SEO or Search Engine Optimization can be a real asset when it comes to international student recruiting and lead generation if it is done right and with the right partners. So what is Search Engine Optimization? How do students find you? And how on Earth can it help with international student lead generation?
Let’s start with the definition of search engine optimization. According to dictionary.com, SEO is: the methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a Web site in results returned by a search engine, in an effort to maximize user traffic to the site. In other words, the best practices used to be found when someone is searching for you or the services you provide to them. In the case of international education, it is how your school, programs or courses can be found by the students that are looking for them using search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu or other source.
There are two ways to be found on a search engine. You can pay to show up by bidding on certain keywords or phrases, such as “MBA in the USA”, or “international students in the US” or other relevant key words that you could associate with your school or programs. This is done on a pay-per-click model where you only pay if someone clicks on your ad and visits your website. The other way to be found is to be found “organically”. An organic listing is a free listing but requires patients and some effort if you want to rank close to the top of the search results page.
So how can you be found by students organically? You need to have a strategy and to implement some standard best practices for SEO, such as having relevant content, inbound and outbound links to relevant content, articles and other related sites.
Let’s take InternationalStudent.com as an example. How do students find our site? They find us because we have relevant content on our site based on what they are searching for. As an example, an international student searching for health insurance might search for “international student health insurance”. In this case, our site Internationalstudentinsurance.com would appear second in the organic search listings. Another example is a student that wants to study a career in broadcasting, might type in “study broadcasting in the USA”. In this example our content section on studying broadcasting on InternationalStudent.com is listed second in the organic listing and our content section for our partner the Ohio Center for Broadcasting is listed third. Even mentioning them in this blog will add a little SEO boost to the above content sections on our site.
If you want your school to be found when and where students are looking for you, you either need a very large pay-per-click budget or a solid SEO strategy with relevant content at the core. Partnering with sites with good search rankings can also play a key role in being found as well.
Do you have an SEO strategy to help your school be found when students are searching for you?