At the end of the day, higher education is a business. The more students that enroll in your school, the more revenue you’ll generate. However, in order to get more eyes on your school, college or university, you need search engine presence.
This is where Higher Education SEO comes in.
Higher Education SEO is important because it can help your school or university to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), which can lead to increased search engine visibility and more potential students. In order to improve your school's SEO, you should focus on creating high-quality content that is relevant to your target audience, optimizing your website for key search terms, and building links from other websites back to yours. With a little effort, you can improve your school's SEO and help more students find your institution online.
Today’s students act like customers and conduct online research before sending out their admission applications. Since the number of students advancing from school to college is reducing every year, higher education facilities need to invest in their digital presence to improve or maintain their enrollment figures.
There are two core reasons why crafting effective SEO plan should be part of higher education marketing strategies:
- SEO will make your site visible by adhering the content on your portal to search engine requirements.
- It provides a more fulfilling experience to the visitors on your portal and compels them to explore more about it.
If we look at the current state of the higher education marketing landscape, we can see that many higher Ed institutions carry the burden of their non-virtual roots. Some websites are monotonous and dull. They have complex websites and pages managed in silos.
In this blog, we’ll share with you 11 actionable higher education SEO tips that can help you generate higher organic traffic than ever before.
11 Higher Education SEO Tips to Generate Higher Organic Traffic
SEO strategy for higher education institutions is all about making a mark on the SERPs. With SEO, you’d want your higher education institute to appear on top of all search results on Google. According to a recent survey by Zero Limit Web, the first five organic results on SERPs account for 67.6% of all clicks.
Another E-Expectations® Trend Report found that the prospective high school students believe that the college website is the most crucial information resource for further education research.
The search engine optimization tips we’ll share with you will help you get discovered by more prospective students.
Without further ado, let’s explore our actionable search engine optimization checklist:
1. Begin With Effective Keyword Analysis
Keyword analysis is one of the most important aspects of SEO for higher education. By understanding which keywords are most relevant to your institution, you can ensure that your website appears prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs) for those terms. It is one of the critical processes of a well-structured SEO plan. You have to determine the words or phrases you want to rank for.
It starts with brainstorming. Compile the list of topics you want to discuss on your website. This would mean highlighting a list of programs you want to promote. It could also mean shedding light on activities, clubs, and faculty that distinguish you from other institutions.
Data should fuel the research to find good keywords. Some tools that are prominently used for keyword research are:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keywords Everywhere
- AnswerThe Public
Once you run your topics through these tools, you will get a list of keywords that you can target in your content. You can then formulate all your topic clusters according to the researched keywords.
Using these keywords, you can drive more traffic to your website and find well-qualified applicants for your institution.
2. Focus On Local SEO
You should also optimize your website using local SEO practices to generate enrolments.
Local intent is a component of 46% of the Google searches. The queries on Google with a local intent mean that the search engine predicts that a person is looking for local results.
Optimizing your website for local SEO means you boost rankings for your college for those who search locally. Fortunately, Google offers plenty of tools that you can use to optimize your online local presence. One of these is Google My Business (GMB). This will allow you to create a personalized institute profile for your institution.
Some other ways of executing a local SEO for schools and colleges include:
- Citations: Create listings of your institute on social networks and other accessible business listing directories.
- Conduct local keyword research: Using local stem keywords like “close to” and location-oriented keywords will drive traffic to your website.
- Create localized content: Localized content will boost your search engine ranks. This will involve informing the local students about the local culture and practices prevalent in the school.
- Integrate reviews: Reviews increase credibility with Google and prospective students. According to BrightLocal, 87% of the customers read the reviews before deciding.
Local SEO is a bit tricky to perfect. If you’ve never worked on local SEO, we suggest checking out our blog on local SEO tips.
3. Utilize Google Business Profile
Google Business is a great tool for higher ed marketing. By creating a free business listing, you can reach out to potential students and let them know about your school. You can also use Google Business to create targeted ads and campaigns. With a little effort, you can easily reach your target audience and promote your school.
