13 Higher Education Marketing Conferences in 2018

With the online marketing landscape evolving quicker than most can keep up, successful digital marketing professionals work to stay on the cutting edge of technology and trends.

We can count on seeing immense changes from year to year. In 2017, we’ve seen significant updates and changes to marketing and social platforms across the web such as new features on Instagram and Snapchat, as well as marketing platform updates on Facebook and Adwords.

Highlights of the trends with the most influence that pushed digital marketing forward in 2017 were:

  • An ever-increasing focus on the consumer experience. Marketers are finally grasping that the consumer shapes the journey we create for them.
  • Analytics have more precision and power than we’ve ever seen before. The amount of data and the types of information you can gather from it is unmatched compared to previous years.
  • Data-driven executives are more sought out than ever. As companies aim to connect the vast amount of channels and consumer touch points, they must have leadership that understands and supports the sophisticated technology to make these goals attainable.
  • Better video content and more of it. Expect to see this increasing in the near future, with augmented reality taking the frontline of content.
  • Marketing companies turn into digital marketing companies. It isn’t enough anymore to maintain relevance outside of the digital world as a business. CMOs and CTOs are shifting their teams to think digital-first.

The Higher Ed Marketing Journal has shed light on a handful of these changes and trends during 2017 through valuable insights, including:

Additional trends to watch out for in 2018 include the boom of online video in social platforms, artificial intelligence and deep learning becoming more relevant in our everyday lives as it gets further ingrained into the technology we access to. There is also the continued growth of smartphone users in emerging markets, and the evolving power of Facebook advertising.

Digital marketing is more critical now than ever before in higher education and will only increase over time. Marketing higher education is multidimensional, as it expresses an institution’s brand while also educates potential students on topics they may already have a predisposition about, or are not fully informed on, such as online courses.

Experimentation is where a lot of marketers for higher education have been over the past few years, but with all of the tools and technology available to digital marketers come 2018, it is time to hone in available data and make strategic decisions to push universities forward towards growth.

To better understand where marketing is heading in the field of higher education and to realize opportunities for synergy through networking, a number of higher education marketing conferences are in place for 2018.

The 2018 Carnegie Conference

This student recruitment focused conference comes to Orlando in early 2018 and is designed for marketing professionals and staff at all levels of an educational institution. Aside from valuable insight from industry experts and carefully crafted presentations, the 2017 Carnegie Conference is taking place at Walt Disney World and includes exclusive access to backstage events.

When: Jan 17-18, 2018

Where: Orlando, Florida

Website: http://www.carnegiecomm.com/resources/the-carnegie-conference/

Traffic and Conversion Summit 2018

The Traffic and Conversion Summit is highly beneficial for all digital marketers. In 2018, there will be a large focus on conversion breakthroughs in a variety of different channels. If you are running any kind of paid campaign in higher education,  you need to make your way to San Diego for this information-packed conference.

When: Feb 24-28, 2018

Where: San Diego, California

Website: https://trafficandconversionsummit.com/

2018 CASE Social Media Conference

To stay up to date on the latest trends in social media, higher education professionals are attending this valuable conference in Spring 2018. This conference is appropriately named Social Media and Community and offers insight into strategic storytelling and social engagement in the realm of higher education. Hosted at the Hyatt Centric in New Orleans, this conference is designed for enrollment professionals, alumni engagement professionals, administration, and more.

When: March 14-16, 2018

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

Website: http://www.case.org/Conferences_and_Training/SMC18.html

Digiday AI Marketing Conference 2018

If you love innovation, then the Digiday AI Marketing Conference is right up your alley. Here, marketers will learn how artificial intelligence can assist in the digital marketing world. Learn about how AI can assist in things like content creation, customer service (can be applied to the enrollment process), and internal data organization. The use of artificial intelligence in marketing is not far away, so it’s best to stay ahead of the curve.

