This is a live-blogged post during the 2012 CASE Social Media conference. This session was presented by Nicole O'Connell from Loyola University Chicago.
They can't enroll or donate if they can't find you.
Search engines want to provide the best user experience so people keep using their service. This means putting the most relevant content first. Search engines have complex and intricate algorithms that index Web pages. Results are sorted by: age of website, pages of content, how well-constructed, and the content itself. Moral? A high search engine ranking = higher conversaion rates at a lower cost.
- About 60% of searchers never go beyond page 1 of the results
- 42% of all searcher click on the very first link on page 1
- 80% of unsuccessful searches are followed with keyword refrinement
- 41% of searches unsucessful after the first page choose to refine their keyword search phrase
- 77% of search users choose organic over paid listing when seaching , particularly for purchases
SEO and Your Brand
- Branded keywords involve the name of the institution
- Non-branded keywords are those that have no reference to the school name and are specific to a program, course, training, etc.
- Users tend to favor a fairly even split between non-branded keywords and branded keywords to locate information
- Many institutions are reducing offline publications to save money and relying on their website to inform prospective students
- Prospects want brief, compelling, and authentic content
Search engines index more than just Websites: images, maps, videos, news, and social sharing.
SEO and Social Sharing
- The rules have changed. Search no longer only relies primarily on optimized web page contnet. It takes into account inbound links, likes, retweets, and shares. Data confirms that shares on Facebook likely have a positiive influence on search.
The goal? Be found wherever your audiences are searching for you.
- The fastest way to be found. Buy your way to the first page
- Warning: manage this carefully. You pay cost-per-click.
- Paid search should be supplemental to SEO efforts. 77% of search users choose organic over paid listing when searching.
SEO: The natural way to be found
- Relevance: relevant content, organied around keywords, easily found by engines
- Popularity: Quantity and quality of in-bound links
- Conduct keyword research. This helps you understand supply and demand for information.
- Search equals demand. How people are searching for you matters. "Executive MBA" vs. "MBA for Executives"
- Demand can be mapped. Most frequently searched groups are the areas prospective students are most interested in.
Video: YouTube is the second biggest search engine. Google loves to provide video in search results. Need relevance and popularity to rank.
Google Places: This is a free listing that must be claimed and optimized for keyword to rank. You can upload photos and videos... even virtual tours. Nicole claimed nearly 50 listings for the institution.
Blogs: Content heaven! Utilize your student, staff, and faculty.
Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr: "It is about the likes, tweets, retweets, and sharing," says Nicole.
What should you strive for? The ultimate Google take-over. (Insert evil laugh.)
- SEO doesn't happen overnight.
- Audiences are searching for you.
- Keyword research lets you understand demand.
- Your content is the supply side of the equation
- You can use search engine marketing to connect your content to what your prospects are searching for.
- Social sharing and gaming are increasing and search engines will continue to modify algorithms to adapt
- Searchers will invest less time and intensity into searches
- 1 in 7 searches are made through a mobile device and those algorithms are different. Your content must adapt.
5 Actions to Take Today
- Understand the demand and learn about your audiences
- Educate senior leadership
- Take advantage of the low-hanging fruit
- Audit your current resources
- Get ready for mobile