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Higher Education Marketing: Why SEO Matters
Nearly all of us use a search engine as a regular part of our daily lives, but not everyone in marketing or at the helm of a business understands the fundamentals of SEO — how it works and why it matters. Simply put, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a technique that helps search engines find and properly rank your site in response to a user’s query. With hundreds of thousands of other sites generating millions of results, SEO considerations help your site (and its content) get noticed and generate traffic.
To be competitive marketers today, schools need to understand how to show up in the results of prospective students’ search activity. To do this, marketing teams should have a working knowledge of how keywords and content interact with each other so that your site lands closer to that coveted top spot in search engine results. Done right, SEO drives real business results not simply by generating higher website traffic, but by delivering more qualified customers to your doorstep.
If your school is reviewing its current SEO and SEM strategy, or developing a strategy for the first time, here are a few reasons why SEO matters and how a solid SEO plan can produce real results:
Customers search by keyword. The fundamental truth behind all effective SEO strategies is a simple one: customers search by keyword. Today, reaching the right customers in the right way and at the right time involves leveraging the power of search engines through a solid SEO strategy. Without it, your site’s search ranking is left to chance — the product of some lucky keyword or keyword combination hits and inconsistent organic results.
Understanding SEO drives content design. Knowing how online users search for relevant content is essential. Once you understand top keywords based on search activity, you can begin to build a content strategy that helps your site deliver information in the right way. There’s a delicate balance between designing content that delivers appropriate, easy-to-read information and optimizing that content for search. This is where the skill of writers and content managers converge with the science of marketing.
Better keywords = better customers. Well-designed sites that are optimized for search ultimately deliver better customers by tailoring content design to meet specific search inquiries. With users’ fleeting attention spans and pages of competitive content just a click away, the smartest SEO strategies are built around an understanding of how customers search and hard data about what words and terms guide their searches. Success not only means designing content that gets indexed properly by search engines, but it also means making that content relevant to users and arranging it in ways that are easy to access and digest quickly.
Results are measurable. Few marketing efforts produce results that are as easily tracked as SEO. SEO and related tools like PPC (pay-per-click) advertising are not only affordable; they’re easily — almost obsessively —measurable. With tools like Google Analytics, your marketing team can determine how many prospective customers are coming to your site, how they got there, what keywords they used to find you, what links they clicked on, and how long they stayed.
When viewed through the lens of more traditional advertising, this level of data and customer insight is nothing short of astounding. Not only do the results help support and refine your online efforts, but the behavior behind the results can also inform other aspects of how your institution markets to and communicates with prospective students.
It’s not (always) about money. Focusing on search and prioritizing where your institution lands in search results also helps with industry positioning and consumer perception. Though a bit grayer and not as easily measurable, positioning your school at the top of Google or other major search engines, can, in itself, be a marker of credibility. It can speak volumes about your business, create awareness and goodwill, and can have a positive psychological impact on students and faculty. A clear and well-managed SEO strategy helps the audiences you know, and even those you don’t, find you in cyberspace. And, as we all know, getting noticed is at least half the battle.
Effective SEO strategies can help schools clarify their message, reach the right audience, and bring more qualified leads to recruiters. As technology advances, search becomes more mobile, and results more tailored, SEO and SEM will play an ever-increasing role in reaching prospective students during crucial decision-making periods. To learn more about how the Enrollment Builders’ team of professionals can help develop an SEO or pay-for-performance marketing strategy for your school, call us at 513-518-7824, or request information here.