When: April 11-13, 2018

Where: Santa Barbara, California

Website: https://digiday.com/event/digiday-ai-marketing-summit-2018/

The Adobe Summit 2018

Become an expert in being an experience-led business. Known as one of the largest digital marketing conferences today, the Adobe Summit offers more than 250 sessions and labs across specialized tracks to choose from with hands-on learning using Adobe’s marketing platform. Make connections with other digital marketers in your same space and industry all while learning cutting-edge digital marketing and trends for the future.

When: March 25-29, 2018

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Website: https://summit.adobe.com/

Digital Growth Unleashed 2018

This conference should be of interest to all those who are in higher education marketing based on its tagline alone – “Optimizing The Complete Customer Journey.” As marketers we all know that getting students to our sites is only half of the battle. At Digital Growth Unleashed you will learn how to create the most compelling user experiences and how to get the most out of each user. Not only will you learn the best tactics, but you will also be introduced to emerging technology that will help you along the way.

When: May 16-17, 2018

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Website: https://digitalgrowthunleashed.com/

SMX London

Digital marketers continue to hone their skills in search marketing and search engine optimization and the SMX London conference in 2018 is a powerful tool for further their education. Created by Search Engine Land, this international conference is sure to impress with a variety of workshops, expos and cutting-edge presentations. SMX London is located at 155 Bishopsgate on Liverpool Street in London.

When: May 22-23, 2018

Where: London, England

Website: http://marketinglandevents.com/smx/london/

SMX Advanced

This fast-paced digital marketing conference put on by Search Engine Land is designed for experienced marketers. If you are looking to skip the basic questions and dive head-first into some fast-paced sessions, this is the conference for you. Here you will learn a wide range of cutting-edge SEO and SEM tactics that will help advance your expertise.

When: June 11-13, 2018

Where: Seattle, Washington

Website: https://marketinglandevents.com/smx/advanced/


If you haven’t noticed, videos are becoming more and more popular in the digital marketing world. In higher education, it’s quite common to run into them on landing pages and as ads on social media. Learn the ins and outs of creating videos for the internet at this unique conference. Attending Vidcon will likely put you two steps ahead of your competition.

When: June 20-30, 2018

Where: Anaheim, California

Website: http://vidcon.com/

2018 eduWeb Digital Summit  

In Summer 2018  comes the annual eduWeb Digital Summit which offers tracks for any type of higher education professional. These tracks range from email marketing to data analytics, to mobile design and strategy. A variety of valuable workshops and networking events are offered to attendees to this innovative conference located at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego.

When: July  23-29, 2018

Where: San Diego, California

Website: http://www.eduwebdigitalsummit.com/

Content Marketing World 2018

If you’ve spent any amount of time in digital marketing, then you likely know how important content marketing is. The Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland is jam-packed with speakers who are experts in content marketing. Here you will learn everything you need to know to build a content marketing strategy that will grow your school’s program or client’s program and inspire your audience.

When: September 4-7, 2018

Where: Cleveland, Ohio

Website: http://www.eduwebdigitalsummit.com/


In Sacramento this fall, higher education professionals can attend the HighEdWeb Annual Conference with keynotes from Tatjana Dzambazova and Felicia Day. The four-day conference is chalk full of creative workshops and well-planned track sessions including Here There be Dragons: Navigating the Faculty/Staff Divide and Shattering Silos: Sharing Science on Social. Don’t miss out!

When: October 21-24, 2018

Where: Sacramento, California

Website: https://2018.highedweb.org/

2018 Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education

Late 2018 promises to deliver the annual Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education which brings together a large group of higher education professionals and exceptional keynote speakers. This yearly conference offers a host of valuable networking opportunities with like-minded professionals.

When: November 4-7 2018

Where: Orlando, Florida

Website: https://www.ama.org/events-training/Conferences/Pages/2018-Symposium-for-the-Marketing-of-Higher-Education.aspx?tab=home&CalendarDate=12%2f5%2f2017

Converge 2019

Converge 2019 is an annual higher education recruitment and inbound marketing conference that hosts a number of interactive workshops and handpicked presenters from institutions such as Harvard, UNC Chapel Hill, and Temple.

