Unlocking the Power of SEO for Higher Education
Higher education institutions are continually seeking ways to increase enrollment. One often overlooked method is leveraging Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies. Utilizing SEO for higher education can improve online visibility on search engines, attract more prospective students, and ultimately boost enrollment numbers.
Higher education websites are often complex, with multiple departments and campuses. Education SEO tactics should be implemented with that complexity in mind.
Let’s dive in!
Understanding SEO for Colleges
SEO involves optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), leading to increased organic traffic. For higher education institutions, an effective SEO strategy can help your website appear more prominently in relevant search results, enabling you to reach more potential students.
The Importance of SEO in Higher Education
Most prospective students use search engines like Google to find information about educational institutions and programs. By optimizing your higher ed website for search, you can ensure that your institution appears in these search results, improving your chances of attracting and enrolling these students.
Key SEO Strategies for Higher Education
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research involves identifying and analyzing the terms that people enter into search engines. For higher education SEO, this could include terms related to specific academic programs, college life, or admissions processes. Tools like Google Trends can help identify trending keywords and understand search volume.
2. High-Quality Content
Creating high-quality content that incorporates your focus keyword is essential. This content should be relevant to your prospective students’ search intent. For example, if a popular search query is “best science programs,” an article highlighting the strengths of your institution’s science programs could help attract these prospective students.
3. On-Page SEO
On-page SEO involves optimizing individual website pages for search engines. This includes using your focus keywords in strategic places like the page’s title, headers, and body. It also involves technical aspects like improving page load speed and removing broken links.
4. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO efforts involve actions outside your website to improve your search engine rankings. One common off-page SEO tactic is to generate backlinks to your website from other reputable sites. These could include local business directories or a Wikipedia page for your institution.
5. Mobile Optimization
With many search queries coming from mobile users, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is critical. A mobile-optimized site provides a better user experience, which can influence your search engine rankings.
6. Local SEO
Local SEO focuses on improving visibility in local search results. This is particularly important for institutions that want to attract students from their surrounding area. Local SEO strategies might include creating a Google My Business listing for your institution or optimizing your site for local keywords.
What Are the Types of Keywords for SEO Schools and How to Use Them for Optimizing Your Content
The keywords for SEO schools are quite similar to those used for other websites. However, it’s important to consider the unique needs of higher education institutions when selecting keywords. Make sure that these are organic search keywords, which means they are highly relevant to the content on your website.
For example, if you offer a degree program, include keywords related to that degree, such as “bachelor of science in engineering” or “master of business administration program”.
Here are the most significant keyword types you should target:
1. Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that can lead to qualified leads. For example, “online masters in computer engineering” is a long-tail keyword. Another is “affordable online degrees in healthcare administration.” These are all keywords prospective students will likely search for when researching higher education options.
2. Location-Based Keywords
Location-based keywords are important for higher ed institutions with multiple campuses or programs in several locations. These keywords should include geographic terms such as city names, zip codes, and states. For example, “University of California Los Angeles,” “Harvard University Boston MA,” or “MSU Denver CO.”
3. Branded Keywords
Branded keywords are terms related to the name of your institution and its programs. For instance, if you offer a Master of Business Administration program, you would want to include the keyword phrase “MBA Program at XYZ University.”
4. Program Specific Keywords
These are keywords related to specific programs offered by your institution. For example, “online psychology degree” or “on-campus MBA program.”
5. Competitors Keywords
These are critical to include as they indicate what your target audience is searching for. By including competitor keywords in your content, you can reach a wider pool of potential students.
6. Short-Tail Keywords
Short-tail keywords are general terms related to higher education that may increase organic traffic. Examples include “college tuition” or “online degree program.” However, these may be difficult to rank for due to the high level of competition. Still, including them in your content is vital as they may bring some qualified leads.
Questions are also important to include in your content as they can lead to more qualified leads. For example, “What engineering degree should I choose?” or “What are the best online MBA programs?”
How to Include Keywords in Your Content?
Many businesses using SEO to increase their online visibility may have researched relevant keywords but not know how to incorporate them into their content.
To stand out, here’s how you should include keywords in your content:
- Add keywords to titles, headings, and subheadings.
- Use relevant phrases throughout the body copy.
- Include them naturally; don’t force them into your content, as this can disrupt the flow of your writing.
- Utilize synonyms to ensure you don’t over-saturate any single keyword phrase.
- Place important keywords at the beginning of sentences for maximum impact.
Writing High-Quality and Engaging Blog Posts
One of the most effective strategies for SEO for educational institutions is to write and publish high-quality blog posts regularly. These can be used to target specific keywords, highlight new programs or initiatives, and attract prospective students.
Here are helpful tips when writing blog posts for your website:
- Create content that is relevant and informative. Focus on topics related to higher education, such as student life, college advice, new programs, or admissions tips. Ensure each content answers a student’s search intent. For example, you may want to create a blog post on “how to choose a college major.”
- Make your titles catchy. The titles are the first thing readers see and should be compelling enough to draw them in. For instance, “5 Tips for Applying to College” is more engaging than simply “College Applications.”
