“Graduate Programs” or “Master’s Programs”?

Using language that your key audiences use is one of the most effective things you can do to engage visitors when they arrive at your website and give you 2 to 10 seconds to capture their attention.

That came through to me again yesterday while reviewing 20 pages on a client’s website for ways to increase their search engine visibility. While you never want to write for a search engine at the expense of your live visitors, sometimes the two overlap. When that happens, it is time to seize an opportunity.

In this case, the client was using the term “Graduate Programs” and “Undergraduate Programs” as major topic headings on the site. And so I used the free tool available from Wordtracker at http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/ to run a quick check on alternative terms that might raise the search visibility of those pages and help capture interest from people interested in online degree programs.

Here’s what I found:

  • Very few people search for “graduate degrees online” or “graduate programs online” online.
  • More, but not many more, search for “masters degrees online.”
  • The winner by a wide margin is “masters programs online.”

Check the labels you’re using now on pages with content in this area. Check the page title tags and the major headings on the page and your left-hand navigation. If you don’t offer doctoral progams online, make a quick switch to “masters” programs from the “graduate” word. If you do offer doctoral programs (almost nobody searches for those, by the way),  break up the content so you can use both words.

Make changes like that and you’ll please both people and search engines. Can’t beat that combination.

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