6 Tips to Start and Master Your College’s Blog in 2018

At Circa Interactive we’re fortunate to work with a few outstanding partners. Below, our friends over at Finalsite put together six useful tips for your college’s blog to become successful. Enjoy!

While you already know that your school needs a blog, the usual roadblocks–time and staffing–are probably standing in your way. Whatever you do, don’t allow these to become constraints. Blogging has the potential to grow your school’s brand, engage your community, and recruit right-fit students to your schools, so it’s definitely worth the effort. If you’re ready to dive in to starting your college’s blog in the new year, here are a few steps to guide your success.

1. Determine a Focus for Your College’s Blog

Many colleges and universities don’t blog at all, and those that do often limit themselves to ones written by the college president, department heads and admissions directors–a pretty narrow focus.  Since your blog will be a traffic-driver and will help to fill your recruitment funnel among other things, put the focus on where you shine: your culture. Showcasing what makes you unique, like the programs you specialize in, your awesome students, and incredible careers of graduates allows you to broaden your focus and bring in students, faculty, coaches, current parents, alumni and others to contribute content.

2. Gather a Group of Dedicated Writers

In order to make an impact with your blog, you need to be consistent about posting. And while it seems simple to assign the task to one person to keep the blog’s tone and voice the same, gathering more content contributors makes it easier to produce content on a consistent basis.

To choose this group, start by polling your community. Ask faculty, students, staff, alumni and parents to share their ideas on posts they’d like to write, or topics they think would be beneficial to prospective and current students and their families, or alumni. Current student bloggers are a great source of content (especially English majors!) as it’s a great resume booster for them to see their work published online, so they’ll love to blog frequently. And, prospective students love to hear firsthand from current students.

Vanguard University does a great job of sharing content from students in a variety of stages and programs to give real-life insight into the student experience (and it looks pretty cool, too!).

An example of how to use student contributors for your college's blog.

A Student’s Guest Post on Vanguard University’s Blog

And while you may want to have different blogs for special programs, like study abroad or athletics, these should be maintained in addition to your college’s main blog. Use a tool that lets you categorize your posts so that they can be dynamically published to all related categories, letting you maximize the impact of your content with less effort.

Remember-it only takes two blog posts per week to improve your website traffic!

3. Create a Content Calendar

Once your group of writers is formed, work with them to create a content calendar that works.

Determine which days you want blog posts to be published, which topics are timely, and which topics are evergreen (can be posted any time.) If you’re only going to blog twice a week, take into consideration that Monday mornings rank highest for visits and Thursdays rank highest for social shares, so focus on those days to get the most traction.

4. Determine an Editing Process

At Finalsite, we use the “press call” concept. Each day at the same time, the marketing team receives an email with all the content that’s scheduled for the next day, including blog posts, and shares their edits with our content marketing manager, who inputs them, and prepares content for publishing.  This system works for us, and now our team expects and prepares for press call each day. Your editing team might be made up of content contributors, marketing or admissions staffers, or others with a critical eye.  

5. Write Simply and with Intent

If your intent is to inform, blogs are meant to be easy-to-read, conversational pieces, but your content contributors might be self-conscious about writing. If your blog is simple and written with intent, it will always be well-received.

Here are few tips for making this happen:

  • Write in lists. It makes content easy to digest and gives readers key takeaways.
  • Write your blog post title first (you can always go back and fine-tune it later!) A title gives your post focus.
  • Write in chunks or sections. Blogs shouldn’t be written like an essay, but should be segmented by different thoughts or ideas.
  • Use a textual hierarchy to break up your post and make it easy to read.
  • Numbered posts are really effective: “The Top Five Reasons to Major in Business,” “Three Reasons Greek Life isn’t What Think it is?”
  • Always incorporate photos in your posts. We recommend one image near the top, and several images throughout the post.
  • End all blogs with a call-to-action.
  • Encourage content contributors to be themselves and use an authentic voice.

6. Share Your Post via Social Media and Subscriptions

“Is anyone out there?” It’s a common fear that you and your content contributors could spend hours on posts that no one sees. But when you follow a few simple steps, your blogs will be seen, appreciated, and shared.

First: Create a way for readers to subscribe to your posts via email. This way, they’ll get the blog posts delivered right to their inbox.

Second: Each time you post a blog on your website, share it on your social feeds. This is a pivotal piece for your inbound marketing strategy! You can also share older blog posts that are still relevant on social media, too! Be sure to always include a photo in your tweets and Facebook posts, as posts with images are more likely to get clicked.

Third: Add links to your blog in the online newsletters that you’re already sending. If you have a monthly newsletter that goes out, include this month’s best posts as a way to drive readership and subscriptions.

