So you’re creating content to attract and cultivate prospective students, what SEO strategies should you adopt? And what are the common shortfalls that school websites fall into?
I know that terms like search engine marketing (SEM), and its sub-discipline of search engine optimization (SEO), can be intimidating.
But don’t click away from this page without reading this post!
This is part 2 of a conversation we had with our guest Faton Sopa, Cofounder and CEO of Manaferra.
In these conversations on The Higher Ed Marketer podcast, we cover the broad concepts of SEM, but we also dive into some of the intricacies of SEO strategies that all school websites should adopt.
Whether you’re a technical expert or simply a marketing creative who wants to see your school succeed, you’ll get a lot out of these blogs, especially if you listen to the podcast episode as well.
Let’s dive in!
SEO Strategies Are Long-Term
It’s tempting to think that because everything can happen with a click of a button, results should come flooding in right away, but unfortunately, it’s just not that way.
But that doesn’t mean that SEO isn’t worth doing! Faton explains.
SEO is a long-term channel. It’s a marketing channel that is not for people who do not have patience.
SEO takes time to bring its first results, depending on your current state and performance on search engines.
[However,] we have data to prove that mid to long-term SEO brings more return on investment than pay per click.
I’m not saying that people should leave [pay per click]. It is still necessary, of course! You need to complement both of them.
But in terms of mid to long-term investment, return on investment, SEO tends to perform much, much better.
The reason for this is that with pay per click, the only way to get more leads is to pay more. With SEO, as you grow, you pay less for leads and applications compared to pay per click because of the compound effect.
I really appreciate the fact that Faton mentioned that marketers need to be patient for SEO strategies to work.
This is exactly what I’ve experienced on my own blog at Caylor Solutions.
I’ve been blogging for eight years, and have now generated 500 pieces of content.
All the content is around the theme of higher ed marketing, and so I rank really high on Google, for all the reasons that Faton mentioned.
Content vs. Technical Web Design
We’ve all heard that Google tries to reward authentic content, what some have called “people-first content.”
However, sites and tools like Yoast that are entirely dedicated to helping marketers improve their search engine rankings, are full of instructions on the technical things you have to do in order to rank well in Google.
Good SEO strategies combine quality content with proper technical web design.
Basically, content (as everything with SEO) should come from analysis.
Content is something that you really need to pay attention to even before starting to develop the website, because content means more than a blog.
[In reality,] content means every page on your website.
It means program pages, informational pages like “contact us” and admission pages, tuition fees, blogs, all statistics, research papers—everything! All of this content serves different purposes.
What we have seen is that it is necessary to first understand your audience even before you plan your website. [You need to] understand each of your target markets.
What geography are you hitting? Who are your competitors? What are they doing? What content [do they have] on their website? What questions are they answering? Is there something that they are missing? Is there something that they are doing that you can make 10x more content out of that?
If you have done a great job in optimizing the technical side of the website, and at the same time, you are building those backlinks to your website to increase the authority for the content that you are writing, and if you have patience and are tracking your performance in real time, you can iterate on what’s working – and in real time.
Based on this, you can invest in what’s bringing most of the return on investment.
Content is not a one-time thing and then you forget it. It is a constant thing.
You need to produce high quality content that brings high quality traffic, which brings high quality prospects that are more likely to convert.
It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality.
SEO strategies have been a long-term play for me. I’ve been patient, and I’ve seen how long-term SEO strategies really do pay off.
Unfortunately, SEO is something that most schools forget until it’s too late.
Too often, they call me saying, “Hey, we’re down in our enrollment! What can we do to fix this?”
At that point so late in the game, there are limits on what you can do.
But when things are good in enrollment, that’s the time to really start looking at your content.
When all is going well, start looking at your search engine optimization, so that when times change, you’re all ready to go.
Discover more when you listen to the podcast!
Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.
Listen to our interview with Faton Sopa to get even more insights into:
- The marriage of technical web design and content (1:46)
- Referral backlinks and the subtle art of link building (19:42)
- Why colleges and universities are shorting their SEO potential (36:44)
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Featured image by Artco via Adobe Stock