Higher Education SEO: The Ultimate Guide

In today’s digital age, prospective students rely heavily on search engines to research colleges and universities. But how can you ensure your institution’s website appears at the top of those search results? That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.

Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Think of SEO as the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in search results for terms relevant to your institution. Imagine search results as a race where websites compete for visibility. By optimizing your website with SEO best practices, you give it a better chance of winning the race and being seen by prospective students actively searching for programs.

What is Higher Education SEO?

Higher Education SEO helps universities and colleges attract qualified students by optimizing their websites to rank higher in search results for terms students use to research programs. It’s not just about name recognition – it’s about creating valuable content that answers student questions and showcases your institution as a trusted resource, ultimately increasing website traffic and qualified leads.

Why is SEO So Important for Higher Education Websites?

In the competitive world of higher education, a strong SEO strategy is no longer optional – it’s essential. Here’s why SEO should be a top priority for your university or college website:

Increased Website Traffic and Visibility

This is the most straightforward benefit. When your website ranks higher in search results for relevant keywords, you gain significantly more organic traffic. This means more prospective students will discover your institution during their college research journey, significantly expanding your applicant pool.

Attract High-Quality Leads

Think of SEO as a magnet attracting qualified students actively searching for programs you offer. Unlike traditional marketing methods, SEO targets users with high purchase intent – those already interested in higher education and specifically looking for programs like yours. This translates to a higher conversion rate, meaning more website visitors will take the next step, like requesting information or applying.

Improved Brand Awareness and Reputation

High search rankings lead to greater brand awareness. When your website consistently appears at the top of search results pages, it subconsciously positions your institution as a prominent and trustworthy option in the minds of prospective students and their families. This positive perception can significantly influence their college selection process.

Beyond the Basics: SEO’s Impact on Recruitment and ROI

Strong SEO goes beyond just attracting visitors. It can directly impact your recruitment efforts and return on investment (ROI). Here’s how:

Reduced Reliance on Paid Advertising

A well-optimized website with high organic rankings reduces dependence on expensive paid advertising campaigns, allowing you to allocate more resources to other marketing initiatives.

Targeted Outreach

SEO allows you to tailor your content and outreach efforts to specific student demographics and program interests. This targeted approach allows for more effective communication and messaging, resonating better with prospective students and leading to a higher chance of enrollment.

Improved Student Experience

A website optimized for search engines is also optimized for users. This translates to a better user experience for prospective students – clear navigation, easy access to relevant information, and mobile-friendliness. This positive experience can influence their decision to apply and can also contribute to higher student satisfaction after enrollment.

Overall, SEO is a powerful tool for higher education institutions to not only attract more students but also to attract the right kind of students – those who are a good fit for your academic programs and campus culture. By investing in SEO, you’re investing in the future of your institution.

The Two Pillars of SEO

There are two main aspects of SEO to consider: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

On-Page SEO

This refers to optimizing the elements within your website to improve search engine visibility.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO strategy, and for higher education institutions, it’s no different. By understanding the terms students use to search for colleges and programs, you can optimize your website to attract more qualified leads.

But keyword research goes beyond simply identifying relevant keywords. It’s about understanding the search intent behind those keywords – what is the user’s goal when they enter a particular search term?

Let’s dig in deeper into the different types of keywords and how search intent plays a crucial role in your higher education SEO strategy:

Types of Keywords:

Branded vs. Non-Branded Keywords:

Informational vs. Transactional Keywords:

Understanding Search Intent is Key

Consider this: Someone searching for “[MBA degree]” is likely in the early research phase, looking for general information about MBA programs. Landing on a page titled “Harvard Business School MBA Program” might not be the most relevant result for this user. Instead, informative content that answers their questions about MBAs in general, career paths, and application tips would be a better fit.

By understanding search intent and incorporating it into your keyword research, you can create targeted content that resonates with users at different stages of the college search journey. This increases the chances of converting website visitors into qualified leads.

Keyword Research Tools for Higher Education

There are various free and paid keyword research tools available to help you identify relevant keywords and understand search intent. Here are a few options:

By incorporating keyword research best practices and leveraging these tools, you can build a strong foundation for your higher education SEO strategy. Remember, it’s not just about the keywords themselves; it’s about understanding the intent behind the search and creating valuable content that meets the needs of your target audience.

Content Strategy

Once you’ve identified your target keywords through keyword research, it’s time to craft a content strategy that leverages those keywords and caters to the user journey. This strategy will be the fuel that propels your higher education SEO efforts forward.

Understanding the Student Journey

Prospective students don’t just appear on your program pages ready to apply. They embark on a journey of research and exploration before making a decision. Here’s how you can create content that resonates with them at each stage:

The Power of Early Engagement

By getting in front of prospective students early in their user journey, you have a golden opportunity to build brand awareness, establish trust, and ultimately guide them towards your programs. High-quality, informative content positions your institution as a valuable resource and thought leader in the higher education space.

Beyond Applications: Softer Conversions and Retargeting

The benefits of a strong content strategy extend beyond driving applications. Valuable content can also generate “softer conversions,” such as newsletter sign-ups for those who want to stay updated on your programs or upcoming events.

This captured audience can then be retargeted with laser-focused marketing campaigns later in their decision-making process.

Building Topical Authority

By consistently creating high-quality content around a specific subject area, you establish your website as a trusted authority on that topic. This concept is known as topical authority. Search engines consider topical authority when ranking websites, and a strong topical focus can benefit your entire website, not just your blog content.

For instance, creating informative blog posts related to computer science careers strengthens your website’s authority on that subject. This, in turn, improves the ranking potential of your main computer science program page, even though it might not be directly optimized for the broad term “[computer science degree].” Search engines recognize your website as a comprehensive resource for computer science education, making your program page more relevant for users with that search intent.

Internal Linking and Ranking for Competitive Keywords

A well-structured content strategy also leverages internal linking. By linking relevant blog posts to your program pages, you create a strong internal linking structure that helps search engines understand the hierarchy and flow of your website content. This can indirectly improve the ranking potential of your program pages for highly competitive keywords.

Remember, users searching for “[MBA degree]” are likely in the research phase, looking for general information. While your program page might not be the most relevant result for this specific search term, other informative content on your website, like a blog post titled “Everything You Need to Know About Earning an MBA Degree,” can attract these users and establish your expertise. Through internal linking, you can then guide them towards your program page when they’re ready for the next step in their user journey.

By understanding the user journey, crafting targeted content, and leveraging the power of topical authority, you can create a content strategy that fuels your higher education SEO efforts and attracts high-quality leads throughout the entire enrollment funnel.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the foundation upon which all other SEO efforts stand. It encompasses the behind-the-scenes aspects of your website that directly influence how search engines crawl, index, and understand your content. 

In the realm of higher education websites, where multiple departments and stakeholders often have a hand in content creation and website management, a robust technical SEO strategy is even more crucial.

Here’s why technical SEO is so important for higher education institutions:

While the importance of technical SEO is undeniable, higher education institutions face unique challenges:

Strategies for Managing Technical SEO in Higher Education:

Here’s how your marketing department can navigate these challenges and champion a strong technical SEO strategy:

By implementing these strategies, your marketing department can champion a strong technical SEO foundation and pave the way for a more successful overall SEO strategy for your higher education institution. Remember, a well-optimized website is not just about ranking higher in search results – it’s about creating a positive user experience for prospective students, fostering trust and credibility, and ultimately, attracting the best and brightest minds to your institution.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO focuses on strategies that happen outside your website but still influence your search rankings.


