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SEO for Higher Education

Presented this slide deck to a Pennsylvania College in September 2015.

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SEO for Higher Education

  1. 1. web analytics | search engine marketing | email marketing SEO Best Practices for Higher Education September 2015
  2. 2. Today’s Speaker Jeff Tincher ● Owner of 610 Digital, LLC; Founder of Chester County Marketing Group ● Digital Marketing Consultant, specializing in Web Analytics, SEO & Paid Search Marketing, Email Marketing and Automation ● Background in Technology and Digital Marketing ● Husband and father of 2 children ● Youth soccer coach; Community volunteer ● Connect on LinkedIn -- 2
  3. 3. Talking Points 1. How Students and Parents SEARCH 2. Best Practices for On-Page SEO 3. Technical SEO 4. Examples of how other Universities improved SEO 5. Optimizing for Local SEO and Events 3
  4. 4. 4 90% of HS seniors and 80% of HS parents have access to a mobile device source: Noel-Levitz 2014 E-Expectations Report 71% of HS seniors and 45% of HS parents visited college websites on mobile
  5. 5. 5 education searchers don’t know which school they want to attend when they begin their college search. 8 in 10 source: Google Think Education, 2013
  6. 6. 6 people who complete a conversion on education websites that are influenced by search. 78% source: Google Think Education, 2013
  7. 7. 7 source: Google Think Education, 2013 83% of all education queries begin with non-branded keywords. source: Google Think Education, 2013
  8. 8. 8 Communications preference and influences source: Noel-Levitz 2014 E-Expectations Report
  9. 9. Understand Search Interest: Google Trends ● Higher search interest for College A (blue) over Collage B (red) ● Search queries increase in August through October when high school juniors/seniors are researching colleges ● Less search interest for colleges in spring/summer months source: 9
  10. 10. Optimizing Department Pages with SEO
  11. 11. What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process and strategy involved in improving the structure and content of a website to help improve the ranking on search engines. 11
  12. 12. Perfectly Optimized Landing Page ● Unique Title for Every Page ● Unique Meta Description ● Only one H1 header on a page ● Optimize H2 header for sections of page ● Image Filename and Image Alt Attribute ● Use variations of best keywords - but do NOT over stuff ● Write content in human-speak; write for humans NOT search engines 12 Useful Tool:
  13. 13. SEO for Page Titles Page title is what appears on the Search Results Page (SERPs) and needs to be compelling enough for a student to click on the headline. ● Most important element for on-page SEO ● Put best keywords at front of Title Tag ● 60-65 characters in length, max of 70 13 Optimized Title Bachelor of Science in Accounting | Example University, Pennsylvania
  14. 14. SEO for Meta Description ● Each page SHOULD have a unique Meta Description ● Include a Call-to-Action ● Meta descriptions do not directly impact a SEO or ranking; but do have a big impact on click-through Like a title tag, each meta tag for each of your web pages should be unique. They should be no more than 150 characters in length, or else Google will cut off your description. 14
  15. 15. SEO Keywords ● Need to research keywords ● Gather info about competing schools and programs ● Take advantage of Long-Tail Keywords (4+ words) ● Write for prospective students and parents ● Use the keywords in the content but also as headings on the page 15
  16. 16. Current Keyword Ranking 16 Keyword Rank masters in engineering pa 14 chemical engineering degree PA 32 civil engineering degree in PA 19 colleges that offer civil engineering in pa 55 pennsylvania colleges Not Ranked east coast colleges Not Ranked colleges in pennsylvania Not Ranked graduate schools in pa 99 graduate schools lehigh valley 1 MBA allentown 33 MBA program PA 89 MBA programs in Pennsylvania Not Ranked evening classes for masters allentown 42 MBA evening classes PA 78 graduate programs in eastern Pennsylvania 73 sports events lehigh valley 30 lehigh music concerts 1 art show in allentown 52 art show lehigh valley 40 sports events lehigh valley 30
