7 most important SEO focus areas for colleges and universities

July typically means a new fiscal year for colleges and universities, bringing with it new marketing plans and goals for the upcoming educational year. Where does SEO fit into your higher education marketing plan this year? Hopefully, right at the top.
Earlier this year, Chegg Enrollment Services and the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA) conducted a survey of 726 high school students researching universities. Online searches ranked as the top method used by prospective college applicants to discover universities and programs, and the second most popular method used both during and after the admissions process.

However, higher education faces its own set of unique challenges for SEO. University websites are often segmented by school, program or department. This can result in many contributors to the SEO process, often without a singular roadmap to follow across the organization. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for the university’s IT department to own web development, sometimes creating a backlog for technical SEO changes that

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Voice search and SEO: Why B2B marketers need to pay attention now

Voice search is commonly discussed in the context of local and B2C SEO, but it’s being used for more than just getting directions to nearby restaurants or hearing the next step in a recipe while cooking. Voice search is being adopted for a variety of purposes, and its influence on B2B decision-makers is growing as well.
By looking at who’s using voice search, why they’re using it, and where they’re using it, it becomes very clear that the impact of voice search on B2B SEO is inevitable. Adoption of the technology is on the rise, so it’s time for brands to begin optimizing for voice search.
Who’s using voice technology?
As early as 2014, 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults were already using voice technology daily. Adults use it to dictate texts, illustrating a desire to avoid typing on small devices. Teens use it to get help with homework, demonstrating an early adoption of voice technology for

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Setting up and testing AMP for WordPress: A quick 7-step guide

In today’s mobile-centric world, having pages that load quickly is essential for satisfying the user. Not only that, but the effects of slow page speed have been correlated to a decease in overall revenue and an increase in page abandonment.
Users have come to expect mobile sites to load just as quickly as their desktop counterparts. In fact, Amazon, one of the largest online retailers, concluded that even a one-second lag in page load speed accounted for a $1.6B decrease in annual revenue.
Accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) are quickly becoming the standard for how a fast-loading page should be built. Using a pre-render, AMPs are able to load 15-80 percent faster than standard mobile pages without compromising functionality. While the ease of AMP implementation will vary depending on your CMS (content management system), WordPress can be a good test environment for previewing what your AMP page might look like.
Follow this quick seven-step guide to enable AMP for WordPress.
Note: Parts of this guide assume that you have activated the Yoast

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Google’s mobile-first index likely not coming until 2018 at earliest

Google is “probably many quarters away” from launching its mobile-first index. So said Gary Illyes, Google webmaster trends analyst, during a crowded session Tuesday afternoon at our SMX Advanced conference in Seattle.
“It’s going to be a big change, but don’t freak out,” Illyes said.
SEOs and webmasters have been wondering and waiting for a couple years now for news on when the mobile-first index will roll out. Illyes wasn’t able to give an exact answer to that question today.
“We don’t have a timeline for the launch yet,” Illyes said. “We have some ideas for when this will launch, but it’s probably many quarters away. Our engineers’ timeline was initially end of 2017. Right now, we think more 2018. ”
He also emphasized that Google wants to roll out the mobile-first index in a way that doesn’t hurt non-mobile friendly sites, and that could make a complete launch take even longer.
“We’re thinking about how we can make sure

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Simple tips to get your app indexed, ranked & installed

Do you have an app that you’d like to rank in mobile search engine results? If so, you’re going to need to make room in your SEO strategy for app optimization.
For apps, there are distinct ranking factors. Although they are similar to ranking factors for a standard web page, there are differences that you need to know about.
Here’s how you can optimize your app to get the best possible rank.
Yes, you need to optimize
According to a recent Google report, 27 percent of users find apps through a search engine. That’s up from 2 percent to 3 percent in 2014.
That trend will likely continue. Why? Because Google is emphasizing app downloads from search results while brushing aside Google Play as a search engine. Google has also become better at ranking apps, a trend we can expect to continue.
Even though 40 percent of people still find apps by searching in an app store as of now, it’s still a great idea to plan for the future

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Do you know what a mobile crawl of your site looks like?