Fourth: Use blog posts as inbound marketing content. When sending communications to students in the admission funnel, consider which blog posts you have, and use them as your inbound content. For example, if a student wrote a post on their experience as a student athlete, it would be great to share that with all applicants interested in your athletic programs.


Pulling it All Together

Your blog won’t appear overnight, and neither will differences in website traffic — so don’t get discouraged. A blog takes weeks to really get up and running and months to really make a difference. However, with the right people and plans in place, it will quickly become a central piece of your inbound strategy and school culture.

For more tips and strategies for a high-converting website, download Finalsite’s eBook “The Ultimate Website Guide for Colleges and Universities.”

 Hadley RosenAfter more than a decade working in schools in roles in the classroom, communications and advancement, Hadley joined Finalsite in 2013 as Marketing and Communications Manager. She loves meeting Finalsite’s amazing family members around the world and learning about trends impacting schools. She’s a big fan of travel to places near and far with her growing family, cooking cuisines of all kinds, and working on her French fluency.

5 Ways Your Online Event Calendar Can Positively Influence SEO

By Krystal Putman-Garcia, Vice President, Marketing, Localist

As competition for students becomes fiercer, search engine optimization has never been more important for a college/university. Better visibility and finding creates more visitors and engaged students. Thus university marketing teams are constantly looking for ways to improve their standing in search results. One key element that higher education marketers may be overlooking is their online event calendar. Just think about it – an efficient online calendar is filled with up-to-date events that are rich in content, which can play a major factor in SEO efforts.

Luckily, there are simple and efficient ways your online event calendar can help increase page views and positively influence SEO. Here’s how:

1. Grow the Number of Pages on Your Website

Having more pages on your website – in this case individual event pages – gives you the opportunity to have a larger number of keywords and page views. Instead of having a static 30-day calendar grid-view, you can make your events SEO-friendly with a dedicated page for each event, which allows users to click and view more information.

More event pages will also encourage users to engage with your online event calendar, thereby increasing the time visitors spend on your site. As you may know, the time a visitor spends on a site is one of the factors that search engines use in their ranking algorithms, so the longer visitors are engaging with your events, the better for your SEO.

However, it’s important to note that having more pages isn’t enough – these pages must also be structured correctly. Your online event calendar system should code the name of the event as <h1>. This defines the most important heading, and search engines will pick this up as a priority.

2. Gain a Large Quantity of Backlinks

The number of times people link to your site is a big “off-page” factor in SEO. When there are a ton of backlinks, search engines infer that your website offers valuable or interesting information because it’s popular and engaging with users online. Think about the large quantity of backlinks your online event calendar could gain if other people, companies or organizations share unique links for each individual event on their own websites.

Increasing backlinks is a direct result of getting people more engaged in your online event calendar, and that means your online event calendar should be chock-full of content and events.

3. Activate Social Sharing for Users

There are tons of benefits to incorporating social media into your online calendar, especially when it comes to SEO. Search engines are constantly taking social data into account when displaying search results. In fact, links that people are sharing over social media see more success in user searches.

Be sure to utilize online calendar software that can provide immediate metric reports, specifically on the social media activity around a particular event. Having access to the real-time knowledge of this data will allow you to optimize your marketing efforts, ultimately impacting your SEO.

4. Gain Attention with Unique Event Titles and Descriptions

While content should always be interesting and engaging, each event should also include custom, unique page titles and descriptions. Meta titles and descriptions that feature relevant keywords a user might type into a search box help attract robots and will display as a “sneak peek” for the page in search results.

5. Keep Your Content Fresh

It’s important to consistently update your online event calendar with new events. Ultimately good SEO is good content. You’ll need to make sure you are including as much descriptive content as possible for each event to ensure guaranteed SEO success. Frequently updated high-quality content sends a signal to search engines that your page is worth displaying in search results. Thanks to the easy-to-use nature of online calendars, new content will be easily achieved through basic day-to-day updates.

An event isn’t successful if no one knows about it until after it has happened. In order to get your events discovered, the right online calendar should be fully equipped to help with many important SEO factors. Events generated through our software at Localist are integrated with Google’s index so your events appear higher in search results. And metrics such as EventReach will help you quantify how discoverable your events are amongst the student body.

Online event calendars, especially those generated with a robust interactive software, can ensure your school – and event – will get found online. Highlight these SEO-friendly features of your online event calendar and page views will soar.

Krystal Putman-Garcia

Krystal Putman-Garcia serves as Vice President of Marketing for Localist, an event marketing technology company that offers interactive calendars that help companies publish, manage and promote events. She is responsible for Localist’s marketing and partnership efforts, to ultimately help businesses make the most out of their events.