The perks of using the Google My Business listing for your institute are:
- You get control over what people can see and allow them to call or visit your website to know more details.
- You can respond to the reviews directly.
- You can share the pictures of your campus and program for students willing to enroll in your institute.
- It gives you insights into people who searched about you or checked your website.
When you claim, verify, and edit information about your school, you give students and their parents a chance to connect with you. Make sure that you have added relevant and accurate information for all viewers.
4. Website Architecture
Among other issues, one problem that holds your site back from SEO success is how it was structured. Higher education website users exploring their educational opportunities are not different from online retail customers. They research and opt for the potential programs the same way as customers scan the retail aisles.
Some factors you should focus on when working on your website are:
- Create a stunning UX and easy usability: Your Higher education website should be easy to navigate and load quickly. Sometimes, there is an inherent threat that the aesthetics will impact the design and reduce its usability.
- Focus on mobile optimization: The demand for mobile-friendly websites is gradually increasing. The developers need to optimize an educational portal for all devices.
- Integrate vivid and compelling CTAs: The calls to action must be identifiable and easy to understand. All website assets should combine to motivate the visitors to click on the proper CTAs.
- Regular A/B Testing of the website: Usability testing through the design phase and regular algorithm updates enable the authorities to note any issues visitors may encounter. Using sophisticated CRO tools will help developers deal with repeated conversion barriers and implement the changes required to rectify the website structure.
- Craft content that informs and nurtures the leads: Several education-seekers find it hard to understand the language at a higher education website. The jargon coupled with complex figures doesn’t allow them to grasp what the portal is trying to convey. We recommend that you use straightforward content that is easily consumable and creates an environment of recurring conversations.
Website design will be an effort of multiple departments. The designers will focus on maintaining functionality, and the SEO team will ensure that all aspects fit the search engine requirements.
5. Create a Blog Section
One way to get more out of your blog is to create a dedicated section for higher education marketing. This can be a great way to connect with potential students and get your message out there. Including a blog section on an educational institute’s website helps to educate people. You can share what is happening at your campus or share details about your course programs..
Creating a blog section on an educational institute’s website has some other benefits, such as:
- Improves the SEO: One of the SEO tips for higher education is to include keywords in the content. A blog gives websites a chance to improve their SEO rankings.
- Provides personal and professional growth opportunities: It gives students and faculty access to tools and information.
- Attracts potential students: The unique stories and topics featured on a blog will attract potential students and move them further down your marketing funnel.
Having a solid online presence is important for higher education institutes. A website with one or more blog pages adds value to the overall target audience acquisition.
6. Optimize the Speed of the Website
SEO for universities is all about delivering a good user experience. Websites should load instantly and offer valuable content to prospective students. Website developers know how the site loading speed will impact the conversion rates. As per Moz Research, page loading time severely impacts the users’ experience and conversion rates.
You can take the following steps to mitigate slow speed:
- Conduct a quick analysis of your website speed (PageSpeed Insights tool)
- Optimize the images
- Streamline your web code
- Uses cache for improved efficiency
Once you manage to get your website speeds fixed, it is essential to monitor it constantly. Track how prospective students experience the page loading speed.
7. Enhance the User Experience
A higher education website should offer a cohesive experience to all visitors. Think of how Amazon and Netflix have ruled the virtual scene. Both websites offer a flawless user experience to their site visitors. User experience is also important SEO ranking factor that you shouldn't ignore while working on improvement of your website.
Three ways a higher education website can improve its user experience:
- Use clear navigation labels: They have to ensure all navigation labels are clearly stated and guide those who wish to scan the desired sections.
- Organize degree programs: Students should quickly find the programs they are looking for.
- Display application dates and program fees clearly: You should offer complete transparency through your website content. Prospective students should be able to view the last date to enroll as well as the fee for different programs..
The overall user experience of a website should serve the evolving needs of the student base. This requires due diligence and a commitment to improving the UX of your website.
