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SEO Tips for Higher Education Professionals

First, what is SEO?

SEO means “search engine optimization”. It is a set of strategies and tactics that helps a website rank higher in Google’s search engine results pages (SERP). The higher you rank, the more likely it is that people will find and engage with your brand.
Why is SEO important in Higher Education?

Today, more than ever, institutions are focused on maintaining a strong digital presence to remain relevant to their target audiences–primarily prospective students and parents. We have seen an increase in requests for SEO and content marketing services as colleges and universities start to understand its importance to their bottom line. If prospective students who are actively hunting for a program can’t find you easily, that’s a big problem. It means they’re finding your competitors instead.

Leveraging SEO best practices across all aspects of your digital marketing (and yes, even in media relations) means that you will rank higher for more relevant keywords, ultimately making sure your brand gets the maximum visibility possible.

How can media relations professionals support SEO?

A very important part of any good SEO strategy is link-building, and media relations professionals are uniquely positioned to drive impact on this front. Because they are regularly in contact with the media, farming out interviews, and coaching interviewees, media relations professionals trained in SEO can help your institution gain valuable backlinks from reputable platforms. This, for someone not as deeply connected, is no small feat.

What are backlinks, and why are they important?

Backlinks are links from another website to yours. So, for example, when Forbes Magazine links back to Stanford Graduate School of Business’ MSx program—that’s a backlink. Backlinks (from high quality websites) indicate to Google that your website is reputable, and provides valuable information to searchers. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the more fondly Google smiles upon you, and subsequently, the better you rank in the SERP.

Below, we detail a few quick tips that will help savvy media relations professionals use their network and connection to help boost your institution’s SEO.

SEO Quick Tips for Media Relations Professionals

  1. Always provide the interviewer / writer with a variety of highly specific, highly relevant links on your institution’s website that they can cite as sources.
  2. Ask, or if possible require, that the interviewer / writer link back to your institution’s website in some way.
  3. Coach interviewees to reference things interviewers / writers can link back to on your institution’s website.
    a. “On my faculty profile you’ll find…”
    b. “On Northwestern’s website you’ll find…”
    c. “There’s a great infographic that explains this on a recent blog post I wrote…”
    d. “You’ll find data about this at…”
  4. Always provide social media handles for your institution and for the interviewee in press releases.
  5. Ask that the interviewer / writer tag you on social; volunteering to share their story to your social media profiles will make them more likely to do so!

If you’re interested in learning how SEO strategies can help your institution, please contact us and we’d be happy to talk.