One of the core challenges that many higher education marketers run into is how to increase the online visibility of the programs that they manage. With higher education, and specifically online higher education becoming increasingly competitive, how can a marketer effectively position an online program in front of potential students?
Blog content is a strategy that is part of most savvy marketers arsenal. For years we have been told by industry thought leaders that content is king, and that it is an essential piece of any effective marketing and branding strategy. But the reality is that the online landscape is becoming very crowded. An infographic shared by Digital Buzz stated that there are up to 2 million blog posts written every day! With that much content being produced, it’s not surprising that a lot of it fails to achieve results.
For many higher education marketers, just acquiring the green light to create and post content to university blogs is considered a win. For those lucky enough to have an actual budget for content, measuring ROI from this content is going to be essential to keeping that budget. So how can marketers find blog topics that receives visibility, drives traffic, and helps produce students? Well, there are two elements to a superior content marketing strategy: high quality content creation and effective content distribution.
Today we are going to provide three tips on a very important and sometimes overlooked element of content creation: topic creation. Creating blog content that is in demand, not overly saturated by competition, and relevant to your target audience all starts here. The following tips and tricks can help you research blog topics that can provide the visibility you crave for your online programs.
This is the foundational step for any content creation strategy. My esteemed colleague provided an in-depth analysis of keyword research back in 2013, and apart from Google’s keyword tool now being called the Keyword Planner, everything else in this article still fully applies today. But with the Keyword Planner name change came some more advanced options when completing keyword research, such as Ad Group Ideas, which is a much more advanced way to figure out how Google makes connections between keywords. For example, if I wanted to produce some blog content relating to health informatics jobs, then I would input “health informatics jobs” into the Keyword Planner. Google will provide me with ad group categories and keywords that it fines relevant and could be less competitive, such as clinical informatics or business informatics.
Back in 2013, Google stopped providing search query data (the keywords that individuals use to find your website). This was a huge blow to the SEO community, as marketers thought that they could no longer research the types of keywords that were driving traffic. Fortunately, Google has allowed marketers to connect Webmaster Tools to Google Analytics in order to share not only basic traffic data but also ranking and impression data. Without getting too in-depth, the main takeaway here is that marketers can now understand the keywords their program websites rank for. This is a massive opportunity for marketers to dive into the data to find long-tail keywords that a program might rank outside the top 50 for, and create new and more relevant content to capitalize on these keywords. Here is a quick guide on how to link Google Analytics to Webmaster Tools, which is the first step in uncovering this data.
By finding out how competitive the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) is for a specific query, a marketer can quickly eliminate any potential topics that might be too competitive. When perusing the search results, tools such as the Moz Bar can provide some great insight into metrics, such as Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA), for topics that are searched. Depending on the current SEO position of a website, it might be a good idea to set a baseline domain authority that’s viewed as being too competitive when completing this research. For example, the following snapshot provides insight into the competition around the query “big data skill sets in demand.” As you can see, there are some domain authorities in the teens and no .edu domains, and if the search volume warrants it this could be a good area of opportunity for a program.
Through completing the upfront research of identifying opportunities, search demand, and competitiveness, a marketer can quickly understand where the possibilities are when it comes to blog content creation. This foundation, coupled with the production of high quality content and an effective distribution strategy, will drive the type of program visibility needed for success.
Robert offers a decade of demonstrated digital marketing expertise, and he has provided results to clients both within and outside of higher education while working as an analyst, team lead, and director. He has planned and implemented digital marketing campaigns for a number of large universities throughout the United States, and he leads Circa on all aspects of client strategy. Before founding Circa Interactive, Robert led digital marketing teams at the higher education organization Embanet.