If you follow the world of Google and search at all, you’ve heard about Google’s intent to switch to a mobile-first index. In this post, I’m going to briefly review the main points we know about Google’s plans for this new index, but I’m going to go further and detail what we found in a mobile-specific crawl we did of one website.
Based on this data, I’ll also talk about the implications of the switch and some of the challenges that Google faces with this process.
Key points about a mobile-first index
If you’ve already read about Google’s impending switch to a mobile-first index, you can jump down to the site analysis below. If not, here are some of the key statements from the Google announcement:
Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues

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Links to AMP content are showing up outside of search results

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) standard was designed to bring the fast-loading, clean experience of native apps to the open web. With most large publishers now producing AMP versions of their content, distribution platforms and other referrers are starting to experiment with AMP as an alternative to standard outbound links and app web views.
Publishers might see this trend in their AMP referral analytics. At Relay Media, we’ve tracked an increase in non-Google referrals to the AMP content we convert for publishers — beyond the usual traffic from users sharing AMP links on social media. Here are our top non-Google referral sources over the past five months:
Google Analytics weekly sessions, October 9, 2016, through February 18, 2017
Google still represents about 80 percent of total AMP referral sessions to Relay Media’s platform, with another 8 percent categorized as “(direct) / (none)” in Google Analytics. Identifiable non-Google sources represent around 10 percent of total referral sessions. It’s a modest piece of the pie, but

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Google AMP carousels are multiplying!

In case you missed it, Google has launched a new type of AMP rich card carousel in mobile search results — in addition to the Top Stories carousel we’re used to seeing.  
The new AMP carousels appear in the main mobile results list, showcasing related articles from a single publisher. They started appearing at the end of 2016 without fanfare from Google. Let’s call them “single-source carousels.”
Single-source AMP carousels are most likely to appear in results for popular queries, particularly for news stories. A January 15 search for “Kansas City Chiefs News” produced four single-source AMP carousels in addition to the Top Stories carousel:
A search for “Kansas City Chiefs News” produces a Top Stories carousel, plus four single-source AMP rich card carousels.
Search for any big news story, and you’ll likely get several single-source carousels in mobile results. They also appear frequently for recipe searches — try “cookie recipes,” for example.
Google appears to be invoking the single-source

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A simple checklist to prep for the Google mobile-first index

Hopefully, all of you learned from “Mobilegeddon” in 2015 and “Mobilegeddon 2” in 2016 that the updates Google makes to improve the smartphone user experience for the majority of Google searchers are not the end of the world. Not even close, in fact.
Still, I have seen a lot of articles focused on this topic in relation to Google’s new mobile-first index, which will be launching finally this year — almost two years after Google’s Gary Illyes referenced it at SMX West.
Here’s what you need to remember in order to fully take advantage of the opportunity that is the mobile index in 2017:
1. Don’t panic
You may be wondering if you need to change your canonical tags, or if rankings will change, since mobile pages typically have fewer links and content is more sparse, or if expandable mobile content will count toward ranking in a new mobile index. All of these are fair questions, and you can find the answers

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Moz beefs up Moz Local with new features, distribution and automation

Moz has overhauled and enhanced its Moz Local offering, adding new features and automation the company says were requested by users and the broader local SEO community. The product previously offered listings monitoring and syndication.
Moz says that it had conversations with its numerous customers, agency partners and the broader community before revamping the product. The new features add speed and workflow improvements, according to the company.
These new features include:

Google My Business sync: automatically synchronizes listings with GMB. Users can manage changes and updates directly from the Moz dashboard
Listing alerts: provides an activity feed if listings data are overwritten or in some other way changed vs. the information in the Moz-managed listing
Reputation monitoring/management: new monitoring of Google reviews, which joins comparable functionality for a range of directories, including Foursquare, Yelp, YP and others. New reviews are also available as they’re published, within the Moz dashboard. Users can respond to Google reviews as well.
Expanded distribution: new data providers/partners added

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