Some 20 years after its launch, Google remains the preeminent force to be reckoned with in organic search. In this episode, take a step back to understand some of the long-term trends that have shaped the search engine over the past two decades, and then forecast what’s in store for those looking to optimize their websites for search in 2021.

Joining us in the conversation is Echo Delta’s Senior SEO Strategist, Catherine Reich. With SEO experience that spans both higher ed as well as other highly competitive industries like travel/tourism and law, Catherine is uniquely positioned to offer guidance on how to stay relevant in search over the next year.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Fundamental strategies that have kept Google relevant and continue to impact search rankings to this day
  • The most significant changes to Google’s algorithm over the last 3-5 years
  • How to prepare for a major update known as the Page Experience Updates coming in 2021
  • Actionable advice for those looking to improve rankings over the next year.

Transcript

Jarrett Smith:
You’re listening to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab. I’m your host, Jarrett Smith. Well, hello and welcome to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab. I’m Jarrett Smith. Each episode, it’s my job to engage with some of the brightest minds in higher education and the broader world of marketing to bring you actionable insights that you can use to level up your school’s marketing and enrollment performance. In this episode, I sit down with Catherine Reich, senior SEO strategist at Echo Delta, to take stock of the current state of organic search, and what’s ahead in 2021. We start by discussing why Google has remained the dominant force in SEO in the important algorithm changes we’ve observed over the last few years. Then we talk about a major update google has planned for 2021 known as the Page Experience Update. We wrap up by sharing our best predictions for the next 12 months. As a bonus for this episode, Catherine’s put together a short guide that lists three SEO tasks you can partner with your web developer to perform over the next year, and the first item in her guide is preparing for that Page Experience Update I just mentioned.

You’ll find a link to download that guide in the show notes for this episode at echodelta.co. So without further ado, here’s my conversation with Catherine Reich. Well, Catherine, welcome to the show.

Catherine Reich:
Thanks for having me, Jarrett.

Jarrett Smith:
I am super excited to talk about SEO and looking ahead in 2021. It’s not the first time we’ve done this. It is in podcast form.

Catherine Reich:
Right, but it’s not the first time.

Jarrett Smith:
It’s not the first time, we’ve been here before. So this ought to be a fun conversation, and you’re my favorite SEO person. So here we go. Catherine, I want to start off with what maybe sound like a very basic question, but it’s something I think about periodically, which is why, after 20 years, is Google still the dominant force in search? I mean, DuckDuckGo had that huge billboard campaign, and then right before this, I looked up their market share, and it’s still two percent in the U.S. So why is Google still, when we talk SEO, we’re really talking about Google.

Catherine Reich:
Absolutely. The reason that we are still talking about Google as the eminent one is right now, they have 90% of the market share. And I think it’s an interesting question to ask why. When I started to look into that, there’s the narrative, there’s the things that make the headlines or the beginnings of a keynote speech of, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.” And I think Google has a lot of that fictional, motivating stories behind it. But really, if you look into it, it was a combination of a couple of things. One, they came in absolutely at the right time. So Google didn’t enter into this stage until search engines had been a thing for about 10 years, and also, the.com bubble and burst had happened.

So they had a lot going for them. One, they hadn’t built up all of this energy and all of this business for only to be crushed. Again, everything else happened then. And they also could learn from that. So they saw not only who got decimated, but who was able to survive. And I think they made a lot of great judgment calls. One, a lot of the search engines that were still around even after the.com bubble and burst were your, I’m going to call them, hubs. So think AOL, think Yahoo, these were user experiences that were trying to be everything. They were trying to actively be the internet for you.

Jarrett Smith:
Like your entire web portal.

Catherine Reich:
Yeah. And since AOL really was one of the first ways that users, especially of maybe our generation and age were exposed to-

Jarrett Smith:
Yup, I remember it well.

Catherine Reich:
Yeah. I think a lot of businesses went into making a search engine with the attitude of needing to be AOL, and maybe a different flavor of it. But Google didn’t do that at all. Google really was the preeminent force behind that overly simplistic design that we now see all over the entire internet.

Jarrett Smith:
Yeah, I remember back in the day when Google came out, it was like, it’s just a search bar. That’s it, there’s just a little text box there.

Catherine Reich:
Yeah. And that was so special to them, but what that allowed them to do was to do one thing really well. And I think what’s interesting is even as they have expanded, and now in many ways, they are that hub that AOL used to be. But you know when you are in one of their service offerings, if you will, which one you’re looking at, and you’re only in that, and there’s ways to link back and forth. But if you are using Google search, you know you’re using Google search, and it’s not trying to send you to a million places. And so I think their ability to stay very focused, coming in at the right time, and also just asking themselves, “How do we give people what they want?”

