With over 80,000 courses on Udemy, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to make sure your online course gets noticed.  In this article, we provide a simple guide to the two key things Teachinguide has found you should focus on when trying to improve your course position in Udemy’s search engine.

These are the two important rankings within Udemy:

  1. Subcategory Ranking
  2. Keyword-Ranking

Subcategory Ranking

The sub-category ranking for a course is seen when a user uses the Udemy menu to select a category and then a subcategory. This ranking is not as important as the keyword-ranking.  It is solely based on the amount of reviews a course gets.   You can easily see this when using Teachinguide’s course database and sorting by rank within a subcategory (see image below). The rankings match the number of reviews.

Teachinguide Udemy course analysis


The conclusion: there is no other way to rank high for a subcategory except to get more reviews.

Keyword Ranking

Most people search for a course by entering keywords into the Udemy search engine. They then decide on a course based on the results they are presented with and their decision criteria. To rank high for important Udemy keywords is therefore the number 1 objective for almost any Udemy instructor who wants to make money.

Like the ever-evolving Google search engine, the exact mechanics of Udemy course rankings are only known to Udemy.  Teachinguide specializes in data analytics for the online course industry. We therefore have a genuine interest in the inner workings of Udemy’s search engine.

So, we have taken the publicly available course listings data and analyzed it.   As a result, we have a derived a deeper understanding of what the importance of various ranking factors are and how you should try to optimize them.

So How Does the Udemy Ranking Work?

To understand how the ranking in Udemy works we analyzed current ranking data for a few thousand keywords.

To identify the most important factors in ranking we compared the Top #1 ranking course with the rest of the courses on the first two result pages.

We asked, “What are the most important variables to consider differentiating the two groups in each scenario?”  We derived two results from that analysis.

1. Top 1 Rank – Differentiating Factors

The following factors of a Number 1 course  for a subcategory were compared to the peer courses ranking for the same keyword on the first two result pages.

  1. Total Amount of Reviews – As expected from the sub category Ranking.
  2. Keyword Usage in the Title – When we search for a keyword, we expect it to be in the title
  3. Keyword Usage in the sub-Title – Some keywords are not found in the title, but are in some subtitles.
  4. Number of students enrolled – “Social proof” of course popularity
  5. Rating – The indicator on course quality.
  6. Course Duration – The length of the course counts last. The more minutes you can get your students to watch (within reason), the higher your rankings.

6 factors that affect Udemy ranking

These are the 6 most important ranking factors used to determine a top 1 ranking Udemy course. And it makes sense. These factors are the most visible aspects on the search results-page and will be therefore considered by the searcher as being most relevant.

What about engagement?  This is often mentioned as a key to ranking high on Udemy.  You might be surprised that engagement in itself, the overall amount of students, nor the course rating are the most critical factors.

Rather, it is the combination of amount of reviews (current and overall) AND the usage of keywords that determines rank. If this combination is optimized, then Teachinguide’s interpretation is that:

  1. Finding the keywords you are looking for as a student brings initial relevancy
  2. It builds trust if the amount of reviews compared to other course listings is very high

2. Your Two Fold-Strategy to Ranking High

So when trying to rank high on Udemy, to improve course sales your strategy must be twofold:

1. Decide on the right topics and keywords you can compete with and that can optimize for

This means you should validate Udemy demand for this keyword as well as look at the competition in terms of the factors we mentioned above and have those important keywords in right amounts in your title and subtitle.

Teachinguide’s analytical service of course considers this – the keyword analytics tool helps you to see which keywords are easy to cover with reviews or keyword usage.

If you want your new course on content marketing, give a chance to rank high soon. You should probably not focus on the main keyword “content marketing”, but keywords with less reviews for the highest ranking keyword. “Content strategy” could be such keyword as seen below.

2.  Make sure you get plenty of reviews (the rating is secondary it seems, but indirectly related)

Course reviews, although secondary to keywords, are indirectly related to ranking.  There are strategies for getting more and better reviews of course.  This includes providing a high quality and highly engaging course.

You should also ask students to leave reviews in your course Welcome message and try to reply with a thank you message for as many reviews as you can. You will therefore want to make sure to use these and other best practices for engaging and getting reviews from your students.

As the image below shows, both key steps in your course ranking strategy are areas where the Teachinguide Service assists you!

Becoming Number 1

At Teachinguide we’ve determined what’s important and what’s most important to focus on to get your course ranked higher in Udemy search results for its sub-category.  But what are the concrete things you must do to achieve and conquer the top spot rank for a keyword!?

We’ve got some ideas for you.  To summarize, the following statistics are what you must focus on and your course must achieve in relation to all other courses ranking for the same keyword.

  1. Choose keywords that have good Udemy search traffic, but where the 1st ranking course does not have an overabundance of reviews.
  2. Do what it takes to get many, many reviews and rank at least 75th percentile of courses with the most reviews
  3. Make sure the most important keyword is in your title.
  4. Make sure the most important keyword is also in your subtitle and also on your course landing page.

Of course, if you make mistakes such as overpricing your course or creating low quality and non-engaging content, these tactics will be done in vain.  However, if you take you create an amazing course with great value, you can follow these guidelines and start watching your course climb up the Udemy ranks!

Finally, if you have any questions about how to use Teachinguide services to increase your course rankings, please reach out to us at:  hello@teachinguide.com.  We’d be more than happy to guide you through Teachinguide’s analytics and answer your questions.

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