From bite-size tweets to viral videos and website blog posts, content is the first point of contact between you and a student or parents. Pique interest by showcasing alumni success stories, your cool campus vibe, and your program offerings.
In addition, content is the foundation for ranking well on search engine results pages (SERPs). That’s why many schools use content marketing strategies to show prospective students they’re a perfect fit.
However, you can’t just dive in headfirst. You need to know what it takes to create top-notch content, and that’s what we’ve covered in this article.
1. What Do You Want to Achieve?
Creating compelling content can help schools achieve a variety of goals, but trying to do many things at once with the same content can lead to a complete failure.
Before creating a content plan, know exactly what you want to accomplish with a piece of writing.
- Do you want to attract prospective students?
- Do you want to boost parent engagement?
- Are you looking to educate current families/students/employees?
For example, one strategy to boost engagement would be to make social media buttons visible on the homepage or set up an email newsletter. To land at the top of search results and appeal to prospective students, you can perform keyword analysis to find out what program offerings or financial aid plans a student wants and tailor your message accordingly.
But first, you need to know who these prospective students are.
2. Who is the Audience?
The first step in tailoring your content for a student is to know who they are. Creating a student persona based on accurate data is the way to know the audience for schools or other educational institutions.
Creating a Student Persona
Creating student personas requires marketers to ask four basic questions:
Answering these questions will show you what the prospective students want and need:
- Who are they? Their demographic information such as age, stage of life, cultural/geographic background, and income level. Do they fit your university/college/school’s mission?
- What are their main objectives? What is their program interest?
- What are their sources of information?
- What are their biggest challenges or frustrations?
The student body, people on the campus, or even faculty members at the institution can give you some answers. You can also contact people on social media, and e-mail surveys and questionnaires. Plus, most of these will pop up on keyword analysis, which we’ll get to shortly.
Why Is This Important?
Probably the biggest advantage of answering these questions is that they show you how you should present yourself. For example, if prospective students come from middle- or low-income families, you can focus the message on your plans for financial aid and affordable tuition and courses.
Or, if you want to appeal to students from a particular cultural background, you can focus on diversity and even special programs or events. This is sure to attract student prospects looking at the school’s website.
Your school website is the primary communication resource at your disposal, so make it count.
3. What Keywords Do They Use?
When families visit your pages, chances are they have researched extensively about many schools or colleges. Keywords are the primary tool they use to get information about your campus, faculty, and the system as a whole.
Many keyword analysis tools are available online and can help you find out what families or prospective students are looking for in a school. For instance, what are the featured keywords? Are they long-tail keywords (generally, a three to five-word phrase)? If you include these in your message, you will move up in search results more easily.
Oh, and don’t forget that prospects will often use keywords that indicate the locale of the school including city, county, state, country, and nearby towns. Be sure you include those references in your website content and in your metatag information.
Long-tail keywords are great for finding student questions and creating content to answer them. For example, if you type “school meals” into a keyword research tool, you’ll get questions like “Does [school name] offer free meals?” or “Does my child get free school meals?” or “Are school meals healthy?”
Now you can design content around these exact keywords to show the benefits of your school meal plans. You’ll also need to learn how to use the links.
By creating high-quality, relevant content, you will get more authentic backlinks, which is vital to score highly on Google because they show that your website is a valuable source of information. That way, you can get more prospective students to visit your platform and learn about your educational programs.
When you type something into a search engine like Google, each result is displayed with a blue text (meta title) and a short description in black/gray (meta description). Once you have the keywords, you can cleverly incorporate them into these two parts to significantly improve your ranking.
4. Don’t Forget the Existing Content
Now that you have the keywords and know your target audience, don’t just use this data to produce new articles. Similar to metadata, you can also use these keywords to optimize your existing content.
Start with the most visited pages (e.g., landing pages) and go from there. Also, update your contact details, such as e-mails, phone numbers, and addresses, and put up a contact form for families to reach out to you.
5. Check Out the Competition
You can always learn from other schools to see how much they write and what topics they cover. Pay attention to how they phrase their message, how many headings they use, and how much they incorporate videos and photos. See how they structure their homepage and where they put social media buttons. Study their strengths and weaknesses.
But be careful because their target audience or goal may differ from yours. In other words, a university or college may want to promote student engagement or endorse their graduate programs and services to their families. What worked for them may not necessarily be the same for you.
6. Add Images & Videos
We all know that a high-quality image of the school, a virtual tour of the campus, or videos of graduates sharing their success stories work much better than plain text. You can create clever, funny, dramatic, or cool videos featuring the student body and your colleagues.
From a search engine optimization ( SEO) perspective, this keeps students on the page longer, which is undoubtedly a positive signal for Google to improve your ranking. It also appeals to an interested student, prospecting school website information.
How We Can Help
Now that you have some tips on creating content that will boost your rankings and attract prospective students or parents. Of course, you may feel a little confused or hesitant because learning these tips and implementing them in real life are two different things.
This is completely understandable, because dealing with content marketing and SEO rankings usually requires expertise, technology, and resources that a school or even universities cannot provide. So many institutions have opted for an in-house approach and have not gotten the results they truly deserve.
That’s why we suggest another way: use a reliable website provider. At School Webmasters, we can help you produce content on your platform that is sure to maximize lead generation while improving your school communication channels.
You can easily get a quote right now or just contact us (call 888.750.4556 and speak with Jim) and let us point you in the right direction.