I have audited dozens of websites in the international education and travel space. In general, the organizations in this space do an excellent job at creating useful, beautiful, and intuitive websites. However, the search engine optimization (SEO) of these sites is often far from perfect.
Without further preamble, here are 6 SEO tips for international education and travel websites:
1. Get creative with your page titles
Every study abroad provider in the country wants to rank well for queries like “Study Abroad in Rome”. That’s why the search results look like this:
By getting creative with your page titles you have the opportunity to steal clicks from your competitors who are all using the same boring titles. Here are some examples of better page titles for the query “Study Abroad in Rome”:
2. Watch out for keyword cannibalism
Keyword cannibalism occurs when pages on your own site compete with one other for keyword relevance.
For example, imagine if 5 different pages on the same site shared the exact same page title.
This makes it difficult for Googlbot to understand which page is more relevant to the target keywords, and as a result, the performance of each page suffers.
In order to avoid this issue, it is important to map your primary keywords, assigning each to a specific page.
3. Watch out for URL-based duplicate content
I know this sounds boring, but don’t skip it; it’s critical!
URL based duplicate content describes a situation where you are serving Googlebot the same (or very similar) content on unique URLs. So…
has the same content as…
Googlebot doesn’t like this for the same reason that it doesn’t like duplicate page titles; it makes determining how to categorize each of these pages more difficult.
There are several different ways that URL based duplicate content can occur. Here are some of the most common:
- Blog tags
- Blog categories
- Content filters (eg. “Filter by Date” or “Filter by Location”)
- URL parameters (eg. sessionID, trackingID, etc.)
4. Mobile is a must
In 2013, just over 12% of GoAbroad.com’s traffic came from mobile and tablet devices:
In 2014, that number ballooned, with nearly 31.5% of traffic coming from mobile and tablet devices:
There is no reason to believe that this trend will change. Google is making it no secret that they want to serve up mobile friendly websites in their search results.
If you want to compete for high value traffic, responsive web design is a must.
Bonus Tip: Site speed is essential for mobile friendliness because mobile devices generally have slower internet connections. In my experience, investing in site speed almost always results in a positive return on investment.
5. Answer questions with your content
When we turn to Google, it’s because we need answers:
- Who’s in the cast of Birdman?
- How do I change a tire?
- What are the best countries to study abroad?
Google knows that this is how people search, and have invested heavily in returning the best possible results for these types of queries.
If the content on your site is just sales copy, you won’t be eligible to compete for these informational search queries. Make sure that your content strategy focuses on answering your potential customer’s questions, not just giving them an elevator pitch.
6. Always be link building
Despite what you may have read, link building is not dead. In order for your site to rank well in Google for competitive search phrases, you need other, related, high authority sites to link to yours.
Link building ought to be an organizational mandate.
Every time you network in the real world, or online, there is a chance to create a linking relationship. Every time you publish a new article, graphic, or video, you have an opportunity to promote that content to other websites who might find it useful. Link building isn’t that hard as long as you can make it a core part of your organization’s networking and outreach process.
In short; never forget to consider how a particular organizational initiative could be leveraged to earn links to your website.
Considering that SEO is not only my job but also my favorite thing to talk about, I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have in the comments below. If you do take the time to drop a comment, rest assured that I will be quick to respond. Also, if you’re a tweeter, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @MChuckGreen.
About the Author: Matt Green is an SEO consultant at Ethical SEO Consulting in Denver, Colorado. Ethical SEO has partnered with GoMedia to be the genius behind our popular SEO product, offering SEO audits and consulting to organizations within international education and travel.