Boost Your Online Recruiting Efforts With Effective Local SEO For Higher Ed
Evolve Your SEO Strategy to Capture the Attention of Prospective Students in Your Region and Beyond
- Without local SEO, your website is competing for traffic globally, and you are missing out on the 46% of search engine users who use local intent in their searches
- “Near me” searches doubled between 2019 and 2020
- Using local SEO can help capture more of the 67% of potential students who employ a search engine first when looking for colleges
- Google My Business is a great place to start, and listings can include posts that promote events or be used to make announcements
- Research keywords that contain the three essentials of localization: a modifier, your core term, and location
- Solicit reviews: 87% of people say they look at reviews before patronizing a business, and this applies just as well to higher ed
It’s nothing new that search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any website. It is what determines search engine rankings, or how high up on the search page results your content appears when someone does an internet search. This makes formulating an effective SEO strategy essential for any institution of higher learning.
Traditional SEO is top-level, meaning your school is competing with other websites around the world for traffic. That’s too much competition for the top spot, which makes formulating and implementing a strategy for local SEO a must. Local SEO increases your visibility on search engines, and by adding your school to online directories and Google My Business, you can further improve your rankings.
Local SEO for higher ed can pay off big, especially for smaller schools that have strong local connections. Local intent is a part of 46% of Google searches. Google queries with local intent mean that the search engine assumes a person is looking for a local result, and the number of people using “near me” searches doubled between 2019 and 2020.
That’s why local SEO should be an important part of your SEO strategy. Let’s talk about why and how you can use it to increase recruitment.
Why local SEO for higher ed is important
It’s important to know that 67% of people use search engines first when looking for information on higher ed, and searchers often use local terms. However, even if they don’t, Google will show location-based results.
Optimizing for local search means you boost rankings for your college for those searching locally, capturing those unbranded searches – those that don’t mention a school by name. To do this, you must utilize every localization opportunity in the Googleverse.
Capitalizing on local search
Google offers a number of listings and tools that can optimize your local presence online. Among these is Google My Business (GMB), where you can create a customized, personalized profile for your school, listed by location.
To optimize your listing, be sure all the information is accurate, and choose as many relevant categories as you can up to the 10 allowed. Some other tips to optimize your listing include adding a couple of keywords in your description, and because so many prospective students are using mobile devices today, be clear and concise. Also, be sure to claim and verify your listing.
Another tool available in GMB is posts, where you can share events and announcements with visitors. When you post, you can add an action button, include photos, and even video.
Other ways to use local SEO for higher ed recruiting include:
- Citations: These are mentions of your school on websites, directories, and social platforms. The essential information is the name of your institution, address, and phone number. Directories like that offered by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation allow students to perform a search for local institutions and particular programs.
Also, remember that GMB is not the only game in town. Be sure to create listings for your school on Bing, social networks, and many other free business listing directories.
- Perform local keyword research: SEO exploits the idea that most users apply the same search terms, so use that to your advantage. Local keywords are comprised of a modifier, a core term, and a location. Your core term is what you are promoting, the modifier adds specificity, and the location, of course, is yours.
Using local stem keywords such as “near,” “close to,” and other location-related terms can also drive traffic to your site. Follow best practices and use keywords in your titles, headings, subheads, and body content so Google can categorize your site properly.
- Develop localized content: You no doubt know about the importance of relevant and useful content. Creating localized content can boost your search engine rankings to better reach your target. Make sure your blogs have a local flavor. You can inform potential students about local culture and activities while increasing your ranking.
- Be consistent wherever you are on the web: Make sure every listing of your school on the web has the same information listed the same way, so you are easy to find by search engines. Make sure your NAP is on every single page of your website.
- Solicit reviews: Reviews build credibility with both Google and potential students. In fact, 87% of customers read the reviews of local businesses before making a decision. Be sure to respond to reviews to show that you are concerned about what is said about your school and empathize with your students.
In the battle for students, local SEO can add visibility, build community, send higher-quality web traffic your way, foster trust, build authority, and ultimately, increase recruitment.
Great Local Content Deserves a Great Website
The look, feel, and usefulness of your website can bring in students or push them away. What’s the use of all that keyword research and local SEO implementation if your website isn’t attractive and your content is hard to find?
You can count on KWALL to support the development of your higher ed website, help you implement a CMS, and support you while you use it. We can also help you create a maintenance and support plan that works, so you can manage content through a content management system.