If there is one thing that TAFE and university websites have a lot of, it is content. Whether it is a description of a course or a carefully created FAQ page, TAFEs and universities often find that they do not have a problem keeping up with Google Panda’s need for new and relevant content. What they do have, is a problem with is making it all easy to access.
Content, however, does more than just give your site an SEO boost. As students begin their uni search, they are going to be looking for very specific information, and if you cannot give them that information through your content, they will give up and look at other schools.
Creating a content journey on your site can help display your content and funnel prospective students into the right channels, making it easier for them to find answers and enrol. Follow these steps to learn how you can map a content journey towards student enrolment.
Step One: Create a persona
When looking at your website, try to imagine the types of people who will visit it most frequently. More than likely, this will be interested students. But even interested students have different needs. Your job is to identify these needs.
- Demographics: Look at the demographics of your current students and use them to see who might be coming onto your site. How will your students’ demographics affect their needs? How can your school fulfil those needs?
- Frustrations: The school search and admissions process is anything but easy. What are some of these frustrations and how can you alleviate them? You might try to poll your current students and ask what they found most frustrating about this process (and maybe even your content) to give you some guidance.
- Content engagement: Different people respond to different types of content, so what type of content will work best for your site? Should you have a blog, create original videos, add quizzes or manage an app?
This process will probably take a while, as you also need to look at each program you offer and the differing needs of certificate, diploma, bachelor, master and doctoral degree seekers. This may seem like a lot, but once you see what you need, you will have a much easier time organising your site and feeling confident that everyone can find what they need.
Step Two: Grade your current content
After you decide what your prospective students in each degree program and level need from you, it is time to see how your current content is matching up.
Open up a spreadsheet and list each URL for a content sector of your site. Decide which page serves which purpose of the student journey and label it as such. There are many ways you can break down the student journey, but we recommend this:
- Discover: Student makes first contact with your site and begins to scroll through pages.
- Compare: Student makes comparisons between your school and other similar institutions.
- Consider: Student seeks more specific information about courses, lecturers and additional costs, such as local housing in the area and school fees.
- Commit: Student decides to enrol and needs help doing so.
Each page on your site should serve one of these functions. After you have labelled each URL, you should be able to see where your content is lacking. If most of your content caters to the Discovery and Compare stages, maybe you should spend more time catering to the needs of students in the Consider and Commit stages.
You are not done there though. Just because the content on those sites meets one of the four student journey stages does not mean the content is up to scratch. Go through each page one more time and give each one an honest grade. If it helps, use this grading scale:
- Page’s content is on par with information, length and SEO. The content has a clear call-to-action and is neither too long nor too short. The page also includes great SEO practices for the title, meta description and other page components.
- One or two of the following items could be improved: Content might be a bit too long or short. The call-to-action is there but could be clearer. The page is optimised, but not all parts (H1 and H2s could use work).
- Analytics show high exit traffic and bounce rates and low time spent on the page. Could be because of unclear content and lack of page optimisation.
- Both content and optimisation need serious improvement. The content has clear spelling and grammatical errors, and the pages are not properly optimised.
- Page is void of any content and displays an error message to visitors.
Take notes as you go through all these pages and go back later and fix these problems.
Step 3: Create your student journey content map
The time has come to put everything together in a content map. This will involve bringing in the personas you determined earlier and combining them with the student journey stages you created. The result should be a compelling content map for each student segment or degree program.
To complete this process, you will need:
- The most important questions that students will ask at each stage of the student journey.
- The concrete goal that each student will have at each step in the student journey.
- The best content types to answer these questions
- The actions students must take in order to get to the next step of the student journey (call-to-actions).
After you fill in all the spaces on your content map, you should be able to clearly see what your students need at each stage, how you can satisfy those needs and how you can get them onto the next stage. You can see where your content is lacking and which pages could use some optimisation help.
Mapping content journeys puts you in the students’ shoes and permits you to see your site in their eyes. By making your content more accessible, you will have a better chance of attracting new and talented students and making the admissions process much easier for them. Start working on your content map and see how you could improve your site for all students.