HomeSEO for Educational Institutions: Attracting Students and Parents

SEO for Educational Institutions: Attracting Students and Parents

At the present time, it is difficult to find educational institutions (colleges, schools, universities) that are not engaging in some form of SEO in a bid to further their cause and attract more students. Given the competitiveness of the sector, a significant number of these institutions are engaged in search and social media marketing to gain a competitive edge. SEO has also drawn the interest of non-profit educational institutions and those specializing in distance learning programs.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has proven to be a valuable tool in online and digital marketing. This has sparked the interest of numerous educational institutions worldwide. Utilizing SEO service brings the promise of global reach and an answer to the issue of international and long-distance students, as well as being a cost-effective option for marketing.

The business of education has seen massive transformation in recent years with the advent of the internet and new digital technologies. This new digital age has brought a significant change in what students look for in terms of institution and education quality in both the local and global context.

Importance of SEO for Educational Institutions

Students and parents are consumers of an educational institution and often times they use search engines to learn about particular schools or to find schools in a desired area. It is well known in marketing that consumers largely rely on information available through mass media. Search engines are one of the most widely used forms of mass media today. It has been shown that almost 90% of internet users utilize search engines to find information on the web. With SEO, a school’s website can be easily accessible through search engines and can in turn attract potential students and parents.

SEO is a term often used in business marketing and sales. However, it is something that educational institutions should also consider utilizing. In an era of technology and information, people are less likely to rely on public phone books and more likely to rely on internet search engines. Optimizing search engines to bring traffic to a school website is effective and appropriate in terms of modern day advertising. Schools need to understand the importance of search engines as a marketing tool and realize who their customers are in this case—the students and their parents.

Strategies for SEO in Educational Institutions

Content Creation and Optimization Once the keywords are in place, the next step would be to create content around these keywords. Well-written, articulate, and precise content is what attracts a visitor to a site. It should be noted that the content should not be created only for the purpose of ranking higher. In writing good content, one naturally employs keywords and at the same time, it is important that keyword density is ensured, i.e. not exceeding 5-6% so that content is not labeled as spam. A general trend is to create a blog section on the website and keep on adding fresh content relevant to keywords over a period of time. This helps in establishing and maintaining good rankings. An educational institution can also create separate domains containing articles relevant to the courses offered. This will bolster the online presence of the institution.

Keyword Research and Optimization This is the most fundamental aspect of SEO that serves as the building block. Keywords are the phrases which a surfer types into a search engine when looking for something. One needs to find the right set of keywords related to their institution’s website as it will help them rank their website higher in search engine results. For this, one can make use of certain paid tools like WordTracker, Google Adwords Keyword Tool and generate a list of keywords which are relevant to their website. The keywords generated can then be employed throughout the website in page title, domain name, image tags, meta description, meta keywords, and content. One very important consideration is to avoid using too general keywords. For example, an engineering college based in New York should not use “engineering college” or “engineering college in New York” as a keyword. These keywords are too general and the chance of somebody finding this college is very bleak. Instead, they should go for less competitive more targeted keywords like “mechanical engineering college in New York”. Focused or long-tail keywords are a must for new or small institutions. The next step is to monitor the performance of keywords and make changes wherever necessary.

Keyword Research and Optimization

Keyword research and optimization is the first and foremost step in planning an SEO strategy. Keywords are the words that a potential student or parent will put into a search engine when looking for the educational institutes which you are promoting. These can be single words; however, the majority of search engine queries are phrased as two or three-word phrases. Whilst it may be beneficial for an educational institute to appear top of a search engine results page (SERP) for a single word such as “schools,” there is a greater likelihood that traffic from a search such as “International Baccalaureate schools” will be more beneficial. To establish the two or three-word phrases which you should be targeting, it is useful to use a thesaurus or an online suggest tool to establish what other phrases of relevance to your institute may be searched for. With a list of potential keywords and phrases, the next step is to establish how much traffic each phrase is likely to generate for your site. This requires the use of a keyword research tool such as Good Keywords, Wordtracker, or the Google AdWords keyword suggestion tool. Enter the keywords into the tool, and it will return a list of the most popular related search terms usually ordered by the number of daily searches. This will allow you to make an informed decision as to which keywords are worth targeting on your site.