Backlinks are essentially links from other websites to your website. Search engines consider backlinks as a sign of trust and credibility. Earning backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites can significantly improve your website’s authority and ranking. 

Local SEO

If your university has a physical location or multiple campuses, local SEO is crucial. Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing to ensure your institution appears in local search results when students search for colleges or universities near them. If you have multiple campuses, consider creating separate Google Business Profiles for each campus, highlighting unique programs or aspects of student life at each location.

Reporting & Analytics for Higher Ed SEO

In the data-driven world of SEO, tracking and analyzing performance is not just an afterthought – it’s the cornerstone of success. For higher education institutions, SEO reporting takes on a particular significance. You’re not just measuring website traffic; you’re measuring the effectiveness of your efforts in attracting qualified students.

Here’s how to use reporting and analytics to maximize the return on your higher education SEO investment:

Key Metrics for Higher Ed SEO Reporting

A comprehensive SEO report for higher education should encompass a range of metrics that provide a holistic view of your website’s performance. Here are some crucial elements to consider:

Beyond the Numbers

Your SEO reports shouldn’t just be a collection of numbers. Use them to gain actionable insights and inform your SEO strategy:

Reporting Tools for Higher Education SEO

There are numerous SEO reporting tools available, both free and paid. Here are a few popular options for higher education institutions:

By regularly monitoring and analyzing key SEO metrics through these tools, you can gain a clear understanding of your website’s strengths and weaknesses. This data-driven approach empowers you to make informed decisions, optimize your SEO strategy, and ultimately achieve your higher education enrollment goals.


Imagine a world where qualified students actively seeking programs like yours discover your institution effortlessly through strategic search engine optimization (SEO).  By implementing a data-driven SEO strategy, you can establish your website as a trusted resource, attracting high-quality leads early in their college search journey and guiding them seamlessly through the application process. This not only strengthens your brand reputation but also optimizes your recruitment efforts, potentially reducing reliance on expensive advertising.

Ready to harness the power of SEO and empower your institution to attract the best and brightest minds? Contact us today for a free consultation on our Higher Ed SEO Services. Let’s discuss how we can craft a customized SEO strategy that delivers exceptional results and fuels your institution’s long-term success.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long does it take to see results from SEO efforts in higher education?
    SEO is a long-term game. While you might see some initial improvements in website traffic or keyword rankings within 3 months with consistent effort, significant and sustainable results typically take 6-12 months or even longer. This timeframe depends on factors like competition and your website’s current SEO health, but the good news is that SEO results are cumulative. The longer you optimize and create high-quality content, the more organic traffic and qualified leads you’ll attract.
  2. What are the biggest challenges to implementing a successful SEO strategy for our university?
    Limited IT resources can be a hurdle, especially when you need to address technical SEO needs. Collaboration or user-friendly CMS platforms can help. Another challenge is managing content across departments. Establishing clear SEO guidelines and fostering collaboration ensures consistency. Finally, competing with well-established universities can be tough. But focusing on niche programs, local SEO, and unique content can help you stand out.
  3. How can we measure the ROI (Return on Investment) of our SEO efforts?
    Tracking organic traffic growth shows if your website is becoming more discoverable by prospective students. Monitoring conversion rates (applications, inquiries) reveals if your website effectively guides them through the enrollment funnel. Finally, tracking keyword ranking improvements helps you see if your SEO efforts are moving your website higher in search results for relevant terms. By showcasing how SEO contributes to achieving your enrollment goals, you can effectively demonstrate its ROI.
  4. How much should we budget for SEO services?
    SEO service costs vary depending on several factors. A comprehensive strategy with keyword research, content creation, and ongoing reporting will naturally cost more than a basic website audit. The size of your university also plays a role, as larger institutions might require a more extensive approach. Finally, the experience and reputation of the SEO agency you choose will influence the cost. It’s best to discuss your specific needs and budget to get customized quotes. Remember, SEO is an investment, and a well-executed strategy can deliver significant returns in terms of qualified leads and student enrollment.
  5. Do we need to make any changes to our website structure or content management system to improve SEO?
    An SEO audit can provide valuable insights. It might recommend improvements to your website structure, such as a clearer menu and better internal linking. Additionally, the audit might reveal limitations with your current CMS if it’s not optimized for SEO best practices. Upgrading or exploring SEO plugins can be beneficial. By addressing these technical SEO aspects, you can ensure your website is search engine friendly and has the potential to rank higher in search results.
SEO and the Student Journey: From Awareness to Enrollment

Imagine yourself at a crossroads. You’re staring down the exciting, yet daunting, path of higher education. Questions swirl in your mind: “What career path should I take?”, “What type of degree is right for me?”, and most importantly, “Which college will help me achieve my goals?”. This is the beginning of the student journey, a crucial decision-making process that every aspiring student embarks on.

Interestingly, this journey often starts with a simple search on Google. Whether it’s “best colleges for engineering” or “tips for choosing a major,” students are actively seeking information online to guide their decisions. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Higher Education comes into play.

SEO is the art and science of making your website visible in search engine results. But for higher education institutions, it’s much more than just ranking high. It’s about influencing the student journey at every stage, from initial awareness to final enrollment. So, let’s unpack this journey and see how SEO can be your guide along the way.

Stage 1: Planting the Seed – The Awareness Stage

The first step in the student journey is awareness. Students are just beginning to explore their options, and their minds are brimming with questions. They might be unsure about their desired field, the type of degree they need, or even the very concept of college life.

As a higher education institution, SEO can help you be there at the right time with the right information. This is achieved through keyword research and content creation. By identifying the keywords students are searching for (e.g., “best colleges for social work”, “what does a computer science degree entail?”), you can create informative blog posts, articles, and guides that address their concerns and answer their questions.

Imagine this: A student unsure about their major stumbles upon your article titled “5 Tips for Choosing the Right College Major.” This article, optimized with relevant keywords like “choosing a college major”, “career paths”, and “finding your passion”, guides them through the decision-making process, potentially sparking their interest in your programs.

This is exactly what The University of Kansas has done. Their article “10 Tips for Choosing a Major in College” gets close to 2,000 clicks/mo and ranks in the top positions for keywords like:

From this research, they might become interested in getting a computer science degree. However, they want to learn more about the program and what they can do with a computer science degree. So they would search for [what do you learn in computer science]. SNHU has an article on this topic (What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree?), and that page alone brings them over 1,800 clicks every month.

Stage 2: Narrowing the Options – The Consideration Stage

Once students have a better understanding of their interests and goals, they move into the consideration stage. This is where they start researching specific colleges and programs, learning more about things like curriculum, faculty expertise, and even campus life.

In this phase, SEO becomes even more critical. You can create content with relevant keywords related to specific programs and majors (e.g., “computer science vs computer engineering”, “is computer science a good major”). Additionally, ensure your website is user-friendly and provides clear information about programs, faculty profiles, and student life. This makes it easier for students to find the information they need and assess if your institution aligns with their aspirations.

Rice University’s Department of Computer Science has an article titled “Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: What’s the Difference?”. This article brings them over 5,400 clicks every month (64,800 visits annually) and ranks for over 630 keywords.

By appearing in search results, this article reaches students with initial program interest but may not be ready for immediate action. This visibility benefits Rice’s brand; every year, tens of thousands of prospective students land on this page, with a significant number engaging with their calls to action and learning more about Rice’s Computer Science program.

