How an Institute Increased Student Enrollment: Seo for Higher Education Marketing

OH! Digital helped a higher education institute to increase student enrollments for their two new courses. We promoted these programs primarily through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As a result, the institute got enough admissions in the target academic year to start those new programs.

I was contacted by them inquiring about how to promote the institute through digital marketing. They wanted to increase student enrollment in college.

“We are rolling out new post graduate degree and diploma management courses in the upcoming academic year. The institute has not made any investment in online marketing so far. What can be done?”

Since my primary role at OH! Design Studio is managing digital marketing, this is something I hear often. Organisations spend their limited marketing budget on unplanned advertising (newspaper ad in this case), get limited response. They keep “discussing” investing in digital marketing, but are never able to prioritize.

It leads to zero digital presence when that happens. With ever-increasing competition, it becomes even more challenging when trying to promote something online for the very first time.

Educational institutes are no different. Even today, many colleges follow old-school marketing strategies. In fact, many higher education institutes do not follow any admission marketing strategy at all.

Key Elements: Digital Marketing Strategy to Increase Student Enrollment

#1 Business Goals of Search Engine Optimization: Increase Student Enrollment

We performed the audit of digital footprint of the institute website along with keyword research. The team decided to leverage search engine optimization as primary technique to increase college enrollments.

Prospective students turn to a variety of online and print resources to shortlist colleges. Most of the times they don’t know which institute to shortlist when they begin their search. When they turn to online search, they often find colleges by course names and reviews.

Our SEO team prioritized keywords related to course names with enrollment intent.

#2 Marketing Goals of SEO: Increase college visibility

The business goal of SEO was set to increase admissions for new courses. But we set a broader marketing goal – To improve brand awareness within student community. Hence general category keywords like ‘management institutes in Mumbai’ were included.

#3 Audience Profiling: Content for Higher Education Marketing SEO 

We brainstormed within OH! Digital team and with students to identify information our target audience were looking for. After short listing audience profiles based on their stage of decision making process, we linked these additional keyword phrases to our SEO strategy.

#4 The Digital Mix: Other elements of online marketing strategy to attract students

Our SEO strategy for this institute was a mix of social signals and content. The objective was to attract more students to inquire for admission procedure.

Social communities were leveraged to increase brand visibility. Also, we used Facebook to present the desired brand image of the institute for prospective students to get a glimpse of the campus culture.

#5 On-Page SEO: College website optimization for search engines

Due to some administrative challenges, nature and number of changes to the institute’s existing website were limited. We squeezed the most of the on-page content optimization.

Also, there were no individual web pages for the new courses. Instead, the college website had all info packed in one chunky PDF uploaded in one of the inner pages. We created separate pages for each target course, then optimized them for search engines. Content for each of these pages was improvised to capture the interest of prospective students and make them spend more time on the page.

#6 Off-Page SEO: Search engine optimization outside college website

On-page optimizations were not sufficient for this client. As I mentioned before, there were lot of administrative hurdles to touch the site structure. So, we allocated a higher percentage of SEO time to off-page techniques to raise site rankings. We promoted SEO content and course pages to increase online visibility.

#7 Email Marketing Campaigns: Direct marketing of new courses to prospective students

OH! Digital also executed promotional email campaigns to promote all courses for direct marketing. Snapshot below shows spike in Google Analytics graph for two of these campaigns:

Results of SEO Promotion:

Business Goals

The two new courses which we promoted got enough enrollments in the target academic year to start the program. Therefore, the business goal to increase college admissions was achieved.

Marketing Goals

The marketing objective of spreading awareness about this institute and its MBA courses in the target market was well achieved.

SEO Goals

  • Traffic on those two target courses increased organically during the months of promotion.


  • As a result of increased site traffic and more time spent on course pages, search engine rankings of target courses increased drastically.
  • The institute’s website started ranking well in the overall search category of management institutes in Mumbai.


By Supriya Sachdeva, Digital Communication Strategist at OH! Design Studio, Mumbai.

Curious whether SEO can help generate more business for your organization and what it would take to get started? Connect with OH! Digital- the online marketing cell of OH! Design Studio. Drop us a line, we’ll get in touch with you. 

Lastly, if this post helped you to make better business decisions related to digital marketing, please feel free to share it. And you can always say hello at @SachdevaSupriya.

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