Simple SEO Tips to Grow Your Conferences and Courses

Simple SEO Tips to Grow Your Conferences and Courses

Demand for training and professional development programs like conferences and courses continues to be in high demand. While this is great news for organizations that offer it, this also means you are fighting to be noticed in a crowded marketplace. These three SEO tips will help increase the visibility of your content across the web so you can attract more participants.

What is SEO and Why Does it Matter for Educational Programs

In the simplest terms, search engine optimization (SEO) is about making sure your content provides the answers people are looking for, at the moment they’re looking for them.

For example, if you’re an accountant looking for continuing education opportunities, your search results may look something like this:

This shows a portion of the Page 1 results for the search query, “continuing education for accountants.”

This shows a portion of the Page 1 results for the search query, “continuing education for accountants.” Just in this snippet alone there are six different course providers listed. If you’re one of them and you don’t appear on this list, how will new participants find (and choose) your programs?

AI and the New Search Experience

Complicating matters further, Google has launched an AI-driven search experience, known as Search Generative Experience (SGE). Instead of simply providing a list of links to other websites that contain the search query content, Google is providing the answer for you. (A listing of websites and other links still appears on the page, below the AI-generated content.)

Google’s AI reviews the top-ranking search results content on that topic, compiles the information and summarizes it into a singular answer without the user having to click a link or visit a site. It also generates relevant follow-up questions and other sources of context.

Here’s one example of how this looks on the page:

Example of the new Google results page with AI responses.

With this new development, organizations who want to be visible on Google now have a dual task: get both the website and specific topic-related content included in search results.

How Does Google Decide What to Include in Search Results?

Search engines like Google want to provide only the best results to a user’s search query. This means serving a list of websites that contain relevant content.

So how does Google determine whether content is relevant? The exact science is locked behind its mysterious algorithm, which is continually updated as both technology and user behavior evolves. But in general, it all boils down to these four criteria, known as EEAT:

  1. Experience: Does your content demonstrate first-hand knowledge on the topic?
  2. Expertise: Does the content author have relevant expertise?
  3. Authoritativeness: Is the site/author a go-to source for knowledge on this topic?
  4. Trustworthiness: Is the content accurate and correctly attributed/sourced?

The good news: If your organization provides high-quality educational programs like courses and conferences, you already have outstanding EEAT.

Now you need to make sure Google knows this by using a few important SEO tactics that make your content more visible while keeping any access controls in place.

3 Must-Do Tasks to Increase Visibility of Your Educational Programs

Optimizing your educational content for search engines can sound like a time-intensive endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be. And you don’t need to be an SEO expert either. Here are X simple steps anyone can follow, listed in order of priority.

1.     Create keyword-rich content “in front of the gate.”

Educational programs and materials—like courses, conferences, and publications— are often significant sources of revenue. It’s important to protect access to these resources. But Google doesn’t crawl content that exists behind a paywall.

The solution? Create robust content that lives in front of the paywall, such as:

  • A descriptive summary
  • Teaser or preview content
  • A promotional video

Make sure this content includes your most important keywords in the headline, subheads, and description, as well as in your web page titles and meta data. And incorporate alt text on any images you feature.

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What does this look like in practice? Watch our on-demand webinar
How Associations Can Use SEO to Stay Competitive and Attract New Members to see a live example.

Not only does this help increase your search engine presence, but it also helps sell the value of these programs to prospective members who are considering whether to sign up.

2.     Build inbound and outbound links

Inbound links are links from other (high-quality) websites to yours. Outbound links are links to other credible sources or sites from your website. Inbound and outbound links are one of the signals Google uses to assess the quality of your content. When other sites reference your content, or when you affiliate your content with other reputable sources, it demonstrates your authority and trustworthiness on a subject.

Here are a few ideas to gain more inbound and outbound links:

Author, speaker, or instructor bios

If you’re hosting a conference or course, you might include the author, speaker or instructor bio on your own website as another proof point for a prospective attendee. You can continue to do this, but also provide an external link to their source credentials, such as their bio on an industry website, an announcement of a noteworthy award, their place of employment, or even their LinkedIn profile.

Guest contributors

Have your conference speakers, authors, or instructors write a short article or record a short video that provides a teaser to the conference or course content. As part of this write-up, they include a link to the corresponding educational content on your website.

Industry partners

Your industry partners want to attract your members or program participants to become their customers. One way they build their credibility is by having an affiliation with your organization. Encourage industry partners to promote your programs and share your content, with a link back to your site as a value-add to their own prospects.

3.     Create ungated content to support and promote your programs

One of the ways to show Google you deserve to rank on a particular topic is by showcasing a breadth of content, in a variety of formats. This same content also provides more touchpoints to get prospective participants interested in your programs – a double win! Some examples include:

  • Work with industry experts to write articles on adjacent topics
  • Discuss breaking topic-related news in the industry
  • Offer a smaller tool or resource for free – like a short self-assessment, checklist, or quiz, that rolls-up to the broader topic addressed in the full course or conference

With any content you create, be sure to cross-link to all related content, and of course, include a call to action to learn more about the access-controlled content or program.

Staying visible in today’s crowded digital landscape requires everyone to embrace a strategic approach to SEO, even if you’re not an SEO expert (or even a marketer by trade).  By creating keyword-rich content accessible to search engines, building robust inbound and outbound link strategies, and generating ungated content to support your programs, you’ll help Google recognize the value of your offerings while also attracting and engaging prospective participants.

Want to learn more? Watch our on-demand webinar How Associations Can Use SEO to Stay Competitive and Attract New Members.

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