Staying on top of the latest search engine optimization (SEO) trends can feel like a game of Whac-A-Mole, where marketers are trying to hit a constantly moving target. Google uses more than 200 signals in its algorithm for ranking where content appears in a web search, and this algorithm is always being refined.
“It can be hard to keep your finger on the pulse of SEO, because things change pretty quickly,” said independent digital marketer and search engine optimization consultant Jenny Munn.
Luckily, there are a few time-tested strategies that business-to-education (B2E) marketers can use to reach their target audience, increase brand awareness, and ideally, boost their Google search ranking. In a recent CB&A Expert Series webinar, Munn summarized the latest trends in education SEO and shared proven tactics for B2E marketers.
Here are three highlights to incorporate in your education marketing strategy.
1) Page experience
Make sure your website provides a smooth experience for both web crawlers (like Google) and users alike. “A strong technical foundation is a competitive advantage,” Munn said. “It is a necessity if you want to play the game.”
Optimizing performance begins with building a website that loads quickly and is easy to use.
“People need to be able to navigate your website very easily, in a very logical manner,” Munn explained. “You can’t have popups all over the place, or make it hard to click the X and close popup windows. You can’t have bloated code in the background, old plugins or weird fonts that you want to use.”
Pages also have to load smoothly and quickly. “Google doesn’t measure in seconds, they measure in microseconds,” Munn noted.
Here’s a few more tips to set your website up for education SEO success:
- Make sure your site is accessible to users with disabilities.
- Make sure it’s mobile-friendly.
- Use SSL encryption to secure your site.
Education marketers can use Google Search Console, a free sister account to Google Analytics, to measure their core web vitals. “You have to use Google Search Console,” Munn said, “because it’s the way Google gives you insight into how your site is performing.”
Monitor your core web vitals score, and fix any problems the console indicates. “Fix these things, because I can promise you Google is paying attention,” Munn said. “You can have the best content in the world, the best keywords, but if your website is 12 seconds slow, you’re not going to be on page one of Google search results.”
2) On-page SEO
The tactical work of optimizing webpages for search engine traffic is still critical, Munn said. This includes identifying the best keyword phrases that your prospects are searching for online and embedding them within relevant pages of your website, creating title tags and meta descriptions, and linking content internally.
Related Resource: Education SEO Strategies: 5 Tips for B2E Marketers
“Google is a spider, and it’s crawling from page to page,” Munn said. “If you’re not even linking your own pages together, why is Google going to think that any of your other pages matter? You’ve got to link your relevant content together.”
3) Off-page SEO
Growing your brand and establishing your expertise away from your website is also important for your Google ranking.
“There’s so much that happens under the surface that we don’t see that Google is also taking into account,” Munn said. For instance, the number of times that other websites mention your brand or your products matters. So do backlinks from other websites, social media likes and clicks back from social media channels.
“What happens off-site is about 50 percent of how well you rank,” Munn said.
Not all backlinks are created equal. It’s about quality, not quantity. Organic backlinks are weighted more heavily than paid links or sponsored mentions. “Google does not want big businesses to pay their way to the top,” Munn said. “They want good results up there, not just people who have deep pockets.”
Education marketers can increase the number of backlinks they get from other websites by participating in podcasts and speaking engagements; creating and publishing original studies, statistics and compelling graphics; and stepping up their public relations efforts. “Any time I submit my bio as a speaker, I always include a link back to my website,” Munn said. “It’s such low-hanging fruit.”
Marketers can create a “links” report within the Google Search Console to see all of the backlinks they’ve gotten. A deep dive into this report could reveal what’s working and what isn’t, so you can double down on effective techniques.
Don’t be afraid to ask your business and association partners for links back to your website where appropriate. “You always should ask for a link,” Munn said. “People can say no, but it never hurts to ask.”
For more SEO insight from Munn, you can listen to the full webinar here.