If you are an online course creator, you know how important it is to reach potential applicants and learners. With so many options available, making sure that you’re at the top of search engine results pages is one of the best ways to ensure that potential learners are considering your online course as an option.
Actually, almost all new course creators suffer from this problem. You’re an expert in your field, but not an online marketer. You’ve just spent months brainstorming, scripting, recording, editing, uploading your course, and you even ran your first beta round. And now what? How do you bring more visitors to your sales page and enroll more students?
The answer is search engine optimization (SEO). Don’t take our word for it? Take a look at the importance of SEO for online course creators.
Why is SEO so essential for online course creators?
Imagine a steady stream of interested visitors coming to your website every week, all without paying for ads, spending all day on Reddit, or monitoring Facebook groups. Some course keywords have hundreds or even thousands of searches a month. If you rank at the top of Google, the majority of the visitors will come to your site.
Back to our guitar course example:
About 2100 people search for an online guitar course per month globally. That’s 2100 highly interested customers looking for a guitar course with a huge intent to purchase. That’s roughly 525 per week or 75 per day.
Any online course creator would love to have 75 interested customers come to my sales page each day. Effective SEO tips will help you do just that.
Comparing SEO to other marketing methods:
- Google or Facebook Ads: They’re becoming more and more expensive, and ROI is decreasing. Plus, they require a lot of capital to get off the ground. SEO requires only time and patience (plus knowledge on how to do it right).
- Social Media: Facebook requires constant monitoring and customer service. It’s highly valuable for sure, but it requires a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. With SEO, you do the work upfront, and from there it’s 99 percent hands-off.
- Affiliates: Finding affiliates for your courses is one of the best ways to get sales in the beginning, but you’ve got to pay up to 50 percent or more to the affiliate. With SEO, you keep 100 percent of the sale.
Now that you’re aware of the reach effective SEO can expose you to, let’s take a look at the most effective SEO tips for online course creators.
SEO tips for boosting your course sales
It’s true that really mastering SEO takes a lot of work – and it has to be ongoing work, because the search engines – especially Google – are continually changing.
Still, there are basic SEO practices that haven’t changed that much over time and – just as importantly – these same practices that are important for successful search engine optimizations are one that will guide you to creating the most relevant content for your learners.
1. Intent-driven Keyword Research
Keywords in SEO aren’t used the way they once were, but they’re still a crucial part of the equation. Without keywords, prospects might never find you when they go looking, and this is why keywords are the cornerstone of your SEO strategy.
When planning for the launch and ongoing sales of a course, put yourself in your prospective customer’s head and really think about the words he or she would use. Literally, type variations of these words into Google yourself and see which variations produce results that are most relevant to your course topic.
This is the start of identifying your “keywords” – the words and phrases that reflect the search intent of your prospective learners. You are going to want to incorporate the most relevant of these into your course title, description, and any content you publish to help draw people to the course through your blogging and other content marketing efforts.
You can go deeper still by using a range of keyword tools (all with free versions) to help you identify and refine your keywords. For example:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Rank Tracker
- Keyword Sheeter
- Answer the Public
- Keywords Everywhere
2. Target Low-competition Traffic
If you want easy traffic, you should actually do the opposite of targeting head terms. Target the low-volume, more specific keywords first and build from there. Specific keywords also usually have more targeted intent than head terms, so your ROI will be higher.
For example, don’t target guitar course or guitar class. Instead, go for “online guitar course for beginners” so you’ll get low competition traffic. Once you start getting traffic, Google starts warming up to you more. So all the low-competition traffic will slowly give you enough juice to go after the bigger head terms.
3. Let the Audience Drive your Content
Keyword research will reflect your target audience’s true needs from your online course and your website content. Hence, generating content backed by your keyword research will not only help you boost your online presence but also cater to the content needs of your audience.
Use the above knowledge to create content-rich pages on your website that use your keywords and – this is the critical part – that will be really useful to your visitors. This means not just on your course sales pages) – thought that is definitely important – but also blog posts, video, and audio transcripts, and other types of text-based content that search engines can easily index.
Really, this is the core of using SEO to sell online courses – creating content that is truly relevant and useful to your specific audience. None of the “ninja” tricks and gimmicks you may hear about matter anywhere near as much. In the past, there was a focus on creating a high volume of content – i.e., publishing multiple new posts or pages weekly. These days, the quality, relevance, and authority of the content are much more important.
4. Prudent Content Planning and Structuring
Planning and structuring your content topics properly is a major SEO advantage that could catapult you over competitors who are just producing content for the sake of content. The best way to plan your content is in what’s called “content clusters.”
A content cluster is when you create one article on the main topic and several other articles on a subtopic within that topic. Then you link to the subtopics within the main topic’s article. The reason you organize your content into clusters is that it makes it easier for Google to understand what your website is about, and it also provides more value to your users.
5. Making Valuable Content for your Visitors
Readers want value. They want solutions to their problems. They want to know how they’ll benefit from learning new information. They want practical, actionable advice that will improve their lives. They want to be engaged and entertained, not bored to death. So, write short readable sentences with quick and highly targeted introductions. Then, offer to-the-point content that provides the answers to their questions and provides them value.
Your articles have to satisfy the query, but they also have to convey real, tangible benefits to readers, or they’re going to stop reading. This is a very complex concept, but the best way to convey value is to tell the reader how they benefit from the information they’re reading and provide extra details to help them understand. Don’t leave them asking “Wait, what? Tell me more!”.
6. Making High-quality Backlinks
Links are Google’s main way of evaluating the quality of your web page. If other websites link to yours, Google takes that as another website saying “Hey, this is a great web page!”. The more links you have from around the web the better Google assumes you to be — more or less.
Valuable content helps you by ensuring that high authority websites link to it. The more informative content you have on your site, the easier it will be to build your backlink profile. When you gain links to your pages from other websites that are already established with Google, it’s a sign to Google that your site is also high quality. This can boost your website’s overall authority, and as a result, increase your rankings.
Here are a few quick wins that will help you along the way:
- Social media: If you don’t have them already, set up profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media sites. Place a nice link in your bio or Facebook page pointing back to your course page. Google loves these.
- Forums: Find relevant industry forums online and use them to boost SEO and traffic. I prefer Reddit and Quora, but there are plenty of others.
- Your industry: Chances are you’ve already collaborated with others or talked to affiliates about promoting your course. Maybe you’ve attended live events too. In that case, reach out to people you’ve worked with already or are interested in working with. See if they’ll link to your course.
- Outreach: Look for people reviewing courses in your niche and see if they’ll place you in their rankings. There are plenty of websites reviewing courses of all kinds. Some might ask for a payment, but there’s a good chance that a few will add you in for free. You might get some sales from the reviews, too.
The Bottom Line
SEO is by far one of the most effective ways to bring targeted traffic to your course. As soon as you begin ranking, you’ll start bringing in highly targeted traffic weekly without any extra effort. In general, don’t treat SEO as an afterthought. Indeed, being forward-thinking about SEO means that you are really being strategic about both creating and selling your course.
About the Author: Abhishek is a marketer with a specialization in SEO with ContentNinja, a platinum-tiered Hubspot Partner Agency based out of India.