Everything About Leveraging SEO for Greater Traffic to Your University Website
Your SEO strategy is the heart of your digital recruitment strategy. The better your higher ed SEO strategy, the better your chances are of meeting recruiting targets.
The first encounter between the majority of people and your university is your higher ed Website, which makes SEO very important to your outreach efforts
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a term that is not usually associated with colleges and universities. You’re more likely to hear about SEO in e-commerce and digital marketing circles, so what’s the significance for your university?
Well, when your university website is optimized for search, higher ed students, prospective and existing, are more likely to find your website when they are in search of answers to queries they have about higher education, including enrollment. And that’s exactly what you want when you decide to take advantage of digital strategies for recruitment.
In addition to traffic, SEO can help differentiate your institution and its brand from competitors in important ways, especially when the right content strategy is employed. A content strategy centered on clearly answering the questions visitors search for will quickly set your website and higher ed Institution apart.
Understanding SEO is key to unlocking its power
There’s no need to try to reinvent the wheel when talking about SEO in the context of higher education. It works in pretty much the same way that marketers in other industries are used to.
The idea is to rank higher in the search results pages so your higher ed website gets more visibility and attention from searchers, and consequently more traffic. Once a visitor lands on the page, your content and web design should have been crafted with the intention of keeping them on the website as long as possible.
The effect of SEO on the level of traction and attention your website gets cannot be overstated. Between 50% to 70% of a website’s traffic comes from organic search queries, meaning that universities that are yet to invest in this area of outreach are experiencing significantly less traffic than they could have. The traffic they don’t get ends up on other higher education websites that are more search engine optimized, and often translates into enrollments there. SEO is critical as a digital student recruitment strategy because it ensures that prospective students see your website and courses on offer before they see your competitor’s.
In all this, the role of content cannot be ignored. Getting your website to rank high on the results pages is just one-half of the equation. The other half kicks in once visitors click through to your website and get to view your content. The role of content is to show that your college or university is the best choice that they can make to attend. There are several formats of content that your website can employ to get this message across effectively and convincingly, including: videos, testimonials from the present student body, written downloadables, audio, and so on. All these pieces of content should be built around the keywords you’ve chosen to rank for.
When you get this second part of the SEO equation right, the result is that visitors hang around your website for long periods of time, scooping up the content you’ve provided to make it easier for them to decide to enroll. They move further down the funnel, becoming leads, until eventually choosing to become students at your university.
Low-hanging fruit: Why organic searchers are so coveted
Why is organic search so coveted, sometimes even more so than paid traffic? Well, because they are low-hanging fruit. People that land on your higher ed website organically from the search engines are searching for the programs and classes you offer. They are already interested in higher education and simply want to make sure you’re the right choice for them. This makes them much easier to convert with the right content on the website. That’s more than one can expect when you try marketing to someone who is yet to express any clear need for what is on offer.
Dos and don’ts of SEO
SEO can get complicated when you get deep into the nitty-gritty. However, like all things, it can be simplified into a few solid dos and don’ts from which all best practice evolves:
- Create content that people want to find. The better your content is the more people will stick around to learn more about your institution.
- Advertise and connect on social media, get people to link back to you on their walls and websites. These references count as SEO gains.
- Define your target audience. Who do you want to reach? What are they searching for? Hinge your keyword research on that and build your content around it.
- Tailor your content to suit your target audience, make sure it’s relevant in content and format as far as they are concerned.
- Use hidden content or black hat techniques, they usually backfire and incur penalties from search engines.
- Change domain names. Time is a crucial factor to the SEO health of your website. The longer you’ve had a domain name that is known for a particular sort of content, the more reputable you are.
Obviously, a lot more goes into proper SEO that can up your recruitment numbers; but the tips here are a good place to start. You can take advantage of expert help if you really want to get more out of your investment in SEO. KWALL has worked with over a hundred higher ed. institutions in the last decade, building SEO-friendly websites for them and helping them rise up the search rankings to boost their visibility. To learn how KWALL can do the same for you, contact KWALL today.