9 Intelligent SEO Tips for Higher Education Marketing

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Chad Peterson
July 2, 2024

Attracting prospective students to higher education institutions is more challenging than ever. Every aspect requires careful strategy, from reaching out to students, inspiring them to explore educational opportunities, and guiding them through enrollment. 

This article provides actionable insights and tips to overcome higher education hurdles in improving their SEO. By implementing these tips, institutions increase online visibility and connect with students deeper, addressing their needs and aspirations. 

1. Make pages compatible with mobile devices (especially for Gen Z)

Optimizing your web pages for mobile is becoming increasingly necessary. In 2024, members of Gen Z are between 14 and 29 years old. That means that they make up the majority of current enrollment and prospects.

Smartphones are the go-to electronic device for Gen Z, with a 94% ownership rate. Adapting to Gen Z’s mobile preferences is critical for targeting this audience and keeping up with the evolving trends as future generations come. 

Gen Z is considered the first ‘digital native group.’ They expect seamless access to information. Therefore, higher education websites must adapt their promotional content and course material to mobile screens for better interaction.

2. Implement alt tags for accessibility

Accessibility must be prioritized in higher education. By ensuring that web content is accessible to all individuals, including those with visual impairments, universities uphold their commitment to inclusivity and diversity. 

Alt tags play a crucial role in this effort. They provide descriptive text alternatives for images read aloud by screen readers. Use alt text for logos (e.g., “ABC School Logo”), header images (e.g., “College Student Gathering”), and any other visuals that convey important information. 

While some alt tags can be straightforward, like “logo” or “header,” adding a touch more detail, such as “University Of Arkansas Logo” or “Diverse Group of Students in Classroom,” enriches the experience for individuals relying on screen readers. Plus, when implemented correctly, it also enhances SEO.

3. Consider multilingual SEO for international students

Implementing Multilingual SEO opens up a new world for higher education. You reach and communicate with diverse global audiences by optimizing your website to include various languages.

Start with market research on the most relevant languages to your target audience. Then, begin executing strategies, such as: 

  • Translating key content
  • Implementing hreflang tags for language and regional targeting
  • Ensuring straightforward navigation between language versions
  • Optimizing metadata for each language

When implementing hreflang tags on each page, include a tag pointing to itself. Doing so ensures that search engines accurately understand the language and region of the content, improving the page’s visibility in local search results. 

Research cultural differences, customs, and preferences when localizing content for different regions. Adapting content to reflect these nuances ensures relevance with the local audience, promoting better connection with users in other locations.

4. Contact button text

When crafting calls-to-action (CTAs) for higher education websites, descriptive phrases like “Enroll today” or  “Request more information” are more effective than the generic “Learn more.” For example, Purdue uses “Find Programs” on its homepage. These phrases provide clear direction and encourage visitors to take action.

Using first-person language in CTAs, such as “Request my program details” or “Start my enrollment form,” further enhances engagement and click-through rates. While first-person language may feel less natural, it personalizes the user experience, making them feel more directly involved and motivated to take the next step.

 5. Improve program pages

To boost the SEO effectiveness of degree program pages, consider integrating additional information onto each page. Add 3 to 5 FAQs unique to the program. These address common inquiries about requirements, career outcomes, and distinctive features. 

Including career-related facts, such as job prospects and salary ranges, adds practical value to the page. Take inspiration from examples like the University of Colorado Boulder, which effectively includes career-related statistics on their degree pages.

Utilize internal and external links strategically. Internal links direct users to relevant resources within the university website, such as related courses and faculty profiles. Additionally, citing authoritative external sources enhances the credibility and context of the program’s offerings.

You always want to facilitate engagement and lead generation where you can. So, another great practice is to feature a “Request More Information” button. It gives insight into who is interested and allows you personal access to generate a conversation. 

 6. E-E-A-T content for future and existing students

Google’s search ranking guidelines have long emphasized Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). However, a newer model, Double-E-A-T, has emerged, where Experience now holds equal importance. This update is a significant shift in Google’s search criteria, requiring each page to have these qualities to stand out.

For program pages, showcasing faculty expertise, industry partnerships, and alumni success stories strengthens credibility. Meanwhile, articles higher in the funnel should offer valuable insights from reputable sources, now supplemented by firsthand experiences. It’s crucial to optimize existing content to align with Double-E-A-T principles, providing consistency across all pages for better search visibility.

7. Add internal links to the most important pages

Internal links are vital for website optimization. They guide users through your site, allowing you to control information flow. They also signal to search engines about page importance, enhancing SEO. 

Descriptive anchor text, such as “Get details about our Bachelor’s degree programs,” instead of generic phrases like “Click here for more information,” significantly enhances the context and relevance of internal links. 

This specificity enhances user experience and aids search engines in comprehending the page’s meaning, thereby improving its visibility in relevant searches.

8. Local SEO tips for higher education

Local SEO is essential for higher education institutions targeting students from specific regions. Unlike traditional SEO, which focuses on global or national visibility, local SEO targets users within a defined locality.

Strategies for local SEO include optimizing Google My Business profiles, creating localized content, and incorporating regional keywords. Increasing positive online reviews and nurturing relationships with local organizations create credibility and authority, too.

9. Fix technical issues

Addressing technical issues is key for optimizing website performance. Search engines must be able to index your pages and submit a comprehensive sitemap. If it can discover and crawl your pages effectively, it will enhance visibility and ranking potential. 

Prioritize fixing common technical issues such as broken links, duplicate content, and slow page load times. Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health saw an 82 percent increase in organic visits in the first four months after optimizing their page—starting with resolving technical issues. This case study highlights the significant impact of such optimizations on overall website performance.

Conclusion: SEO agency for higher education

This article explored the strategies tailored for higher education institutions to enhance their SEO performance and attract students. It emphasizes the importance of mobile compatibility for reaching Gen Z, the dominant demographic.

It highlights implementing alt tags for accessibility and multilingual SEO for international students, promoting inclusivity and global reach.

The article also covers crafting compelling calls to action, improving program pages with additional information and links, and the emerging Double-E-A-T concept. It stresses descriptive anchor text and local SEO tactics for effectively targeting specific regions.

Lastly, a compelling case study underscores the necessity of fixing technical issues for optimal website performance and search engine visibility.

Ready to transform your institution’s online presence and drive enrollment success?

Contact us today to implement tailored SEO strategies that attract more students and elevate your institution’s reach.

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