Search engine optimization is one of the first things your school can do to improve student recruitment. Think about it: When a prospective student is curious about a certain program or post-secondary institution, his or her first impulse is to search online.
How well you educate prospective students about your school in the digital world has a direct impact on how well they rank your school in the real world. Incorporating a solid SEO strategy around student recruitment gives your school a chance to shine online.
Optimize with Long-Tail Keywords
Think about your ideal prospective student. What keywords might they use when researching schools online? Specific keywords and phrases are known as long-tail keywords. The more specific you are with your phrasing, the better your chances of being picked up by search engines.
For example, you may have a page on your site about available scholarships. “Scholarships” is definitely a search term some students will use, but it also yields 150,000,000 search results.
That’s a lot of competition!
A more specific long-tail keyword, such as “scholarships and bursaries BC 2017” provides only 104,000 results. Yes, that's still a lot of competition, but it's also considerably less. This keyword is also more targeted to the specific students you are trying to attract—those whom are looking for scholarships within the province of BC.
Long-tail keywords should be incorporated into the title, URL, and content of every page on your website as part of your SEO strategy. Fortunately, we now live in a time when search engines are smart enough to recognize synonyms. That means you don’t have to shoehorn your keywords in like a robot to optimize your content. Simply write naturally around your keyword topics in a way that resonates with your audience, and the right combination of words should organically flow
How to Optimize Your Headlines and Images
Break up your content into digestible bites and tag your headlines following the H1, H2, H3 format. Headlines not only make your pages easier to read, but also allow search engines to categorize your content. When you incorporate your long-tail keyword into your headlines, you give your page an extra optimized boost.
The same goes for your images.
Search engines send "spiders" to the ALT tags on your images in addition to the words on your page. So, don’t forget to incorporate your long-tail keywords in your ALT image descriptions, too.
Search Engines Like It Simple
Although SEO might seem incredibly complicated, believe it or not, search engines like it simple. Some experts may recommend making keyowrds larger and super specific, but you may want to keep your page titles and descriptions shorter.
Google only displays 72 characters in its Search Engine Results Page (SERP), and only 165 characters for page descriptions, so be sure to keep it short, simple, and sweet.
For SEO success, your long-tail keywords should be included in both the page title and description. But, be sure to pay attention to your title and meta descriptions to make sure they don't get cut off and that they are clear and easy to read.
Develop an SEO Strategy for Your School
To help your school get started, we encourage you to download our FREE On-Page SEO Strategy Template. This complimentary template will help bring clarity and organization to your school’s online recruitment strategy, as you effectively optimize your page titles and content to better attract more students.
Need a guide to help navigate you through the world of SEO? Click the button below to download our FREE On-Page SEO Strategy Template to get started on your digital journey.