When: Feb 19-21, 2019
Where: Atlanta, Georgia

Website: http://convergeconsulting.org/converge2017/


Want to know which conferences Circa Interactive is attending this year? Ask us in the comments below or Contact Us Here.

Special thanks to Frederic Lee for his contribution to this post. Follow him on Twitter @FredHigherEd

How To Appear In Google’s Featured Snippet In 2017 (Knowledge Graph)

In May of 2012, Google announced the launch of their knowledge graph. This is a knowledge base that is used by Google in order to enhance search engine results. Basically, it increases user experience by displaying information from a query directly in Google’s search results without requiring a user to click through to a site.

This may seem like a nightmare for digital marketers since we want users to click through directly to our websites, however, knowledge graph results take up an incredible amount of real estate within organic results. It’s actually hard NOT to click them.

Before we get into how to be featured, let’s look at some examples of the different ways we see the Knowledge Graph in Google’s search results.

Types of Knowledge Graph Results


The first type of knowledge graph result is the detailed view of a person. These appear on the right hand side of Google’s results. For example, I did a search for the president of Florida State University. See below:

knowledge base example: people

As you can see, Google pulled much of this information directly from Wikipedia.


A query for “FSU” returned a similar graph result that offers a ton of information about the university.

fsu knowledge graph

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets are a powerful Knowledge Graph result and will be the main focus of this article. The reason behind this is that we cannot control what is shown in the other knowledge graph results listed above, because the information is often pulled directly from Wikipedia and other larger informational websites. With featured snippets, Google will pull information directly from our website and display it as the first organic result, with a valuable link to your website.

Another great aspect of featured snippets is that you essentially have two organic spots within the results. For example, you may be ranking fifth for your target keyword; however, if the information on your page is structured correctly, Google will show your information as the featured snippet AND keep your original organic ranking. Plus, there’s always the chance that making these on-page changes could help bump you up the search results a few spots.

Here’s an example of a featured snippet from U.S. News:

best online mba featured snippet

Here’s another example from CostHelper:

featured snippet example

Now, let’s dive into how to show up as the featured snippet.

How To Show Up In The Featured Snippet

The most important factor in showing up in the featured snippet is giving clear and direct answers to the search query or keyword. However, in order to show up, your site needs to be ranking on the first page for queries that are showing featured snippets.

If you’ve got some page one rankings, then follow these steps to take over the featured snippet spot. Wondering how to rank on page one? Be sure to check out other articles around our blog, like this one  .

Step 1: Find Which Queries Have Featured Snippets

This is an important step, as you don’t want to commit a bunch of your time trying to show up in the featured snippet for a query that does not have one. The best way to find out which queries have featured snippets is to use the tool SEMRush.

To do this, enter in your website and under “organic research” select “Positions.” You will be brought to this page:

how to find queries that have featured snippets

On the right-hand side under “SERP Features” you will see the “Featured snippet” link. Click that and you will be shown a list of keywords that have a featured snippet. You’ll want to check these keywords and see if you already own that featured snippet. If not, then it may be time to start optimizing around that keyword!

Step 2: Used Structured Markup To Directly Answer Queries

The majority of the featured snippets that you will come across will be pulling information that lives within structured markup. Here are the most common:

Unordered Lists

You will recognize these as the bulleted results you see. Creating unordered lists is simple and just requires basic HTML that looks like this:

 <li>List item 1</li>
 <li>List item 2</li>
<li>List item 3</li>

Unordered lists would be beneficial when trying to show up for a search term such as “types of business degrees.” Here is how it would show up in the search engine results:

example of an unordered list showing up in googles knowledge graph

Ordered Lists

These are very similar to unordered lists. The only difference is that the information within them is numbered. This is ideal for queries that are ranking degrees or programs. Here is the HTML used to create an ordered list:

<li>List item 1</li>
<li>List item 2</li>
<li>List item 3</li>

Ordered lists are great for “how to” type queries. For example, let’s look at the search engine results for “how to become a lawyer”:

example of an ordered list showing up in googles featured snippet


While tables are not as common as the previous two, Google will still occasionally show well-structured tables in the featured snippet. Tables can be a very effective way of showing a matrix of data.

