Note: This is the second post in a two-part series of blog posts about the Sterling College website SEO project. This post covers the Google Analytics and Search Engine Optimization results accrued by the college’s new site. The first post examined how the Ruffalo Noel-Levitz Web Strategy Services team partnered with the college and outside vendors to deliver an on-time, on-budget website that reflected the soul of this environmentally focused institution.
One year ago, Sterling College in Vermont unveiled a cutting-edge website to market the college’s down-to-earth education in environmental stewardship.
More high-touch than high-tech, Sterling teaches people to live sustainable lives whether they are running organic farms or contributing to regional transportation discussions. While the college wanted its website to reflect the deeply experiential nature of its education, it also wanted a best-practices tool to attract more people to its virtual front door.
Building a distinct digital presence
“Sterling College is deeply rooted in the working landscape of Northern Vermont,” explained Beana Bern, Sterling’s chief enrollment officer. “The experiential nature of the curriculum and place-based education model make Sterling a one-of-a-kind college, and I wanted to replicate that authentic individuality and practical elegance in our website. Our place in the digital realm needed to convey our unique character to prospective students the same way our town, Craftsbury Common, does when they arrive on campus.”
Sterling College contracted with the RNL Web Strategy Services team to develop the Sterling site strategy, rebuilding it as a flexible, recruitment-focused portal designed to extend the digital reach of this tiny 130-student college.
College website SEO strategy focused on “marquee” pages
To attract more eyes and boost Sterling’s page rankings—that is, to elevate where the college shows up when someone searches for“environmental bachelors Vermont,” “outdoor education majors,” or other likely phrases—RNL used Google Analytics and a sophisticated SEO platform to conduct research and create SEO web page blueprints (keyword maps) for a copywriter to follow.
Because RNL wanted to give Sterling the best return on its investment, the college website SEO work focused on marquee pages such as the home page, academic program pages, financial aid and scholarships and “visit” pages, and other key pages that speak to the college’s unique mission, including “Sustainable Sterling,” the “Sterling Kitchen and Food,” and “Life at Sterling.”
With SEO blueprints in hand, RNL’s copywriter combined the critical keywords and phrases from those thematic blueprints into engaging copy that not only articulated Sterling’s value proposition, but also contained enrollment-oriented calls to action and included a host of outcome examples that everyone agreed were important to highlight for this niche institution.
What do the data say about all this work?