About 93% of all online engagement begins with a search engine like Google. Meanwhile, nearly 50% of all Google searches are local. Unfortunately, 75% of people don’t look beyond the first page of results. If your institution’s website doesn’t appear on the first page, prospective students might struggle to find you online. They might decide to learn more about competing schools in the area instead. Don’t miss a chance to boost admissions! Instead, consider search engine optimization (SEO). SEO can help you rank higher on search engines like Google. With local SEO, you can boost brand awareness, generate more website traffic, and reach qualified leads.
Not sure where to start? Here are the top tips you need for a strong local SEO strategy. With these local business SEO tips, you can boost your institution’s ranking.
Generate more traffic to your college’s website with these local SEO for business tips today.
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you can boost your local SEO ranking, it’s essential that you understand your target audience. Otherwise, you’ll fail to create content they care about. If people don’t care about your content, they won’t visit your website.
Your local ranking can increase as you generate more traffic. Google will recognize your content is relevant to the user’s needs and boost your ranking. As your ranking increases, you’ll appear in front of even more prospective students.
In order to appeal to the student’s needs, you need to understand their online behaviors.
First, try to segment your broad target audience into smaller personas. Each person can differ based on demographics and psychographics like:
- Marital status
- Buying behaviors
- Pain points
- Household income
You can even segment prospective students based on the classes they want to take or the field they want to major in. Other institutions segment their audiences based on:
- Younger versus older students
- In-state versus out-of-state students
- Bachelor’s versus Master’s degrees
Once you pinpoint your target audience, determine what they’re searching for online. You can make a list of their search queries. Then, you can use those keywords to determine what content you’ll create for your website.
There are many keyword research tools available, including:
- Answer the Public
- Google Trends
- Google Keyword Planner
You can work with an experienced local SEO agency to gather the keyword research you need. They’ll make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest SEO trends, too.
Why Does Keyword Research Matter?
Without keyword research, you might struggle to create content that appeals to the user’s search intent. Their search intent indicates what they expect to find during a search. Google’s search engine algorithm and machine learning abilities allow it to anticipate the user’s search intent.
If your content doesn’t match the user’s intent, they’ll leave your website without exploring. Your clickthrough rate and dwell times will decline. Meanwhile, your bounce rate will start to increase.
A higher bounce rate can have a negative impact on your local SEO score. Instead, you want to boost engagement on your website!
Keyword research will help you create content with the user’s intent in mind.
For example, maybe students want navigational content to find your campus. Maybe they want informational content regarding your classes.
Either way, their intent can impact the content you create.
2. Update Your GMB Listing
Don’t rush to start creating content yet! Instead, take a moment to look at your Google My Business listing.
The Google My Business (GMB) marketing site doubled in organic traffic year-over-year. More people are relying on GMB to learn about local businesses. It’s also important to use GMB to improve your local SEO ranking.
Your GMB listing will display relevant information regarding your institution, including your:
- Institution’s name
- Phone number
- Photos and videos
If your information isn’t up-to-date, you could confuse prospective students. They might struggle to find your campus and visit for a tour. Instead, make sure your number, address, and phone number (NAP) are always accurate.
To optimize your GMB profile:
- Create your account and verify ownership
- Update your information
- Post your logo and other relevant, high-quality images
- Encourage your current students to post a review on your profile
- Respond to your reviews promptly and sincerely
- Publish posts and announcements on your profile regularly
Three different ranking factors can impact your local SEO ranking.
Relevance indicates you offer what the searcher is looking for. Proximity indicates you’re nearby. Prominence indicates you’re reputable and well-known.
Keeping your GMB listing up-to-date can help you appeal to these ranking factors.
3. Look for Other Directories
Where else is your institution featured online? Perhaps you’re listed in a directory for the top colleges in the country. Maybe you’re also listed on:
- Bing Places
Find your online local citations and make sure your NAP is consistent. Inconsistent information could impact your local SEO ranking.
4. Refresh Your Website
Before you can start creating location-based content, take a look at your website. A slow, outdated website could scare visitors away. You don’t want your bounce rate to rise!
If your bounce rate increases, your search engine ranking will drop. You could struggle to reach prospective students as a result.
Instead, update your website with user experience (UX) design trends. UX design ensures your website is easy to use. The easier it is to use, the more likely you’ll help your visitors find the information they need.
You can update your website by:
- Speeding up page load times
- Getting mobile-optimized
- Organizing the navigation
- Creating eye-catching CTA buttons
- Using white space
- Organizing content under headings and subheadings
- Writing with shorter sentences and paragraphs
Make sure to keep up with the latest UX design trends to ensure your website is easy to use.
5. Go Mobile
It’s not enough to update the desktop version of your website. You need to make sure your site is mobile-optimized, too.
Otherwise, someone could visit your website and struggle to use your forms or navigate through your pages.
We could experience a 25% increase in mobile traffic by 2025. Video content and streaming on mobile devices will account for most of this traffic.
