In today’s digital world, it’s no surprise that students use search engines like Google to find information about colleges. Whether they’re doing academic- and scholarship-related searches or simply trying to get a virtual preview of student life, prospects and parents alike expect to find what they need at their fingertips. And most won’t go past the first page of search results.
If you’re a college, university, or independent school, it’s imperative your institution shows up in those results—and with the correct information—right away. That’s why SEO has become so competitive and important, even for branded searches. Luckily, updating Google My Business can be incredibly helpful in boosting your presence on Google.
What is Google My Business?
Google defines Google My Business as a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses, brands, artists, and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By claiming, verifying, and editing your school’s information, you can help student prospects and parents find you and ensure proper information appears in the exact moment they are searching for you.
Here’s an example of what a GMB listing looks like, complete with an image of the school, map, and street view of the location. Just below that is the Google Knowledge Graph, which includes important information such as address, phone number, and reviews.
Here’s what it looks like on a phone:
Why schools should claim, verify, and update their Google My Business listings
Here are just some of the benefits in doing so:
- You have control over what Google users see and give them the opportunity to call, visit your website, get driving directions, or read reviews all with the tap of a button.
- You can read and respond to reviews from students and parents through Google Plus. And prospective students see these reviews too, which can help boost interest in your school!
- You can share photos of campus, events, current students, school apparel, etc. and put the most appealing photos right in front of prospective students when they’re on the SERP.
- There’s space for more copy! You can use your school’s slogan for brand purposes or to optimize it for certain keywords or industries.
- Insights are available! Within the Google My Business app (or site, if you’re on desktop), you will have access to the “Insights” section, which reveals how many people searched for your institution, called directly from the listing, clicked through to the website, or checked driving directions.
- It’s FREE!
If you’re like many of the admission and marketing professionals I’ve met with, you’re wearing 10 hats, and managing your school’s Google My Business listing just isn’t one of them. But it can be with just a little time and guidance—and the benefits are definitely worth it. If you need help, please reach out to us! We helped The Bright School, a private K-12 school in Tennessee, with their GMB, and here’s how it panned out for them in the first month:
- Immediate increase in overall website traffic
- 438 new visitors directly from the GMB property
- 227 new visitors to the site
- GMB-sourced traffic had an average duration on the site over 2 minutes
- Immediate increase in inquiries and tour attendance from prospective families
Angie can be found on Twitter @AngieMayWard.