Right now, dozens, maybe hundreds, of families are looking for a school like yours. You can help them find what they’re looking for by increasing the visibility of your online presence.
A high percentage of traffic coming to websites begins with search queries. Which makes sense, since most people are using their smartphones for search these days. This is why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important.
It takes a lot of research to stay on top of SEO. Google’s algorithms are continually being updated, so you need to stay on top of changes and best practices too.
Every day, over 3.5 billion searches are done on Google alone, not counting all the other search engines out there. This means Google processes, on average, over 40,000 search queries every second. That’s just mind-boggling.
In order for more people to find your website, your site needs to rank on the first page of Google’s search engine results page (SERP). The reality is that if your school isn’t on the first page, 75 percent won’t even see your listing!
What’s more, if your school isn’t in the top three search results, you only have a 40 percent chance a searcher will see it.
Many school marketers ask me for advice on how to improve their SEO ranking so their school will be seen on SERPs.
I try to remind them that when it comes to rankings, nothing is more important than publishing quality content optimized for a relevant keyword and making sure their site is optimized for the user experience.
That said, there are a few SEO tweaks that, although they may not boost rankings quickly, may help increase your website’s chances of ranking higher.
Identify content topic gaps
You want to make sure your content topics are as relevant and helpful to your target families as possible. One way you can do this is to look at the top-ranking pages of other schools and determine topics you’re missing. Of course, this doesn’t mean to plagiarize from other sites, only to get an idea for helpful topics you might be missing.
A good place to start identifying your content gaps is to conduct a content audit. One step in the content audit process is to identify potential topic ideas by conducting keyword research and competitor analysis using a tool like SEO Coach.
Sometimes you will have published content on a particular topic, but are missing key content related to that topic. What’s even more important is to offer your school’s unique philosophy and perspective about that missing content.
Improve title tags and meta descriptions
There’s no doubt about it – search engines use title tags and meta descriptions to understand the relevancy of your page. When Google can identify relevant keywords, it will rank your page higher and your click-through rates will increase.
By analyzing the title tags and meta descriptions of top ranking pages with keywords you want to rank for, you can tailor your metadata to outrank them.
Include more keywords in your blog headline
Most content creators know to include the primary article keyword in the headline. The headline is indisputably key in getting your content found because the H1 tag is a powerful SEO magnet. To make your headline even stronger, place the primary keyword near the beginning of the headline.
However, a little-known SEO hack is to include two or more keywords in your headline. One way to do this is to basically fuse two headlines together into one using a colon between the two. So short headline #1 includes the primary keyword, and then short headline #2 includes a second keyword. and the two are joined together with a colon.
Add elements to keep your audience reading longer
Visitors who stay on your page longer are signaling Google that the content is high quality. Techniques for encouraging visitors to stay on a page longer include:
- Entice your reader to keep reading with a strong introduction.
- Include multimedia – videos, audio, animated visuals, etc.
- Make the content easy to read by including scannable headings, bulleted and numbered lists, white space, etc.
- Be concise
- Have a conclusion
In the age of smartphones, it’s essential your website, including your content, is optimized for mobile viewing. Be sure to make your content legible on mobile, easy to scroll and improve mobile page loading speed.
Set up an optimal site structure
A good site structure is key to any website. If a user can’t navigate your site effortlessly, they will bounce off the page they landed on. If this continues to happen, Google will notice your metrics and will see that your site isn’t user-friendly. This, in turn, damages your site ranking and visibility.
In order to have a site structure that works, pay attention to:
- Site taxonomy
- Loading speed
- Page layout
Use anchor text strategically
Did you know Google uses the anchor text of a link to better understand the topic, context and relevancy of the page better?
What I mean by “anchor text” is the text you select when linking to an internal page on your website or an external page on a different site.
Google recognizes anchor text as providing important information about the content of the web page.
Pay attention to the text you use as anchor text, keeping in mind the web bots will be paying attention to it as well.
Reference key content pages on your homepage
This tweak is for content you want to highlight. For example, if there’s an upcoming fundraiser or other event you want people to notice, or a scholarship program, or your admissions process, etc.
The tweak is to put a link to that highlighted content on your homepage, so people can see and immediately link to it.
This tweak will help your highlighted page gain Page Authority and will attract more traffic, sending signals to Google about its importance.
Add semantic keywords
Semantic keywords are keywords or phrases that relate to each other to build a broader picture of the subject matter you are writing about. For example, let’s say you’re writing an article about building character. Semantic keywords might include:
- Build your character
- It builds character
- Building good character
- Things that build character
- Ways to build character
- Built character
- Build up your character
These keywords are similar, but still slightly different. They may or may not make sense for your article. It idea is to use semantic keywords to increase visibility and help search engines better understand your subject matter.
When uploading images, make sure you include alt text and a short description. Since web bots can’t read images, they rely on alt tags and descriptions to understand what the image is about. Alt text also helps people who are visually impaired. Read more: Optimize Your Images for Better Web Design, Social Media and SEO
Optimize for featured snippets
A featured snippet is a short “snippet” of text shown at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) in what is known as the “Answer Box”. When a searcher types in a question, frequently a short answer will appear at the top of the page, even before Google ads. This is the holy grail of SEO marketing, to get your page featured at the very top in response to a query.
The content of a featured snippet comes for web pages in Google’s index. There are different types of snippets, such as definitions, tables, steps, and lists. Featured snippets receive, on average, 8 percent of all clicks.
In order to have a chance to win a coveted answer box spot, follow these tips:
- Answer questions directly and concisely
- Answer the who, what, when, why and how of a topic in your content
- Optimize your headings in question format and then answer the question directly below
- Use your headings as an outline of different list items
The goal in SEO, and in all your marketing efforts, is to make sure your target families can find your school and get their questions answered. The better you are at SEO for your website, the easier it will be for them to find you.
Want help with your SEO? SEO Coach DIY Software will help you optimize your school’s website and Google My Business listing for higher Google rankings. Learn more here