Not Getting Noticed? Use These 7 Tips to Increase Your Search Engine Visibility
Don’t let zero-click searches make your marketing efforts all for naught
You have a fantastic site design, great program offerings, and a socially active and beautiful campus with wonderful amenities, yet your website is not getting much traffic. There are a number of reasons this could be happening, but the most likely culprit is your content strategy.
Search engines don’t only notice good websites, they notice good content. To rank high in search results, it’s important to include keywords in content that are popular in searches. Google notices relevant pages that best fit specific search terms, which makes it essential to use the right keywords.
With enrollment falling and many institutions of higher learning facing budget shortfalls, it’s more important than ever to do everything possible to improve search engine visibility so more potential students are able to find you, explore your offerings, and engage with your recruitment team. Let’s explore the ways to do just that.
It’s called SEO, and it’s more important than ever
Rising to the top of the search engine results list using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is never accidental. It takes work, trial, and error. Even when you’re doing what you think is a great job at SEO, a disturbing trend called zero-click searches is steadily rising to thwart your efforts. Zero-click searches mean the search engine did not send a website visitor to anyone after an organic search result.
For example, search giant Google’s Knowledge Panel — information boxes that appear when you search for people, places, organizations, and things — are meant to keep the user interacting with Google. Their Direct Answer box does the same. A user might search for the age or height of an actor, and a box will automatically pop up with the information. For some people, that’s enough information and they don’t click any other link.
This is a zero-click search, and none of the websites returned by the search got a visit or pageview from it, including the one that provided the answer.
By June of 2019, zero-click searches meant 50.3% of searches ended without the user clicking through to other content, only 5.3% of searches led to organic content, and 4.4% led to a paid ad. Currently, more than half of all searches generate zero traffic for third-party websites that are outside of Google services.
And that includes your website. However, there are things you can do as a digital marketer to help pull in that organic traffic.
7 tips to boost your search engine visibility
While the SEO community hasn’t reached a consensus on how to deal with zero-click searches, one important step is to thoroughly research the topics and keywords you want to optimize for. If the Google results include a Direct Answer or Knowledge Panel, you might want to change the focus of a page or add new content that is aimed at a different user intent.
Using more long-tail keywords can help, as well. These are keywords that are longer and more specific, using phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they are close to making a purchase. For example, if the search is for a chair, so many results would show up that there’s very little possibility the user would click on your site. However, if you make that search more specific, such as “brown barrel chair,” there are fewer search results and any traffic you get will be more focused and committed, as well as more interested in your school.
When it comes to your content, use these tips:
1. Make your titles compelling
Adding keywords to your website page titles makes it easier for Google and users to find them, but it isn’t going to get you noticed. You need to create titles that make you stand out and increase click-through rates. Instead of, “The Benefits of XYZ College,” you would be better off using a title that compels people to discover more about you. Highlight those benefits in your title with something like, “5 Reasons to Attend XYZ College,” or “5 Ways XYZ College Will Help You Reach Your Top Earning Potential.”
2. Make it easy for Google
Make sure you have your keywords in the meta title, URL, meta description, and image tags. Also, be sure your website pages are linked internally.
3. Conduct an SEO Audit
An SEO audit means identifying and fixing any errors, including 404 errors, broken links, redirects, and sitemap errors that affect rankings. During this process, you’ll no doubt find opportunities to improve your website architecture overall, which will improve the user experience. You’ll also get rid of content that doesn’t meet the needs of your users, as well as duplicate content.
4. Leverage online directories
There are many places on the web to get attention that aren’t Google. Make sure your school is listed on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google My Business, and other online directories.
5. Be active on social media
Social media engagement means posting often, using techniques like asking questions that will start a conversation, answering follower questions, and joining groups. Don’t make posts too “sales-y.” Best practices say only 20% of your posts should be promotional.
6. Get Google verification
This makes your pages more efficient for Google to find and index. Create a Google My Business account, find your school using Google Maps, and then claim your school. You’ll receive a verification code via snail mail to enter into your profile, and you’re all set. Next, optimize your listing to be sure you get the maximum number of impressions and clicks.
7. Use engaging content and images
Your content and images should be as compelling as your title and engage your readers with high-quality, informative content. This doesn’t mean self-promoting content; it means content that is so interesting your readers organically want to know more. Use images and videos that enhance your content and keep them on the page. To make sure they will rank in an image search, be sure to choose a fitting file name, keep file size small so they load quickly, use captions, utilize alt text and title text, and be sure images are included in your XML sitemaps.
Implementing these tips will take some time and effort, but your school will reap the rewards of more web traffic, better engagement, and improved recruiting outcomes.
Manage your compelling website content easily with KWALL
Spend your time creating great content, not managing it.
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.