Prior to joining the Carnegie team, my understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was fairly limited. But by working with our resident SEO experts, I’ve learned a great deal about the technical components of SEO as well as the philosophy behind their methodology. Here are five higher education SEO lessons I’ve learned so far.
1. We should all be doing SEO
While other industries acknowledge SEO as maintenance service in support of their best marketing tool—their website—in higher education, only about 30% of us are investing in SEO. What’s crazy about this is all students are using search engines to research their educational pursuits. Students who know our brand name, those who don’t, and everyone in between are on search. Again, I want to emphasize: this applies to ALL students. What other communication strategy can you think of that is appropriate and effective for all your student audiences?
2. SEO supports all of your marketing efforts
Students are seeing your banner ads, e-mails, billboards, etc. But after they navigate away, they will look for you again via search, as stated above. If you are engaged in ongoing SEO, students will see your organic listing and be directed right to your site—your best marketing tool. If you are running a paid search strategy, more power to you; good SEO drives down the cost of your paid program. I think of SEO as the safety net of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
3. SEO is not all tags and titles
I admit I thought SEO was a lot of title tag structure and meta data descriptions, and some keywords in your on-page content. But now I know that content is the most important factor in Google’s ranking formula, and SEO also includes your on-site user experience! So not only do we need good technical structure and content written for SEO, we also need to make sure we are delivering the experience each site visitor is looking for. This means being thoughtful in building, redesigning, and updating your Web pages.
4. SEO is not a set-and-forget digital strategy
I didn’t realize how often search engines like Google change their ranking formulas. It’s constant! So to maintain your ranking, you need to maintain your SEO efforts.
5. There is never a bad time to implement SEO
There are some milestones where you should absolutely consider SEO: a website build, website redesign, website content overhaul; these are all great times to begin work on SEO. In fact, you’ll save yourself a lot of extra work if you engage in an SEO audit and ongoing content optimization at the beginning of any of these projects. But you can also start right now.
Want to talk to someone who really understands SEO? Carnegie has some fantastic SEO nerds (which is 100% a compliment) you can speak with today! And check back mid-month when our experts take a deeper dive into why SEO is so important during a site redesign.