In the past, blogging was not taken seriously and is often misunderstood to be a hobby for aspiring travel writers, cooks, and the like. These days, blogs are an established authority on the internet, thanks both to Google’s high rankings of blog content and reader’s perceived trustworthiness: blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information. In a 2016 North American content marketing survey, 76% of business to consumer respondents said they use content marketing such as blogging and newsletters, yet 55% admitted to being unsure how to define content marketing success or effectiveness. As with all other markets, the international sector relies upon blogging to increase traffic and improve SEO; blogging additionally increases communication with current and potential students. Read on to learn 10 reasons IEPs and international student offices need blogs.
10 Reasons Why IEPs and International Student Offices Need Blogs
#1: Blogging improves online visibility through Google* rankings and SEO
For language schools and departments, ranking high on Google is an important factor for direct bookings, attracting new agents, and standing out against the competition.
Blogging improves search engine optimization for Google by:
- Increasing the overall amount of content on the school’s site. The amount of content on a site is an aspect Google takes into account when ranking its search results: the more blogs that are written, the higher likelihood of Google considering your site to be an authority on a subject, which increases your rankings.
- Improving links coming to your school’s page. Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website; this is an important factor for Google rankings.
- Creating more content to be indexed. Another important part of SEO is offering a lot of content for Google to “crawl” (find and map). Websites with a blog have tend to have 434% more indexed pages.
#2: Blogging brings clients to your main website
Companies with active blogs have 55% more site visits than those without blogs. Additionally, users admit to reading 3-5 pieces on a website before making a purchasing (booking) decision. A school or department’s webpage–which most often includes the schedules, an overview of the school, and bios of teachers and staff–does not provide enough information for potential students to make an informed decision. Blogs provide the additional pieces of visual and written content to help convince a potential student of your school’s value.
#3: Blogging puts clients ahead of the competition
Business blogging continues to rise: more than 85% of one survey’s respondents utilize content marketing, and paid promotion and distribution of blog content has increased significantly. Schools without blogs miss a vital piece of the online market share, losing enrollment to competing schools and losing a key place on search engine results.
#4: Blogs build a brand
A blog reflects the school’s personality and environment in a way that brochures, standard web pages, and other promotional materials cannot. Highlight student success, the achievements of teachers, the activities the school hosts, and the aspects which make your school unique. Recycle your school’s visual and online content (the promotional videos and photo shoots) on the platform to make the most of marketing expenses (and improve the visual quality of posts).
#5: Blogging is more cost effective than advertising
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. Blogging therefore serves as a more trusted source for providing the public with information regarding your school, and a more desired method of communication for potential customers: 70% of the population prefers learning about a company through reading articles (versus reading their advertising materials) and 82% of readers feel more comfortable about a company after reading its custom created content.
Blogging is also significantly more cost effective: such inbound marketing is on average 62% less than traditional outbound marketing.
#6: Blogging establishes credibility
Use your voice and your school’s highlights to show the strengths of your location, curriculum, and programs: since 57% of purchase decisions such as bookings are made before a potential student even speaks to a customer service representative, the voice and visuals of your online content speak for your institution before your booking agents ever do.
#7: Blog effectiveness is easily tracked
One of the most difficult aspects of blogging is tracking its effectiveness: 55% of respondents from one survey admitted that their company is not sure of how to track the success or efficacy of content marketing such as blogs. Of this same group, only 30% found their organizations to be effectively using content marketing as a strategy (while the majority admitted to it being a key part of their marketing and business plans). However, blog effectiveness is easy to establish if clear goals are set, an editorial calendar is created, and analytics are tracked and analyzed. In the end, companies that have made blogging a priority experience a return on investment that is 13 times higher than companies who do not prioritize such content.
#8: Blogging is the heart of all social media content
Education administrators know that social media is not just fun and games: sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are key aspects of marketing, establishing a brand, and creating a school’s “voice” to current and potential students (and agents). More than 50% of buyers search for product and vendor information using social media, including influential executives: in one study, 84% of administrators at the C-level or with the title of vice-president use online social networks when making decisions regarding their business purchases.
#9: Blogs are the quickest form of marketing to update
Updating brochures and producing new visual content takes time that companies do not have. With blogs, content can be created quickly and editorial calendars can be shifted to accommodate more urgent material. Let your agents, students, and potential agents and students know about the latest happenings at your school; in the meantime, you’re providing a “real time” snapshot of life on your campus.
#10: Blogs with great content keep visitors on your site
Grab their attention with a catchy title . . . and then keep their attention with engaging content! A good blog will do just that: in the meantime, it also creates a “relationship” with the reader (a potential customer or business contact) and provides the important branding your school needs to set itself apart from other schools in your area, region, or country.
*And other searches engines as well: we specifically use Google as it has a 70% share of the search engine market.