Some students are determined to attend one particular college or university. For most, however, choosing the right school for their education starts with a simple search.
Considering that there are thousands of universities all around the world and with international studies and online degrees being more common by the day, for universities to rank on top of search engines is a synonym to finding a gold mine.
The importance of search engine rankings for Higher Education Institutions
According to HubSpot, 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines. That implies that if your university does not appear on the first page of Google, or other search engines, when prospective students search for academic programs or other subjects related to higher education, there’s a considerable chance they will never find your website.
Having an SEO strategy and optimizing your Institution's website is the only way to make sure they do.
4 Tips to improve your Institution website SEO
1. Don’t hide your programs
The exposure of a university's academic programs to Google is influenced by how its content is organized.
When building the institution's website some institutions misjudge how the information should appear and usually organize it on the website the same way they do it inside the university, either by undergraduate / postgraduate, by subject areas, or by colleges and departments.
As in theory, this seems to be well organized, this kind of arrangement frequently requires users to click six or more times to reach the program page they are looking for.
This situation is even worse if the users are on mobile and the pages load speed is slow.
Consider the following scenario:
You are looking for a Master in Marketing and to go there you have to pass by the following pages: University >> Schools >> School of Arts & Sciences >> Department of Marketing >> Postgraduate Courses >> MA in Marketing.
You just lost time looking for a piece of information on six different pages, and many prospective students will not have the patience to click six times to reach the program page, especially when they’re one click away from another university website that’s offering a similar program.
Furthermore, not only this difficulty to access information will make your institution lose leads, it will also penalize the website in Google’s rankings as the program page is so hidden inside the website that Google believes that page to be less valuable.
2. Benefit from program names
Google aims to direct users to pages that are relevant to their search, and there are a lot of pages on the Internet that Google can provide. Keywords are a big part of the discoverability of a page and when well positioned in the content they can help your academic program pages become more visible in the search engines.
Often your program's legal name doesn't match the way people search for it. When choosing program names there is always a temptation to be innovative in the naming. Don't go too far or you may end up far from trending search terms making it harder to rank in search engines. Make sure you include the most searched terms for your program in important places of the program page (H1, etc).
3. There’s more to write about than just the programs
When choosing a degree to pursue there’s much more information students need than just information related to the degree. Students look for careers, salaries, what’s the day-to-day of a specific job. Essentially, they want to know all about the aftereffects of pursuing a certain degree.
And who’s better to explain all about the career after a degree than the institution that has been educating professionals over the years?
Let me explain with an example to make it clearer, if your university offers a marketing degree what type of content could you be writing about?
Here are some suggestions:
- What career can you pursue with a marketing degree?;
- What does a marketer do;
- Day to day of a digital marketer;
- How to choose a marketing degree;
- Requirements to pursue a marketing degree;
- How to choose the right marketing degree.
You can have these different topics on your blog with links to the respective product page but you should summarize them in the product page in a "FAQs" format (or other similar formats). Turn your product pages into pillar pages.
You could go even deeper if you made a different article for all the different career options (Ads Manager; SEO Specialist; Marketing Researcher; Content Strategist; Copywriter, etc..).
As you see there’s plenty to write about, and the content doesn’t have all to start with the scenarios after the degree, you could also write about how to pass on the exam to access university, and give some tips to students who will enroll into university.
Just make sure that all the content you create redirects the users to your offers so you can get their contact information.
4. Use descriptive links
A content-rich, authoritative, unbiased site that helps users learn more about what they’re looking for is more credible and suitable to obtain links from other websites, improving its SEO.
By including relevant links within the content, you can improve your institution’s website authority and trustworthiness. One of the biggest mistakes sites have in general is the usual “Click here” with a hyperlink above the text. This doesn’t add any value to the website as “Click here” has basically zero search engine value besides the URL it contains, on the other hand, “Undergraduate Degree in Human Resources” for example, is keyword-rich and will enhance not only your search engine rankings but also the ranking of the program page you are linking to.
If you need help building an SEO strategy for your Higher Education Institution, don’t hesitate, talk to us.
Download our SEO guide and learn how to build a strategy to optimize your Higher Education Institution's website