In our experience, most higher education institutions underutilize their blogging platforms. Although it takes time, a commitment to consistent posting, and good ideas, blogging is an incredibly powerful platform to engage prospective students and for search engine optimization. Blogs present the perfect opportunity to create new content on your website, which is valuable for SEO because new content is indexed more frequently by search engines and gives you an opportunity to rank for targeted long tail keywords (3+ word queries) that are often less competitive.
At Eduvantis Digital, we advise our clients to write a blog post for every targeted keyword or query they want to rank on search engines. It is important to note that you should want your core program pages to rank before your blog posts, and this is why we recommend optimizing your blog posts for longer tail keywords that prospective students use when looking for higher ed programs. One example – our client wrote a blog post on “executive mba vs. mba programs” and were able to quickly rank on the first page of Google for that targeted search query, which resulted in a small, but valuable, increase in targeted prospect website traffic.
In this post, we have outlined some simple higher education blogging tips and best practices to help you attract new website visitors and increase your search rankings.
1. What do prospective students want to know?
Think about everything prospective students are thinking about when looking for college, university, and business school programs. What are they searching for? What do they care about? For MBA prospective students, they are interested in understanding the value of an MBA degree, how to get into business school, application tips, and what salary they can expect when graduating. All of these are great topics for blog posts. There aren’t many schools using this blogging approach to effectively rank on search engines for popular prospective student search queries. This is an opportunity for you. A good example: University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School writes about how to conquer the MBA admissions essay, but there are many other great topics that institutions can rank for on search engines, but they simply need to write targeted content.
You can’t rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a keyword or topic that you do not have content about. Think outside the box and take the opportunity to educate prospective students on a topic that is related to the programs and products you offer. The “emba vs. mba” topic highlighted above is a great example – this is a topic prospects are very curious about and it gets a fair amount of search volume. Our client at Eduvantis was able to take advantage of this opportunity to educate prospects and get prospects who were looking for this information to their website.
2. What are people asking in forums like Quora?
Quora is a forum where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. This is a great way to see what kinds of questions people have about your school and programs. Write content to answer these questions and this will help increase both your search rankings and help answer prospective student questions.
For example, a simple search of “Kellogg School of Management” on Quora brought up a lot of questions about well-known alumni. If you Google that topic, Kellogg has a whole section of their site dedicated to Alumni, but Wikipedia has a page dedicated to listing them all as well, which outranks Kellogg’s own website.See what people are asking about your brand. If it’s something you could write a blog or article on, you should! This will give your institution the opportunity to outrank forums like Quora or encyclopedias like Wikipedia and lead searchers directly to your site.
3. Let Google tell you what to write
Typically, when people search using very general keywords like “emba” or “full time mba” they are often early in their search process and want to learn more about what schools offer which programs. With most search queries, Google suggests additional keywords to make your search more specific. The suggestions come from other searched queries that have been made in the past and are a reflection of the most popular search queries. Google also gives related searches at the very bottom of the search engine results that are a great place to get content topic ideas for blogging.
For “emba” you can see there are comparison searches in both images. If your business school offers executive, full time, and part time mba programs, do your prospective students fully understand the difference between them all? If not, this could be a great content piece for prospective students. Wharton does a great job of comparing their executive and traditional MBA programs for prospective students.
A key part of SEO is knowing what content your audience cares about, identifying keyword phrases people are searching for when looking for the topic, and building content around that topic. Not only will you be providing valuable information for your visitors, but you’ll have a better chance of ranking for those keywords.
4. For the overachievers, use Übersuggest
If you want Google Suggest on steroids, check out Übersuggest for additional insights on what your different search queries are being correlated with. Übersuggest takes your base term and extracts keyword suggestions for use in your blog posts. You can try this on general program terms or your brand to discover specific queries that are popular.
It likely that your blog is an underutilized asset and an opportunity for your institution to gain a competitive advantage through search engine optimization. To learn how to more effectively leverage your blog for SEO and to engage prospective students sign up for the Eduvantis DIgital market insights blog to get more tips weekly in your inbox.