For today's colleges and universities seeking to recruit new students, a strong online presence is just as important as an attractive campus.
Many traditional colleges are competing against online learning institutions that have multimillion-dollar marketing budgets and a lot less overhead. For students researching their options, advanced SEO can make the difference between a college appearing at the top of search results—and making it to their short list—or not showing up at all.
Here's how advanced SEO increased visibility for one Florida university by nearly 40% and increased new contacts by nearly 200%.
Saint Leo University is a Catholic liberal arts college serving nearly 15,000 students through its main campus near Tampa, FL, more than 35 regional Education Center locations and online degree programs.
It has been consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the south, according to U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" list. Although its campus is small, it has a diverse student body representing 44 U.S. states and territories and over 80 foreign countries.
Saint Leo’s greatest opportunity for growth is through its online degree programs, but the online learning space is highly competitive. Some of its competitors spend upward of $1 million per month on digital advertising. Saint Leo sought to increase awareness of its online degree programs with improvements in search engine optimization (SEO).
Saint Leo also requested help from the Kuno Creative team to redesign its website with the goal of improving prospective student conversions. When administrators reached out to Kuno, their website user experience (UX) was disjointed, with multiple uniquely designed sub-domains and an overwhelming number of pages that weren’t helping to attract, convert or close prospective students.
Advanced SEO entails more than a basic understanding of keywords. It requires a specific set of technical skills, including:
Kuno Creative developed a plan to consolidate Saint Leo University’s website content onto a single domain with the primary goal of improving the user experience. After the launch of the new website, Kuno and Saint Leo focused on continual improvement and advanced SEO services to improve search results.
One of the first changes the Kuno team made was to create 75 dedicated pages for each of Saint Leo’s online degree programs, which previously existed on the same pages as on-campus degree programs.
Having these dedicated pages allowed Saint Leo to significantly improve its search results for online degree programs.
Within the first quarter of implementing advanced SEO services, Saint Leo saw organic ranking improvements for 80 keywords—with many improving 30 to 40 positions and some even moving to the first page of Google. Kuno also addressed many technical SEO issues, such as missing title tags, duplicate meta descriptions, toxic backlinks and numerous redirect errors.
This led to a substantial improvement in Saint Leo’s website audit score, an important attribute Google uses to determine website authority. Other objectives included the creation of a custom Find Your Program tool that helped students see all degree program offerings in one place and where they’re offered, an Education Center map and a faculty directory.
Within the first year, Saint Leo experienced the following results:
The Kuno team continues to work with Saint Leo to publish additional online degree program pages, optimize website UX and copy, conduct outreach for link building opportunities and make advanced SEO improvements.
Advanced SEO is critical for any organization that wants to be found online today. With nearly two billion websites in existence and more than four million new blog posts being created every single day, it's becoming more difficult to stand out. Using the fundamentals of SEO might be enough to get you on the playing field, but it's no longer enough to compete — especially if your competition is spending millions of dollars on digital advertising.
Our team of advanced SEO experts can help you identify the right ranking opportunities that will position your organization for long-term success. To learn more about how we can help, schedule a free consultation with us today.