Think of it this way: A student interested in computer science lands on your website’s “Computer Science” blog article. The page is optimized with relevant keywords and offers a clear overview of the program, including course descriptions, faculty profiles, and internship opportunities. This transparency and ease of access can significantly influence their decision to explore further or even apply.

After they’re done with their questions, they are going to search for specific programs. You should be visible here, too, as these searches have a clear intent to convert. They are also one of the most competitive keywords to rank for. 

The most important thing to remember here is to understand the search intent and use that information to target the right keywords for your program page. You’d think that targeting the (computer science degree) keyword with your program page is the right decision, but the screenshot below proves you wrong. There’s only one program page ranking for this keyword, all other results are informational content (blog articles).

If you want to rank for this keyword, the best chance you’ll have at ranking will be through blog content that targets this keyword. And for the program page, you’d probably want to target a different version of this keyword that shows more program pages listed. 

Here’s one example of search results showing only program pages when you search for (online computer science degree), a keyword that is searched over 9,000 times every month. Because the search query is more specific, this signals Google that the user is interested in programs and not blog articles.

Stage 3: Making the Final Choice – The Decision Stage

The decision stage is where students finalize their choices, considering factors like financial aid options, campus visits, and acceptance rates. As an institution, you want to ensure you’re providing the information and resources that make your option stand out.

SEO can help you showcase the unique selling points of your institution during this crucial stage. You can highlight testimonials from current students and alumni, emphasizing their positive experiences and career successes. Additionally, you can create landing pages dedicated to financial aid information and the application process, making it easy for students to navigate the next steps.

For example, imagine a student on the fence, torn between two colleges. They visit your website and discover a dedicated landing page titled “Scholarships and Financial Aid.” This page clearly explains eligibility requirements, application procedures, and even features success stories of students who received scholarship support. This level of transparency and accessibility can significantly impact their final decision.

Conclusion: The Journey Continues

By understanding the student journey and implementing a strategic SEO approach, higher education institutions can effectively guide prospective students from initial awareness to successful enrollment. Remember, SEO is a continuous process, and it requires ongoing effort to stay ahead of the curve. But by prioritizing relevant content, user experience, and transparency, you can harness the power of SEO to attract the right students and build a thriving academic community.

How SNHU.edu Wins Big With SEO: Strategies You Can Use Today

With over 15 million annual visitors solely through organic search, SNHU has cracked the code to SEO mastery. This article peels back the layers of their strategy, revealing the powerhouse tactics behind their online success.

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 170,000 online students, making it one of the fastest-growing universities in the nation. SNHU is not, nor it has been a client of Manaferra in the past. All the data in this article is provided from third-party platforms.

Keep reading to uncover the best practices and actionable strategies that can transform your website into an SEO juggernaut. Apply these proven SEO tactics to your institution’s website and watch your organic traffic soar.

SNHU.edu – Organic Traffic Overview

SNHU.edu gets an estimated 1.3 million visitors from organic traffic monthly. This traffic is only to their “marketing” website (www.snhu.edu) and doesn’t include their mySNHU student website (https://my.snhu.edu), which also receives close to 600k visits from Google every month.

From the Ahrefs traffic chart above, we can see that the traffic started to increase in mid-2020. This makes sense because, during COVID-19, with campuses closed and learning moved online, SNHU was well-positioned to capitalize on this new search demand.

From an SEO point of view, something else that happened during this time was Google giving more weight to all .edu domains in their efforts to combat misinformation. SNHU was already investing in SEO, had all the right pages created to target the right keywords, and when this algorithmic update happened, their pages started to rank better gradually.

The biggest spike in their traffic came from the July 2021 Core Update. Their traffic increased by almost 60%, from 600,000/mo to 950,000/mo.

Another interesting data point is to look at their traffic by location. 73.4% of the traffic is coming from the United States, but they’re also getting significant traffic from India and the Philippines. This is normal; some of the content that will be published on the site will perform in markets outside the US as well, even if that is not part of the strategy. In SNHU’s case, this could be intentional since they are targeting international students as well.

Traffic Value

Organic traffic value is the equivalent monthly cost of traffic from all keywords that the SNHU.edu website ranks for organically if that traffic was paid via PPC instead.

Ahrefs calculates it by multiplying the monthly organic traffic of each keyword at its respective ranking position by its CPC value. Then, they add up the organic traffic cost of individual keywords that the target website/URL ranks for.

In essence, the number gives you a sense of how valuable a domain’s keyword profile is. Another way to think of it is how much money SNHU has saved in terms of ranking for keywords organically instead of buying paid traffic.

In their case, SNHU gets over $5.7m in traffic value for free (per month) because they’re ranking for hundreds of thousands of keywords and getting over 1.3m visitors per month.

Here’s one example: their healthcare administration degree page gets over 6.3k clicks every month. They are ranking in top positions for keywords like:

If they had to advertise on Google Ads to get this traffic, it would cost them $137,000; instead, because they have a strong SEO presence, they’re getting this traffic for free.

Branded vs. Non-Branded Organic Traffic

When we filter out the branded keywords, the traffic drops to 1m per month. This tells us that SNHU’s branded traffic is 23.07% of total traffic.

This is really good because, for most higher ed. institutions, the majority of their organic traffic is usually branded traffic.

Branded traffic is usually from people who already know us; this could be existing students, alumni, etc. Branded traffic can also be impacted by offline marketing initiatives, which could drive more people to search for your institution.

In the case of SNHU, they’re getting 76.93% of their traffic every month from people who discover them not by searching their brand but by searching for programs and information they need, and SNHU offers. In SEO, this is the traffic you want to go after; these are new audiences that most likely haven’t engaged with your brand before and are interested in what you have to offer.

Key Insights & Recommendations

  1. Having your main (root) website serve primarily as a marketing asset can do wonders for your SEO. SNHU.edu does this and it’s one of the reasons why their site performs so well in the search results.
  2. You need to know how much of your traffic is branded vs non-branded. The easiest way is to look at your Google Search Console property and to filter out all branded queries and see how this impacts the overall traffic.

Top Pages (by Organic Traffic)

Looking at their top pages by traffic, we notice something interesting: most of the top pages are not program pages but blog articles. This is intentional, and here’s why:

There are two important things here that we need to understand: how students search and the concept of search intent.

How Students Search (the Student Journey in Google)

Our first instinct when thinking about the keywords we’d like to rank for would be to go after program-related keywords. And this is correct. However, we need to understand that there are thousands of other institutions going after the same keywords as well, so the competition is fierce.

We also neglect the fact that when a student starts considering getting a degree, they don’t immediately search for [master’s in cybersecurity] or [bachelor of social work]. They have questions, tons of them, and very often quite basic questions like [what is a BSN degree].

Once they start to educate themselves, they begin to refine their questions, and would probably search something like [is a BSN degree worth it] or [BSN vs RN].

They have thousands of these questions, and they search for them hundreds of thousands of times every month on Google. SNHU has created a content library that provides answers to these questions, and because their content is quite good, they are able to rank and get in front of them earlier in their student journey.

Chances are that these students will engage with SNHU, request more information about their programs, and remember this positive experience (being educated on their questions) when the time comes to apply.

Search Intent

Search intent is the main goal a user has when typing a query in the search box. This is important for us because, in the Higher Ed. SEO space, it impacts what keywords we target with our program pages, and for what keywords we need to create informational (blog) pages.

If you search for [BSN degree – 23,000 searches/mo], you might think that Google will show you program pages offered by different institutions.

