Why Blogging Is the Missing Link in Your Higher Ed Digital Content Marketing Strategy

Carnegie Higher Ed Jan 08, 2019 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Does your higher education institution have a blog? Blogs and news sections are powerful tools that can drive more organic traffic to your college or university’s website. As such, a blog should be part of your SEO strategy. Blog posts let you target more keywords, attract a broader audience, and increase retention. They’re also fun to read, making your institution more relatable to prospective students.

Unfortunately, most higher education institutions are not utilizing this powerful free marketing tool. But why not? Some colleges and universities just aren’t aware of the huge marketing power of a blog. Sometimes they don’t know what topics to write about, or they think that they don’t have time for it.

Here’s the good news: your institution can run an effective, entertaining, and impactful blog that attracts and retains new students with only two hours of work per week for the blog manager.

Don’t think that’s possible? In this post, we’ll dive into what a higher education blog should look like and how you can use it to draw traffic from Google, retain current students, and completely revive your digital marketing content strategy. Stick with me until the very end of the post to get an in-depth understanding of how to optimize a blog post for Google.

What Kind of Higher Education Blog Should Your Institution Have?

Before you even start planning out your blog strategy, you need to decide what kind of blog is right for your institution. Colleges and universities are lucky: they contain a huge range of diverse programs, students, departments, and messages within them.

A university blog can take on many forms: It could have a broad focus, telling stories from across the university. It could be an admission blog, focusing on what incoming students need to do to prepare for the college admission process. Multiple blogs can even be developed for different departments. A great example of this is the ilLUminate blog from Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics.

What kind of blog is right for your institution: Department specific? Admission? Student body focused? It depends on your goals and the needs of your audience. The first step to a successful blog strategy is to choose the right focus for your marketing goals.

Who Can Contribute To Your Blog?

The biggest misconception that most higher ed marketers have about blogging is that one person needs to write all the content. This is simply not the case. A great institutional blog has multiple people producing content. If you have a team of four content writers each writing two posts per month, that’s eight blog posts in a month with almost no effort for the blog manager.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to start hiring writers. Colleges and universities have tons of content writers already at their disposal on campus. Many students and staff would be excited to have the opportunity to be published on your institution’s website. Don’t underestimate the power of your campus community.

Here are some people you could consider as blog content creators:

  • Current undergrad and grad students
  • Alumni
  • Faculty
  • Admission/Financial Aid staff
  • Sports teams/coaches
  • Interns
  • Freelance writers

The writers you choose will depend on what type of blog you have. If it is a business school blog, athletic staff writers are probably not appropriate—but students and alumni certainly are!

In many ways, higher education institutions are lucky. They have a wealth of available content developers and editors who already love the institution and identify with its brand. You can bring these content advocates on board to create a strong blog presence that generates organic traffic.

Where Should Your Blog Live?

You can start a blog using your website’s Content Management System (CMS). Most CMSs used by schools, such as WordPress or Drupal, already have a blog function built in. You should activate this to create your blog!

Don’t use an outside blogging tool like a free WordPress or BlogSpot site. These kinds of accounts won’t be linked to your school’s domain, which would be a huge SEO faux pas. If you post blogs there, you won’t earn the SEO juice!

Think about it: if a student finds your blog “university.wordpress.com” on Google and they like the content, how will they find their way to your institution? It’s much better for both user experience and SEO if your blog lives directly on your institution or department’s website.

How Often Should You Post?

A good rule of thumb is to publish content as often as your schedule and bandwidth allows, as long as you publish regularly.

That may mean you publish two posts per week. It may also mean that you only publish one post per month. The most important thing is to publish as regularly as you can. This will ensure you build up a strong baseline of relevant SEO content over time.

What Kind of Content Should You Post, and How Do You Choose Blog Topics?

Think about when you’re on social media—what kind of content are you most likely to engage with? What do you like, share, or comment on? People engage with content that makes them feel something, whether that’s inspiration, outrage, happiness, or anger.

Think of topics relevant to your institution that will make your audience feel something. Whether it’s excitement for the upcoming school year, inspirational student features, curiosity about a research topic, or something else unique to your institution, find the topics that people are most likely to respond to and blog about them! Then make sure those blog posts utilize important keywords so they show up in Google as your prospective students search for college-related information.

Not sure how to pick the right keywords? Still confused about what exactly SEO is? Our free detailed guide teaches you how to SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimize) your blog so your content appears on Google in front of your prospective students, attracts them, and encourages them to apply to your institution.

In this free guide, you’ll learn:

  • What Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is
  • How to find out what your unique target audience is searching for on Google
  • How to use keyword research to generate content ideas
  • How to structure a blog post for the biggest SEO impact
  • Where and how to share your blog content on social media

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