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September 28, 2011

Letting Google lead you to students: How to use location-based SEO to target students

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Student-based marketing and some companies go hand-in-hand like a hungry co-ed and Taco Bell. Tech manufacturers, local eateries and apparel companies will all benefit from targeting students. Of course, there are the usual channels. Commercials, print ads and social media outlets can all be utilized in your quest to find students. These traditional ways produce incredible results. However, using location-based SEO tactics can step up your marketing game.

Since the Panda update, Google has been placing more and more emphasis on finding information relevant to the searcher. For a lot of shopping results, that means pulling up stores and results that have local ties. Likely, a big-name brand will have the first result or two. But after that, the spots are wide open for local and regional businesses. A savvy webmaster will already be aware of this, but there are ways to really make the most of this when you’re targeting a specific demographic.

For students, you’ll want to pick a couple of college towns. Try for the biggest universities, of course, as well as those with thriving cultures. Once you’ve decided where you’re targeting, you have a few different options.

One great way to really boost your local rankings is to have a page for each location you’re trying to pinpoint. Host events to promote products to local college students and raffle off gift cards at their freshmen orientations. Not only are you building brand loyalty, you can also take photos and write about it on your blog. The more you get students to visit it and the more you have about the college on your blog, the faster your result will come to the top in a student-based search.

The golden apple of collegiate marketing, of course, is to create a partnership with the institution. Sometimes that could mean having an actual living, breathing, acknowledged partnership. Depending on the size of the college, though, it will likely be costly and too hard to negotiate. Better options for most companies are to co-host an event with them or sponsor a scholarship or internship every year. The more you can get your name on their website, the better you’ll do in Google’s results.

If you’re running an e-commerce site, keep in mind that you don’t have to have a physical location to create a page. You can also just run specialty deals for that area or talk about shipping rates or highlight products that are popular.

Location-based marketing isn’t solely useful by city names, though. Students enrolled in a college have likely left a huge online footprint that leads back to their school that Google knows about. If you have a page with personalized items, feature some from the colleges you’re targeting. The next time the student searches for “personalized coasters,” your name is more likely to come to the top if Google knows you have something in common.

Sometimes colleges are just as internet-based as e-commerce sites. When it comes to online schools, it becomes harder (though not impossible) to market to their students. Much of it comes from just using the school’s name, like you would in the regular location-based marketing tactics. By using the school’s name and sponsoring scholarships to their schools, you can still target their demographic.


Joseph Baker is a freelance writer living in the Midwest. He enjoys working on his novel and drinking large amounts of Earl Grey tea. He writes this article behalf of American InterContinental University.

2 Responses to “Letting Google lead you to students: How to use location-based SEO to target students

    avatar Tom Aikins says:

    This is something completely new to me. I never thought about the college angle. There are some clever ideas in here for marketing to this demographic. It’s definitely worth looking into.

    avatar seo basics says:

    Hello there, I found your site via Google at the same time as looking for a related topic, your site came up, it seems to be great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

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