The reality is that Google will show you mostly blog articles and a few program pages at the bottom of the search results.

Google has determined that the search intent for this keyword is informational – someone searching for it is more likely to look for information about what is a BSN, the difference between RN and BSN, than to go to a program page.

You can repeat the search for keywords like [MBA degree] and [MSW degree], and the results will be similar.

When the query (keyword) is more specific, then Google starts to refine the search results, to better answer the search intent. Here’s what Google shows when you search for [bachelor of science in nursing – 2,900 searches/mo].

This is the reason why content marketing (blog) is an important part of your SEO strategy. It allows you to rank for keywords that your target audience is searching for thousands of times every month. You wouldn’t be able to rank for these highly relevant keywords with a program page, and you also need to keep in mind that there are even more content opportunities out there to rank for by answering students’ questions.

Program Pages vs. Blog Content (Organic Traffic Breakdown)

SNHU gets over 182,000 visits to its 164 program pages every month.

The total traffic to their blog is 802,000 per month.

In terms of value, the traffic to their program pages is far more valuable than the traffic to the blog. However, we must note that their blog helps a lot with their program pages to rank and get the traffic they’re getting today. This help comes in the form of building topical authority (another important concept in the SEO world – in short, it means making Google see you as a thought leader in the space because you’ve published content on the topic that is relevant to your program page), internal linking from the blog articles, and backlinks (authority) built organically.

Key Insights & Recommendations

  1. If you are targeting specific keywords with your program pages, you want to make sure that you’re targeting the right ones. Google that keyword and if you’re seeing mostly program pages, then the keyword you’ve selected is a good one. If you’re seeing a mix of blog articles, listicles (best degrees type of article), then you might want to reconsider.
  2. Make sure that you have a report that looks into the non-branded organic traffic to your program pages. This is the most important traffic that you can target with your SEO efforts, and you want to make sure the numbers you’re seeing are not impacted by branded searches (i.e. someone searching for your institution name + the program name)

SNHU.edu – Program Page SEO Performance

While SNHU is known for its online programs, they do offer on-campus programs as well. Here we’re going to look at the SEO performance of their online vs. on-campus program pages.

On Campus vs. Online Program Pages

SNHU has 69 on-campus program pages indexed that are ranking and getting traffic. The total traffic for their 69 program pages is just over 2,000/mo.

This is negligible compared to the traffic that SNHU gets from its online program pages.

There are two reasons why the difference is so huge. The first one is search intent, which we discussed earlier. Even for program keywords where [online] is not mentioned, most of the results will contain online program pages. This is happening because Google has determined that these results would be more relevant to the majority searching for that program.

The second reason is that online programs have more search demand vs. on-campus programs. There are more keywords that contain [online] in the query than keywords without [online]. If you have a program page that is targeting [online] like SNHU does, and your page is performing well, then you get more traffic than you would if you were targeting on-campus.

Another reason would be that on-campus programs are location-specific, which limits the number of people who could go there, and the best keywords to target would also include the location, and these keywords would have way fewer people searching for them than a general keyword.

SNHU.edu – Technical SEO Overview

This is where we get technical. A good technical SEO foundation means that Google will be able to find all the pages on your site and see all the important content on those pages. Other important technical SEO considerations also include things like website speed, UX/accessibility, website architecture, and more.

We crawled the SNHU website to better understand their technical SEO setup, and here’s what we learned:

The Website Only Has About 1,500 Indexed URLs

This is a good thing. Ideally, you only want pages that are worth ranking to be indexed in Google’s search results. Usually, when we’re doing SEO audits, we see higher ed. websites with thousands of pages, most of which don’t serve the marketing purpose of the site.

We understand that a lot of these pages must exist and be indexed, but what we usually find when working with our higher ed. partners is that a significant % of these pages can either be moved to a subdomain or removed altogether.

SNHU’s setup works great for their SEO strategy. Their main site www.snhu.edu serves mainly as their marketing site, and its main goal is to generate demand for their program pages.

The reason why we look at what’s indexed is that it impacts how Google sees our site. They look at all the indexed pages, the quality of these pages, and what these pages are about to better understand what the site is about. If we’re sending mixed signals to Google, then we could risk our most important pages not achieving their potential in the search results.

Crawl Depth – Important Pages Close to the Homepage

Crawl depth looks at how many clicks it would take Google to find a page if the starting point is the homepage. The closer a page is to the homepage, the more important it is perceived to be by Google.

In SNHU’s case, most of the pages are 2-3 clicks away from the homepage, which is ideal.

They are achieving this thanks to their HTML sitemap, which is linked in the footer.

Key Insights & Recommendations

  1. Ideally you want to do a Technical SEO audit at least twice a year. The website changes almost daily and things break. You want to make sure that Google is able to find, index and rank all the pages on your site. If Google can’t find your pages, they won’t be able to show them to the users who are searching for them.
  2. Beware of the ‘SEO Audit Tools’ – they will list you hundreds of issues, but most of these issues are going to be a waste of time and resources if you work on them. A good Technical SEO audit is one that has the context (what are our goals) and highlights the most important issues that will have an impact if fixed. Fixing 10 broken links or writing alt-tag text in images is great for accessibility, and we recommend you do it, but it’s not going to help with your SEO.
  3. Do a specific check to make sure your important content is not shown using JavaScript, and if its shown, then you’re offering a pre-rendered version of it (HTML) to Google. Otherwise, Google won’t see it and your pages will hurt as a result (check if you have a ‘Program Finder’ that is interactive, that is most likely being shown using JavaScript and Google is not seeing any of these links).

SNHU.edu – Link Building

We look at two things when doing a quick analysis of the backlink profile: the number of referring domains (how many websites are linking back to SNHU.edu) and the number of backlinks (the total times these websites are linking back to SNHU.edu).

In SNHU’s case, they have 11.5k referring domains, linking back a total of 124k times.

These numbers look great but they can be a bit misleading. Most of the SEO platforms/tools that we use will report on the total number of backlinks. However, we know that Google doesn’t treat all backlinks as equal and there are different factors that go into making a good backlink. Ahrefs (the SEO platform we use) has a neat feature that allows you to filter just the “Best links” – and what it does is that it removes a lot of irrelevant, low-quality links from spammy websites.

When we do this filtering, we see that SNHU has a total of 1,290 good backlinks from the likes of The Guardian, El Pais, Business Insider, Today, and more.

These are the backlinks that make the difference, and if we’re competing with SNHU, we’d look at beating this number and not the total number of backlinks/referring domains.

Diving deeper into this analysis, we see that apart from the homepage (which is usually the most authoritative page and has the most backlinks), the pages that have the most backlinks are blog articles. This is another side benefit of having a blog and writing content; it allows you to attract organic links passively, builds your website and program page authority, and helps with rankings.

One area where SNHU has lots of room for improvement is their backlink profile to the program pages. When we look at the report of just program pages, we see that most of their program pages have only a few referring domains.

Improving this aspect of their SEO strategy will allow them to break into the first positions for thousands of keywords where they are currently ranking in the top 3 or top 5 positions.

SNHU.edu – Organic Traffic Competition

When we talk about competition in SEO, we don’t mean your usual traditional competitors. We mean other websites that are competing for the same keywords your target audience uses to search for the programs you have to offer.

In SNHU’s case, we see the likes of ASU, WGU, Franklin University, and National University who are also ranking for the same keywords as SNHU, and then we have Coursera, the biggest competitor in terms of traffic and traffic value.