A lot of search engines in the very beginning were trying to make judgment calls for users, and Google, when they came in in 1997, they were asking, “How do we ensure that searches are relevant?” So they came in with this whole relevancy thing. And they’re still doing that today in a lot of new and exciting ways that they were the first ones to say, “You know what, why don’t we put the user in charge?”

Jarrett Smith:
Yeah. And of course, then they launched their advertising product. They’re making a ton of revenue, they can hire the best brains to figure this out. Now we’ve just seen the product evolve and evolve and evolve, and of course, fueled all by this advertising revenue that ultimately, that’s the product they’re trying to keep folks coming back to, they can see more ads. So yeah, that’s interesting. I hadn’t really thought about it in that long-term historical perspective. So let’s just kind of think about the last couple of years. I know you’ve been doing SEO for a long time. I know the SEO game has changed a lot over the years. It used to be a lot of these kinds of silly games you could play with keywords and that sort of thing, and it’s really a lot more sophisticated now, just kind of looking back over the past two or three years, what are the things that really stand out to you as landmark changes in how Google operates, and how it’s determining at the end of the day what’s relevant, what should appear in that number one position when you search for a term?

Catherine Reich:
Great question. I think what we saw probably at that three year mark, maybe the three to five-year mark, is that Google realized that SEOs like ourselves were doing things. Marketers had started to exploit the system, and so in that five to three mark, they started to do things like panelizing. There were steps at Google were taking to say, “No, stop that, SEO, stop that, stop trying to exploit these search loopholes.” Then I think what we’ve now seen, and what we’ve moved into in the last two to three years, is the flip side of that. And I think the more positive thing of, “Okay, how do we get back to relevancy? How do we get back to making sure that users are having a great time when they’re using our product? How do we make sure that they’re getting what they need?” For Google, big thing that they look at is, does your main content, and love their documentation, they refer to it as MC because they love acronyms, is that MC addressing the user’s intent?

What Google does that I think is really interesting too, is they have real human testers that test before and after their releases. And if you look at their documentation, they even say, listen, if somebody’s intent is to find a lighthearted humor site, then provide them that. If that’s what they’re looking for, it doesn’t need to be an encyclopedia article that’s very long and text-heavy, because they know that’s not what a user is looking for. And so I think the last couple of years we’ve seen that, and I think the ways we’ve seen that is things like page speed. Page speed has become more and more important. I think we also saw that in the HTTPS and making sure that that was part of it because what Google realized is that people’s intent was to stay safe on the internet.

Catherine Reich:
So even zooming out from what they want out of a search, what do they want out of their search experience? What do they want out of websites? And to me, this has been a much more exciting time to be an SEO because it’s the fun stuff. It’s not just fighting against like the bad stuff. It’s how do we truly do great work using the digital tools that we have in our toolbox in a way that Google is going to like it, but ultimately that a user is going to like it? And that’s way more fun than stuffing a bunch of keywords into something. I feel like anybody can do that, but this takes creativity, I think.

Jarrett Smith:
Yeah, it’s kind of an interesting point. On one hand, it’s like, as the algorithm has gotten more sophisticated, in a way, the SEO’s job, and you may not 100 percent agree with this, so please disagree, and I’m sure I’ll give you multiple opportunities to disagree and to set me straight during this conversation, but in a way, in a sense, the SEO’s job has gotten a little more straightforward in that there are technical details that matter, absolutely. But at the end of the day, Google has gotten very good at figuring out what people want. You need to create the best web experience and content that will serve whatever it is that your users want. If you’re doing that, there are other details that matter that could hold you back.

But that’s the main course right there, and these other things have become more side dishes where it used to be, no playing SEO games could be your main course, and getting backlinks that were from websites that you owned, and paying people for links, and stuffing your content with keywords, those kinds of silly SEO games. That could be your main course and the content could be the side dish, but it’s kind of set the priority is right, and in a way, you have to think more like a content strategist and an editor than you used to. Would you agree with that?

Catherine Reich:
Yeah, I absolutely would. I didn’t know where you were going at first. I was prepared to [crosstalk 00:00:10:30].

Jarrett Smith:
Good. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going either, but it ended up somewhere good.

