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Marketing for Universities: SEO Ranking Factors

By | January 9, 2014

Search engines update their algorithm over 100+ times a year, meaning there is no perfect recipe for obtaining the first organic result. That being said, there are several factors that higher education institutes should employ in their SEO marketing plan to compete for the coveted top positions.

  • A Strong Site Structure – Each page should have a single purpose, and that purpose should be clearly conveyed. Making navigahigher-education-marketingtion easy for current and potential students signals a useful, highly optimized site.
  • Targeted Keywords – Identifying which keywords are relevant to a university and its users is paramount to achieving top rankings. When keywords match a student’s query, chances for ranking highly are greatly increased.
  • Relevant Title Tags – A page’s title is the first, and arguably strongest, indicator of its content and its function. Including targeted program-related and conversion-based keywords in the title tag helps search engines match the page to the searched query.
  • Performance Metrics – A site’s load speed, average visitor duration and bounce rate are all indicators of its quality. Higher performance metrics earn universities higher rankings.
  • Local Signals – Wanting to serve the best results, search engines will take a student’s physical location into consideration when determining results. Making sure a site has its address wrapped in schema code and includes location-based keywords will boost local rankings.
  • Universal Results “Bait” – As search engines mature, it’s rare to see a results page with only blue organic links. Today, there are images, video, Google Places maps, and even a scrolling carousel in the top-ranking spots. Making sure diversified content is present both on- and off-site ensures a higher chance or achieving top rankings.
  • Social Signals – While they may not affect rankings as heavily as other factors, having strong social signals indicates student interest and promotes site credibility to search engines. Think of Facebook likes, Google +1s, Twitter retweets, and blog post links as users “voting” for a college.

Remember, search engines can’t be controlled, but the above factors can be used as strong influencers to achieve top rankings.

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About Kelly Krasuna

A graduate of the University of Toledo, Kelly holds a degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations. She is a Digital Advertising & Marketing Specialist on Fathom’s EDU team, and brings several years of experience in ecommerce and lead-generation across both local and large enterprise accounts. Outside of work hours, Kelly enjoys Cleveland sports and traveling.

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