Once established, your college website has the potential to become an important marketing tool in your arsenal.
“Potential” being the keyword here, because if you don’t do the right things, it won’t do much of anything for you. Since you probably put a lot of time and effort into your site, it’s time you got a return on investment.
That’s why I’m going to share with you the top strategies for promoting your college website. Use these, and you will attract more students to your college.
Include Your Website On Your College Magazine And Prospectus
These days, when people want to learn something, they generally go online.
So, if you put your website address in strategic places – such as on your magazine or prospectus – you can get more people coming to your website and spending time to learn about you and the education you offer.
Print materials are great promotional tools. People tend to take them home, and while that doesn’t guarantee a lot of exposure, a magazine or prospectus can get passed around and seen by more people. It could even reach more prospective students.
Another tactic you can use (although you might want to use this sparingly) is to include some call to actions in your magazine to get more people coming to your site. For instance, you could say, “if you’d like to learn more about this…” or “if you’d like to weigh in on this discussion…” and then prompt readers to go to your website.
The reason I say this should be done sparingly is because people will sniff you out if you’re just using this as a ploy to get them to your site.
Ultimately, your web address should go on all your print material, whatever it may be. That way, people can sit down and learn more about your institution later, on their own. A lot of people don’t want to have a lengthy conversation about what you offer and prefer to do their own research. So, you should empower this behavior and not stifle it. Ensure there’s plenty of information for people to dig into online.
Rank Your Website In Search Engines & Gain Potential Students On Autopilot
We all know how powerful Google is. You can find just about anything you’re looking for.
But they don’t exactly employ a democratic system. Google displays what it believes to be the most relevant results at the top of their search engine results. So, in a way, you kind of need to get in their good graces.
In a general sense, most people refer to ranking in search engines as SEO (search engine optimization). But that doesn’t tell the whole story anymore, because Google isn’t looking for websites that match what their machines like. They’re looking for websites that are good for users. It explains why many old tactics don’t work anymore (such as keyword stuffing or getting lots of low quality links).
So, what can you do to ensure your website is good for the people coming to it? Here’s what I suggest:
- Ensure it’s mobile-ready. Use a responsive design. If you used WordPress to build your website, good news – most WordPress themes are already mobile ready.
- Use keywords strategically. Instead of just using the name of your college, brand terms, or proprietary jargon, also use keywords people are likely to be searching for. If some of your program titles are confusing (i.e. Social Media in the Digital Age), offer detailed explanations with plenty of relevant keywords.
- Keep loading times low. The faster your site loads, the better. Using the right host can make a big difference. Another consideration would be to look at the amount of media (i.e. graphics, images, videos, audio, and so on) that’s being loaded on any given page, and to pare down to the minimum necessary.
- Check to make sure your links work. Too many “404 not founds” can be problematic. Since colleges are constantly updating their websites, it happens a lot. When and where possible, redirect visitors to relevant pages, not just the homepage of your site.
Utilize Google Adwords & Maybe Other Paid Advertising Platforms
SEO is important – but it’s not everything.
You can get a lot of traffic from search engines over time, and it’s basically “free” except for the effort you put into your content.
But I can’t stress the “over time” part enough. Six to 12 months is what it often takes to see any kind of uptake from your optimization efforts, and even then, you may not see a huge jump in numbers.
With Google AdWords, you can almost instantly rank at the top of search engines without a huge upfront effort. Your visibility will still depend somewhat on competition and your available budget, but either way, you should see your traffic increase significantly while you’re advertising.
One of the major challenges of advertising is getting a lot of clicks and no results. For instance, if your goal is to get more students to apply, and you’re sending people to a landing page, only a small percentage of people will take time to apply.
As you can imagine, there can be a lot of reasons for this including timing, waning interest, students still researching their options, and so on.
The biggest problem to solve is connecting with the right audience. If you do a good job of specifying who your target audience is, you should see better results from your ads. This process is called optimization. It will require ongoing monitoring and tweaking.
Facebook And Other Paid Social Media Advertising Can Expand Your Reach
Google is not the only place you can advertise online.
As you are likely aware, people are hooked on their favorite social networks. For many people, that place happens to be Facebook.
Facebook is constantly making improvements and changes to their ad platform, making it one of the best ways to advertise online. It doesn’t hurt that their active user base is over 1.15 billion.
As with any kind of advertising, it’s still about having a good understanding of who your target audience is. Facebook makes it easy for you to stick to your budget and specify the kinds of people who should see your ads. But if you don’t know who should be seeing your ads, you’re no better off.
Rather than going straight for the sale (i.e. getting students to apply), you might consider getting them on your email list, so you can nurture them and send them information that’ll get them excited about attending your college. Over time, you can turn more prospects into students.
If you’re looking for places other than Facebook to advertise, here are some of the best available:
With that in mind, you may not find as many potential students on Pinterest or LinkedIn, but if you’d like to experiment, you can.
College Marketing Tips Conclusion
In summary, if you have the budget for it, advertising could be one of the best ways to quickly attract potential students for your college.
If you’re serious about SEO, you might consider regularly publishing blog posts about your college, as well as content related to your community.
You might not see immediate results from your effort, so stick to the process. Keep at it, and you will see good things happen.