Is Your Website Optimized for Study Abroad Students?


A university website is directed at a variety of user personas including faculty, current students, alumni and more. However, there is one persona that often goes unnoticed: the student looking to study abroad. 

Your website is often the only exposure a future study abroad candidate has to your university before choosing whether or not they want to go there. For that reason, it is imperative that it is optimized so potential students learn who you are and why they should choose to study at your institution.

Go through your website using this checklist to ensure it is user-friendly and ready to attract and covert students looking to study abroad. 

Engaging homepage

Students thinking about studying abroad at your university, usually don’t have the luxury of visiting the campus before deciding to go. As a result, your homepage is going to be their first experience of your institution.

Make this first experience count by ensuring that your homepage is aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly and up-to-date.

Have a third party click around your homepage so you can see how attractive it is and what changes you need to make.

Relevant content

Ensure that all text on your site is clear and relevant to your services and your products and is written in a tone that is targeted at the correct user persona. You want to get students excited to study at your university. Therefore, academic jargon may not be the best way to describe your living quarters. 

Using straightforward and enticing descriptions for your programs, courses, about page and any other fields lets future students know exactly what they will be investing in and what they will get when studying with you.

Browse through some of your content and look to see when it was last updated. Maybe it's time to refresh.

Click here to see our complete University Website Checklist Infographic!

Easy navigation

Nothing will drive away a potential student quicker than not being able to navigate your site. If a user goes on your site and can’t easily search for specific programs, find study abroad information or figure out how to contact you, they will most likely get frustrated and give up.

Make sure you have a simple and direct navigation menu and call-to-actions (CTAs) on your site.

You always want to be one step ahead of your user. If they are looking at a program but have a question, have a simple solution waiting right there for them – perhaps a “Contact us” button.

Personal images

Don’t underestimate the power of visual imagery. According to a study done by WordStream, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. This means that the first thing someone sees on a landing page is the image you use.

This doesn’t mean to just throw any old image up and call it good. Use personal images that show who you are. Using real photos of students studying at your institution will give an accurate depiction of who you are and what they can expect.  

A compelling visual language will not only establish trust but it will make you stand out and seem more genuine than universities that use stock photos.

Authentic videos

Videos are also a great tool to attract new students. Chances are, that students looking to study abroad in your country haven’t actually been there. The usage of videos has increased over the years and it is a marketing strategy worth dwelling into. Having videos that show what a day like studying in Spain or Sweden is like can have a substantial impact on a student’s decision.

According to early findings from the International Higher Education Report: Student Trends 2019, the top two reasons that students choose to study abroad is to experience a new culture or develop themselves personally.

Using videos that show first-hand accounts of past student experiences and daily life at your university will be an ultimate selling point when it comes to a student's end decision.  

Meta titles and descriptions

In order to get potential students clicking around your site, they need to be able to find it.

A good first step to get noticed is to make sure your site pages have accurate and engaging meta titles and descriptions. These elements inform users and search engines what your page is about. Try to avoid click-bait titles, the more relevant and informative your title the more likely a student will land on your site. 

Not only will this help you get ranked properly, but it will also encourage the correct users to click through to your site. Try to keep your meta title between 50 to 60 characters and your meta description between 120 to 158 characters.

Blog section

There are many reasons why having a blog can be very beneficial to your university website.

First off, blogging gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with your target audience. It allows you to engage with individuals who might be interested in your institution and move them through the student journey quicker.

Secondly, search engines, like Google, look at the whole of your website to determine your ranking. The better your content is the more a search engine will notice you.

Having a blog will ensure that you’re consistently keeping your site current and will also give Google more information when they are determining how valuable you are.

Feel free to share our complete University Website Checklist Infographic below! 

University Website Checklist


Want to know more about student trends? Click below to download out 2019 Student Trends Report!

Download 2019 Trends Report


Picture of Mattison P. Hofstedt
Mattison P. Hofstedt

Mattison P. Hofstedt is a Digital Marketing Specialist for Joining in 2017, she has worked with training providers to optimize their marketing campaigns with, and has specialized in email marketing and graphic design for prospective students. Originally from San Diego, Mattison is passionate about study abroad and pursued her Master’s Degree at Stockholm University.