Content Creation and Optimization

Search rankings themselves provide the best path to website traffic. It has been shown that search engine traffic can make (or break) an institution’s success online. When the web surfer encounters the wonders of inbound marketing – in landing on a page that ranks highly in the search engines and getting the information or resource they were searching for from that page’s content – they have a strong predisposition to leveraging and sharing that content via social media. Hence, search traffic and the social sharing which it begets can multiply a piece of content’s impact. High search rankings are a resource that provides evergreen results for an educational institution’s content, as there is no expiry date on the links searchers click on.

There are massive benefits to be gained from a content creation strategy focused on using SEO, which aims to leverage various aspects of earned or natural search. Quality, targeted content has the potential to attract backlinks from other websites. These inbound links are a crucial determinant of the site’s search engine ranking, especially when it comes to Google. Paid link acquisition is classified as an unnatural linking method and can incur penalties.

Content creation is the process of adding new and original content on the educational institution’s website. This may take on many forms and consist of information which ranges from simple text all the way to complex multimedia such as videos. No matter what form it takes, content is the primary driver of web traffic. It is now, and is likely to be so in the future.

On-Page SEO Techniques

On-Page SEO refers to measures that can be taken within a website to improve its visibility and ranking. This is very important as it accounts for a large proportion of the ranking criteria and is also entirely under the control of the page owner. One of the best results for on-page optimization is to have high domain authority. This means targeting reputable and high-profile websites to link to your content. Both .gov and .edu websites are especially effective at this, as are well-known news agencies. In the case of a school, making sure that students’ parents are generating links to your content through their professional or community involvement is a good way to build a link network. One of the most effective on-page strategies is to use inbound deep links. A deep link is a link which points to a specific page other than the home page. This will increase the page’s visibility and back-link authority and will correlate the keyword relevancy to the page. In the case of schools, placing a direct link to a specific program or event the school is offering (such as a sporting event or educational seminar) will improve the exposure of that program. Since the objective is to reach students or parents who are using search engines, improving the visibility of these programs will be very effective at drawing attention to the event and the school.

Off-Page SEO Techniques

The quicker your site is mentioned or recommended in the education industry, the quicker your search engine rankings will improve. Press releases are an excellent way to get the word out about changes or developments in your site. Featuring news and testimonials from parents or students about your institution can also gain great exposure. Post testimonials and educational articles on other websites which are relevant to your school and make sure to include a link back to your site.

Utilizing social media to promote a video from a reliable site like your own, and encouraging others to embed your video on their own blog or sites will result in strong inbound links. Even giving a ‘shout out’ to a school or resource which you admire allows room for reciprocal linking, where they may also mention or endorse your site. Always try to establish mutual benefit when exchanging links with another organization.

Link building is the most important element in off-page SEO. By getting quality backlinks to your site, you can show search engines that your site is worthy of citation from other educational sites or resources. Quality is more important than quantity, so make sure that the backlinks you are getting are from sites which are related to your own. Good ways to build backlinks include writing for a relevant education blog or website, social bookmarking, and using authoritative directories to get your link listed on a relevant category.

Measuring and Monitoring SEO Success

Define and document the metrics of success. What are we trying to achieve statement. Put a price on top rankings. A traffic forecasting model.

Measuring and monitoring search engine optimization success is an important aspect of developing or recalibrating a winning SEO strategy. It’s necessary to establish whether the amount of money and time invested was worth it. Success can mean many things to different people. One website owner may define success as achieving a top 3 ranking for their most important keyword. Another website owner may define success as a 20% increase in qualified traffic. Unfortunately, all the energy invested in achieving these goals can be for naught if the goal isn’t properly documented to begin with. Thus, prior to any SEO effort, clearly define what constitutes success and document the source data for the defined success.

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