Something to note about the data shown above is ASU’s traffic value. What this means is that even though it’s getting less traffic than Coursera, most of the traffic is likely from its program pages, hence the higher traffic value.


Looking at SNHU’s competitors shows that there’s room for improvement for them. They are doing quite well with the traffic that their blog is providing, and their program pages are performing well, but they’re struggling to win the top spots for their target keywords. If that were to happen, their traffic and traffic value would increase significantly.

Lead Generation Strategies for Higher Education

High demand for enrollment is a clear reflection of a school’s success. That’s why the primary function of any higher ed. institution’s marketing department is to target potential leads and convert them into students.

In your quest to attract more leads which you will then try to turn into enrollments, you must develop effective strategies that will help you succeed.

Read on and dive deeper into the world of lead generation for higher education. From utilizing unique ads in various social media platforms to using chatbots, learn what tools have the most significant value in lead generation for higher education.

Which Strategies Are Most Effective for Generating Leads in Higher Education?


To help you make the most out of lead generation and compete, we have compiled a list of the most effective strategies you can use.

Strategy 1: Develop a strong SEO and content marketing strategy


Using search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing is the best strategy that can help your institution generate leads.

There are three key areas you need to focus on when trying to increase your leads through SEO:

The first step is to start with a Technical SEO audit. This audit will highlight any technical SEO issues that could be preventing your website from achieving its full potential in search results. We’ve done hundreds of audits for university/college websites, and here’s what we usually find:

Once the issues are identified, you want to work together with the IT department to make a plan on addressing/fixing these issues. Not all issues are equal, so prioritizing them based on the SEO impact they will have is very important.

Next, we want to address the content on our website. This includes the content on our program pages, our info pages, and the blog (if we have one).

Program pages are the most important pages on our website. We want to make sure they have the content a student expects to see when they land on a program page.

Content depth is very important (how much content we have on our program pages), as seen by the example below. WGU has 3,736 words of content on their accounting degree program page, and they’re ranking in the 2nd position for the [accounting degree] keyword. ASU is doing well, too, with over 2,400 words of content, while UND is underperforming, their page has only 735 words.

The last part is Authority. For most institutions, this won’t be an issue since by default, the websites are quite authoritative. The authority of a website in SEO is measured by the number of links from external websites pointing back to our own website. The more links we have from relevant websites, the more authoritative our website becomes.

That doesn’t mean we should invest in link building, to increase the website authority. Our recommendation is to focus our link building efforts on the program pages. This will increase the chances for the program pages to rank for their target keywords.

There’s much more to SEO than what we just described above. But if you just do the above, you’re already ahead of most of your competition.

SEO is the best performing channel after direct traffic, when it comes to lead quality and conversion rate from lead to application to enrollments. Your target audience is engaging with Google, asking questions, and researching information from the very first day they decide they want to go to college. Making sure you’re visible when they search for your programs will have a significant impact on your lead generation efforts.

Manaferra is an SEO agency specializing in Higher Education. We only work with Higher Ed. Institutions offering SEO services. We’ve won the Best Use of SEO for Higher Education award for our work with Pacific College (US Search Awards) and the University of the Potomac (Global Search Awards).

If you have a program that is underperforming and are interested to see if SEO can change that, contact us today. Our SEO Specialists will create a free customized report highlighting the existing performance of that program, the growth potential, and the strategy to get there.

Strategy 2: Use lead generation ads across social media platforms

Digital marketing, especially through various social media platforms, has increased significantly in recent years. Your university or college can benefit substantially from using social media ads, as surveys show that one in two Gen Zers and Millennials think such platforms are the most relevant channels for presenting advertisements. Therefore, they are more likely to interact with the ads and help you improve your site’s lead generation.

Lead generation ads are a particular type of digital ad that enable you to collect data about potential customers while simultaneously promoting the school’s study programs, courses, and any events the institute is hosting.

All the major social media platforms offer these ads, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and more. Utilizing these lead ads can improve your site’s conversion rates by allowing students to directly submit their information to you through the ad instead of being redirected to another page. This is just one example of what barriers to conversion you can lower to make your site more user-friendly and decrease exit rates.

Lead ads ensure a hassle-free and time-saving experience for the audience, as well as provide you with basic information that you can use to build up a customer database of potential leads for future correspondence. With a customer database, it will be easier to target a specific portion of your audience and further improve your ads with tailored questions and content that help uncover the preferences of potential students and ensure that you are reaching out to them with the correct information. 

In addition, our experts point out that you can effectively use segmentation in Google Analytics 4 for higher education by dividing visitors who have visited your site regarding a specific study program but did not request further information. Then, with the engines’ tools, you can use custom dimensions to understand their behavior compared to the converted leads and notice areas you can improve.

Strategy 3: Use virtual events for lead generation

Virtual events are a popular way for institutes to promote their products and services, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic when virtual events became the only feasible alternative to physical gatherings due to government restrictions and lockdowns. Even now, when restrictions have been lifted, there is high demand for virtual events, with the global virtual events market size expected to grow by 21.4% over the next decade.

There are various virtual events to choose from, including virtual open houses, webinars, and live streams, allowing attendees to learn more about your higher education institution, its academic programs, admissions, financial aid, campus life, and more. These events are an excellent tool for lead generation because you can safely assume that the people attending them are interested in the topics discussed and, therefore, in becoming actual students of your institution or partaking in other services. 

Utilizing such events is a great way to interact directly with your leads and show them that your college or university would be a good match for them. So, make sure to plan and host the event accordingly, selecting a suitable platform and promoting the event on various social media sites in order to reach your target audience and beyond.

One of the most significant benefits of virtual events is that such events are not constricted to space; therefore, you can generate leads from thousands of miles away without needing any of the two parties to travel. Likewise, you are not restricted to a certain number of people, as would be the case with an in-person gathering. You can have a much larger audience, thus increasing the probability of generating relevant leads that may be converted to actual students without any additional costs.

However, you might encounter challenges as you plan virtual events, specifically keeping your attendees engaged. To overcome such a challenge, you must carefully plan and manage the event to create an immersive experience for each attendee by including various polls, surveys, live Q&As, etc. Such activities will help you gather data about the audience you can use to send invites and keep them updated about upcoming events, thus, generating more precise leads that become enrolled students.

Strategy 4: Implement advanced chatbots

Keeping up with the fast and continuously evolving world of digital communication requires adaptability to new trends. In the context of higher education institutions, this means putting the students first and utilizing all tools that can help them easily navigate through your page and find relevant information about the school. 

For example, the global chatbot market is valued at $3.78 billion and is projected to increase by 30.29% until 2027. Therefore, a valuable strategy regarding lead generation for higher education would be implementing advanced chatbots that can help you connect with your audience in online environments. These chatbots help ease your workload—they are programmed to help all website visitors be redirected to the area they are interested in and obtain answers to their questions. Thus, they aid in reducing frustration, providing personalized communication, and improving user experience. 

Depending on the exact strategy you want to follow, you can implement various chatbots, such as lead qualification chatbots, booking chatbots, and conversational chatbots. When implementing them for your higher education institution, it is essential to identify the correct use case. Some areas of chatbot use cases that can have a significant impact on lead generation include:

For any chatbot you decide to implement, you must carefully consider the conversation flow and ensure that it best represents your brand and provides all the necessary information about your study programs or courses to build rich engagement with your audience. This way, you can avoid one of the most common challenges that developers face when creating and implementing chatbots—the chatbot’s ability to interpret messages and understand the user’s intention.

