By now, you’ve likely heard the buzz around Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but what does it mean for higher ed institutions? To many, it may seem like an non-essential piece of the puzzle or a waste of resources. In the age of remote learning, however, SEO not only paves the way for catalog success, but can have resounding impacts on your institution’s success as a whole. In the old school of thought, static catalogs were simply a resource for students, nothing more. However, we know now that catalogs can be leveraged as an effective marketing strategy for boosting your institution’s visibility, recognizability, and valuation in prospective students. Consequently, search engine rankings can have a direct impact on student application totals, acceptance rates, and enrollment.
Once you have a catalog site built around SEO best practices, there are several housekeeping tasks your staff can implement to further improve your online visibility. As a result, your institution will climb in search engine results, increasing your website traffic and pointing prospective students in the direction of your institution.
Choose an SEO-Friendly Software Provider
Finding a software provider that adheres to SEO best practices and modern web standards is half the battle when it comes to optimizing your catalog. The back-end of your catalog, and how it is structured, is vastly important in boosting SEO rankings. If your provider doesn’t take the extra time to add proper meta descriptions, text tags, web-optimized image formats, alt text, and content hierarchy, your site’s search engine rankings will suffer as a result. Search engines also value fast webpage load speeds, responsive site designs, readability, and top-notch accessibility. Clean Catalog bakes all of these SEO best practices (and more) into every catalog site we build, laying a strong foundation for your institution’s visibility and presence online.
Backlink your Catalog
Each time another credible website links to your catalog site, search engines will reward you by boosting your ranking. For this reason, hyperlinking to your catalog from your institution’s main site is a great practice to implement. Your catalog can be linked throughout your site, including as a resource for prospective students viewing degree offerings. You can diversify your links even further by linking to your catalog from social media channels, accreditation sites, LMS platforms, and any other digital publications.
Update Catalog Content Regularly
Search engines aim to suggest the most recent, relevant search results for users, which is why it’s important to keep content up-to-date. While most institutions make catalog updates each spring or summer ahead of the upcoming academic year, our course catalogs make it easy to implement updates throughout the year, as well. Software that is easy and intuitive for school admin to use promotes more consistent and efficient catalog updates. What happens when all changes have to be routed through one admin in order to be published? They are infrequently made. When editing responsibilities can be distributed and delegated with the help of editorial workflows and user permissions, the editing process becomes a breeze. Admin can easily make updates throughout the academic year as needed, correcting typos, date changes, and course info within seconds. This not only keeps your catalog content relevant for SEO purposes, but improves overall accuracy.
Fix Broken Links
We’ve all experienced the frustration of clicking a link, only to receive a 404 error message. Not only is this a poor user experience, but search engines penalize sites with these broken links. Unfortunately, many institutions are unaware of broken links on their catalog sites unless someone notifies them of the issue. With Clean Catalog software, we’ve developed a convenient way to monitor broken links and missing content: a custom site audit dashboard. This feature gives you an easy-to-read pulse check on the overall health of your catalog. It will flag broken links, missing pages, missing course content, and more. Better yet, you can easily fix the issue from the dashboard.
Would you like to learn more about improving your catalog’s SEO? Reach out to us with any questions or to schedule a free software demo with our team.