- Write an engaging introduction. Make sure to capture the reader’s attention right away. For instance, start with a statistic or quote like “Did you know that 80% of college students are overwhelmed by the application process?”
- Address your readers directly. Use “you” and “your” to make the post more personal and engaging.
- Include relevant keywords throughout the post. Make sure that they are used naturally and add value to the article. Don’t overuse them, as this can lower SERPs’ ranking.
- Make sure your content is grammar errors-free and easy to read. Several tools like Hemingway and Grammarly can help you with this. However, remember that the human eye is still the best proofreader. Also, use subheadings, bulleted or numbered lists, etc., to help break up the content and make it easier to read.
- Include visuals like infographics and videos to make your blog posts more engaging. Write for both human readers and search engines by including relevant keywords in the titles and body copy.
- Link to other blog posts within your website or external websites when appropriate. Linking to a relevant web page on your website helps to keep the reader engaged and provides more information. At the same time, including links to external websites can help boost your search engine rankings. Make sure these websites are reputable and relevant to the content.
- End with a call to action. Ask readers to subscribe to your blog or follow you on social media.
Technical SEO for Higher Education Strategies
Technical SEO is a part of on-page optimization that involves optimizing your website’s architecture, code structure, and server settings to increase its visibility in SERPs. Search engine crawlers can easily discover, index, and rank your web pages.
Here are tips on how to do it:
Your website should be mobile-friendly as most people use their phones to access the Internet. Ensure that your website is responsive and loads quickly on all devices. If you have a blog, make sure it’s optimized for mobile too.
Page Speed Optimization
Slow page speed can negatively impact user experience and search engine rankings. Use Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Tools to test your website’s loading speed and diagnose any issues causing slow loading time.
Make sure each page has a unique URL with relevant keywords. For example, if you have an online MBA program, the URL should include the phrase “online-MBA,” such as www.XYZuniversity.com/online-mba.
Ensure that all the images on your website are properly optimized for SEO. This includes using relevant filenames, adding alt tags and captions to each image, and compressing the file size where possible.
Voice search is growing in popularity, and your website must be optimized for this. This includes using long-tail keywords, natural language, and addressing questions directly.
What Is Local SEO and How to Use It to Improve Organic Search Traffic
Local SEO involves optimizing your website for local searches. You first want to attract a local audience and show up in local organic search results.
Google My Business
This free tool allows businesses to manage how they appear on Google Search and Maps. It includes adding your business name, location, and hours; managing and responding to customer reviews; adding photos; and learning where and how people search for you.
Online Directories and Citations
Listing your business in online directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, TripAdvisor, and other local business directories helps increase the visibility of your business. Ensure your business information (name, address, phone number, etc.) is consistent across all platforms.
Reviews and Rating
Customer reviews play a significant role in local SEO. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on Google and other review sites. Responding to reviews also shows that you value your customers’ feedback.
Use keywords that are relevant to the local customers you’re targeting. These could include your city, neighborhood, or other local terms and phrases.
Getting links from high-authority websites in your locality can help improve your local search rankings. You can use guest blogging or seek sponsored posts on related websites.
Listing Your School on Wikipedia Page
Wikipedia is a great source of high-authority backlinks. Wikipedia is a great source of high-authority backlinks. Also, it helps make your website appears in the Google College Search feature when someone is searching for information about colleges. First, create a Wikipedia page for your school and add all the information you want. Then link from other relevant pages in Wikipedia to your page. This will help increase its relevance and authority.
Measuring the Success of Your SEO Efforts
Monitoring your SEO performance is crucial in understanding the effectiveness of your higher education SEO strategies. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console can provide valuable insights into your website traffic, search patterns, and how much traffic is coming from organic search.
Analyzing Organic Traffic
An increase in organic traffic—visitors who arrive at your site through a search engine—can indicate successful SEO efforts. You should also look at trends over time; a steady increase in organic traffic suggests your SEO for school strategies are working.
Tracking Keyword Rankings
Using an SEO tool, you can track your website’s ranks for different keywords over time. If your rankings are improving, it’s a good sign that your SEO efforts are paying off.
Backlinks, or links from other websites to your own, are a key factor in SEO. Regularly reviewing your backlinks can help you understand which off-page SEO efforts are most effective.
Should You Hire a Professional SEO Education Professional?
Whether you should hire a professional SEO education professional or do it yourself depends on your budget and the complexity of the project. If you have limited resources, several free and paid tools are available online to help with basic SEO tasks. However, if you want to maximize your visibility in SERPs, it’s best to hire an experienced SEO for education expert who understands higher education websites and can provide strategic advice. In addition, they can help monitor your website’s performance over time and make adjustments as needed.
Ultimately, hiring a professional is the best way to ensure that your website has the right content and technical elements for optimal search engine rankings. It also saves you time, so you can focus on other aspects of running a successful higher education website.
Implementing SEO for higher education requires a strategic approach and ongoing management, but the potential benefits are significant. By improving your online visibility, you can reach more prospective students, increase enrollments, and stand out in the competitive higher education industry. Whether you’re new to SEO or looking to improve your current efforts, consider partnering with an SEO professional who can guide you through the process and help you maximize your results.
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