Ideas, insights and inspirations.

The most effective college enrollment marketing strategy is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a set of techniques college marketers employ to secure page one rankings on Google, Bing, and other search engines. Choosing the right set of keywords and creating content infused with those keywords is how college marketers achieve coveted page one rankings for their programs and schools. Elliance works with higher education marketers to not only map the right set of keywords across the prospective student journey, but also to optimize their website and social media to secure Google page one rankings for those keywords. We undertake this task regardless of whether the objective is to increase enrollment for undergraduate, graduate, online, adult, or international students. To make a college decision, prospective students and their families move through a logical set of steps. At each stage of their journey, students and families use a unique set of keywords on Google and Bing to search for information. AWARENESS … Continue reading

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In the past 30 years, Elliance has deployed SEO strategies for more than 100 colleges, universities and higher education institutions in service of growing their enrollment, endowment and reputation. Why have we insisted on recommending SEO to our higher education marketing clients? For two reasons. First, because Google/Bing page 1 is destiny. Trusted page one organic rankings and high visibility for your social media content equate to owning the world’s hottest real estate. 90% of users never go beyond page 1 of search results. Organic rankings (i.e. the top 10 natural search results) are clicked 9-folds more, trusted more, and convert three-folds better than paid ads.  Second, being found on page 1 is the best means for finding, getting, keeping and growing right-fit students, faculty, and staff as well as nurturing relationships with alumni, foundations corporate partners and media. We recommend our clients begin the SEO journey by crafting an intentional plan powered by a Keyword Lexicon that contains clusters … Continue reading

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As a leading SEO Agency for colleges, universities and higher education institutions, we are frequently asked to share our best practices. This is part of a series of posts to explain how SEO audit can serve their interests. SEO or “search engine optimization” is the process of improving your website to increase its visibility on Google, Bing and other international search engines. Institutions that pursue and achieve top organic or natural Google and Bing rankings prosper and thrive. There are good reasons for this. Organic rankings are more trusted, more clicked and out-convert paid advertising leads three-fold. Being found on page 1 is the best means for finding, getting, keeping and growing right-fit students, faculty, and staff as well as nurturing relationships with alumni, foundations corporate partners and media. When serving higher education institutions, we begin their SEO journey by conducting a twelve-point SEO audit to assess the following: 1. Website Performance Metrics AuditWe begin by testing site load speed, … Continue reading

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This SEO guide was written to help under-resourced, small to medium colleges, universities and higher education institutions who can’t compete in the marketing arms race and therefore need to out-wit and out-smart the deep-pocketed Goliaths. We call them small giants. As one of the leading higher education marketing SEO agencies, we learned the strategies and tactics presented here from serving numerous small giants of higher education. We salute them. What is SEO? SEO or “search engine optimization” is a set of techniques higher education marketers deploy to improve their institutions’s natural or organic website rankings on Google, Bing and other international search engines. Why Colleges and Universities Embrace Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Colleges and universities that pursue and achieve top organic or natural Google rankings prosper and thrive. There are many reasons for this. A few are listed below: Prospective audiences trust organic rankings more and click on them more. Leads generated from organic rankings out-convert paid advertising leads three-fold. … Continue reading

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Google page one is destiny. Colleges and universities that pursue and achieve top organic Google rankings using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques prosper and thrive. The best prospective students prefer to “discover” the college of their choice through “accidental finds” on Google page one and via word-of-mouth on social media and influencers. They out-convert paid advertising leads three-fold (which, in turn, out-convert purchased names three-fold). The following strategies have proven to grow undergraduate, graduate, online, adult and international student enrollment: 1. Define Your Qualitative and Quantifiable Enrollment Goals and Objectives Recruiting Students: Find, attract and motivate prospective right-fit undergraduate, graduate, online and adult students so they can learn more, request information, visit and apply. Reassuring Parents: Inform them about student safety, support and outcomes. Engaging Lifelong Learners: Find, attract and motivate prospective right-fit lifelong learners to engage with the college and its programs. Up-skilling Working Professionals: Find, attract and motivate prospective right-fit professionals so they can learn more, request information … Continue reading