Chatbots provide their services 24/7; therefore, your site will be up and running with a unique computer program designed to simulate human conversation, help visitors, and work toward generating leads during and outside of office hours.

Strategy 5: Develop an effective PR strategy to generate leads


Establishing a successful public relations strategy is essential as it helps build your brand’s reputation, thus influencing your lead generation. By creating a positive and trusting image around your higher education institution, combined with all the other strategies listed throughout this blog, you attract leads that have the potential to turn into enrollments.

The primary challenge PR strategists face in the context of higher education institutions is choosing the right message and using their branding to turn qualified leads into students. That is why defining your target audience and presenting a relevant message about your brand when developing your PR strategy is crucial. This way, you ensure that your content is perfectly shaped around your audience and their needs. 

Additionally, you must carefully consider the channels and mediums you utilize to reach out and the type of content you post to present the best version of your brand to the public. Such an approach helps you establish a positive brand image as well as generate leads and conversions.

PR strategies should be developed with a long-term goal in mind and managed carefully. You should always be working on nurturing and maintaining a positive reputation in order to allow visitors to take their time in getting to know your branding, understanding your goals and the opportunities you can provide, and finally—trusting your institution.


1. What is lead generation, and how does it apply to higher education?

Lead generation refers to the process of initiating a customer’s interest in your product or service. In higher education, lead generation represents identifying and attracting prospective students to your college or university.

2. Why is lead generation important for higher education institutions?

Lead generation ensures that your higher education institution continues to grow and reach more potential enrollments, which in turn helps with revenue generation.

3. What are some common lead-generation strategies and tactics used in higher education? 

4. How can technology and digital marketing be used to support lead generation in higher education?

They can be used to run advertising campaigns that reach the target audience and set up landing pages that help convert website traffic into qualified leads.

5. What are the potential benefits and risks of lead generation for higher education institutions?

The benefits of lead generation include a higher rate of college enrollment, improved visibility, and increased revenue, among other benefits. The risks associated with lead generation are a lack of relevant data and practical strategies, typically caused by one’s lack of understanding of the lead generation process.

6. How can higher education institutions measure the success and ROI of their lead-generation efforts?

To measure the success and return on investment (ROI) of your lead generation efforts, take the monetary growth from your institution, subtract the marketing costs, and divide by the marketing cost. Generally, an annual ROI of over 7% is considered a success.

7. What are some of the best practices for implementing lead-generation campaigns in higher education?

Before implementing lead generation campaigns, ensure you identify your target audience and have a clear long-term goal about what you want to achieve. Gather and analyze data about your audience and, through segmentation and targeting, determine potential students and customize your campaigns to their requirements and needs. 

8. How can higher education institutions ensure that their lead generation efforts are compliant with regulations and laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)?

To ensure that your efforts are compliant with regulations and laws, you must ensure that:

9. How can higher education institutions optimize their lead generation efforts for different stages of the customer journey, such as awareness, consideration, and decision?

They can optimize their lead generation efforts through advertising campaigns encouraging prospective students to engage with their institution. Then, they can use PR campaigns and SEO strategies to boost the consideration stage and push them toward conversion in the decision-making stage with virtual events, content marketing, chatbots, and other tools.

10. How can higher education institutions stay up to date with the latest lead generation trends and best practices in the sector?

Staying up to date is a continuous process; therefore, they should constantly read relevant blog posts and newsletters, attend events in this sector, embrace social media, etc. Alternatively, they can employ capable agencies that are one step ahead in the lead generation game.


There are millions of people out there who are looking for all that your institution has to offer. All that is left to do is ensure that you do your best to provide them with opportunities for interaction with your site. 
If you still need help with generating leads, contact us, get a free SEO gap analysis from our experts, and discover the full potential of your site. Seize this opportunity and take your institution to the next level!

3 Effective SEO Strategies for Higher Education

Search is the largest source of online traffic, pushing forward well over half of the web traffic in most industries. Therefore, as a higher education professional, you should give your website the best chance of standing out from the competition by aiming for a higher ranking on the search engine results page (SERP).

Anyone marketing a higher education institution can benefit significantly from search engine optimization (SEO) to improve the quality and quantity of their site’s traffic. Implementing a strong SEO strategy for higher education is the best way to attract more quality leads to your website, including potential students and donors for your institution. 

In this blog, we will discuss some specific SEO strategies that will help you increase college enrollment rates through improvements to your website.

3 SEO Strategies To Increase College Enrollment Through Your Website

From our experience as an SEO agency for higher education, we’ve listed below three SEO strategies that will help you increase college enrollment through your website. We’ll begin by discussing the importance of the student journey and how relevant that is in terms of gaining insight into enrollment and retention. Then, dive into the importance and role of content strategy and other SEO factors for improving your website. Carefully follow each strategy provided below in order to best represent and promote your website.

Strategy 1: Understanding the student journey: How to identify key touchpoints in the enrollment process


The first strategy you could implement is understanding the student journey in order to gain insight into ways you can improve students’ experiences as they interact with your higher education institution across various channels. Ensure that your institution’s marketing and recruitment efforts are following the student enrollment cycle by creating a map of your student’s journey to enrollment and identifying some critical touchpoints.

To identify the above-mentioned touchpoints, you must consider all steps your leads go through as they engage with your university or college, online and in person. Think about how students hear about your institution, how they learn more about the study programs and courses offered, generally engage online, and get in touch with admissions. The student journey map created is similar to the typical sales funnel marketing models that study the awareness stage, consideration, and, finally, the decision-making process.

Track each touchpoint through web analytics as you analyze your site’s traffic to gain insight into how students interact with specific areas of your site and what information they are seeking. You can also utilize surveys and focus groups at major touchpoints in order to evaluate the students’ experiences at different stages of interacting with your institution through their journey.

Once you have gathered data about your students’ conversion journey, you can strategize about possible improvements. Address gaps on your student enrollment journey and fix the problems discovered. This way, you will prioritize student satisfaction and build your institute’s reputation as a student-first college or university.

Embrace SEO to ensure your target audience can easily find your higher education institution when searching for it or other relevant terms, and provide higher quality content that attracts the right audience and increases opportunities for enrollment.

Strategy 2: Enhancing your higher education institution’s content strategy


In order for your higher education institution to stand apart from the thousands of other colleges and universities, you must also employ an effective content strategy in terms of development as well as marketing. This way, you can ensure that the content you create is creative, current, accurate, and appropriate for your target audience.

It is essential that you create quality content in order to attract prospective students to your site and provide them with all the information needed to convince them that your college or university is the ideal fit for their academic needs. In order to present relevant content, you must first know your audience. Therefore, it is important that you identify your audience and their needs so you can then target each one with relevant content. In addition, it would be best to make your content accessible in different channels to ensure that communication with your target audience is seamless in all cases.

On top of determining your target audience and the type of content they seek, you must also make sure that you stay up to date with trends so that you can update and adapt your content accordingly. Create a content calendar and schedule regular updates to your website to ensure information accuracy and currency.

To optimize your content for search engines, carefully choose each topic you will discuss and, through keyword research, ensure that you are creating content around terms your audience is searching for. Such a step will help with your site’s ranking on the SERP as well. After publishing your content, review the metrics regularly so you gain insight into the type of content that gains your site the most visibility.