8. Enhance the On-Page SEO
On-page SEO involves implementing several SEO practices so your website appears on relevant search results. Following are the tips that you can use to improve on-page SEO for higher education websites:
- Make sure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly. This is increasingly important as more people use mobile devices to access the internet.
- Use keyword-rich titles and descriptions. This helps your website to come up in search engine results when people search for those keywords.
- Use header tags. Header tags (H1, H2, etc.) help break up your content into easily readable sections.
- Use alt tags. Alt tags describe your images for people who can’t see them. This is important for accessibility and also helps your website come up in image search results.
- Use internal links. Internal links help people navigate your website and find more content. They also help search engines index your website.
- Use external links. External links show that your website is well-researched and informative. They also help improve your search engine ranking.
- Use social media. Social media can help promote your website and its content. It can also help you build relationships with potential and current customers.
- Use Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track your website’s traffic and performance. This can help you make informed decisions about your website’s content and marketing strategy.
Note that SEO is a moving target. Quite frequently, Google introduces new changes in its algorithm. The only way to rank on Google is to deploy a team to work on a search engine optimization checklist.
9. Set Up and Track Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a powerful tool that can be used to improve SEO for higher education websites. By understanding how Google sees your website and what content is being served to searchers, you can make changes to improve your website's ranking and visibility. Additionally, Google Search Console can be used to submit your website to Google for indexing, track your website's search traffic, and optimize your website for higher education searchers.
It is a free tool that gives marketers the ability to understand who is visiting their website, the search terms, and the devices they use to conduct their research. With this tool at your dispense, you get a treasure trove of data that shows insight into buying behavior.
10. Work on the Technical Aspects of the Website
If you want your website to be successful, it's important to make sure it is technically sound. This means ensuring that there are no errors, that it is properly indexed, and that you have a sitemap and robots.txt files in place.
Errors can occur for a variety of reasons, but they can all be detrimental to your website's success. Indexation problems can prevent your website from being properly found and indexed by search engines, while sitemap and robots.txt files help to ensure that your website is crawled and indexed correctly.
If you're not sure how to fix any of these issues, it's best to consult with a web developer or SEO specialist. They will be able to help you get your website back on track and ensure that it is properly optimized for search engines. In the meantime, here are a few tips on how to troubleshoot some common website errors:
- Check for broken links. Broken links can lead to 404 errors, which can hurt your website's search engine ranking. Use a tool like Google Webmaster Tools or Screaming Frog to crawl your website and check for any broken links.
- Ensure that your website is properly indexed. You can do this by submitting your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools. You can also check the "robots.txt" file to make sure that it is not blocking any important pages from being indexed.
- Use Google Analytics to track your website's traffic and performance. This will help you identify any potential problems so that you can fix them as soon as possible.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your website is technically sound and free of any errors. This will help your website to rank higher in search engines, and it will also make it more likely for visitors to stay on your site and convert into customers or clients.
11. Build High-Quality Backlinks
Building high-quality backlinks is one of the most important factors in higher education SEO. Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the higher your website will rank in search engine results pages (SERPs), and the more traffic you will get to your website.
When the search engine discovers a website with authentic backlinks, it presumes that this is worth sharing with people typing in the right keywords. According to Backlinko, the top results on Google’s first SERP have over 3.8 times more backlinks than those below them.
Why is SEO important for higher education?
When education institutions invest in SEO, they tend to get a higher number of enrolments and an improved overall online presence. They stand out as institutes that do not mind sharing insightful details and answering questions that students commonly ask.
It guides the next generation of students through your doors and makes an incredible impact on their perspectives about you. The strategies listed above can help you devise a solid SEO plan for your education institute’s website.
Make sure you monitor the performance of every strategy and improvise regularly. If you believe you don’t have the expertise to follow our higher education SEO tips, let us do the job for you. Orion's higher education SEO services can help you increase your enrollment figures. With Think Orion's top-notch SEO in higher education, educational institutions have seen a 50 percent rise in enrolment applications and a tenfold improvement in ROI.