The first page of Google is a valuable place for college and university websites seeing that 75% of searchers do not click past the first page. Prospective students in the admissions funnel are researching which colleges or universities fit their unique criteria, and ultimately where they will spend the next 4 years of their life. If your institution is not listed on the first pages of Google, these prospective students likely don’t know the institution, or programs exist.
Do I Need an SEO Strategy?
The simple answer is yes; as long as you have a domain on the internet, you should be optimizing it for search engines. You want your site to be discoverable to as many prospective students throughout the admissions funnel as possible, this not only builds a reputation as a respected institution but increases the amount of traffic and engagement within a website. You want your college or university to appear on the first page of Google when a prospective student types in a search query, reaching them early in their decision-making process.
SEO for educational institutions is a constant work in progress and requires dedicated time and consistent effort to improve and maintain a favorable ranking.
Here are a few reasons why a Higher education institution would be interested in an SEO campaign:
- The college or university is early stages of a website redesign or is planning a website redesign – learn more
- The college or university has experienced a decrease in applicants
- The marketing team has noticed a decrease in website engagement
- The marketing team has noticed a decrease in organic traffic
- Schools and departments are trying to grow awareness for a program or course
- The college or university’s domain has decreased in Google Ranking for location-related queries
- The college or university is in the process of rebranding
- The college or university’s reputation has been damaged
The Outcomes of Higher Education SEO
Higher education SEO results will not be visible overnight and require consistent attention and thoughtful analysis. With patience and effective strategies in place, a college or university can experience:
- An increase in quality applicants: When your website is more discoverable to search engines, you not only have an increase in traffic but have an increase in quality traffic. With other marketing strategies working together as a cohesive system, increased traffic translates to an increase in applicants. When your traffic quality increases, the quality of applicants also increases.
- An increase in traffic to specific programs or courses: Targeting specific pages, or subsites is common among Higher education SEO strategies. Increasing the Google ranking of a program or course will ultimately build awareness, and increase the traffic and engagement to these domains and prefixes – learn more.
- An increase in brand awareness: Prospective students that are in the early stages of their decision-making process likely have between 4-12 schools on their list. By increasing your college or university’s domain ranking on Google, you are increasing the visibility of your brand, increasing the chances of it being discoverable to a wider audience.
ERI’s SEO Strategy
With search engine optimization, there is no golden formula or key to success. There is a lot of planning and strategizing, and no marketer can read Google’s mind. Our strategies have proven to be a success, and we practice what we preach here at ERI.
Here are just a few of the strategies that we think about in a Higher Education SEO campaign:
- Competitive Analysis: Your competitors are your biggest insight into your industry, and they are likely already looking at you and your digital marketing strategies. We begin all Higher Education SEO projects by analyzing your competitors, including the ones you are aware of and might not be aware of. We use these findings to build benchmarks to develop an SEO strategy.
- Keyword Analysis: The queries that prospective students are using early in their decision-making process are SEO gold. Through rigorous research, we analyze keywords to understand user intent and build an SEO strategy that caters to your audience and is competitive in today’s digital environment.
- Content Strategy: We then develop a content strategy and content calendar that provides consistent and thoughtful updates to remain relevant and competitive. We are constantly researching user trends so that as they evolve, our content strategy does too.
- Local Optimization: Google’s algorithm is sensitive to geolocation-based search and local search strategies should reflect this. We are firm believers that any relevant search query that contains “near me” should reveal your college or university’s website. Local prospective students are in an entirely different audience, and schools that are not optimizing for this user base are missing out on opportunities to optimize and increase traffic.
Let’s get started on your higher education SEO campaign!
College and university websites are often the first exposure to an institution’s brand. SEO campaigns help drive brand awareness and make websites more discoverable on Google. You’ve worked hard on your website’s content. Let us help you make sure it is appearing where it should be.