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Google page 1 is destiny. 90% of users never go beyond page 1 of Google results. Organic rankings (i.e. the 10 natural search results) are trusted more, and convert three-folds better than paid ads. Here are a 10-step plan for colleges, universities and higher education institutions to secure coveted Google page 1 rankings. 10-Step SEO Plan for Colleges, Universities and Higher Education Institutions 1. Identify Your Goals and Objectives Here are a few common goals: Grow enrollment in undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, or online programs Strengthen Brand Reputation locally, regionally, nationally — in new areas of expertise, strategic priorities, and centers of excellence — all in service of positioning the institution as a school of consequence Expand Fundraising to serve students, secure high caliber students, secure talent, or to fulfill the vision of the strategic/master plan Improve External Relations with trade groups, foundations, corporations and government partners Recruit Talent personified by great faculty, staff and students Your tactics should change depending on your selected goal(s). 2. … Continue reading

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Colleges and universities can take the following SEO steps to grow their undergraduate, graduate, online and international enrollment. 1. Make your website responsive, secure and fast Google rewards responsive websites – the ones that auto-adjust gracefully on smartphones, tablets or desktops. Google also ranks higher those websites that load fast and are running in secure mode. 2. Use .edu Instead of Using .com, .org and Other Domains Since each college and university can be awarded only one (and occasionally two) .edu domains, search engines generally rank .edu websites higher than other domain extensions. Use .edu domains for websites, landing pages and microsites. 3. Create a Keyword Lexicon, and Claim Top Search Engine Rankings Develop a Keyword Lexicon for your college. The lexicon is comprised of keywords and key phrases the college should claim. Categories in the lexicon include program keywords, brand positioning keywords, reputation keywords, decisioning keywords, and location keywords. Prospective students use different clusters of keywords at each phase … Continue reading

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Top performing SEO agencies help their clients realize that fortune smiles on colleges and universities that pursue and achieve top organic rankings. Prosperity takes many shapes and forms for colleges ranked on page #1 of search engines. Their best practices arsenal includes: 1. Determine Goals and Objectives The best SEO agencies help colleges and universities realize that a college website has numerous audiences and each enjoys unique benefits. They help their clients determine the right goal for each SEO campaign: Prospective Students find them, get them to inquire, show up at open houses, apply and enroll Prospective Talented Faculty and Staff find them and motivate them to apply for open job postings Prospective Parents: find them and suggest their kids apply Foundations and Donors: connect with mission-aligned colleges Corporations: seek and connect with faculty for research & development Faculty: help media find faculty experts on various topics Ranking and Rating Agencies: discover new emerging gems Enrollment Officers: boast a low acceptance rate, making the college more … Continue reading

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Gods smile on colleges and universities that pursue and achieve top organic rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Prosperity takes many shapes and forms for colleges ranked on page #1 of search engines. e.g. 1. Prospective Students find the college, inquire, show up at open houses, apply and enroll. 2. Prospective Parents find the college and suggest their kids apply there. 3. Prospective Talented Faculty and Staff find and apply for open job postings at the college. 4. Corporations, Nonprofits and Government Agencies recruit graduates and connect with faculty for consulting engagements and R&D. 5. Enrollment Officers boast a low acceptance rate and shape classes making the college more exclusive. 6. Financial Aid Officers extend aid by design not compulsion. 7. Media and Journalists find faculty experts. 8. Ranking and Rating Agencies discover rank the colleges higher in their rankings. 9. Presidents and Cabinet Members are invited to speak at top conferences for their genius. 10. Vice Presidents for Advancement see … Continue reading

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Most colleges and universities have surrendered their rightful claims to keywords to lead aggregators, content/link farms, ranking/rating agencies and personal opinions. Why would colleges let this happen? I have heard many reasons: “It’s too hard”, “We tried it and we failed”, “We tried it and didn’t see any real results”, “We invested in it and didn’t see any impact on our enrollment”, “The game keeps changing”, “I didn’t know we could influence the rankings”, and so on. So many colleges are putting their legacy and reputation at risk. If US News & World Report says that your college offers one of the best peace studies programs, and your college doesn’t appear on the first page of Google when someone types in “top peace studies programs”, the question is “do you really offer one of the best peace studies program?” If you don’t claim what’s rightfully yours, then others will claim it – and the truth is they are claiming it, … Continue reading

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