Catherine Reich:
I like where you ended up. No, I think that’s a great point because I think that if I had just taken you at the statement of, it’s gotten more straightforward, my eyebrow went up. Listeners can’t see that, but it did. As you’re saying, the straightforwardnesses create a good experience, because I agree. I think three or four years ago, you saw more instances if you were a search engine optimization person, such as myself, where you had to make these compromises. You had to say, “Okay, how do I spice in some things here,” we’re just going to keep talking about food analogies, aren’t we, but sprinkle in some very search engine crawler bot stuff, and then, “Oh yeah, by the way, we also need to sprinkle in some of the actual user stuff.” Now it’s really looking at the user stuff and going, “Hmm, on the technical side, are there ways that we can make it faster? Are there ways that we can, the data structures on the website to make it crawlable?” But it’s not, they’re not conflicting anymore, and I think that’s awesome. I think it’s a good time to do that

Jarrett Smith:
I remember for years having content, having SEO related discussions with clients and saying things like, “Well, we have to think about what’s good for the search engine and the user’s kind of what you’re getting at. And we have to think about those things kind of separately, and it’s not that we never say that or think about that, but I feel like that phrase, “Let’s serve both,” kind of comes up a lot less often, and it’s more like, “Let’s really nail this user need. Let’s really focus on that. Let’s be awesome and better than anybody else on the internet at this thing.” And we have pretty good idea that as long as there’s nothing egregious on the technical side or we clean up some of those details, that that’s going to be sufficient.

Catherine Reich:
Yeah. And I think too, that for a long time, I think if we zoom out even a little bit outside of SEO, but I swear it’ll come back here. If we zoom out a little bit, I think there was this mentality that a website was a digital brochure. And that was it, it was a digital brochure. And where I think a lot of businesses and institutions could fall into a trap, like one might in a brochure is, “I’m going to talk about myself in the way that myself is organized,” and it was very much like me, me, me. What I think search engine optimization has made people realize is that you have to match it to your users. It can’t be just about you. It has to be about you, but in a way that the user wants and needs and can understand. And that’s great for search, but that’s also great for conversion. That’s also great for brand sentiment. And so all of these things I think are coming together to work more cohesively than ever before.

Jarrett Smith:
Interesting. Okay. So let’s kind of think ahead. So here we are at the top of 2021. So looking ahead, I know that I’ve been hearing a lot about some updates that are on the horizon, the core web vitals for anybody who’s been following SEO for the past several months, you’re hearing that come up a lot more. And I know, mostly from talking to you, that anytime Google announces, “Hey, we’ve got an update coming,” then you better pay attention because they normally don’t. They change the algorithm and make updates to it constantly without telling anybody, sometimes with great impact. But I know there’s some things on the horizon in 2021, that are kind of a big deal. Can you talk about that? What do we know?

Catherine Reich:
Yeah, great question because, like you said, we know that when Google is taking it so seriously that they are telling us in advance that it’s coming, that it’s already kind of happening. And I think a great example is to look on back at that HTTPS update where Google said, “Hey, you probably should have a secure website,” which fair.,That’s a reasonable request for them to make because users care about security. And then they said, “Oh Hey, no, really, we are going to incorporate this. We are going to mark it on the search engine result pages that your website is not secure unless you get your act together.”

And if you didn’t handle that as that release happened, people lost huge swaths of traffic. Just people who, for so long, they had an old website, but they had good, maybe robust content that had a lot of information, but that release came out just like Google said it was, and they went from being on page one for maybe some local things that they are the eminent person who maybe provides that service in their area to maybe page two where nobody is seeing it. So I think that if they’re announcing it, we know that it’s a big threat. Let’s talk a little bit about what goes into the update first. So it’s the Page Experience Update, that’s kind of the name us SEO’s like to name them, but when Google-

Jarrett Smith:
So they’re calling it the Page Experience Update?

Catherine Reich:
Yeah. And so the kind of rhythm that it falls into is if Google announces it ahead of time, they get to name it. But if they just sneak one in on you, the SEO community just kind of names it, and that’s where you get the really weird ones like Panda and Fred and Phantom and all of those fun ones. But this one has a very straightforward name. It’s the Page Experience Update. And what it’s looking at are these new sets of metrics that they’re really pushing, they’re called your core vitals. Of course, it’s a series of acronyms. Of course, they sound very technical. But when it comes down to it, it’s is the user having a good time using your website? So the first one is LCP. So your largest contentful pane, and really, what that is, is it’s not just how fast your page loads, it’s also what elements load quickly.

