually ranks for some great keywords.

Like ‘colleges that look like Hogwarts’, which has a cost per click of $2.50.

My advice to anyone is to think business before traffic.

Sure there are going to be search queries that generate traffic in the truckload, but many of these won’t convert well.

In the case of Oxford Summer Courses, the ideal customer is someone looking for an educational adventure, and an almost romantic educational experience.

So don’t just go after big search traffic if it doesn’t make sense.


Final Thoughts


Answering questions is one of the best ways to grow online and traditional SEO tactics that follow the ‘best, how to and what is’ style queries tend to do well in any niche.

So head over to Answer The Public and dive in.

Thanks for reading and make sure you subscribe to get a new case study each week.

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Click the button below and sign up to the Growth Through Content Newsletter.

Each Thursday I'll send you a new content marketing or SEO case study directly to your inbox.

posted October 28, 2021

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