  17. 17. Sample Keywords from GRADUATE PROGRAMS IN PA (SEED) graduate programs in allentown pa graduate schools in allentown pa graduate programs near allentown pa graduate accounting programs in pennsylvania graduate schools in pennsylvania for business graduate education programs in pa 17 ENGINEERING PROGRAMS EAST COAST (SEED) chemical engineering programs east coast top engineering schools east coast small engineering schools east coast chemical engineering schools east coast colleges with engineering programs on the east coast engineering programs on the east coast east coast colleges with engineering programs
  18. 18. Technical SEO
  19. 19. Google Search Center (Webmaster Tools) 19
  20. 20. Why You Need a Sitemap.xml File XML sitemaps allow you to notify and communication with search engines, letting them know about new pages, changed content, etc. This can help your pages get indexed quicker. 20
  21. 21. Why It’s Important to be Mobile-Optimized ● Google is now ranking Mobile-Friendly pages higher in Mobile-SERPs ● Better User Experience ● Lower Mobile Bounce Rate 21
  22. 22. Check Your Pages!! Check your Department’s site and pages at 22 useful tool:
  23. 23. Remember, prospective students use mobile! Eduventures 2015 Prospective Student Survey ● 67% of all college-bound students use their phones as part of their overall college application experience ● slightly higher mobile usage during the early search process “Not having a mobile-optimized admissions website could mean that you reach fewer students at the earliest part of their college search experience.” 23 source:
  24. 24. SEO Improvements at Other Universities
  25. 25. Univ. of Dayton Fixed Low SERP for “Ohio” Searches ● What: Not ranking for in-state searches for graduate programs (Masters Computer Science Ohio) ● Why: Title tags not optimized for local or state-specific search. Competing against other Ohio colleges. ● How: Improved low search rankings by adding one word to their graduate program pages. 25source: Added “Ohio”
  26. 26. Be Ready for Multi-Screen ● What: Ashford Univ evaluated how prospective students viewed the website. ● Findings: Prospective students often visited site via mobile early on and for initial information. These prospects returned later on desktops for more information and longer duration. ● Results/Changes Made: created a simplified mobile website focusing on three features: embedded video, programs offered, and a short contact form. 26Source: “It’s about optimizing the experience as it relates to smartphones and tablets,” Ross Woodard, CMO says.
  27. 27. Case Study: Radford University ● Spent 9 months implementing a comprehensive in-house SEO project across tens of thousands of its web pages. ● Updated page titles, page descriptions, page headlines and headers to include relevant keywords ● Increased Organic Traffic by 18% in two years 27 4% Organic in 2011 22% Organic in 2013 source:
  28. 28. Local SEO and Schema
  29. 29. SEO for Venues and Events ● Use location keywords in event title, names, content. ● Improve SERPs with microdata or schema ● Claim your venues on Local Directories, Google My Business & Maps, Bing Maps ● Make sure to fill out 100% of the fields (including images) and use the exact location information on each directory 29 Example of a Google search result that has been marked up with the Event Schema: useful tool:
  30. 30. Microdata / Schema Microdata allows you to call out certain types of content from your pages like address, phone, event dates & times, important people. Core Business Information (Name, Address & Phone or NAP) ■ Business Name ■ Business Address ■ Business Phone ■ Business Lat / Long ■ Business Logo ■ Business Description 30
  31. 31. Now that SEO Brought Prospects to Your Site... Make sure to keep prospective students coming back to! 31 ● Track micro and macro conversions ○ did they download info ○ signup for email ○ follow on Social ○ browse 5+ pages ○ spend 5+ minutes ● Remarket to select audiences that visit your site but do not convert. Use remarketing ads to display both text ads and display/image ads to prospective students and parents
  32. 32. Slide Deck @ 32 Thank you and Questions Jeff Tincher @JeffTincher
  33. 33. 610.590.4824 33