In the US alone there are more than 4,000 colleges and universities deployment a wide range of academic courses. With so many schools to explore, it’s easy prospective students become overwhelmed during the search process. Students often rely on popular search engines like Google to narrow down their college options and find one that fits what they’re looking for. To ensure that your university’s website has a strong online presenceReaches its target audience and cuts through the noise, staying strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential. Ready to make your university website more search engine friendly increase student numbers? Start with these higher education SEO tips to improve organic rankings for higher education institutions.
1) Implement a strong keyword strategy, especially for individual programs
First, let’s take a look at how a prospective student would use a search engine to find a university or academic program – This is called search intent. Students went to a search engine like Google and typed in a keyword like “best university for data analysis” and saw relevant webpages in the search engine results pages (SERPs). So you should find them most effective keywords describing your university or theirs courses and are probably wanted by Students for top rankings in organic search.
There are several types of keywords that you may want to use for your university. These include location-specific keywords (“Tampa universities”) and program-specific keywords (“journalism major”). keyword tools, Google trendsCompetitor analysis and existing analytics can provide powerful insight into what students are searching for and how to incorporate those keywords into your own website Increase your organic traffic.
You should find words with a decent to high search volume that are not difficult to rank for. While simple searches like “universities” see incredibly high levels of organic search traffic, it’s very difficult to rank for. Try to be more specific with your long-tail keywords and use relevant search terms like “best university for broadcast journalism.”
Make sure to include keywords as well as tags, headers, meta descriptions and more in the website copy.
2) Use long-tail interrogative phrases
When people use search engines, they ask them literal questions more than ever. This is called natural language search. For example, if you target program-specific keywords like “journalism degree,” questions like “what can you do with a journalism degree” see high search volume and rank easily.
Consider using tools like AHREFS to help you find these types of keywords. Another excellent source would be Respond to the publicthat takes 2-3 word queries and shows you what questions Google users are asking about that search string.
These long-tail phrases provide a great opportunity to use them as keywords and topics in blog posts.
3) Use Google Trends to find out where search terms are trending
You should always understand where and when your traffic is coming from, and more importantly, what potential students are looking for. This is especially important in higher education since most of your traffic is seasonal and specific.
Google trends provides a 12-month summary of search traffic for a specific search query. It also breaks down which regions are seeing the largest search volume for each search. Google Trends also provides some insight into related searches and topics that could be good for potential keyword ideas.
4) Leverage one effective content strategy
Content creation is very important. The constant publication of new content tells Google that your site is relevant and encourages Google to crawl and index content and pages on your site. reward search engines college websites that often republish, compelling content, like blog posts or videos, by re-indexing those websites more frequently and improving SERP rankings. booking quality contentsuch as B. news, event recaps and students life Highlight videos are examples of content that you can use not only to inform students about what is happening at your university, but also to improve search rankings for your educational website.
Remember that for all visual media like images and videos, it’s important to include keyword-rich alt tags and descriptions so your site is more likely to rank for that keyword.
In the example below Florida Tech Online maintains an online presence often over publish blog posts on topics related to careers, student stories and study tips. The content is helpful not only for current students or professionals, but also for potential applicants. This blog is an excellent example of that Inbound Content Marketing and SEO Strategies for Universities.
5) Address duplicate content
At first glance, it may seem like you have several pages to share identical content can be helpful because it means prospective students can find the information they are looking for in different places. However, duplicate content can be a big problem for SEO for colleges.
Duplicate content confuses search engines because they don’t know which content is most relevant and which page should be placed before the other in search results. Your marketing team or agency partner can perform a site-wide check to look for copied text, URL variations, and the same web pages reproduced as HTTP and HTTPS sites.
You can fix these problems by creating 301 redirects or Canonical tags to give the original page the highest rank.
6) Take advantage of local search, college directory listings, and review sites
Aside from Google, students often use college directories and review sites to search for potential schools. Some examples of college directory entries are the NCAA Directory, College Board, and US News & World Report. Similarly, college review sites may include College Confidential, Cappex, and GradReports. If possible, maintain an active profile on these sites as these reputable sites are an excellent place to host backlinks to your website.
In addition, location is often a key factor in a potential student college choice. Colleges and universities often recruit from local high schools and with local SEO for higher education can also capture a larger proportion of this audience. Conduct local keyword research that includes location names such as B. “Business schools in Miami” or “Engineering programs in Florida”. Your location can be as granular as a city or neighborhood, or as large as a state.
As with local businesses, your university should create one Google My Business (GMB) account, which lists your university’s name, address, phone number, photos, description, directions, and business category for the Google search engine to index. When a prospective student searches for your university, the GMB listing will appear in the top right corner of the screen.
In 2018, Google also started attaching statistics such as acceptance rate, notable alumni, average cost after financial aid, and graduation rate, pulling data from the College Scorecard and the Department of Education’s Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System. Below is an example of what the final listing will look like St Thomas Aquinas College.
7) Optimize your site for speed and linking.
The death knell for any website is too slow. In 2018 the website of UMBC famously crashed after the men’s basketball team defeated the top-seeded University of Virginia in the first round of March Madness. With shorter attention spans, potential applicants will leave your website if it takes too long to load. Positive user experience is an important ranking factor.
Similarly, Google will rank slow websites lower Search Engine Rankings. Be sure to optimize your website’s speed using techniques like using smaller image sizes and hosting the website on fast servers. You can also use Google’s for your mobile website mobile-friendly testing tool to test individual pages and determine which sections need improvement.
8) Get more backlinks
Another way to optimize your website is to link to other relevant websites and have those websites link to you. This is known as off-page SEO. Some examples of quality websites that can provide “backlinks” to your website are social media sites, local entries, guest blogging, and third-party media sites that may host advertorials. You can also create internal links to other pages of your website, e.g. B. When your online press releases link to faculty profiles, department websites, or other relevant content.
9) Build your quotes
Creating citations is an important part of SEO, and it’s no different in the education industry. We’ve already touched on the importance of a local SEO strategy, but building citations adds a ton of value to the SERPs. you will want as many quotes as possible.
Use sites like bright local to add local citations for your university. This will get your university listed in some of the most trusted databases like Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook, Apple Maps, etc. These tools are important because they not only create your quotes, but also clean them up and fix duplicates so you don’t get negatively impacted by them.
10) Use Wikipedia for authority links
Willy-nilly, Wikipedia is an “official source of information” on the Internet and has great authority. You can use this to your advantage by creating and updating your university’s wiki page and linking to your website.
Wikipedia often appears alongside, and in some cases above, official company websites. This is an untapped content source for many smaller schools on Google.
Pacific54: SEO Done Right for Higher Education
SEO is not unique; it is ongoing and critical to marketing success. Luckily, an agency partner can help you boost your higher education SEO plan. Contact Pacific54 make an appointment for a consultation today.