Ms. Hannah is our Summer Marketing Intern and specializes in New Media and Online Journalism. We asked her to share her thoughts about blogging for Career Colleges and how it differs from what most people expect from blogging.
The battle for internet browsers’ attention has forced many career colleges to revamp their websites using more effective, compelling strategies. Many schools have taken to popular content generation strategies like blogging to attract prospective students and to improve their search engine rankings for specific long tail keywords. The challenge for most schools, though, is delivering consistent, relevant content that engages users.
Avoid Broad Topic Blogging
A lot of career colleges have focus their articles on topics that are too broad. After covering so much information in each post, there is little information left to talk about and, more often than not, it leaves the reader with many unanswered questions.
You can prevent this by creating consistent blog entries with smaller, more specific topics or questions. For example, instead of writing an article on why someone should become a pharmacy technician, you could instead create dozens of articles about what the job is like, what kind of training and certifications are required, job outlooks, salary potentials, etc… Narrowing down your focus will give you more material to work with. This also ensures that when a prospective student finds updated, relevant content that they’ll be more likely to browse through more related content and possibly even request more information from your school.
Write New Blog Posts Frequently and Consistently
I’ve seen a lot of school websites post a few catchy blog posts, only to drop the ball when it comes to consistently writing fresh content. Posting new blogs is an excellent way to keep readers engaged, create additional avenues for increased traffic to your site and to generally stand out from the crowd. And with a crowd of over 152 million blogs and almost half of businesses expected to be using blogs by 2012, differentiating yourself from the masses is crucial.
Write with Prospective Students In Mind
Another major issue is making the content relevant and interesting. A lot of schools generate tons of content but a majority of it isn’t written with the prospective student in mind and will rarely hold their attention for long. Most readers won’t give a site a second chance if they dislike even one blog post, and even more won’t read through the whole article!
Recent studies show it takes an average of 3 seconds for a person to scan a web page, giving you a very small window to draw them in with relevant titles and images. If they stay, most will scan the page for another 30 seconds to find out more, and if you still manage to keep their attention, on average they’ll spend another 3 minutes reading the article.
This doesn’t give you a lot of time to work with, so the more relevant and engaging the content is, the more likely you’ll be able to get them to stay on your site longer and (hopefully) request more information from your school.
Think of it like a first date, the attempt to be engaging while not wearing your heart on your sleeve can be tricky. You only have one very brief, first impression to rein them in, so make sure your tone is a balanced combination of both.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most people want to read articles that are short, simple, and informative. Adjust the tone of your piece to be as direct and conversational as possible, removing fluff wherever possible. Here just a few tips on how you can effectively blog for a career college.
- Don’t be afraid to break a few grammatical rules. Readers like to invest their time in content that speaks to them, not to an English professor. Write as if you are holding a conversation. Even if that means starting some sentences with and or but. One to two word phrases or expressions are especially compelling. Make sense?
- Keep it simple. The average brain stops paying attention and takes a mini vacation every 7 seconds. Cater to this slight ADD tendency by keeping your paragraphs shorter than 3 sentences, and blog posts under 450 words.
- Make sure it’s valuable. Before you hit the publish button, ask yourself if the post is valuable to your readers. Thousands of other websites probably have the same information, so why should they read yours?
- Break up your content. To work with a reader’s sporadic attention span and to make it easier to scan the page for answers to specific questions they might have, you have to effectively organize the content and spread it out through the blog post. Summarize your article early on in the post, group concepts together under subheaders and give a solid conclusion with a call to action near the end of the post.
- Link, link, link. Readers love a page of information that leads them to even more information. Get into the habit of providing at least one internal link with relevant or related information. This is particularly helpful if you know that an article designed to answer one question might lead to other questions you can answer with another article. It adds a nice touch of credibility and thoughtfulness.
Those are just a handful of the many things you can do to improve your career college’s blog. Putting your best foot forward with blogging can and will generate more traffic, which will ultimately help to increase your website’s conversion. Now do your career college a favor, and get blogging!