If you are using WordPress, there are table plugins such as Tablepress that Google tends to favor. Otherwise, you can manually create a table using HTML, but be sure to include metadata within these tables. Did you know tables can have a meta description? To learn more about creating tables, check out this resource. Here is an example of a table in the featured snippet:

example of a table shown in the featured snippet

Header Tags

These are essential to showing up in the featured snippet. You will notice that almost every snippet begins with an H2 or H3. They also almost always contain the main keyword that is being searched for. For instance, check out the featured snippet for “best masters degree.” The bolded text that says “Best Master’s Degrees for Finding a Job” is marked up as an H3 on the page.

importance of headers when trying to get into the featured snippet

It’s extremely important that your H2/H3 tag:

  1. Directly precedes the structured markup
  2. Includes the keyword you’re trying to rank for

Step 3: Perfect Your On-Page SEO

Google will reward you for having an exceptionally optimized page. Make sure you hit all of the checkpoints and leave nothing out. This includes things like alt tags, proper use of headers, internal linking, etc. Be sure to read my in-depth guide to on-page SEO .

Note: If a competitor already has the featured snippet, taking your on-page SEO to the next level could help give you a bump and take the featured snippet from them.

Step 4: Include An Image

It’s always a good idea to accompany your structured markup with a well-optimized image. Make sure you use an alt tag as well as an image title here. While writing your alt tags and image titles, make sure you are as descriptive as possible, and don’t simply include the keyword and move on. Additionally, take some time to really describe the image using synonyms of your keyword as this will most likely put you a step above your competitors. As you can see in the examples above, almost all of the featured snippets contain an image.

Step 5: Enjoy The Extra Traffic

That’s it! Once your page gets reindexed, you’ll have a MUCH better chance at being the featured snippet. If after all of this you still haven’t taken over the feature snippet spot, don’t panic. Take a look at what the competitor’s doing and see how you can improve on it.

While following these steps will not guarantee results, it will put you in a much better position to steal the featured snipped. Take action today and claim that extra organic real estate.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment below!

The Ultimate Guide To On-Page SEO For Higher Education In 2017


You’ve built your links, promoted your infographics, finished up an epic outreach campaign, and even landed some new contributor accounts. These are all great off-page SEO tactics that have been proven to help your website’s rankings. But for some reason, you still can’t seem to land those page 1 rankings.

What’s the issue?

Your On-Page SEO has been neglected.

On-Page SEO is regularly overlooked. Whether it be missing title tags, meta descriptions, or page headers–all of these should be taken care of first as it’s the one thing you truly have control over in SEO.

Most digital marketers are more concerned with their link-building and outreach campaigns than they are with properly optimizing their site. And rightfully so. The importance of high-quality inbound links is repeatedly pounded into our heads by every blogger out there.

But what if I told you that by tweaking a few on-page elements, you could see a significant boost in rankings? In a competitive vertical like higher education, it’s imperative that we take advantage of these easy wins. Stop ignoring your on-page SEO, implement these tactics, and you will be amazed by the results.

In this multi-part series, I will cover some important on-page elements including the most common mistakes and current best practices for higher education sites.

1. Title Tags

What Is A Title Tag?

A well-written title tag is between 60-65 characters, and it’s a crucial part of your website’s SEO as it really defines what your content is about. Typically, this is where you target your main keywords. A well-written title-tag targets several keywords while also maintaining a high click-through rate.

While the title tag is not as important as it once was, it’s still a significant piece of the puzzle. It’s the first thing that everyone sees (including Google).

