Whether your school holds institution-wide accreditations or specialized, discipline-specific accreditations, such as AACSB Business and/or Accounting Accreditation, clearly communicating your school's quality achievements can further build your brand image online. For example, according to AACSB research, one of the benefits of AACSB Accreditation is that it has a positive effect on a business school's external image (97% of surveyed respondents). The question is where are the best places to integrate your accreditations into your website so that visitors can easily determine your school's level of achievement and locate additional information?
In order to further explore this question, we analyzed our website analytical data to determine which schools were driving the most visitors to AACSB's value of accreditation website (located at: www.aacsb.edu/aacsb-accredited). Perhaps, schools with the most referrals are placing their accreditation information and links to the value of accreditation site in locations that are allowing for easy access by visitors. According to our website data, between January 2011 and January 2012 the same schools consistently registered on the top-ten list of referring traffic sources. There also were several schools that appeared on the top-referral list once or twice throughout the year, which were newly accredited institutions that had placed information about the achievement of their AACSB Accreditation prominently on their homepages.
We visited each of the top-ten referral websites to better understand how these schools were successfully driving traffic to the AACSB Accreditation site. From what we observed, there are a variety of methods that schools are using to promote their quality online through the achievement of AACSB Accreditation, which all are seemingly successful. Here are several of the top referring sites and how they promoted their accreditation achievements.
CENTRUM—Consistent Number One Referring School Website
San Jose State University's College of Business
University of Houston—Victoria, School of Business Administration
University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business
SUNY (State University of New York) Geneseo, School of Business
The remaining five schools that were on the top-ten referral list included:
• The University of Montevallo's Stephens College of Business displays the AACSB Accreditation seal and a link to the AACSB student website, BestBizSchools.com, on its homepage.
• Florida Gulf Coast University's Lutgert College of Business prominently places the AACSB Accreditation seal on its homepage, as well as on an accreditation page that is easily accessible.
• The Rouen Business School displays all three of its specialized business accreditations on the top of its website.
• The University of San Diego's Rady School of Management earned its AACSB Accreditation in late 2011 and promoted the achievement widely.
• Pforzheim University's Business School also recently earned AACSB Accreditation, proudly displays its achievement in a homepage flash presentation.
As you can see, many schools are very creative in how they integrate information about their accreditations into their websites. Regardless of the level of creativity, it is important that it is not too difficult for your stakeholders to determine who you are accredited by. This is particularly important with regard to the prospective student audience. For example, the most viewed page on AACSB's value of accreditation website is the student page. With more than 13,000 (nearly 14,000) business programs worldwide, students are becoming increasingly savvy about accreditation. And now that most all schools claim to be accredited by one entity or another, prospective students are learning what accreditation means and which types to look for—especially when they visit school websites.
Value of Accreditation Website Redesigned
For more information on this article, as well as other AACSB web properties and the value of accreditation initiative, contact: