Google Analytics 4 for Higher Education: A Comprehensive 2024 Guide

As an agency that specializes in Higher Education SEO services, we know how important it is to stay on top of the latest trends and tools. As digital transformation continues to reshape the industry, university administrators and marketers must continually analyze user behavior, monitor ROI, and devise effective marketing strategies. One of the most widely-used tools for this type of analysis is Google Analytics.

What’s new on Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Since Google Analytics’s inception in 2012, many things have changed with the rise of mobile apps, consumer behavior shifts, privacy regulations, big data, and the way we collect and analyze data. Google needed to consider and reflect on how its current Analytics tools evolved to fit market changes and demand. This must have required a 10.000-foot view of the whole spectrum, starting from how the data are collected and presented, to deliver seamless insights and data-informed decision making.

Saying that Google Analytics 4 is an update or an upgrade from Universal Analytics would be an underestimation of reality. The best way to think about it is as a completely new product, built on a different data model, made for scalability, machine learning, privacy, and customization. 

To understand how those two versions of Google Analytics differ from one another, we will break down some of the main differences, so you can have a clear picture of the new platform before starting to migrate to GA4.

Data Collection

The ability to analyze data depends highly on how those data are collected and organized in the first place. The better they are organized, the easier it will be to make further data manipulation and analysis. 

Data collections represent a fundamental difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. 

Universal Analytics (or GA3) organized all of its data into Sessions and Hits. All information that went to Google Analytics belonged to a Session, which belonged to a User. This data modeling doesn’t give you much space to collect and organize information around your users and their behavior, especially across multiple devices. That’s because you had numerous data layers that were not communicating with each other, and making it work required A TON of custom work.

On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 has an entirely different data model, which is simpler yet powerful.  Any interaction on your Web or Mobile is organized under Events (Event scoped), which belongs to a User (User scoped).  A Session is an event, a Page View is an event,  a File Download is an event, an Ecommerce sale is an event, and so on, you get the idea.

In GA4, when someone views one of your website pages, a page_view event is triggered, and that event will be saved under a specific User in GA4. Here is how previous hits translate to Events in GA4.

This data collection model gives Google Analytics 4 an edge over its predecessor in analyzing user behavior across multiple devices and building custom reports. This is because GA4 can link all interactions to a User, and enables you to organize them the way it fits your needs. That’s why GA4 needs more customization setup than GA3, where you had a ton of pre-defined reports built with a “one size fits all” approach.

Data Retention & Privacy

One of the most significant changes from UA is user data retention, or “how long does Google save user interaction data”. In UA, the default option for data retention was “unlimited”; however, in GA4, the longest you can hold on to Events and User data (including conversions) is 14 months

Having a maximum of 14-month-old data might freak out a lot of higher education marketers as they won’t be able to make YoY comparisons; however, there are workarounds to this, such as integrating GA4 with tools like BigQuery and reporting them via tools like Google Data Studio. BigQuery allows you to export raw data unsampled to conduct a much more granular analysis with confidence in your data, which I highly recommend before your data expires from GA4.

This limitation in data retention does not apply to standard aggregated reports, where you will be served reports based on sample data. 

AI + Machine Learning

Google uses Machine learning (ML) on GA4 to fill in data gaps and make predictions by looking for patterns, feeding those data into AI algorithms, and predicting the future behavior of your users. 

However, In a cookie-less and privacy-conscious world, tracking users’ activities is not something platforms like GA4 can ignore, and that’s where Machine Learning comes in. It fills out the data gaps and provides predictions by putting users into different cohorts and creating a composite overview of how people with certain traits move through your university website.

This is very helpful for universities as it allows them to predict their university’s growth by making predictions on potential students (leads) you could get next semester. If you have conversion rate data from your past activities, you can easily make necessary calculations that would lead you to predict enrollment numbers.

Machine Learning also powers up Automated Insights, which helps you observe trends and keep an eye on changing user behavior. For example, you can be alerted to changes in application numbers, which might lead you to understand that the application form isn’t working as expected.


Do not forget to create anomaly detections when you set up GA4.

Cross-Device Tracking

Cross-device tracking is at the heart of GA4. The new data model enables GA4 to consistently store data from multiple sources and report them back into the same Analytics property for further analysis. 

GA4 bases its cross-tracking mechanism on something called “Identity spaces”. It tries to identify a user using multiple data points without revealing their identity. This is done by using three different types of identifiers, which enables it to stitch them together into a single unified cross-device user journey:

GA4 creates a single user journey from all the data associated with the same identified identity. Because this identity is used in all reports, they allow you to de-duplicate users and tell a more unified, holistic view of their relationships with your university.

For example, suppose your university offers a login area for your students. In that case, you can assign User IDs along with the interaction data you send to GA4 when a student enrolls (you might need the help of a developer to implement this) and later map the entire journey of that student in Analytics.

If you don’t have a User ID to assign to events, you can enable “Google signals” and all data sent to Google Analytics will be associated with that user. However, Google will only be able to assign these User ID’s to signed-in users who have consented to share this information.

If you do not enable Google Signals, the only option left for Analytics will be to identify users based on Device ID; however, that alone might not be enough to allow cross-device identification.


Download Our Free Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Google Analytics 4 for Universities

Learn what you need to know, from migrating your UA data to configuring conversions and filtering


GA 4 lets you build custom audience segments based on your site visitors’ behavior and interests. They are groups of users created based on dimensions, metrics, or events that you can use during your analysis and show ads to them via Google Ads.

As your Google Analytics keeps receiving data about new users from your university website, audiences are constantly reevaluated to make sure that they meet the criteria you had defined when you created that audience.

You can use your custom audiences in Google ads only if you have linked GA4 property with a Google Ads account (and you have also enabled Google Signals), 


For the time speaking, GA4 lets you integrate your analytics data to more than ten other tools, including some tools of its suite. However, GA4 is still under massive development, and we expect to have more integrations available soon.

These integrations mean that you can synchronize data between GA4 and another tool of your choice to make robust analyses and facilitate your decision-making process. For example, you can link GA4 with Display & Video 360 or Google Ads to see the entire student cycle, from how your future students interact with your ads to how they finally complete the Request More Information form on your site. You can also use your custom audiences for display/search advertising and synchronize conversions between two platforms. 

To deal with the data retention limitations, you can connect GA4 with Big Query, and store all Analytics data in BIgQuery. Once you connect to Big Query, you are the sole owner of that data, which you can use to make further in-depth analysis and YoY comparisons. This is a paid tool, but its cost is super cheap. I have data assets that constantly process more than 1TB of data, and I have never spent more than $10/m. Yes! That’s how cheap it is.

If there is one recommendation I would make about integrations, is to connect your Analytics with BigQuery ASAP so you do not start to lose important data when you reach the data retention limit (which is 2 or 14 months, depending on how you configure it)

Pros and Cons of Switching to GA4

As with every tool out there, GA4 has its pros and cons. It’s a constantly evolving and improving tool that will take some time for you to adapt as a higher education marketer.

On the PROS side, this entirely new Analytics product outperforms its predecessor in many areas. Its extra layers of analytics capabilities are built for a world where data and marketing are increasingly crucial for the success of higher education institutions.

On the CONS side, there are some things you might need to consider before taking the next step of migrating to GA4. Because GA4 is built on a data model made for scalability and Machine Learning, it’s not an out-of-the-box solution that you can meaningfully use right away after you set it up. You need to tweak it based on your needs and build custom reports (most of the reports you are used to seeing in Universal Analytics do not come out of the box in GA4). You might need to be patient as you go through the learning period (it will take some time, trust me) and let the data flow within the tool, so you benefit from AI/Machine Learning capabilities of GA4.

Setting up GA4 for Universities

Now that you have a bigger picture of how GA4 works let’s dive deeper into how to set it up so your university can take advantage of all the new features that the tool offers.

If you are reading this post by the middle of 2022, the chances are that Google Analytics 4 is still not mature enough to be used as a standalone analytics tool. Hence, you should use both tools (UA and GA4) at the same time so you feed data into the GA4 ASAP, but at the same time, use the reporting you are currently using in Universal Analytics (so that you can make the transition easy for you)

However, if you are reading this post in late 2022 or even more in the future, it will probably be mature enough for you to switch to Google Analytics 4 completely.

UA will stop collecting new data from July 2023, so every day of not setting up GA4 means a day less with data you could use for analysis and decision-making. So make sure you are pushing data to your GA4 account ASAP. Otherwise, you will lose YoY data.

Let’s learn how to set up the GA4 account first.

How to set up a GA4 Account for my University?

There are two ways you can set up a GA4 account. One option is to create a whole new property (it will be a GA4 by default), and the other option is to use GA4 Setup Assistant. This time, I’ll focus on creating a whole new property because the result will still be pretty much the same, and I can walk you through the entire process.

Creating a new GA4 Property

Go to the Admin section of your Google Analytics interface (by clicking the Admin at the bottom-left corner) and then (in the Property section) click Create Property.

Then enter the name of your University, choose your University’s main campus country, reporting time zone, and the main currency your University operates in, and click “Next”, 

Then, fill out your business information. Suppose you are a university of 11-100 employees. In that case, we recommend the following setup, as GA4 will adjust some configurations and enhancements based on the category of the business and the intent of how Analytics will be used.

Once you click “Create”, your GA4 property will be ready. However, there are still some setups you need to make to start using it.

Data streams

The next step to complete is to configure your first Data Stream. This tells Google the data source from where it will get the data before sending it to your Google Analytics 4 property. You can have multiple data sources in a single property. For example, three web properties, 1 for the Web, one for an Android app, and 1 for an iOS app. However, for most universities and colleges, 1 Data Stream (web) will be enough.

While on the property that you just created, click “Data Streams” and choose “Web”

Once you enter your university Website URL and Stream Name (Example: My University Name – Website), you will be able to enable/disable default events that come as part of “Enhanced Measurement.” These out-of-the-box events that GA4 automatically sends to your data warehouse without requiring you to implement them via GTM or asking a developer.

When enabled (which is the default option), Enhanced Measurement will automatically track the following events for you:

If you prefer, you can enable/disable such events manually by clicking the gear button on the right bottom side of the gray widget

When you are done with the above configuration, click the “Create Stream” button, and you will automatically be presented with tagging instructions.

GA4 Tag Installation

Each of your Data Streams has a unique “MEASUREMENT ID” that you will need to use to send data right into your Google Analytics account. You can install the GA4 tag manually on your website or use a platform like Google Tag Manager (our recommended way).

If you are doing this in 2022, MAKE SURE your Universal Analytics code is still running so you are collecting data for both UA and GA4 simultaneously.

Let’s see how we install GA4 via Google Tag Manager

Installing GA4 via Tag Manager

While on the Data Stream details page, copy the “Measurement ID” as you will need this to add to your GTM account.

Go to your Google Tag Manager container, click “Tags” -> New” and on the “Tag Configuration” box, choose the “Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration.” tag.

Enter the ID ID in the Measurement ID field that you just copied in the GA4 interface. If you want GA4 to track pageviews automatically, keep the “Send a page event”  enabled. If your website is built as a Single Page App (ask your developer), you might need to disable the “page_view” event as it will not get consistently fired on the user navigates on your site.

In the Triggering section, select “All Pages,” click “Save,” and then name the tag according to your naming convention: “GA4 Configuration – G-{your measurement id}”

Testing GA4 Integration via GTM

Let’s test our integration.

While on your GTM, click the “Preview” on the upper right side of the windows, and you will be able to enable GTM Preview mode to test the integration.

Once you type your website URL and click Continue, you should see the new GA4 tag among the fired tags.

Once you see your fire being fired in GTM Preview, ensure the event is being sent to GA4. You can test it by going to GA4 -> Configure -> “Debug View” and waiting for events to fire (you might experience some seconds delay until the data starts to appear in Debug View). If everything has been appropriately integrated, you will see something like this:

Once you ensure that the data is coming in and shown correctly in GA4, you should submit your GA4 changes in the GTM container and publish it. 

Publishing GA4 Integration via GTM

To publish changes, go to your Tag Manager container, and on the top right side of the page, click “Submit”, type a version name of the deployment (optional) and a description of changes you have done (optional), and click the “Publish” button.

When you publish changes,  you should soon start seeing data coming in your GA4 real-time reports.

Congratulations! You have just set up GA4 with Google Tag Manager. However, GA4 needs a lot of customizations, remember?

Installing GA4 on your University WordPress Site

There are two ways you can add a GA4 tag on your WordPress site. One is by placing a direct “gtag” code directly on the <head> HTML part of your website, and the other is by installing it via a plugin. Let’s cover both of them.

Installing GA4 tag code manually on WordPress

Go to your GA4 Property and click “Data Streams”, and choose the Website data stream you just created to get stream details. 

On Tagging Instructions, copy the Global Site Tag and place it into the <head> section of your HTML code (you might need the help of a developer to do this)

Get started with GA4 for your website

Migrating from Google Universal to Google Analytics 4 is no simple task. Sure, account setup is relatively straightforward, but setting up the proper conversion tracking is much more complicated now. Google Analytics 4 has its advantages and disadvantages, but like all new forced changes, it will take time to get used to. Google Analytics 4 will actually be an improvement on your analytics data as it is based solely on events and parameters.

Let our team of Google Analytics 4 experts do the heavy lifting for you.

Book a call today!

Installing GA4 tag code using a WordPress Plugin

You can use multiple plugins to install the GA4 tag on your University Website. However, we recommend using the “GA Google Analytics” plugin as the most straightforward WP plugin to integrate Google Analytics into your WordPress website.

Once you install the plugin, go to its Settings page, add your tracking Measurement ID under “GA Tracking ID” select “Global Site Tag” and then click “Save Changes”.

That’s it! You have now installed GA4 on your WordPress site. Make sure you receive real-time statistics by going to your GA4 -> Home and see if your current traffic is being reported.

Installing GA4 on your University WIX Site

If you use WIX on your university website, you need to add your Measurement ID on your Marketing Integrations page. You can do it by following the instructions below:

  1. Copy your Measurement ID under Web stream details.
  2. Go to Marketing Integrations on your site’s dashboard. 
  3. Click Connect under Google Analytics. 
  4. Click the Show More icon in the top right corner of the page
  5. Click Edit
  6. Paste your Google Analytics 4 Measurement ID in the pop-up.
  7. Click Save.

Congratulations! You have just installed GA4 on your WIX site. 

Installing GA4 on your University Squarespace Site

Squarespace has a built-in feature to connect GA4 without too much hassle.

To install GA4 tag on your Squarespace site, follow instructions below

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to Advanced
  3. Click  External API Keys
  4. Paste your Measurement ID under the “Google Analytics” input

You can paste both UA and GA4 code on the same field, separated by a comma..

Test your installation by opening your website URL in a new window and opening the GA4 -> Home report to see your real-time statistics.


Filters in GA4 allow you to limit or modify the data before entering your Analytics account, and they do not work retroactively. Unlike Universal Analytics, where you could create a “raw view” account without filters and another one with certain limitations, filters on your GA4 are applied at the property level. As we are writing this post, there are no Views in GA4. That makes testing your filters in GA4 more critical than in Universal Analytics.

Currently, there are only two types of filters in GA4:

  1. Developer Traffic
  2. Internal Traffic

Filtering Developer Traffic

Develop traffic is the traffic generated by your website administrators/developers while developing or debugging the website.

This is done by adding a specific event called “debug_mode” or “debug_view” (with a value of 1) every time your GA4 code is executed during your developing/debugging sessions. You will still be able to watch that traffic coming through in Configure -> Debug View, but you will not be able to see it across other reports in GA4.

Filtering Internal Traffic

This is the traffic generated by people directly or indirectly connected to your university who are not your targeted audience. Those can include your faculty members, administrative staff, services providers, and vendors. As such, including their traffic in your Analytics can skew your analysis.

Currently, you can only filter your internal traffic by IP addresses (way more limited than it used to be in UA). To do that, you should:

  1. Go to the Data Stream you previously created
  2. On “Additional Settings”, click “More Tagging Settings”
  3. Click “Define internal traffic”
  4. Click “Create” Button
  5. Add your IPs under “IP addresses” section and click “Create”


Because of the way  Universal Analytics was built and its data structure model, there were quite some limitations regarding data you could send via events (eg. only event_cateogry, label, and value). This made it challenging for higher education marketers to collect data across the whole student journey and analyze in-depth data on the scale.

This has changed, and Events are now the core of Google Analytics 4. But, before going further on events, let’s make sure we understand what an event is and how they work.

What is an Event?

An event is an interaction of the user with your Web or Mobile App. All interactions on your website/web such as clicks, visits, downloads, form submissions (leads), student applications [and more] are considered “Events”.

The data model of GA4 offers much more flexibility when it comes to tracking events and sending additional information with it.

In Universal Analytics, you could only send up to 4 event attributes of an event to Google Analytics: 

As discussed earlier, everything in GA4 is considered an Event. Depending on your scenario, you can send up to 25 additional parameters with an event without limiting how you name them. For example, let’s say that a future student is reading a program page and decides to fill out a “Request More Information” form. You could send the following event:

The last four parameters on the list above are custom events you can send along with your event, which you can later use to do performance analysis on your Analytics account.

Apart from custom events, GA4 also comes with a set of default events and recommendations for you to follow. Let’s go through them and see how you can utilize them to structure your GA4 configuration better later on.

Categories of Events in Google Analytics 4

There are four categories of events in GA4:

  1. Automated Events
  2. Enhanced Measurement Events
  3. Recommended Events
  4. Custom Events

Here is how to choose between event categories in GA4:

Automated Events

Automatic Events on GA4 include interactions that Google must collect to perform its fundamental analysis on the tool. Those events are automatically triggered by GA4 itself on some predefined user activities. This includes session_start, first_visit, scroll, or user_engagement and other mobile app interactions such as app_update, ad_click, etc. You can get the full list here.

Enhanced Measurement Events

Those are additional automatic events by GA4, with the only difference being that you can enable/disable them on your property level.

You can enable or disable them (they come enabled by default) when you configure your web Data Stream in GA4.

When this feature is enabled, Enhancement Measurement will automatically track the following events:

You can enable or disable each one by clicking the gear button on the right side of the Enhanced Measurement section.  Moreover, you can also customize some of them to fit your university website needs.

Page views:

This event is sent to GA4 when a new page loads or the URL of the page changes without reloading the page (a.k.a. history change events). Suppose your university website is built on SPA (Single Page Application), where your entire page doesn’t refresh when pages are changed. In that case, you need to ensure that your website is changing pages/URLs and changing the browser’s history events (you might need a developer’s help here).


GA4 can automatically send events when a visitor scrolls below 90% of the page height. If you need to track scroll on a different scale, you might need to do that via Google Tag Manager manually.

Outbound clicks:

This event is automatically triggered when a user clicks on a link redirecting them to another domain. This is a great feature you can use to see which of the websites you have linked on your website content are helping your students answer their questions.

If your university operates in multiple domains, set up cross-domain tracking (via GA4 property > More Tagging Settings > Configure your domains) so clicks on your own domains are now considered outbound/referral links.

Site search:

This event allows you to track searches performed by your current and potential students on your university website. When enabled, it will automatically send a “view_search_results” event to GA4, if the page loads and the URL of the page contains a query parameter, such as q, s, search, query, and keyword. 

If you are using WordPress for your website, there is nothing you need to change on the “Search Term Query Parameter” input, as the letter “s” will automatically get the job done. Otherwise, make sure you include your search query parameter on the configuration. For example: if your website search looks like, you need to enter the word “term” as an option in the above configuration.

Video engagement:

This is built to track the user’s interaction with Youtube videos on your website. However, due to some technical reasons, this feature will not work by default unless your developer changes how those videos are served.

File downloads:

GA4 can automatically detect the download of files on your website and send an event when your link url contains one of the following extensions:  .pdf, .xls, .xlsx, .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .csv, .exe, .key, .pps, .ppt, .pptx, .7z, .pkg, .rar, .gz, .zip, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .mpe, .mpeg, .wmv, .mid, .midi, .mp3, .wav, .wma.

Once you’re done with all of the above configurations, click Save, and your GA4 will automatically start to track those events once you set up the GA4 tag on your website.

Recommended Events:

Those are events recommended by Google for different business categories but not enabled and configured by default. You will need to follow the recommended naming convention and set them manually on your web/app and Analytics to benefit from additional features Google may introduce to the platform.

If none of these we have previously listed in Automatic and Enhancement events doesn’t fit your needs, then look at the recommended events Google has published in its documentation. For the time being, Higher Education institutions can use the following recommended events based on their needs:

Google recommends that you implement their recommended events when it makes sense for you because it can use those them to better understand your web/app performance during its Machine Learning analysis. 


Download Our Free Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Google Analytics 4 for Universities

Learn what you need to know, from migrating your UA data to configuring conversions and filtering

Custom Events

If none of the previously discussed events fit your needs, you can create custom events. They work pretty much as the above events; however, they are some things you need to consider before deciding to use custom events: 

For the time being, GA4 does NOT allow you to edit or delete your custom events. So make sure you have a thoughtful events strategy in place before reaching out to the 500 unique event limit

Let’s see how a higher education institution can use custom events to measure its marketing performance.

Tracking Conversions on GA4

Before going further, let’s set the table about what a Conversion is for a Higher Education Institution. 

A conversion is a significant interaction you want your visitors to complete on your website. That can be a micro-conversion, a Conversion that puts your visitors one step closer to the main (macro) conversion (such as subscribe, download, chat discussion), or a macro conversion, a final conversion on your website (such as leads or student applications).

By tracking these conversions (and others), you are in a better position to measure the performance of your marketing activities and make decisions based on data. 

In GA4, you can, for example, create a segment of visitors who have read a page about a certain degree who didn’t request more information and then use custom dimensions to understand their behavior compared to the ones who converted.

Now, In Universal Analytics, you used to track conversions by setting up Goals. You may have had a thank you page for your Request Information Forms and used that page as a trigger to create a goal. 

In GA4, all conversions are tracked via Events. So, before a Conversion becomes “a Conversion”, it has to be an Event. You can use a pre-defined conversion event (such as “generate_lead”) or create a custom Event and mark it as a conversion by going to Configure > Events and marking a specific event as Conversion. 

Alternatively, you can go to Configure > Conversions, then press the New conversion event button and enter the event’s name, for example, application_submitted.

Once you do that, wait for up to 24 hours, and you will start seeing conversion data in the list of all Conversions.

When it comes to tracking conversions for Universities and Colleges, here is a list of events that we recommend creating and marking as conversions:

GA4 Tracking Strategy for Higher Education Institutions

The ultimate goal of events is to take action. If you have an event or metric on Google Analytics for which you cannot answer the question, “If I have this information, I could do this” then the chances are that you are using a vanity metric, and you won’t be seeing value out of it.

When it comes to deciding what metrics are essential for your university to track, it might be necessary to take a step back, look at it from a broad marketing and business perspective and ask questions like:

Once you answer these questions, it might be time to start thinking about how you can translate them to concrete actions on Google Analytics. Using a framework like QIA to identify the right metrics for your school can be helpful. Start by asking these three questions:

  1. What Question do I want to answer?
  2. What Information will I need to get the answer?
  3. What Action will I take based on the answer I get?

Let’s take an example of a scenario many higher education marketers face: What is the conversion rate of students for each channel? (Q)

You would need to figure out what information (I) you need to answer that question. In this case, you would need:

Is that information already stored? Do I need to track it and keep it in Google Analytics? If you don’t have funnel conversion tracking set up, for now, you might need to add it to your @todo list.

Great! Now that we know what information we need, let’s decide about the most critical part of the framework: Action (A):

  1. How will the answer be presented? How will the report look?
    Who is the report built for? What format do they prefer?
  2. “What actions will I take if the answer is ‘X’?”
  3. “What actions will I take if the answer is ‘Y’?”

You will need to plan actions based on answers to these questions. For example: 

“If the conversion rate from Organic Search is 2% or higher, we’re doing well. If it’s lower than 2%, we’ll re-evaluate funnel pages, the effectiveness of the call-to-action and the SEO strategy to see how we can improve it”.

Answers like this will help you build an action plan with specific actions on implementing this tracking strategy, from defining events to conversion, account setting, and reporting.

Reports in Google Analytics 4

Reporting in Google Analytics 3 takes another level due to the flexibility of its data model.

In Universal Analytics, you have had numerous ready-to-use reports that, even though you might have found practical, were very limited in capabilities and pretty much the same for everyone. 

While you now have much fewer ready-to-use reports in GA4, its flexibility in adapting and creating advanced custom reporting based on your needs is way beyond what we are used to seeing in the previous version of Analytics. 

Reporting in GA4 is divided into two sections, which can be found on the main left navigation

  1. Default Reports
  2. Explore

Default Reports

Google offers numerous default reports on GA4 to help you kick off analysis faster. However, to fully utilize the benefits of the tool, you might need to customize such reports based on your use cases and needs. 

For example, if you do not directly monetize your university website, you don’t need to see the monetization charts on your reports. You can go to Reports > Library > Edit Collection and then remove/add the necessary report from the main navigation.

While on Library, you can add two types of new reports: Overview and Detail Report

Overview report: A dashboard (comprising a set of cards) that summarizes a detailed topic report (A topic can have only one overview report.)

Detail report: This can have up to two visualizations and a table with dimensions and metrics.

You can also customize individual reports only to show what’s important for your university. You can do that by going to a specific report and clicking on the “Customize reports” icon on the top right side of the page. From there, you can add/remove cards (widgets) and set dimensions/metrics as per your needs.

As you can see, there are certain limitations on the number of widgets, tables, and customizations you can make on default reports, and that’s where custom reports come in.

Exploration reports (Custom Reports)

Exploration is one of the best features of Google Analytics 4. It’s a collection of advanced techniques of analysis that can help your university create advanced reports and reveal deep insights about your future students and their behavior.

You can access exploration reports by going to the main navigation and clicking on Explore. You can create a fully customizable report (if you are short on time or now sure how to start), or you can use built-in templates.

Let’s explore some of the built-in templates, so you can have a better understanding of their benefits.

Free form

Use this template to find out more about your website visitors. You can visualize data in a table or graph format, use multiple dimensions, segments, and metrics, and compare.

Funnel Exploration

This template is pretty helpful for visualizing the steps your students took before converting to a lead or application as part of a pre-defined conversion funnel.

Path exploration

Use this template when you want to discover your students’ interaction toward a conversion. You can also do a reverse analysis and find out what your students do before converting.

Segment Overlap

This template allows you to show and compare the relationship between (up to 3) segments.

The learning curve to creating custom reports may be long for many higher education marketers. However, once you go through built-in templates and do some trial and error, you will start discovering new insights that will lead you toward better decision-making.

Final words

Now that you know the main differences between GA3 and GA4, you’re better positioned to migrate your university website from Google Analytics 3 to Google Analytics 4.

GA4 is an entirely different beast from its predecessor. It’s more flexible, more powerful, and more capable of making data-driven decisions. However, it’s not a simple migration process; you need to make sure you are making the right strategic decisions before starting the migration and have all the necessary information to set it up for success.

If you are just starting with GA4 in general and you are not sure where to start or how to properly migrate your university website to GA4, feel free to reach us, and we will be happy to help.

Get started with GA4 for your website

Migrating from Google Universal to Google Analytics 4 is no simple task. Sure, account setup is relatively straightforward, but setting up the proper conversion tracking is much more complicated now. Google Analytics 4 has its advantages and disadvantages, but like all new forced changes, it will take time to get used to. Google Analytics 4 will actually be an improvement on your analytics data as it is based solely on events and parameters.

Let our team of Google Analytics 4 experts do the heavy lifting for you.

Book a call today!

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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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.

Recruiting International Students: 3 Key Strategies

Universities in the United States are widely regarded as some of the best. According to a survey, 59% of people outside the U.S. believe American universities to be above average compared to universities in other developed countries. Naturally, such a belief is associated with high numbers of international students interested in studying at universities in the U.S.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, in the 2019/20 academic year, there were 1,075,496 international students following their studies in the U.S.—making up around 5.5 percent of the total number of students in the U.S. However, the following year, there was a significant decline due to travel restrictions that prevented students from traveling to the U.S. During the 2020/21 academic year, there were 914,095 international students in the U.S.—a 15% decrease from the previous year, with only a small percentage of them being new international students

Now that travel restrictions have eased, it is important to update your higher institution’s enrollment strategies and begin recruiting international students.

To increase the number of international students recruited for your higher education institution, you must center your international enrollment strategies on resource efficiency by utilizing various technology and digital marketing techniques. So, read on and find out the top three strategies from the agency that specializes in SEO services for Higher Education, that will help refine your recruitment plan with effective international student recruitment strategies for 2023.

International Recruitment Strategy #1: Optimising Your Website

Optimizing your website for international students is crucial since websites are often the first exposure potential students have to higher education institutions. Before deciding whether they want to apply to your study programs, they need to learn more about your institution and the opportunities you offer. Therefore, you should pay close attention to what you present on your website and how you present it.

Similar to techniques typically used for growing college enrollment through SEO, you should improve your site’s landing pages and contact forms in order to increase click-through rates and convert website visitors into qualified leads. To begin, make sure you include all the information potential students must know about your institution on the landing pages. 

Next, make the text readable and minimize using complex language or colloquialisms that your international audience might have difficulty understanding. Keep the content engaging—include visual elements such as infographics and videos that explain topics relevant to potential students and their decision-making process, like tuition fees, accommodation, and program structure, including information specific to international students. 

Do not forget to include keywords relevant to your target audience in order to increase lead generation by improving your site’s visibility and pushing its content through the ranking in organic search results.

As you work on optimizing your website, focus on the following elements:

International Recruitment Strategy #2: Incorporating Virtual Campus Tours and Zoom 


Even prior to the pandemic, international students have faced challenges traveling to the U.S. or other countries for in-person campus visits. However, these visits are crucial for students to make informed decisions about the institutions they are considering, as they offer a glimpse into the facilities, atmosphere, and culture associated with the institution. In light of this challenge, a useful strategy to bridge this gap is to offer virtual campus tours and Zoom meetings.

Virtual campus tours allow prospective students to engage with your institution and experience what it is like to walk around your campus from the comfort of their homes. Many universities have already developed 360-degree tours using virtual reality technology or Google Maps Street View, and there are numerous benefits to incorporating these tours. By offering virtual campus tours, you can:

  1. Provide equal access for all: Regardless of the reason why potential students cannot visit your campus in person, whether it be because of financial limitations, time constraints, or something else, with virtual campus tours, you help provide the same experience to anyone interested in joining your study programs. Virtual campus tours are cost-affordable for both students and institutions to upkeep.
  2. Improve interaction: Students can have little to no interaction with the tour guide because of the large tour groups. Therefore, they will not be learning much about the institution. However, with virtual tours, the information and visuals are on the screen for students to access and go through as many times as they want.
  3. Better accessibility: Unlike physical tours, virtual campus tours are not affected by factors such as weather conditions or time constraints. Therefore, students can choose to visit your higher education institution’s campus on a Monday morning, Saturday at midnight, or any other time of the week and day.
  4. More inclusive: Virtual tours can easily incorporate live captions, ASL translation, audio descriptions, and other elements that help students with disabilities navigate better throughout the campus tour. 

In addition to the tours, your institution can make use of several web-conferencing tools, such as Zoom, that help provide potential international students with a more personalized interaction between them and your admissions committee. 

Regardless of the distance, your counselors can communicate with potential students and help them by clarifying any information needed, sharing relevant documents, and guiding them throughout the whole process.

International Recruitment Strategy #3:  International Student Success Stories 


Providing proof of successful international student experiences is a surefire way to make potential international students feel more connected, included, and comfortable choosing your institution. Therefore, you should focus your recruitment efforts on improving the experience of your current international students in order to generate better referrals and leads.

It would be best for you to work toward ensuring that international students have an environment where they can thrive in your higher education institution, as well as dedicating a portion of your website to displaying their success stories. This way, you can expand your reach and influence over your target audience. After all, when it comes to studying abroad, students want to enroll in a school where they are most likely to grow and progress academically and socially. Therefore, they will research the experience of other students in similar circumstances before committing to the school.

You can also expand your strategic international partnerships in order to enhance your brand’s reputation and improve the student experience. Consider research collaboration opportunities and exchange programs that might benefit your international students.

