Of Course, Your Course Pages Could Be Better
This isn’t clickbait we promise – we do have some useful advice here! Through our work refining how we serve the ideal content to prospective students as they engage with institutions’ websites, we started to notice the variety of approaches when it comes to course page content. So, we did what we can’t help ourselves but do… obsessively analysed a stack of pages and share what we found.
Across the breadth of UK University websites that we looked at; course page lengths vary… a LOT. But not only in terms of the overall structure of the page, what we started to analyse was the amount of space on each page that was actually dedicated to the course itself.
We found that this course specific content, as a proportion of an overall course page varied significantly from around 80% of a course page actually being about the course, to as little as 12%.
Following the shift in approach that many institutions took after the CMA guidance on course content helped rid outdated statements, old documents and anything that a student could base a decision on that was not delivered in their chosen year of entry, this has caused many course pages to shrink or be replaced with content that supports the overall institutional messaging.
We also found that on the longest course pages, only around 3% of users scrolled to the bottom of the page, with around 50% of users scrolling to just a quarter of the page’s entire scroll depth.
Ok, so how can you tackle this? Things to think about.
Content cannibalisation: if you’re duplicating too much content on your course pages, i.e lots of boilerplate content that also appears elsewhere on the website, you run the risk of diminishing the page’s value from a search engine perspective.
Reference content: if you’re going to reference other content on the site on a course page, you may be better off reframing it to make it relevant to the core subject of the page e.g. linking to lecturer’s blogs, research etc, or using testimonials from students who study the particular course to build out content.
SEO the smart way: Search engines generally look for unique elements of each page to determine what the page is about and what terms it’ll rank for. If your pages all look quite similar and the unique elements are low, then it will be much harder for search engines to work out what the strongest page is to rank for a search term.
Specialise in specialisms: This is particularly tricky where you’ve got programmes with multiple subject specialisms. If you can make the course content unique for each course variant then great, but in most cases, we just see core subjects copy pulled over, with a little bit of extra content added. So, you might be better off amalgamating a page so you have one page with a lot of unique content around the subject. Then, you can easily include other bits of content that align with the student journey as you’ll have a lot of subject specific content on the page already, making it unique.
Don’t forget the user: if you’re engaging your users so each visit you can pick up where you left off and find out what they need, you’ll already be taking them to the next pieces of content that matter the most.
From constructing your content through to the page layout and user journey, these five points could be critical not only in helping your students’ find the right content when they’re on your pages for the first time, but also every subsequent visit – oh and you’ll also massively improve your SEO!
User journeys are vitally important to the user experience of your website. One element is to ensure your pages are rich with engaging content, but another is to provide a next step for the user to take whilst they’re viewing your content.
This is where cues.ai comes in – using our engagement engine we can guide your website visitors onto viewing content that’s useful to them. On average, we see a 40% increase in the number of pages viewed per session when a user interacts with a cues pop up message, as it guides them down a path to conversion that’s right for their own needs.
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