The internet has made the world a very small place. In the case of educational institutions, people now have access to information about millions of schools all over the world. However, that also means that fewer people are basing educational decisions off in-person visits and experiences. Instead, they’re using the information that’s available to them online to make their educational decisions.
But people aren’t just looking for information about schools online, they’re doing the actual learning online, as well. In 2018, 47 percent of college students were enrolled in online distance learning classes. That number obviously rose in 2020, due to the pandemic.
Online learning isn’t only for colleges and universities, either. During the 17-18 school year, nearly 300,000 K-12 students were enrolled in cyber school. Another 133,000 went to schools offering a combination of online and in-person instruction. Again, these numbers are even higher for 2020.
But, whether you’re looking to grow your enrollment or even just maintain it, you need to bend to the times and invest in a digital marketing strategy with a strong emphasis on search engine optimization (SEO) for educational institutions.
SEO is a combination of techniques used by digital marketers to increase organic web traffic — users who click on your site from a search engine’s results pages (SERPs). It’s really the process of fine-tuning and refining specific aspects, like the headers on each page, of a website so that its pages rank higher in the SERPs.
But how do SEO agencies know what to do to get pages to rank higher?
Google looks at specific criteria, called ranking factors, to determine rankings for every page for a specific search query — the words users type in their search bar. Leveraging those ranking factors to make your pages rank as high as possible in the SERPs is really the foundation of SEO.
Ideally, your pages are ranking in the top three for relevant phrases because 75 percent of Internet users will end up going with one of those three search results. Not only that, but only 5 percent of internet users even bother to view the second page of results. If getting students to enroll in your school, join your program or become a member of your organization online is one of your goals, investing in SEO is the best way to make it happen.
Some people falsely assume that because universities, online learning platforms and educational organizations and foundations aren’t all businesses, per se, they can’t reap the benefits of SEO. That is incorrect. Schools aren’t businesses; that much is true.
But, just like businesses, educational institutions still measure their success; it just may not be by profit. Instead, it may be by enrollment, memberships, quality of post-grad jobs, or some other KPI that’s specific to education.
Below are some ways SEO can help educational institutions meet their goals.
Whereas a business may compete for customers or clients, educational institutions are likely competing for students or members.
If you’re a university, for example, your goal is to get the best and brightest students to choose your school over countless other ones. If you’re an online learning platform, you want more users to register for your platform than others. And if you’re an organization or a foundation, you want the greatest academic minds to join your group first.
None of these goals are easy. But with effective education SEO, you’re well on your way to attracting the students and members you want, because when prospective students and members take the time to research their educational options, they’ll find you first.
In order to remain competitive, you need to be present in users’ minds before they start their research. According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, 95 percent of all purchasing decisions are made before customers even begin looking for information about a product or service. Fortunately, SEO can help with that too.
By showing up repeatedly in search results for relevant queries, you’re engraining your name and your brand in users’ heads. And when it comes time to finally make a decision, you can be sure you’re in the running, simply because they know you exist.
When you think about education SEO, you may think, universities want students from everyone, not just locally. That’s true. But what about smaller colleges that don’t offer on-campus housing? Or local organizations and foundations that serve only their communities? Local search is extremely important for both those groups.
But if you’re not investing in SEO, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with local prospective students and members and let them know about the educational opportunities you provide.
we get that every foundation and organization has a different mission and a different audience. We also get that the goal isn’t to make money. It is to provide people with the opportunity to learn. And we take that very seriously, just like you.
Helping educational institutions be successful is a win for us all, and we have talented consultants who are well-versed in SEO for educational institutions and who are eager to learn your needs and exceed your expectations.
Here are some of the ways we help educational institutions implement SEO strategies:
Our diverse group of results-driven SEO services was developed to increase the organic traffic on your website, but our ultimate goal is to help your educational institution be successful.
Your organization has an online presence; it’s likely a combination of your website, Google My Business listings, social media accounts and maybe more. These are all critical components of your digital marketing strategy, but not optimizing them is a missed opportunity.
SEO has the power to help educational institutions enable learning. Don’t leave this valuable marketing tool on the table. Partner with an SEO company that understands the value of education and that’s capable of helping you extend that value to as many people as possible.
Sure Oak is dedicated to your success and we tenaciously pursue excellence in every aspect of SEO for educational institutions. Contact us today for a free SEO strategy review.