How To Write A Great Title Tag


No title should be over 65 characters. Anything longer than this will be cut off in the SERPs (or Google’s search results). See example below:

how to write a great title tag

While a long title is not going to result in your website plummeting in the rankings, it does seem sloppy and can have an adverse impact on your click-through rate.

Keyword Usage

Finding creative ways to include more than just one keyword is crucial to writing a high-quality title tag. However, it’s important that you avoid keyword stuffing when creating your titles.

Keyword stuffing is when a page’s meta information (title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, etc.) are loaded with keyword after keyword. Typically there is no other context other than a list of keywords. It’s important to avoid this as websites that use this tactic are typically banned or penalized by search engines.

Here is an example of a well-written title tag that takes advantage of several keywords:

take advantage of multiple keywords in your title tag

Character count: 62

Keywords targeted in this example:

  • Online MBA
  • Online MBA programs
  • Master of business administration
  • Master of business administration degree

Take a look at your title tags and see if there are any opportunities for you to target some related keywords.

2. Meta Descriptions

What Is A Meta Description?

The meta description is a 160 character snippet that briefly summarizes your page’s content. Users see this description when they are browsing Google results. It has a lot of value in terms of SEO as well as clickthrough rate.

How To Write The Perfect Meta Description

Similar to the title tag, we can take advantage of the meta description to target some long-tail keywords and encourage users to click on our search engine result. There is a surprising amount of people who just do not create a custom meta description. When you do this, Google attempts to auto-generate one for you by pulling content directly from your page. Unfortunately, these auto-generated descriptions do not do your content justice and may result in a user looking past your website.

Here are some things to keep in mind when writing your descriptions:

  • Be sure to keep the character count under 160. Anything else will be cut off and decrease the readability.
  • Include some long-tail keywords but be sure to avoid keyword stuffing. Find creative ways to add keywords into sentences so that it sounds natural.
  • Include call-to-actions in your descriptions. Adding phrases like “read more here” and “find out how…” will do wonders for your click-through rate.

3. Header Tags

Do not ignore header tags. Making proper use of headers is essential to good on-page SEO.

What are header tags?

Good question. Simply put, they are HTML tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.) that organize the content on your page for users and search engines alike. Using headers drastically improves the readability of your content. Improving the readability will result in better on-page metrics, such as time on page and bounce rate. Both are positive signals that Google takes into consideration.

How To Properly Use Headers

While this may seem pretty self-explanatory, you would be shocked to see how many higher education websites are making crucial mistakes. Here are some quick tips on using header tags:

Use Only One <h1> Tag

Only use 1 <h1> tag. This tag should typically be the title of your post and should contain your main target keyword. Again, it’s important that there are only 1 of these tags per page. Having multiple H1 tags can make it difficult for Google to crawl your page effectively.

This rule does not apply to the subheaders. As long as it makes sense, you can use as many h2, h3, and h4’s as you want.

Include Target Keywords

Each of your header tags should include your target keywords. This does not mean your header tag should just be a keyword and nothing else. Make sure it’s natural and effectively defines the section. (Keep in mind that if you are working with a site that runs WordPress, the title of your post/page will automatically be assigned an h1 tag.) Here is an excellent example of a well-written <h1> tag that targets multiple keywords:

how to write the best h1 tag for seo

You should consider using LSI keywords in your headers. LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are semantically related to your target keywords. For example, if your target keyword is “online MBA,” a good LSI keyword would be “master of business admin program online.”

Google is advanced enough to understand that these different phrases are referring to the same thing. It is an excellent way to avoid keyword stuffing as well as making your content flow more naturally.

Directly Answer Common Queries

When doing keyword research for your piece of content, you will most likely run into common questions people ask Google. Include these queries directly in your header tags. Furthermore, answer these questions in a very straightforward format. Lists and tables work great here. We want to make it as easy as possible for Google to crawl and understand we are providing a clear answer to people’s question.

