If you’re trying to increase the impact of your school’s web presence, you’ve probably considered taking the plunge into the world of search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO. With the influx of prospective students turning to the web in their search for the right school, ranking at the top of search engine results pages is more important than ever.
But understanding your school site’s need for optimization is only the first step in the journey to ranking higher in search results. Furthermore, navigating the dynamic landscape of search engine algorithms and updates can be overwhelming, especially at first glance. Despite the constant flow of changes, there are a few foundational practices that can kick start your SEO efforts. Here are 5 of those tactics that can get you started and get your college’s site on the map.
- Develop a Strategy
Before you can begin making changes to your site to optimize for search, it’s important to develop a strategy that guides you through the SEO process. Establishing goals, understanding your competitors’ web presence, and knowing the audience you’re trying to reach are all key in creating an effective approach to improving your school’s site.
When developing your strategy, it’s also important to think about how you plan on tracking your results. Understanding what metrics matter to your goals allows you to better gauge the success of your SEO efforts and evaluate what can still be improved.
- Invest Time in Keyword Research and Implementation
Understanding your audience is an important part of deciding how to optimize your website. Researching your competitors and their top keywords, combined with gathering information on search trends, can give you a good idea of your target demographic and the way your audience is browsing the web.
Once you know how your audience is searching, focus your search on keywords that lead the right traffic to your page—using keywords with a smaller search volume that fit what your school offers may result in more site visitors finding what they’re looking for with your school and may result in higher engagement in the long run.
Be somewhat sparing with your keyword incorporation— if your site is too keyword-dense, Google may identify it as stuffing, which could result in a penalty. While using exact match keywords is ideal, avoid simply adding exact keyword phrases if it sounds unnatural. In those situations, incorporate parts of keyword phrases throughout your headings, titles, and metadescriptions in a natural sounding way.
- Cultivate Quality Content (and do it consistently)
Long gone are the days when keyword stuffing and posting high volumes of thin content help you rank high in the search engine results page; more recent Google algorithm changes favor long-form content, and posting more robust content on a regular basis can significantly contribute to improving your standing in search results.
Posting quality content that combines your understanding of your audience and your in-depth keyword research will increase your visibility in search engine results and will be more likely to keep your visitors engaged.
- Optimize for Mobile Search
- Prepare for the Marathon—Not the Sprint
If you’re preparing to start down the SEO road with your school’s site, be prepared to wait. SEO is not a game of instant gratification—the work you put in up front may take some time to pay off. But staying consistent and dedicated to your SEO efforts is one of the best ways to make sure that the payoff does come.