If your website isn’t mobile-optimized, users will leave without clicking around. You don’t want your bounce rate to rise!
Google now uses mobile-first indexing to determine page rankings. If your website isn’t optimized, your site will appear lower on the page. Your competitors will get the prime spot at the top of the search page instead.
Mobile optimization can impact your conversion rate, too. If your forms are mobile-optimized, you could boost admissions. If people struggle to use your site, on the other hand, they’ll leave.
6. Generate Reviews
About 95% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase. Another 93% read reviews of local businesses to determine their quality. Meanwhile, 72% won’t make a purchase until after reading reviews.
Online reviews can benefit your brand’s online reputation. They can also impact your local SEO strategy.
Reviews are a form of social proof. They can tell Google that people trust your institution.
Think of it as a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Prospective students want to hear from your current students. It’s one of the easiest ways for prospects to learn more about your institution.
Develop a strategy for acquiring fresh reviews. First, make sure your GMB listing is up-to-date. Then, create a testimonials page on your website.
Encourage students to review your institution by posting on social media. Then, link them straight to your GMB listing.
Take the time to respond to every review you receive. Don’t delete negative reviews. Instead, respond to those reviews promptly and calmly.
Find a way to resolve the issue. Responding to negative reviews will help your brand look honest and transparent. It can also show prospective students that you’re willing to change based on the feedback you receive.
7. Keep Crafting Content
Start creating content based on the keyword research you gathered. You might find keywords that include “near me” or your city’s name. Try to focus on long-tail, location-specific keywords.
Then, create content with that phrase as your focus keyword. Sprinkle secondary keywords throughout your content, too.
Create content based on local news stories and events. These posts can help you better connect with your target audience.
Get involved with the community, too. You can support local charities and causes to improve your local presence. Then, write an article about the event.
Try different forms of content, including:
- Blog posts
Downloadable content like eBooks can work as lead magnets. You can encourage visitors to enter their email to receive a free eBook. Then, you can use email marketing to nurture those leads.
Developing a successful local SEO strategy can take time. Consider working with an experienced team. They can help boost your ranking, allowing you to reach more students.
8. Optimize Your Images
Don’t forget to optimize your images for location-based keywords, too. Optimizing your images can improve your local SEO ranking.
Add the target keyword to your image alt text. Make sure the alt text is relevant to the image.
9. Build Links
Generating backlinks is essential for any SEO strategy. Backlinks send people on other sites to your website. Generating backlinks can show Google you’re an authority in your industry.
You can generate backlinks by creating high-quality content on your website. Others will want to link to your content.
Consider guest blogging on reputable sites, too. Then, add your website’s link to that content. The site you guest blog on can help you boost your reach.
Otherwise, work with some of the students at your college. You can work with local influencers to boost your link-building strategy.
10. Create Location-Based Pages
Add location-based pages to your website as well. These pages can:
- Help you target local keywords
- Boost your ranking for local searches
- Demonstrate your authority in your area
- Encourage people to learn more about your institution
- Help you share local news and events
- Keep searchers up-to-date
- Boost brand loyalty
Look at your website’s “About Us” page. Make sure the page includes information that’s relevant to your institution. For example, you can add a Google Map and your contact information.
11. Get Optimized for Voice
About 20% of all internet searches are voice-based. In fact, nearly 60% of consumers use voice to find local business information. About 40% of adults use voice search every day.
You can increase your chances of appearing for voice searches by structuring your website data. Make sure your content is written in a conversational tone, too.
For example, you can create more posts that directly answer questions. Make sure to create easy-to-digest content on your website as well.
12. Start Sharing
Social media won’t directly boost your local SEO rankings. However, you can use social media to generate more traffic to your website. Generating more traffic can show Google you’re a relevant resource.
Your search engine ranking could improve as a result.
Social media can support your local SEO strategy in a few ways. For example, social media:
- Helps boost your online brand visibility, increasing awareness and recognition
- Sends traffic to your website and blog pages
- Helps you generate fresh backlinks from locals
- Helps you generate more reviews
- Boosts trust signals with your prospective students
- Helps you develop meaningful relationships with your target audience
Choose platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Then, start engaging with prospective students online. Social media can show students you’re relevant and available to answer their questions.
You can develop a full social media marketing strategy to boost brand awareness and expand your reach. For example, you can start developing Facebook and Instagram ads. Digital ads can help you appeal to your target audience.
When those students click on your ads, they’ll visit a landing page on your website. Then, you can generate more traffic and potentially boost your local SEO ranking.
Get on the Map: 12 Easy Ways to Optimize for Local SEO
Optimizing your college’s website for local SEO can help you expand your reach. You can draw in prospective students and boost your brand awareness. Meanwhile, you’ll rank higher than competitors, positioning you as a local authority!
By boosting your local SEO ranking, you can generate more admissions than ever before.
Need help developing your local SEO strategy? We’re here for you.
Contact us today to get started.