Do this correctly and Google will reward you with a boost in rankings and traffic. See below:

4. Alt Tags

Do you put a lot of effort into writing alt tags? Do you even include alt tags on your photos? If you answered no to either of those questions, you are making a huge mistake.

Alt tags are important in Google’s eyes. So they should be important to you.

Why Are Alt Tags Important?

Think about it this way–how else will Google be able to understand what an image on your site is about if there is not metadata to go along with it? Once Google knows what your image is, you may even get some traffic from Google Images. It’s a win-win.

Alt tags are another piece of the on-page puzzle, and by not including them, your SEO is incomplete.

I recently ran a test of my own and simply added/updated all of the alt tags on a single page. I did not change any other elements on the page. Within 48 hours I noticed a significant boost in rankings. Try it yourself if you don’t believe me!

increase search engine rankings by adjusting alt tags

How To Write A Solid Alt Tag

A common mistake that most people make when adding alt tags to their images is they simply include a target keyword. While this is better than nothing, we can do much better and improve our on-page.

Be as descriptive as possible. For example, your main image on a page targeting “online MBA” should have an alt tag that looks something like this:

“XYZ University offers the best online MBA in the world”

The same thing applies to the title of the image. Make this just as descriptive as the alt tag and considering adding some LSI keywords in there. The code for your image should now look like this:

<img src=”www.university.edu/images/online-mba.jpg” alt=”XYZ University offers the best online MBA in the world” title=”Find out more about the XYZ master in business administration program” />

Apply these tactics to your site’s images and watch your rankings soar.

5. Keyword Density

As I’ve mentioned throughout this post, we want to avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. Google’s Panda updates have cracked down on sites with thin content and those who blatantly overuse keywords without adding any real value.

Keyword density gives us an insight into whether or not we are overusing our target keywords on any given page. It is a percentage that is calculated by dividing the number of keyword uses by the total number of words on the page.

Typically, you want to keep your keyword density for your target keyword around 1%. This is definitely on the safer side. So if you have 1000 words on your page, you can safely use your keyword about ten times.

In the example below, you will see that “online MBA” is only at 0.32% density. This means the page could easily include a few more instances of the target keyword.

best keyword density to use in your SEO content

This does not mean you can’t target LSI keywords and other long tail keywords. The keyword density only applies to exact matches.

If you find that your page is having trouble moving up in the rankings, then check your keyword density and see if you are using your keyword too many times. You can use a Chrome plugin like SEOQuake to check your density quickly.

6. Internal Linking

Internal linking is up there as one of the most important on-page SEO elements. Internal linking is essentially the act of linking to other pages on your site from any given article. If you ever find yourself questioning the power of internal linking, take a look at any Wikipedia article, and you will see how often they implement this tactic. And not many people do SEO better than Wikipedia. Look at the opening paragraph of one of their articles:

why internal linking is important in higher education

Why Internal Linking Is Important

Spreads Link Juice

Interlinking your site is important for a number of reasons, because it’s a way of spreading the “link juice” throughout your website. In short, “link juice” can be defined as the power that individual links provide your site. So if the majority of links pointing to your site are going to your home page, then linking to other pages on your site from your home page is a good way of dispersing that link juice throughout the rest of your site. The more link juice the internal pages of your site have, the higher your rankings will be.

Increases User Experience

Internal linking is important because it helps with user experience and overall usability. For example, if people are reading a blog post on your website about the benefits of an online MBA, linking to the online MBA degree page would be very beneficial. Linking to other helpful resources on your site is always going to add value to the visitor.

Lowers Bounce Rate

To go along with usability, when users are visiting other pages on your site, it’s lowering your site’s bounce rate. As mentioned before, having a low bounce rate sends a positive signal to Google, essentially telling them that you have a very resourceful site.

Best Practices For Interlinking

Number of Links

Many people wonder if there is a limit to how many internal links you can include on a page. There is no limit. As long as the page you are linking to is relevant to the current page, then you should link to it.

