The biggest hurdle to improving the enrollment content on your website?
Your own FOBO – Fear of Being Overwhelmed.
You know you need better program and admissions content – but better content takes time. So much time, in fact, that even thinking about the amount of work involved overwhelms you. You freeze up. You put off the task in favor of something smaller, more finite, that has a nice clean end with a checkbox that you can happily X when you’re done. And the content never gets better.
Truth is, you don’t need to rewrite your content from scratch to make it a whole lot better. Here are three things that you can do to your existing content to improve its value without overhauling your page copy:
Organize content with proper subheadings
Search engines and humans both appreciate well-organized content, and will reward pages that have proper structure and are easy to read.
Follow these steps to optimize the content you already have:
- Make sure that each discrete idea or topic in your content has its own section, and that those sections are broken up into short paragraphs.
- Check that you have accurate and descriptive section titles to allow for quick scanning.
- Make sure you (or your web team if HTML isn’t your gig) codes these sections as H1, H2, H3, and so on, in a logical hierarchy. Just bolding or increasing the font size isn’t enough, you need to make sure the header tags are there.
Craft meaningful meta descriptions
Let’s assume for the moment that you have impeccable content on your academic program pages, and that your search rankings are placing you in the top few results. Done and done, right? Maybe not.
There’s one small but important piece of content that can be the difference between someone visiting your site or not: the meta description. These don’t appear on your page or in your copy, but rather live within your page’s HTML code. Meta descriptions only show up in one place, as text below the main link in search results.
If you don’t have a meta description, search engines will simply grab the first thing they find on your page. In most cases, that’s not going to make much sense to your potential visitor.
Every page you own should have a different meta description, because each one should answer the question ‘Why is this page important?’ as succinctly as possible. You only have 160 characters to work with for descriptions that are in the main search result, and only 50 characters for descriptions in subsection results. Notice the text for the four Harvard subsections below – is it useful, or confusing?
Add contextual links and calls to action
Take a read through your existing content. Do you mention information that is contained in more detail on other pages of your website? If so, are you linking that text to those pages?
Adding page-to-page copy links is called contextual navigation, and provides readers with information that’s relevant to them at the moment they realize they need it. Notice below that Harvard has included five contextual links in just one paragraph:
The most important type of contextual navigation are calls to action. If your copy spends time discussing a process (applying, requesting more information, visiting campus, contacting the school), you should always provide a call to action link at the end of the paragraph that visitors can use as an entry point to your key website conversions.
Both in-line and call to action links improve the likelihood that visitors will stay on your website and continue to explore. The longer they stay, the better two key user engagement metrics—time on site and bounce rate—will look.
One last tip — include more than one word in contextual links. Your mobile users will appreciate the larger target for their fingers.
You don’t need to rewrite your content from scratch to make it better.
You just need to start with a few small improvements like these every day.