It is quick, easy, and quite basic to create and host an official college website at a minimal investment.
A lot of Academic institutes have created websites, got them up and running but failed to drive any revenue from it.
The problem is that the websites don’t focus on students who want to actively enroll in an educational institute.
Students looking for information that can have an impact on their future often rely on Google’s SERP-listed educational website to make better-informed decisions. Having an official Edu website rank organically by following SEO best practices can help drive a stream of relevant student traffic while maintaining the website’s integrity.
1. Technical University SEO for College Websites.
Technical SEO lets the search engine web Spiders know of your institute’s existence, by having them index your pages!
That’s how important this part of web optimization actually is.
Technical SEO refers to website and server optimizations that you can do on a regular basis to ensure that search engine spiders can easily scan your educational content.
This helps in the more effective indexing of a college website.
Here are some technical factors that contribute to your website placement on the SERPs.
a. Page Loading Time
Search engines and visitors alike prefer websites that load faster. Page speed is considered a crucial ranking factor for University SEO.
Your college website should be able to present full content to a student within 2.9 seconds.
The probability of bounce increases 32% as page loading time goes above 3 seconds.
How to reduce college website loading time?
- Minimize the number of HTTP requests your college landing page needs to make when a visitor clicks for the first time.
- Ensure your image files are as small as possible and use the appropriate image file format.
- Use a fast DNS (‘domain name system’) service.
Google uses SSL certificates as a factor of “trustworthiness”.
SSL certificates are a security measure for a website. Having an SSL certificate for your college website implies an encrypted connection to all its visitors safeguarding their personal information and this gives a major boost to your university SEO.
Why are SSL certificates a must for educational websites?
As an official educational website, it is ideal to encourage students to sign in, enter their personal confidential information such as email, credit card information, financial information, etc. SSL certificates help you keep this data confidential from privy eyes by keeping your online interactions with students and parents private.
c. Mobile Optimization
Your educational website is at a disadvantage for smartphone searches if it is not optimized for mobile devices.
Why does mobile optimization boost SERP rankings?
Google understands that majority of students are actively looking up new educational institutes to enroll in using their smartphones. As a search engine, Google wants only the best search experience.
A mobile-friendly college website ensures that a student or parent seeking educational guidance on their phone has full access and can consume the information needed to make an informed decision.
d. Ideal Site structure for official school websites.
Site structure is how different pages are interlinked and their hierarchy.
Google takes into consideration the way you present your content to a student/parent.
Your organic SERP ranks will improve if your college website is well-structured and easy to navigate for both students and web crawlers.
- Always go for a user-friendly and optimized URL structure with consistent internal links.
- Using short words and straightforward language, deliver to-the-point, concise information maintaining a consistent structure.
- Don’t clog up the navigation panel, instead use the Breadcrumb trail technique to provide organic navigation- spurring them to stay and view more pages. Hence reducing page bounce rate.
A well-structured college website, touching every point in the student enrollment journey by leveraging a student’s research phase is bound to receive a higher SERP ranking.
2. On-page SEO Assessment for College Websites.
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing a college website’s content and HTML source code to meet the student’s search intent so that your educational establishment appears for relevant search terms and attracts a constant stream of students checking out your college website.
Student’s Search Intent?
Students search for educational institutes that reflect their interests, experience, and abilities. They contemplate future opportunities and jobs that might aid them on their career path.
Educational institutions should complement a student’s future-oriented intent and give insights into the sector they are interested in through their Content.
Your focus should be on creating high-quality and relevant content in the form of blogs and videos directly answering the problems, concerns that students/parents may have while they are looking for an institute to enroll in.
Why Educational Institutes should focus on Good Content?
A website’s content is what determines if it is deserving of an organic SERP rank.
Search engines wish to offer students career advice that is simple to understand, actionable, insightful, and relevant. Educational institutions that provide good content and target the right keywords receive a flood of high converting organic student traffic to their website.
What exactly is “Good Content”?
Well, from an SEO standpoint any content you push on your official college website should have two characteristics:
- It must satisfy relevant search queries that most students look up during the “research phase”.
- It should be linkable.
How to Target the right Students and Parents organically through Content?
To discover and target the right parents and students via the internet, you must first understand what they are looking for.
It’s pointless to refer a student wanting to enroll in an MBA program to a blog or an article on the top engineering programs. Search engines understand a student’s intent, and it’s your responsibility to match it and target the right students and parents.
Here are some techniques to help you understand your target student and parent audience better and drive quality student leads.
a. Keyword Research for Educational institutes.
Keyword research is the technique of researching common search terms that students and parents use in search engines like Google and deliberately integrating them into your content so that it ranks better on a search engine results page (SERP).
You must select niche keywords that are extremely specific and target a certain kind of student audience in order to attract the right students and parent visitors.
Targeting educational niche keywords like “best engineering colleges that offer scholarship” although have a smaller search volume, but can help your website attract more qualified and converting student traffic.
b. Metatag optimizations for educational institutes.