So we could get into the technical stuff, but honestly, it would probably bore us to tears. So listeners, I’ll save you it. It’s really, if you’ve ever gone to a website and it’s taking its time to load, it’s taking its time to load, and then you start to see the stuff flicker and it comes up, and it’s like, “Oh, I don’t care what this picture halfway down the screen is. I can’t even read the content yet.” It’s making sure that those first important things that are loading are loading fast enough. So it’s not just, is it loading fast, it’s is the super important stuff loading fast enough.

Jarrett Smith:
Are you prioritizing things the right way in the way that the web page is loading.

Catherine Reich:
In a way that a user would want, so that’s the first one. The second one is your first input delay. So that’s going to be your interactivity. So how that’s working, how you’re able to click through things and how quickly you’re able to do that. So that’s F-I-D, FID is some people are using it.

Jarrett Smith:
It’s super catchy.

Catherine Reich:
Great. And then CLS, your cumulative layout shift. What they’re calling this is stability for those listeners who were around in maybe the AOL days and the days of the original Firefox and all of that, those popups that you would get that you would chase the X, because the interactivity is purposely trying to mess with you. It’s how is that interactivity functioning? Is it functioning in a way that’s blocking content or blocking functionality or is it moving right? Is it doing any of that kind of weird stuff? Is that operating as a good experience? And again, they’re putting metrics around it because it’s nice to have standards to measure things. We’re marketers, we like KPIs, we like goals and that’s what they’ve done, but just a KPI is really helping you measure how many leads? Are we moving the business needle? That’s what this stuff is. It’s really, is your website in a place, a measurable place where people are going to have a good experience?

Jarrett Smith:
So if we’re looking ahead to the core web vitals, or the larger Page Experience update that’s on the horizon, I guess first question, do we have an ETA? Did they dignify us with some idea of when it’s going to happen or is it just 2021?

Catherine Reich:
So in the past, Google has given timeframes, and they have not always adhered to them. I think the general consensus in the SEO community is to expect this in March. Now, all of that being said, if you make these updates now, you will see an improvement in SEO upon launching them. Hypothetically, if these metrics are bad now and you fix them, they’re already taking these things into account. It’s just that once that release comes out, it’s really going to matter. If that’s a two percent of the entire algorithm now, maybe it’s four to six later, and I’m making those numbers up totally just to give kind of a context for scale there. But yeah, we should be seeing that in March. It could come sooner. That’s just, it’s Google’s prerogative as to when they do it, but most of us on the SEO community think March.

Jarrett Smith:
Yeah. And I know that Google has released some tools, like a Chrome extension that allows you to kind of see how you’re doing on each of these three metrics and that sort of thing. So if we have any in-house SEOs out there, or maybe someone who manages an in-house SEO, what do they need to be doing? What would be some logical steps that they could do with this to kind of make sure that they’re ahead of it and prepared when that update comes out?

Catherine Reich:
Yeah, great question. I think that first and foremost, think about whatever your developer likes in terms of snacks or beverages, and go ahead and maybe purchase those and get those stocked now. And then yeah, you can go online now, Google has several tools, I’m sure we can include a link to them, and it’ll tell you how you’re performing. And it also gives, I would say, pretty good documentation that your developer can use to see, okay, what changes on your website do they need to make in order to bring that up to goal?

Jarrett Smith:
And I can imagine somebody listening to this who says, “Okay, well, I’m in charge of an enormous higher ed website that has thousands of pages.” But one thought that I have is that it would also be helpful to kind of prioritize what really matters in search. Not necessarily every page on a website gets a lot of organic traffic or needs to appear on organic traffic, but something like, say, a degree page. To me, it seems like an obvious example. It’s like, that’s a big gateway for unbranded search where that particular page on your site could be ranking for a degree program. You’d need to make sure that, like your degree pages are pretty buttoned up for instance.

Catherine Reich:
Absolutely. I would say, for our higher education clients, the places they should be looking at the homepage, obviously, always a great place to start. Your degree pages, and also, if you have any blog or news articles, I would be looking at those as well since those are getting crawled a lot, they’re kind of getting added. Well, they are getting added a lot, and Google’s paying attention to them because they’re recent content, Google really likes things that are recent. And so since that template on your site is going to often be the most recent, having that in a good place is going to be sending positive signals to Google.

Jarrett Smith:
Okay. So what else? Maybe we might be getting into more speculative territory here, but kind of looking out over the next year, do you have any thoughts about what else might be on the horizon, maybe not announced, or just kind of bigger picture strategy ideas that you’re thinking about personally?