Relevance Of The Link

On the other hand, you do want to avoid linking to unrelated pages. For instance, if your article is about nursing degrees, it probably wouldn’t make too much sense to link to an article about social work degrees. The idea here is to make sure your article is as natural as possible. We want to make sure Google doesn’t think you are trying to “game” their algorithm.

Anchor Text

You want to link out to your pages using your target keywords. This may seem pretty obvious, but it’s very important. For example, if you’re trying to get your MBA page to rank for the term “online MBA,” then you will want to link to that page using that keyword as the anchor text. Be careful not to overdo this, however. It’s a good idea to use a few other LSI keywords when linking to this page. Remember, keep things looking natural.

7. External Linking

While not nearly as important as internal linking, external linking can help give your site the extra boost that it needs. External linking means linking out to relevant websites within your article or pages. For example, with our higher education clients, Circa Interactive recommend they link externally to published studies.

Why Should We Link To Other Sites?

It may seem a bit counterintuitive to link to other sites since the goal is to keep visitors on your pages. However, by linking to high authority sites, you’re showing Google that your site is a solid resource page. You want to give off the impression that your site is a hub of information.

In the same sense that internal linking is good for user experience, it’s also a good idea to build external links to valuable resources for your visitors. If there is a resource somewhere online that can provide supplemental information on your page’s topic, then this would be very helpful to the user. Even though they are leaving your site, chances are they will remember your school being very helpful, giving them a reason to return as a visitor.

For example, using our Online MBA example again, if your page makes mention of scholarships being available for this program, then linking out to a list of relevant scholarships would be a very good idea.

Best Practices For Linking Externally

When it comes to linking externally in higher education, we want to make sure we’re linking to reputable sources. If you happen to have Moz bar installed, one rule of thumb is to make sure you are only linking out to websites that have a domain authority of 65+. While this is not a perfect way to filter sites, it’s a fairly accurate representation of how much we can trust a site.

Here are a few examples of pages we can comfortably link to:

  • Other .edu domains
  • Any .gov domains
  • Published studies
  • Scholarship pages
  • Websites with domain authority of 65+

8. Length of Content

When I first started out in SEO, digital marketers could throw up 300 words of content and expect the page to rank for its target keywords, but due to new algorithm updates, these days are long gone, especially for the more competitive terms. The length of your content now plays an important role in how a given page ranks in Google.

Benefits Of Longer Content

Better rankings

Well, that’s the obvious answer at least. But it’s true. If you take the time to look at the pages that are ranking for your target keyword, then chances are the ones with the most content are in the top spots. Obviously, this is not the sole factor in what is making these pages rank, but it’s a common denominator. Let’s take a look at the site ranking number 1 for “online MBA.”

content length for higher education seo

As you can see, they nearly have 4,000 words of content. How does your website stack up against that?

This does not mean that you should go add an additional 1000 words of useless fluff to your pages. Google is smarter than that, and you could end up getting slapped with a “thin content” penalty. The goal is to make sure our content is adding ACTUAL value to our visitors. Which brings us to the next benefit…

Adds Value

Having tons of useful information on a page adds value in both the eyes of Google and for the visitor. As mentioned before, the goal is to have your site become a hub of information. Take a look at Wikipedia again as an example to see how long their articles are on any given topic. I can save you some time by telling you: They are very long and full of useful information.

Target More Longtail Keywords

This might be the most important benefit of adding more content to your pages. The longer your content, the more chances you have to rank for long tail keywords. While these long tail keywords don’t have much search volume behind them, it does add up. Think about it this way; you can easily rank for five keywords that each have 100 searches/mo. Simple addition tells us that you are essentially ranking for a keyword with 500 searches/mo.

What Is The Standard In 2017?