Meta tags are small snippets of text that describe a page’s content. Writing descriptive meta tags for your educational content will allow you to tell search engine bots what your content is all about and get the right student traffic.
c. Internal Linking for educational institutes.
Internal links refer to how you link your web content internally within your domain. Internal links help users navigate through your content establishing an information hierarchy.
Internally linked content has a deep impact on a student enrollment journey especially in their “research phase”.
Properly placed internal links on a college website will encourage student visitors with “informational intent ” to enroll in your institute.
3. Off-page SEO for educational niche websites.
Off-page SEO if done correctly can skyrocket your institute’s organic presence.
Off-Page SEO strategies refer to a set of link-building activities that can potentially make or break the work you do on your college website.
The key goal here is to create high-quality, reliable backlinks from relevant, authoritative websites that have already established themselves in Google’s sight.
So what are backlinks anyway?
A backlink is a link that a webmaster posts on their site that directs visitors to yours while also passing link juice to help you rank higher. Backlinks are used by Google to determine the relevancy of a website based on the company it keeps.
Securing the Right Backlinks in the educational industry
Having a “.edu” TLD (Top Level Domain) is insufficient and does not guarantee a backlink. Webmasters are pickier than ever when it comes to giving out links, and won’t link to yours just because your college website ends in “.edu.” Obtaining backlinks in the education sector still involves the creation of link-worthy content.
Here are three main types of linkable pages when it comes to colleges and educational establishments:
a. Official School/College Homepage
For locally popular and recognized schools and colleges, the domain name can be a great linkable resource. Your official school/college homepage should be a one-stop destination you should work on to redirect your student audiences.
- Names of schools and colleges are frequently debated online in educational forums, social media, and other places. Such school brand name mentions are a great way to enhance your SEO and drive student visitors to your homepage.
- Driving student traffic from social media sites to your official school/college homepage can also help indirectly boost SEO.
- Geo-specific local resource pages that appear for search queries such as “top engineering colleges in Bangalore” are again a great place to obtain a link because they simply list the most well-known schools and colleges in the area. These should also be linked to the official home page of the college.
b. Degree pages
Degree pages are excellent to obtain high-quality backlinks. These essentially act as “product pages” for educational institutes that explain how much value enrolling in your degree program can bring to a student’s CV.
The link-worthiness of your educational institute’s degree pages depends on the university you are affiliated to, the value it holds in the job market, type of degree programs or specializations offered.
Also, make sure that the pages are neatly formatted and aesthetically pleasing while providing just the right amount of information for students and parents at every stage of their enrollment journey.
c. Linkable assets
Schools, colleges, and other educational institutes are actually in a great position to create linkable assets.
Students are constantly on the lookout for easy-to-digest notes, research papers, guides, question banks, etc. Hand-crafted notes educational material by your college professors regularly updated on the official college website can serve as a great online resource and can be leveraged for backlinks.
Other linkable assets for educational institutes include:
- Useful Infographics.
- Practical How-to guides.
- Interviews with professors and other prominent personalities.
- Insights into university marking systems.
- Ready-made projects.
- Participation of the community
- Student academic achievements.
4. Local SEO for Educational Institutes
Local SEO is a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that helps your educational institute stand out and be more visible in local search results on Google.
As a locally popular educational institute, you have a good opportunity to feature within both the main organic search results and the local map listings at the same time.
Leveraging local SEO for Educational Institutes
Localized content and local link popularity are two factors to consider to optimize local university SEO.
It’s critical to develop local landing pages if you have schools in multiple geographical locations.
Here, you should provide proper information such as Name, Address, and Phone number(NAP) related to that location, as well as improve titles tags, meta descriptions, to cater to the tastes of local audiences using SEO recommended best practices.
Keyword strategy to locally optimize an Educational website
Understanding what local parents want before enrolling their children and creating content with location-specific and relevant keywords makes it simpler to appear in search engines because the keywords are frequently long-tail but have a particular converting local audience in mind.
One sure way to improve your institution’s web presence, help prospective students find information about your school/educational institution quickly and easily, and give a boost to your university SEO is to take control of your free online business listing with Google My Business (GMB).
Google My Business (GMB)
GMB is a great platform for local colleges that allows you to easily reach local parents and students and showcase your educational institute in Google search results.
Using GMB, institutions can list various departments, offices, campuses, hostels, to show up for local search results. All you need is a free Gmail account to manage your local listings.
a. Why GMB?
- An optimized Google My Business Listings can help drive considerable organic traffic to your official college website giving a huge boost to your University SEO.
- GMB listing determines whether your school will show up above your competitor for local searches.
- Google recommends completing and optimizing your GMB profile is the first step to a successful Local University SEO strategy.
b. NAP Local University SEO
NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number.
When it comes to optimizing college websites for local searches, the NAP credentials listed above are very important. Google promotes factual info that is readily accessible and regularly updated.
Correct NAP listings can help define your institution’s local online presence and boost your university SEO.
A strong organic presence will elevate the chances of student enrollments. It takes time and effort to do it the right way.
This comprehensive guide on SEO for educational institutions is designed to assist educational institutions with practical techniques for increasing their organic presence.
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