Catherine Reich:
Yeah. I think in line with that thinking from earlier about just creating things that are good for users, I think we’re going to see more and more of that. What we’ve seen in probably the last, gosh, even in the last year, there’ve been a lot of developments in terms of what CMSs can do, particularly page builders. So things where a non-developer can go in and make, maybe a more graphically interesting page than just text. I think what we’re going to see is a resurgence of longer form content, which I think is a little bit of a hot take, but I think it’s going to be true because Google now is really, really looking at, are you matching that intent, like we said, and it’s looking at, are you fully answering the question?

And I think if you’re looking at things like how long people are spending on a particular page and on your website in a total session, I think what we’re going to see is if things are going well for you in terms of SEO, that number is going to be tracking with it. So as your time on page goes up, and your time per session goes up, I think you’re also going to see an increase in rankings because Google has been very evasive when people have asked, “Do you take that as a signal?” And they’ve been like, “Well, there’s a lot of signals,” and they’ve politician answered it really well a couple of times. I encourage you guys, anybody in the PR space, to go and look at how Google answers questions about how the algorithm works. It’s a masterclass.

Jarrett Smith:
Did we mention Largest Contentful Pane? How about that?

Catherine Reich:
It’s amazing, and they do it live on camera. Again, it’s fascinating. But yeah, I think we’re going to see a resurgence in that, because I think that for a little while, there was a big trend in having essentially a page on everything. So any topic you had, that gets a page. You have a topic on this, oh, that gets a new page instead of creating these comprehensive resources. And so when I talk about that, I’m talking about, say your application page. So there’s always going to be a landing page of like, “Hey, let’s put people who are ready to apply. Let’s get them to that.” But I think there’s going to be a need for a more robust, “Hey, here’s just the rundown. Here’s how the process works. Here’s the documents and milestones you’ll need along the way,” because oftentimes, people are having to search around a million different places to find what they’re looking for, and I think Google doesn’t like that.

Time and time again, Google has actually even said, “We don’t want people to bounce.” That’s why bounce rates are bad. So I think having a nice comprehensive resource for important topics, that’s going to be even more valuable in 2021 than ever before.

Jarrett Smith:
And that’s kind of a tall order though, if you think about it, a very rich, deep page that also loads really fast. And that can be a lot to balance, and then to have it’d be something that also happens to be on brand and accurate, those things. There’s a lot of considerations that have to go into that.

Catherine Reich:
Absolutely. It’s not easy. And I think the flip side of that is, yeah, if it’s that difficult, the ones who do it really well, that’s really going to be powerful.

Jarrett Smith:
Yeah. Interesting. So I have a little bit of a hot take, and you can set me straight on this if you don’t think it’s going anywhere. But one thing we haven’t really talked about is how much the search results page has changed over the years. And so now you have all these new types of content that are being pulled in. If you go, anybody here goes to search for their school, they’re going to see rich content blocks pulling data, not just from their website and pulling information, not just from their website, but from lots of different sources that may not be able to control into more or less a listing that appears. And it’s super interesting to see how that’s involved, so evolved over time.

So my kind of take on that over the next year is I hypothesize that Google is trying to move people to more of, and I don’t think I came up with this, but more of a zero click environment where if you’re clicking on something, it’s just within that Google product, and you can find everything you need on that Google search results page, and they can serve you more ads, and you don’t necessarily have to click through to the website to get the information you were looking for, which is great for Google, but I think stinks for us. And I wonder, this is really going out on a limb, if we might see sort of total referral traffic coming out of Google decline over time. This is me reaching very far now, but it seems like kind of a logical thing that might happen if that’s kind of where they’re going. What’s your take on that?

Catherine Reich:
I think you’re absolutely right. And I think we’re already starting to see some of that.

Jarrett Smith:
Yes, score.

Catherine Reich:
Yeah, but I think it’s important to put a couple of asterisks next to that too, because where before you might have somebody, maybe a prospective student, so maybe this prospective student they know they want to call the admissions department because they’ve got a question that they don’t know how to put succinctly and they want to talk to a person. Great. We want an admissions counselor to be able to talk to them.

Jarrett Smith:
Yes, please call.

Catherine Reich:
So before, maybe three years ago, they may have had to search for your school, and click on your page, and then scroll down to your footer to get the phone number. That’s not a good experience for them, and they might get distracted or lost in that process and forget to call you. What happens now is you search school name, phone number, and that pops up in a pretty little knowledge graph, and they call that directly. Ultimately, yeah, are you losing traffic? Sure. What you’re probably doing though, is increasing conversion, you’re increasing the speed that they’re talking to an admissions counselor, and they’re having a good experience while they do it.

