Building a Web Platform to Empower Your SEO Strategy
Better SEO visibility for your school website means better recruitment numbers for your university. Here’s how to prepare it for better search performance.
- SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website’s visibility to increase the chances of showing up on search engines
- Better SEO means better visibility on search engines, meaning more prospective students doing online college searches visit your school website and higher recruitment numbers
- There are simple strategies you can use to boost SEO for your school website and improve search engine rankings
- Free tools exist that can help make your website more SEO-ready
Opting to invest in SEO for student recruitment is a good step, especially in the new normal ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, seeing the enrollment numbers you desire would require schools to go beyond writing content based on a few keywords. Your higher ed website needs to be SEO-ready as well to ensure that search engines are not constantly passing it over for more SEO-friendly competitor websites.
What is SEO and why is it important for higher ed websites?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the sum total of all the strategies and tactics that go into making your website rank higher on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others.
SEO ensures that your website is ready for when search engine bots visit to collect information about your university in order to index it. These bots or crawlers analyze and rank your website pages using hundreds of ranking factors to determine how high to place them on the results page for certain search terms.
Suffice it to say, the better your website SEO, the higher your website is going to rank, and the more prospective students are going to land on its pages.
This is no mean point: organic traffic from websites could account for as much as 50-70% of the traffic your college website receives, making it important to master SEO for student recruitment.
Proper SEO for student recruitment ensures that your university website appears at the top of the first page of search engine results for the terms that matter to your student recruitment efforts. The higher your website ranks for the right terms, the more likely it is that people will click through to it for the right reasons. Over time, this increase in traffic will lead to more engagement and better enrollment numbers.
5 Strategies to improve SEO for your school website
The earlier you start implementing SEO strategies on your website to improve rankings, the better. Here are five tips you can get started with:
1. Audit your website
An SEO audit for your website will evaluate factors important to SEO like:
- Page speed: Web pages should load quickly on all devices.
- Page titles and headings: Page titles and headings should be clear, concise, and loaded with relevant keywords.
- URL structure: Your URLs should include relevant keywords and avoid random terms and number sequences.
- Link building: Your content should include quality links to other web pages on your website and also pages on other websites.
- Content: Your website content should contain relevant keywords, engaging headlines, and should be helpful to your target audience.
Website audits can also highlight technical issues that affect SEO, like:
- Pages with broken internal links
- Pages with duplicate content
- 404 error pages
Once you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your website where SEO is concerned, you can create an SEO strategy around that information.
2. Do keyword research
For each page on your website, you want to make a list of 10 keywords that people use to search for your school, higher education in your area, or higher education in general. It’s particularly important to pay attention to your school’s location and the various degree programs you offer.
From this list of keywords, you can source keywords for your webpages and track web traffic to understand which keywords work best for your website.
3. Determine and answer the most important questions that student recruits have about the school
Search engines love FAQs because they resolve problems website visitors might have. Ask faculty and students for the most pressing questions prospective students might have about your university. Social media research could also help in this regard. Answer these questions in an FAQ page, and in other content pieces and pages published on your website
4. Make use of Google Trends
Google Trends can provide data on the terms and phrases that prospective students use to search for your school online. You can also get relevant data like what time of day these searches are made, where the searchers reside, and so on.
5. Don’t reinvent the wheel — copy from your rivals
Look at how other universities and higher ed institutions optimize their websites for SEO. Take note of the keywords they currently rank for. There are tools like Moz and SEMRush that can help you drill deep into the inner workings of a website’s SEO to learn more about what works for them.
Free tools to make your website more SEO-friendly
There are some free tools that can help you ensure your university website is one that visitors, students, and staff can turn to in order to learn more about the institution, the student body, the staff, and the courses offered.
- SEMRush Site Audit: For a quick and comprehensive SEO audit. This tool, which is trusted by SEO experts across the industry, can periodically highlight SEO issues and information regarding website health.
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test: This tool scores your website based on how engaging it is to mobile users. This information censure that your school’s website is responsive and looks good across all devices, rather than leaving prospective students who are mobile users behind.
- Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool: This tool helps uncover ways in which you can make your website more accessible to website visitors with impairments--auditory, visual, and otherwise. It also provides recommendations you can implement for long-lasting optimization and accessibility.
- Google Trends: This tool enables you to see how your website ranks in terms of Google searches. It is updated in real-time so you can quickly get a snapshot of how things stand at any time. This is a great tool for sourcing topics around which to create content for prospective students
- Copyscape: This tool can help you identify duplicate content on your website, uncover those who are copying your content, and also highlight phrases you tend to overuse across your published content.
- Wordtracker: This tool sources information from a variety of sources like Google, YouTube, Amazon, and so on to provide insights into keyword search volume, level of competition, and even cost-per-click. This information provides related and relevant keywords to help you create the best, most relevant website content possible.
- BrokenLinkCheck: This tool flags any broken links (both internal and external) across your website. You can then remove or redirect these links.
Incorporate SEO elements when building your website
All the SEO audits and strategies in the world would fall short if your website itself is not built with SEO in mind. The most crucial elements that make your school website great for SEO need to be incorporated during the development period. KWALL has dedicated the last decade to helping higher ed institutions build this SEO advantage into their websites in order to boost their chances of meeting their recruitment goals. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you leverage SEO for student recruitment, contact KWALL today.