Making the list of Top 100 best schools is a source of enormous prestige, and universities battle it out across many criteria to improve their rankings. However, there’s an equally important metric for success—a school’s Google rankings.
How your higher education institution ranks on Google according to different keywords will make a decisive difference in whether you attract new students or not. A student hoping to attend the university with the best agricultural sciences program is first going to search Google for “best ag university.” If your university doesn’t show up on the first page, that student will likely be spending 4 years somewhere else.
If your university wants to improve your Google rankings, here are some tips and tricks that will help.
Conduct an SEO Audit
First, your university has to determine what’s working and what could be improved. An SEO audit is a health check for your website – its ultimate goal is to assess the technical infrastructure of your website, the on-page elements and off-page essentials to optimize Search Engine visibility, usability and conversion.
SEO audits are used to handle variety of things that impact your search visibility – everything as basic as identifying broken links as well as more complex tasks like finding phrases that should be indexed but aren’t. An SEO audit will tell you how your site is performing and other indicators of overall user experience. If you want to improve where your school’s ranking on Google, you need to start with an SEO audit.
Optimize Your University For Local Searches
30% of searches across the Internet are for local information. Though you may not think this applies to your university, the majority of college students remain within 100 miles of their hometown. An easy—and necessary—way to improve your school’s Google ranking is to optimize for local searches. This includes creating Yelp and Foursquare pages, and using Google Webmaster Tools to target your local area, and making sure that up-to-date information is listed across local directories. Optimizing for local searches is a quick way to see big results in your university’s Google rankings.
Regularly Update Your Blog
Some bad news: Google doesn’t index Facebook pages. No matter how many likes or shares a popular post receives on your Facebook page, it won’t have any effect on your university’s Google ranking. Content that’s popular on Facebook should go on your university’s blog, so that the popularity of your content will improve your Google ranking.
After all, your university should be updating its blog regularly. A commitment to updating shows prospective students that your school has a vibrant online presence—as well as factoring into improving your school’s Google ranking. The content your university creates for its blog should reflect your status as an esteemed institution: external and internal links, guest posts, and focus on appropriate terminology.All these components of a substantive, authoritative blog post are factored into your university’s Google ranking.
Optimize Your Site Content
Adobe Flash makes very cool animation, which has made it a very popular plugin for websites. Unfortunately, Google didn’t index Flash until relatively recently, it’s still in its infancy. Search engines still prefer text, so your institution’s website should be primarily text-based.
Your university is competing for ranking based on keywords. A university’s most-visited site is its homepage—does yours say “homepage?” If so, that’s precious space that should be occupied by a better keyword, rather than a non-descript keyword like “homepage.” The same principles of good, evocative titling apply to the rest of your website. Most experts believe that title keywords carry more weight than keywords in the body, so make sure all your university’s pages are titled properly.
Optimized site content should take into consideration what keywords students are searching for. When a student starts entering a search phrase and Google auto-completes it, that’s an expression of Google’s determinations about which keywords are most popular. Your site should be aimed at prospective students, not search engines, but knowing what keywords and phrases are popular makes a search engine’s job easier.
There’s enough literature online about Search Engine Optimization that anyone can educate themselves on the basics with enough time and searching. We’ve told you some basic steps to improving your school’s ranking on Google, you can find much more information the more you search. Has your university found a tactic that improves your Google ranking? Let us know what worked for you.