The search for higher education has changed in the past decade. While websites have long been an important part of the marketing and recruitment efforts of any school, they’re now the most important part.
Still, many schools either don’t have a search-engine optimization (SEO) strategy in place—or are playing guessing games when it comes to what will attract the most prospective parents and students to their site.
To help you correct your search strategy course, we’ve compiled 8 SEO missteps that schools often take, and provided some guidance on a better way to
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DON’T: Assume Prospective Students Are Searching For Your School
Students who already know your school aren’t the ones you’re trying to reach with SEO. That means using your school’s name as a keyword isn’t a great move. Your goal is, instead, to attract new potential students who may be interested in the programs you offer and other attractive qualities.
Focus on the needs of your target audience. If you’re an online institution, you’re aiming to reach students who don’t have the time or ability to attend on-campus classes. Do you have one of the top business schools in the country? Your SEO should focus on that. When you address the problems or needs of your target audience, then they’re more likely to find you.
Once you’ve snagged their attention, you can continue your inbound marketing strategy. Without attracting those students through the keywords they’re searching, you’ll never get past the first step.
DO: Assume Prospective Students Are Still In Research Phase When Brainstorming Keywords
Research starts with a question. That’s how your prospects will begin their search into schools like yours. Those questions will be very specific and cover much more than one or two words—keywords—when seeking an answer.
That means your SEO must plan for long-tail keywords and search phrases that match your target audience’s needs. In other words, those searching for a “business degree” will need much more information than just about the degree itself. They may search for “business degree from accredited online” university, or “business bachelors degree in two years.” They need all the facts during this initial research period, and if your chosen search terms aren’t focused on providing those facts, then qualified students won’t find you.
How can you choose keywords that are relevant to potential students and beneficial to you? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Make a list of important topics that are relevant to your business and the students you want to attract
- Choose keywords and search phrases that match your topics
- Research those terms to uncover related search terms you may not have considered
- Investigate other schools to see how they rank with your chosen search terms
Remember, the search terms you choose to help students research your school should appear in copy on your website. That requires quality content that provides answers to the questions these prospective students may have.
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