Strategy 3: Optimizing your website performance with SEO for higher education


SEO can also help improve your higher education institution’s website’s performance, that in turn, helps create a better experience for all site visitors. To begin, your site’s page load speed is one of the first things that visitors notice upon clicking on your site. The time it takes to load the content presented has a significant impact on visitor satisfaction and, consequently, conversion too. In addition, page load speed is also one of the direct ranking factors for Google and Bing, so it can make or break your site’s visibility in search engine results.

Other factors to consider include mobile-friendliness and ease of navigation across all layouts. It is important to ensure that visitors have access to the same content regardless of whether they access your site through mobile devices, desktop computers, or a laptop. After all, web traffic is almost equally distributed between visitors accessing information through mobile and desktop devices. Therefore, ignoring one version for the other can damage your quality and quantity of traffic.

Significant improvement to your website performance can also be achieved through on-page and off-page optimization. By updating your titles and descriptions with relevant keywords and engaging language, as well as better structuring your content through headers and subheaders, you help search engines connect your content to various searchers’ queries that are relevant to your site. Furthermore, on-site optimization also helps with site navigation, thus, improving your visitor experience as well. 

On the other hand, off-page optimization is achieved through tactics such as guest posting, link building, social media marketing, and more. Employing such tactics will not only increase your site’s ranking but also help establish your site as a trustworthy and credible source.

Lastly, you should also conduct an SEO audit regularly to analyze your site’s technical health and traffic. Through this process, you can identify the presence of any issues, including on-page and off-page SEO problems, content gaps, website structure issues, technical problems, and more. After identifying the problem, you can work towards finding a solution and thus, keeping your site healthy and generating traffic.


1.  What is SEO and how does it impact higher education institutions?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of improving the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs). For higher education institutions, an effective SEO strategy can help attract and retain students and faculty, as well as improve the overall user experience of the website.

2. How do I get started with an SEO strategy for my higher education website?

A good first step in developing an SEO strategy is to conduct an audit of your current website. This can help identify technical issues, such as slow page load time or broken links, as well as opportunities to improve the quality and relevance of your content.

3. What are some key factors to consider when optimizing a higher education website for SEO?

Some key factors to consider when optimizing a higher education website for SEO include the use of relevant and targeted keywords, ensuring a mobile-friendly design, and building high-quality inbound links.

4. How can I measure the success of my SEO efforts for my higher education website?

There are several metrics that can be used to measure the success of an SEO strategy for a higher education website, including organic traffic, rankings for targeted keywords, and the number of inbound links. It’s also important to track website performance metrics, such as page views and time on page, to understand how users are engaging with your site.

5. Are there any specific challenges or considerations for higher education institutions when it comes to SEO?

Some challenges and considerations specific to higher education institutions when it comes to SEO include managing multiple subdomains or departments, ensuring that content is kept up-to-date and accurate, and navigating privacy regulations around student data. It’s also important to consider the unique goals and target audience of a higher education institution when developing an SEO strategy.


An effective SEO strategy is crucial for higher education institutions to attract and retain students. Implement the strategies mentioned throughout this blog and you will soon see a difference in your site’s traffic, engagement, click-through rate, and ranking. All these elements are essential to generating leads and increasing conversion rates.

Are you interested in learning more about SEO and all its benefits in supporting your institution’s student retention goals? Contact us for more information and set up a free SEO gap analysis to gain better insight into your site.

6 Higher Education Digital Marketing Strategies, Trends & Tactics for 2023

Over the last few years, technology and the internet have become even more prevalent in higher education, thus highlighting the importance of effective digital marketing strategies for these institutions. By building a strong online presence, higher education institutions will be able to reach and engage with their target audience. 

By having an active digital presence, your school will be able to:

The focus this year will be on the existing digital marketing strategies and finding ways to best optimize your content in the ever-changing industry. 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the digital marketing strategies, trends, and tactics to look out for in 2023.

1. Transition to Google Analytics 4

One of the key pieces of making informed decisions about your marketing strategy is collecting and analyzing data. When utilizing Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you’ll be able to track the traffic and performance of your website, thus developing effective digital marketing strategies to increase enrollment. 

Google will transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 on July 1, 2023. It would be best to plan the transition and get acquainted with the new changes before then. Some of the most significant changes on the platform are:

You can read more about Google Analytics 4 here

2. Reevaluate Your Higher Education Social Media Marketing Strategy


With 2022 being a challenging year for social media platforms, 2023 becomes the year to reevaluate what’s working and what’s not and how to relocate sources in SEO.

Let’s take a look at the four areas of high ed. digital marketing you can reevaluate and focus on in 2023.

  1. Increasing brand awareness: You can use brand strategy to show what makes your institution unique and stand out.  
  2. Boosting social media presence: Considering 54% of Gen Zers use social media for more than four hours a day, boosting your social media presence will increase engagement.
  3. Promoting purpose-driven campaigns: As an academic institute, you want to be inclusive and encourage diversity in all its forms; promoting purpose-driven campaigns can be an initiative towards showing leadership in this area. 
  4. Involving current students and alumni: By sharing stories or interviews of students or alumni, you can reach and influence more people.

3. Explore AI-Generated Content

Last year we saw a lot of progress with AI content generators, progress estimated only to grow. And while the content is still stilted, it can be a helpful tool in higher ed. digital marketing.

Some of the ways you can use AI in higher education digital marketing are:

4. Incorporate Short-Form Video Into Your Higher Ed. Marketing Strategy

According to Video Marketing Statistics, video use in marketing in 2022 was 86%, and with Gen Zers preferring social media platforms with short video features (60% of them use TikTok), video use in marketing is projected to grow. Therefore, incorporating short videos into your school’s digital marketing strategies will help you be ahead of the game. 

You can include short videos (preferably under 90 seconds) on your homepage or other high-converting pages; you can try the following:

Because many students won’t be able to take in-person tours, they can take virtual tours; they’ll be able to get familiar with the campus and staff, thus increasing enrollment chances. 

By using sharable short videos, you’ll be able to drive organic traffic and make your site more homely, interactive, visually appealing, and convincing.

5. Include Responsive Ads in Your Higher Education Advertising Strategy


Another higher ed. digital marketing strategy to look out for is the use of responsive ads. As flexible adverts that can adjust their shape, appearance, and size to fit in a website or app, they are highly visible and don’t disturb the user experience. According to Google, when using multiple headlines, descriptions, and images with responsive ads, advertisers see 10% more conversions with a similar CPA.

Some other benefits of using responsive ads are:

6. Increase Search Engine Visibility via SEO

As the primary goal of digital marketing for your school’s website is to attract more students, you have to ensure that your school is easily found online. By adopting SEO practices and thorough keyword research, you’ll be able to improve your rank and appear higher on search engines.  

Some of the ways you can make your website more visible on Google are:

Another way to increase site visibility is to win a Google’s snippet box. This box describes a page before linking that page; this is a way of helping people find the information they need more easily. Google chooses these snippets based on whether a page can fulfill a specific search request. Through the snippet box, you’ll be able to drive more organic traffic and prove your authority in the subject matter.


By understanding and adopting the trends of digital marketing strategies for higher ed., you’ll be able to increase enrollment figures and conversion rates. Your school will also be able to connect better with the target audience and give insight into what makes you stand out. 

The points above indicate that the latest trends focus on identifying prospective students, admission inquiries, conversion rates, and click-through rates. The process of identifying prospective customers is called lead generation, which can also be applied to higher ed. You can learn more about lead generation strategies here.

So, what’s next? If you want to stay up-to-date with current trends and increase your student base, you can book a free consultation and learn more about what digital strategies you can adopt for optimal results. You can also check out case studies on how an SEO agency for higher education. can make a difference.