Now, you’re probably wondering, “How long should my content be?” A good rule of thumb here is to look at how much content your competitors have. If all of the top results for your target keywords have pages with 2000 words, then you should consider at least matching that. It’s imperative that you do not write content just to get the word count up. If you don’t have actual valuable content to add, then don’t do it. With that being said, there are always ways to get creative and up that word count.

9. Schema Markup For Higher Education

Schema is undoubtedly the most underused method of search engine optimization today. This is partly due to the fact that it’s fairly new and partly because most people don’t understand what exactly it is. So what is it?

Schema is code that is placed on your website which helps Google better understand what exactly your content is about. Think about it as presenting your content to Google on a golden platter. This allows them to display your content in a more informative way in the search engine results. For example, take a look at the search results for “online MBA.” You will see some links going directly to different pages of the site.

using schema markup for colleges and universities

Another way of looking at schema is that it allows the search engines to understand what your content means and not just what it says. The better Google understand what your content is about, the more they will reward you with rankings.

How To Use Schema In Higher Education

Now that you have an idea of what schema markup is let’s look at how we can apply it to higher education marketing. First, take a look at the documentation here.

You will see a ton of options of marking up information regarding your college or university. For example, you can markup the address of the university, notable alumni, any awards that may have been won. If you click on any of the properties on this page, it will go into detail on how to implement them on your website. The process is pretty intuitive, however, does require some basic knowledge of HTML.

It was recently announced that schema.org will be including markup for college courses. This is fantastic news for those interested in higher education. The property is still pending, but you can periodically check here to see if it’s been released.

10. Site Speed

Here is another commonly overlooked on-page factor in the higher education world. If you don’t think the speed of your site matters, then you are about ten steps behind your competition. Not only is site speed incredibly important for your website’s visitors, but it’s just as important in the eyes of Google as well.

Importance Of Website Speed

Let’s say you’ve finally got your university’s site to rank for your target keywords, and prospective students are arriving at your landing page, but it’s taking forever to load. How long do you think before they become frustrated and go to a competitor’s site? With so many other options out there, I can tell you it won’t take long.

Think about the times you’ve been browsing the web and came across a site that took a while to load. You probably click the back button and went to the next search engine result. Having a slow site has a huge effect on bounce rate, which sends a negative signal to Google. If you still aren’t convinced that site speed plays a part in search engine rankings, here is a detailed study from Moz that should make you a believer.

Some Quick Fixes

Get Better Hosting

One of the most common causes of a slow site is a slow host. If you’re paying next to nothing for some shared hosting, chances are it’s having a large effect on your response time. You should consider hosting your website on a dedicated server. While this will be a bit pricier, it will do wonders for your site’s speed.

Compress Large Images

It’s a common issue to have too many large images on a site, which impacts site speed. I recommend compressing images before uploading them. It’s extremely easy, especially with online tools such as Compressor.io.

Minify Your HTML/CSS/JS

This can be a bit technical, but it’s a great way to quickly reduce the load time of your website. If you happen to be running WordPress, there are great plugins that will do this for you automatically, such as W3 Total Cache. If you’re not running WordPress, then I recommend reaching out to a developer to help you accomplish this.

Use A Content Delivery Network

Content Delivery Network’s or CDN’s are great to use for both site speed and security. A CDN is essentially a network of servers around the globe that delivers your webpages to users based on their geographic location. These are fairly easy to setup. Cloudflare is a great one to start with (and free).

To get an idea of where your website stands regarding site speed, you can use this tool from Pingdom. Here is what a well-optimized site looks like:

great site speed for colleges and university websites

If you want to learn more about site speed optimization, then there are tons of resources around the web. Here is an excellent guide to get started.

Wrapping Things Up

I encourage anyone reading this post to implement these tactics on their higher education site. Most of these are quick fixes you can apply today. Doing so will give you a significant advantage over your competition as most people fail to optimize their sites properly.

Be sure to join our mailing list as this all-inclusive guide will continue to be updated. Google is updating their algorithm regularly, so it’s important you stay on top of the game. Thanks for reading and be sure to drop and questions or comments below!