SEO for Colleges

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These days, the competition to attract good students is driving many colleges to rethink their marketing strategies.

While a good college marketing program will include multiple channels, SEO deserves special attention. For large numbers of students, the search for the perfect college begins online — and implementing a strong college SEO strategy will help ensure that your institution catches their attention.

Here are some of the top techniques a college SEO company might use to help boost your traffic and enrollment.

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Create a Powerful Keyword Strategy 

Keywords are the heart of SEO. Finding the best keywords not only for driving traffic to your site, but for drawing in the students most likely to enroll will help ensure optimal ROI from your college SEO campaign.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Keep user intent in mind. People visit university and college sites for many reasons. Focusing on keywords used by your prospective students will help you attract the most valuable traffic.
  • Optimize for the right keywords. You may have degree titles that differ from the norm. While this can help to differentiate your college, prospective students may never find out about your cool degree if you don’t also include the terms for which people actually search. For example, if you offer a degree in Wilderness Leadership, you might want to also optimize the page describing it for keywords such as “outdoor education”, “outdoor studies” or “environmental studies”.
  • Use geo-targeted keywords. Many students search for colleges and universities by location. Make sure your college shows up when they search for colleges or specific degrees in your state or region.

Keyword selection for colleges and universities can be tricky. An experienced college SEO agency can help you create a keyword strategy that fits your enrollment goals and your budget.

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Address Technical SEO Issues

The way your website is set up has a huge impact on SEO performance. Here are just a few issues of which you should be aware:

  • Fast sites rank better. Make sure your page loading speed is … well, up to speed.
  • Mobile responsiveness rules. Google’s mobile-first index means they are using the mobile version of a site as the default in the ranking process. This may prove problematic for colleges, especially if some parts of your site are mobile-friendly and others aren’t. Consider hiring a college SEO firm experienced in mobile website development to help bring your site up to par.
  • Review your internal linking structure. As different departments update their sites, it can wreak havoc with SEO. Reviewing your linking structure periodically for broken internal links, naming convention, link value flow and other link issues can help improve your rankings and make your site easier for visitors to navigate.
  • Watch for duplicate content. This is very common on university sites, for instance when one department reposts another’s blog content. You’ll want to check for and resolve duplicate content to prevent it from hurting your rankings.

Gather Backlinks

Getting other sites to link to you is one of the most powerful ways to improve search rankings. Fortunately, colleges have many opportunities to solicit backlinks. Here are a few:

  • Ask for links from other universities, partner schools, and community partners.
  • Look for online mentions of your college, and ask the site owners for a link.
  • Coordinate with your PR department: Have it ask for specific backlinks when it scores a story in the media.
  • Give testimonials. Most vendors will be happy to include a link to your site when they publish your testimonial.

A good college SEO firm will be able to give you many more ideas for backlink generation, as well as help with the legwork of making it happen.

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