100+ Impressive WordPress Statistics (Updated: January 2023)
Manaferra Shortlisted for Two European Search Awards

We are pleased to announce that Manaferra has been shortlisted for two awards from the European Search Awards in the categories Best Small SEO Agency & Best Use of Search – Third Sector. Awards from European Search Awards are known for being among the most prestigious Search Marketing awards on a European level. Application and evaluation criteria are incredibly rigorous, seeing as how it is judged by over 80 global industry experts.

As a leader in Higher Education SEO services, it’s no surprise that our agency, with quarters in Washington D.C., is the only regional agency to get shortlisted in the 2021 European Search Awards

Our CEO & Co-Founder of Manaferra Faton Sopa commented on the nominations:

“We have been investing heavily into building an agency where the best people can come together and produce qualitative and measurable results for businesses around the world. Having our work recognized by well-known SEO leaders brings us closer to our mission of helping companies get more business from search.”

Faton Sopa, Co-Founder & CEO


We have continuously been delivering outstanding results to our clients, with most of them experiencing well above 100% growth in organic traffic & leads within the first six months of working together.

The collaboration between Manaferra and the University of the Potomac, which earned us the nomination in the Best Use of Search – Third Sector category, is impressive. In our years of working together, the University of Potomac has seen a 1,400% increase in its organic leads. This goes to show that, with a great balance between SEO, Content, and Link Building, as well as dedication from our team members, remarkable results are achievable.

Regarding the progress the University of the Potomac achieved, our Content Specialist, Arta Mekuli said:

“It’s really a product of combining great content and strategic link building, that aligned well with the searcher’s intent. We used our expertise in SEO to determine what works, what didn’t work, and what could work—with that, the UOTP grew exponentially in terms of organic traffic, and as a result, saw a huge increase in leads. Our team was always ready to meet our partnership with UOTP with new and exciting ideas.”

Arta Mekuli, Content Specialist


Manaferra’s steady year-over-year growth, department expansion, and loyalty to superior results is the reason that we are shortlisted for Best Small SEO Agency as well. Considering our growth in the past few years, Manaferra is a favorite as a finalist due to our untired work in increasing search presence across industries & especially Higher Ed., SaaS, and Publishing.

Mass 301 redirect using .htaccess or WordPress plugins

It comes a day when you start making changes to your website. These changes can be from a simple change in design to completely change the CMS that powers the site. Or maybe you are moving your site from an old domain to a new one. In this case, you want to make sure that the links you have worked hard to rank in Google don’t just disappear. You want to redirect them to the new ones. How? By using 301 redirect, of course!

There are three types of redirects. We want to make sure to use the right one, 301 redirect, which tells Google that this link has moved permanently. The other two types are 302 (found or moved temporarily) and Meta Refresh. More about redirection you can read at this awesome guide by Moz.

In this article, I’m going to write about two ways to mass 301 redirect links by using .htaccess and WordPress (because it’s too damn popular to ignore it).

Mass 301 redirect using .htaccess

Mass redirection in .htaccess it’s pretty easy, actually. All you need to do is open your .htaccess file in the root of your site and add these lines of code:

Redirect 301 /old-page.html http://www.example.com/new-page.html
Redirect 301 /old-page-2.html http://www.example.com/file/

You can also 301 redirect an entire site with just one line of code:

Redirect 301 / http://www.new-site.com/

Mass 301 redirect using WordPress plugin

WordPress 301 Redirects is this awesome plugin that I use whenever I need to redirect links from my WordPress sites. After installing the plugin, all you have to do is start adding links you want to redirect from your site.

/2012/09/old-post/ http://www.example.com/2012/09/new-post/


Whenever you change something in your link structure, it’s imperative to be careful of what will happen with the old links. You don’t want to see all SEO traffic going to 404 error pages (which eventually will follow with a drop in rankings). It’s also a bad experience for the visitors. So whenever you make these changes, you have to be sure that the old links are pointing to the new ones.

How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

WordPress powers 41.5% of the web. We at Manaferra like to think of WordPress as one of the best things that ever happened to the web. Its simplicity and flexibility are the main reasons why WordPress is so popular nowadays.

WordPress it’s one of the most SEO-friendly Content Management Systems out there. But there is still some work to be done in some areas. Let’s take this case as an example:

You have this amazing, well-designed WordPress site with high-quality content and great user engagement, but while your website gets more visits day after day, a very common problem starts to appear, and that is “your page speed.”  Judging it from a visitor’s perspective, that is irritating, and as a result, it sends your potential customers away from your site. Even SEO is affected by page speed.

Below, we present to you some tips on how to speed up your WordPress site.

First of all let’s see how fast is your site loading by using Pingdom.

The first thing that visitors notice when they come to your site is speed, and if your site is slow, they will go away. You may have the best website in the world, but if nobody sees it, what’s the point then. Google also is considering site speed as a ranking factor. Studies have shown that slower sites perform badly compared to the faster ones when it comes to buying stuff online or, putting it differently, e-commerce sites.

From the above screenshot, we can see that the load time is relativity good, but still, there is room for improvement. Let’s start with the basics.


WordPress plugins are wonderful, especially for us with limited coding skills (or not at all). One-click, and you’ll add almost any feature you want on your site. They also have a dark side. They make your site perform slower. If you go to Installed Plugins in WP Dashboard, I’m sure that you’ll find one or two active plugins that you don’t use. De-activate them and look for other plugins that you don’t need that much. Also, install P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) and use it to see which are slowing down your site. After that, you can see what’s happening in the backside and try to find a solution to fix it.


Hosting is an essential part of your WordPress site. It’s a little bit tricky to find good hosts with affordable prices. However, it is important that the website’s speed can not be ignored. If you just have started your WP website,  you might want to look at Bluehost, Dreamhost, or Hostgator. These hosting providers are a good solution if you have just started your website. Still, when its visits start to get significance increase,  you might want to start thinking about switching to a VPS or Dedicated Servers like OVH, GoDaddy, HostNexus, GoDaddy, or others.

Another solution for WordPress hosting websites may also be WPEngine, a provider built and developed mostly for WP sites.


With caching, you’ll see dramatic improvements the moment you click the Save button. There are two popular caching plugins, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. I prefer the second one. These plugins are amazing because they simplify the way WordPress works. After all, it makes it possible that the content you’re looking for to be served from the cache without being generated over and over again.

The picture below shows how installing and configuring W3 Total Cache helped our blog go down from 1.71s to only 964ms load time. Isn’t it great?

Image Compression

When you’re dealing with websites with many pictures, then image compression is a must. For WordPress, there is this amazing plugin called WP Smush.it which helps a lot. What this plugin does is that it automatically compresses every picture while you’re uploading them. You can also go back and compress (or “smush”) pictures that are already on the site, like logo or banners, to save in maximum.

Content Delivery Network

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network, and it’s a way of delivering your web objects like scripts, URLs, text and graphics from different locations across the globe. For example, when a visitor from Europe visits your blog, it will automatically look for the closest server that hosts these files to show you. This way, you’ll improve your site speed.


A faster website these days is a must. It’s not something you can ignore. Ignoring it will cause visitors to leave your website, bad user experience, dropping rankings in Google etc. Most of the tips in the article are simple and easy to execute; however, if you don’t understand or know how to do something, I would be happy to help you. If you have any other tip on improving WordPress speed, please share it with us through comments.

Are you now more familiar with speeding up your website speed? Share your challenges with the community using the below comments.

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