And so I think it’s important as we think about those traffic losses, that you’re moving it from one bucket to another, and that’s the better bucket for it to be in. You don’t want to slow down the process for people making those informational requests that Google can serve up quickly and easily. And so I think we are going to see that. I think we are already seeing it on some of those very, very straightforward searches, but I don’t think it’s a reason to panic. I think it’s actually a reason to celebrate because if you’re able to get answers in front of prospective students of things that they need to know in order to consider you to kind of put you on their application list, you want them to get that information as quickly as possible. The danger though, I think the true danger is not a loss in traffic, it’s that those answers are inaccurate.

Jarrett Smith:
Oh no, what’s getting pulled into the knowledge graph is not coming a source that we control, and it’s incorrect.

Catherine Reich:
Absolutely, and I think what we see right now on higher ed searches is the people also ask. So we’re seeing that I’m not going to say on every school, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen one that didn’t have it. And there’s a list of questions, and some of them are tuition related, some of them are, do they offer housing? And it’s not only pulling in official sources from the school. Sometimes it’s a listing site. So like, your niche.com, your college raptor, and it’s pulling in stuff from that, that if you haven’t provided them with accurate information, they may not have it. And so I think the name of the game there is to look and to make sure, and to take any actions to make sure that that information is accurate, not necessarily going to your site, but going to a site that has accurate information, that’s going to prompt the user towards converting.

Jarrett Smith:
Well, and I know a lot of folks are already doing this, but the word that kind of comes to mind for me is managing that total web presence, and thinking about all the different places where information about your school might live in, how can we do our best, control what can be controlled, in that there’s a lot that’s going to live off the .edu that you may be able to control, unfortunately, sometimes for a price.

Catherine Reich:
Yeah, absolutely. And I will say, think about it this way. If you have somebody that you really like and respect and they go, “Hey, you’ve got to check out this new restaurant. It’s amazing.” You’re going to be like, “Hmm, okay.” If you have five different people, even a couple of them you don’t like that much, but they all tell you to check out that restaurant, you’re really going to feel good about going there on Saturday night. And so I would say that you don’t want it all to go to your site because you want to be making a good impression on different sites because that just builds that reputation. It builds that total reputation in a way that it gives a lot more trustbuilding.

Jarrett Smith:
Interesting. I’m coming back, it just popped into my mind, was a presentation I delivered years ago where it was back in the zero moment of truth days of Google, remember that. And people were rating that how much they trusted Google versus how much they trusted their parents and close friends, and they were almost equal. So here we are, just at the sort of the logical conclusion of all that. Well, super interesting. Well, Catherine, any parting words of wisdom for folks as we embark on 2021, and we’re looking to improve our search rankings, anything we should be thinking about, or want to leave us with?

Catherine Reich:
Yeah, I would say two things. First, do not forget about the Page Experience Update. Really, really, don’t get overwhelmed with it and say, “Oh, we’ll do it later.” Really look at it. The sooner you get that handled, the better off the SEO to your website is going to be. And the second parting wisdom I would say is, don’t forget that SEO and all the insights you get from SEO can also be a great business insights tool as well. Knowing, say if you have multiple campuses, how many people are searching for each one, versus just your name and seeing what programs are in demand. You can go into many different search engine optimization tool of choice. There’s a lot of great ones out there.

I personally love Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush has got some great resources as well. But look in there and see. If your provost is looking into, should we offer a degree on X or Y, or X and Y, you could look at how often are people searching for colleges with X major colleges with Y program. And you can really get to see, is there a demand for it, and really pull that in. And so these SEO tools can do so much more than SEO. Be thinking about that. I think it’s a great way to kind of have a two-way conversation that’s more productive and more collaborative.

Jarrett Smith:
Interesting. Well, Catherine, this has been a fun conversation, and I’m so glad we got to circle up and do this, and looking forward to next year when we get to do it again. I know we’ll have more SEO conversations on the podcast between now and then, but I think this will be a fun look ahead.

Catherine Reich:
Absolutely. Always great to talk.

Jarrett Smith:
The Higher Ed Marketing Lab is produced by Echo Delta, a full service enrollment marketing agency for colleges and universities of all sizes to see some of the work we’ve done and how we’ve helped schools just like yours, visit echodelta.co. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. And as always, if you have a comment question, suggestion or episode idea, feel free to drop us a line at podcast@echodelta.co.