Use all opportunities presented to you and provide a good experience for international students that choose your school. In turn, they will help advocate your brand and share their success stories that inspire other students to join your college as well.

The Bottom Line

Spread your wings and generate leads from all over the world. Attract potential international students by optimizing your website for international students, incorporating virtual campus tours and web-conferencing tools, as well as leveraging the success stories of existing international students and alumni. With these three strategies, you can ensure a better and easier experience for students getting to know your school.

Are you interested in learning more about how to improve your higher education institution’s website? Contact us for a free SEO gap analysis and learn more about your website’s potential. Join us and become our next success story!

Best SEO Agency for Higher Education

SEO for higher education focuses on helping schools outrank their competitors by reaching a wider audience, producing more leads, and increasing conversion rates.

So, how does a higher placement on the search engine results pages (SERP) turn into an increase in enrollment? Well, it’s all about attracting your target audience and driving prospective students to your website. By ranking high, your school has better chances of students actually clicking on your site, learning more about the programs offered, and enrolling there. After all, the first website on a search engine results page gets an average click-through rate (CTR) of 27.6%

So, the higher you are on the SERP, the better visibility you have and the more traffic you will attract. Ultimately, this will lead to better chances of landing prospective students and increasing your enrollment numbers.

Various factors contribute to a successful SEO marketing strategy for higher education websites, starting from on-page elements and content to the reputation. However, as you work on optimizing such elements, you can encounter various challenges, including technical issues.

Working with an experienced SEO agency, such as ours, will make it easier for you to navigate through various difficulties. So, let’s look at what makes us a top-notch SEO agency and how we can help your SEO strategy.

Establishing a Strong SEO Foundation

The first step to establishing a strong SEO foundation is to be aware of your site’s current state, the competition, and areas needing improvement. Therefore, we’ll start by performing an in-depth analysis of your search performance. Once we have gathered enough data to make an informed decision, we’ll develop an actionable SEO strategy that clearly defines the roadmap needed to put your higher education website on top of the SERPs.

On average, this step takes around 30-45 days to complete, depending on the size of your website.

Improving high-impact pages

Based on our comprehensive research of your website, target audience, and current performance, we will implement our recommendations to optimize your online presence. Our approach includes a thorough examination of your site to identify and rectify technical issues, ensuring that your content is displayed optimally for a seamless user experience.

Moreover, we will audit and set up analytics, utilizing tools such as Google Analytics 4 to track the effectiveness of your marketing strategies and monitor your conversion rate. If you already have analytics in place, we will review and fine-tune them to gain more in-depth insights into your website’s performance.

At this stage, it is also crucial to improve your content. We’ll help you find new content opportunities as well as identify and work on improving the already-existing content that could be performing better. With these steps, you will start to see improvements in your site’s organic traffic in just a matter of weeks.

Producing content that drives value


Our objective is to enhance your higher education institution’s website and ensure it reaches the right audience—those interested in exploring your institution’s offerings and programs. By producing content that drives value, your site can bring relevant traffic from potential students who want to pursue a degree in the programs of study you offer and then funnel that traffic down to conversion.

To achieve this goal, we conduct a comprehensive analysis of what students are searching for at different stages of their college decision-making journey. With the insights gained from this data, we work with you to create content that aligns with their needs and matches their intent.

Driving traffic and brand recognition

In addition to improving conversion rates, increasing organic traffic is crucial to establishing your brand. Our link-building team will craft a link-building strategy by analyzing your existing links as well as those of your competitors and finding ways to not only catch up but surpass them. 

We will ensure that your higher education institution gets coverage on various authoritative and relevant sites where potential students can encounter your website and learn more about the programs provided. Throughout the link acquisition process, our team will help your site acquire valuable links that drive qualified traffic to your website and improve brand recognition.

Measuring performance


After implementing some of the steps planned in our lead generation strategies for your website, we will use multiple data sources to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our search strategy. This way, we measure performance based on specific pre-defined key performance indicators (KPI), such as the click-through rate, domain authority, keyword ranking, page views, and more. Based on the results, we make the necessary adjustments to keep improving and adapting to the standard of the ever-changing market.

But just because your site sees significant improvement after the first few months of working with us doesn’t mean that our work is done. We will always be looking for ways to update and upgrade our strategies and goals in order to help your website reach and stay at the top.


SEO has become a crucial part of college enrollment growth. To be the best, you must work with the best SEO agency for higher education. Our team has extensive experience working with higher education institutions to help them rank higher in search results and reach outstanding growth after only a few months. Want to be the next success story? Contact us for a free SEO gap analysis, where we estimate your site’s potential and share more growth opportunities.

100+ Impressive WordPress Statistics (Updated: January 2023)
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 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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