As the search engine algorithms change and evolve, so does the practice of search engine optimization (SEO). Interestingly enough, Google has indicated there are other factors more important than keywords, such as relevant content, fast page load time, mobile-friendliness and high levels of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
Most schools today understand the importance of SEO and the basic concepts. However, when it comes to creating and implementing an SEO strategy, focusing only on the keywords your target audience is searching for doesn’t work very well.
In today’s blog post, we’re going to discuss what an SEO strategy is and how your school can create one to help you meet your content marketing goals.
What is an SEO Strategy?
An SEO strategy specifically refers to the way you organize content on your website. The goal is to make your site easily indexable by web bots to improve the likelihood your site will show up in search results.
Having a strategy to execute your SEO is critical because getting seen in the search engine results pages (SERPs) will determine how many people actually view your content. If your content is fragmented and unorganized, the web bots will have a hard time indexing your website, determining your area of expertise and ranking your site pages.
An important factor to keep in mind when developing your SEO strategy is how well your site is optimized for mobile use. Since most people now view online content using a mobile device, making sure your content is accessible for mobile viewing is essential.
Google has informed marketers they now use a mobile-first indexing protocol. This means the search engine algorithms will view your site using the mobile version of your site first. The reason this is important is because factors make a difference when viewed on mobile devices such as:
- Page speed
- Responsive site design
- Using easily readable fonts
- Using scannable writing style (i.e. bullet points, numbered lists, etc.)
Role of Search Engine Optimization Specialists
Search engine optimization specialists are people who optimize website content to increase the amount of organic traffic coming to the site. An search engine optimization specialist will help organizations identify new opportunities for increasing traffic using SEO techniques. There are three types of SEO specialists focus on:
On-page SEO refers to optimization that is done on web pages within a website. It typically involves page-specific factors such as the title, headings, meta description, length of copy, internal links, focus keyword, etc.
Off-page SEO refers to anything done off the website to drive traffic organically (meaning not paid advertising) to the website. Generally, off-page SEO involves gaining backlinks and other forms of exposure on many types of internet properties, including directories, other websites, blogs, social media marketing, brand mentions, social bookmarking, local SEO, customer reviews, etc.
Technical SEO refers to the backend “behind-the-scenes” work required to ensure your website meets certain specifications. Examples include a secure connection (SSL), a responsive design, fast loading time, duplicate content issues, an XML sitemap, structured data markup, etc.
Here are some suggestions for ensuring your SEO strategy sets your website up for success.
Start with a list of topic categories
Make a list of about 10 keywords and topics you know are relevant to your audience. These should be broad categories, such as Student Academic Success or Family Living. These topics are called “content pillars” and become topics your website and blog are built around.
Make a list of long-tailed keywords based on your content pillars
Once you have your primary content pillars, take time to identify at least 10-20 long-tail keywords for each content pillar. These will be specific topics you can write content about. They are subtopics that will be categorized under the main headings of your content pillars. For example, maybe you find “STEAM vs. STEM” to be a good topic under “Student Academic Success”. Click here to learn more about how to conduct keyword research for your school blog.
Build a webpage for each topic
Once you have your list of topics, you will want to create a page or post for each one. And, you can create a “pillar” page for each high-level pillar topic that basically lists all the subtopics and essentially becomes a table of contents. This is helpful for both users as well as web bots indexing your site.
Set up a blog
If you don’t already have one, set up a blog. Visitors tend to love blogs when they’re written on topics they care about, and it’s a great way to rank for keywords. Remember to go back and add a link to your blog post on the pillar page. Click here for school blog topic ideas.
Set up a consistent blogging schedule
Be sure to publish a blog post at least once a week. In order to do this consistently, most schools need an editorial calendar. Here’s How to Construct a Big Picture Annual and Editorial Calendar for Your School Marketing.
Create a link-building plan
Link building is the main focus of off-page SEO. Link-building is the process of attracting inbound links to your website from other sites or internet properties. Learn more about link-building for schools here: 12 Best Practices for Generating Backlink to Your Website
Compress media files before uploading
This has become a critical step in the SEO process, especially for mobile optimization. As your site adds more images and media, it tends to slow your site load speed down. One way to address this issue is to compress your images so they are smaller but retain the image quality. There are several free compression tools available such as TinyPNG or Google Squoosh you can use to shrink image sizes down.
Compressing images is often overlooked but has become an essential step in a SEO strategy.
Track and analyze the performance of your SEO efforts
SEO can take a lot of time and effort, so you will want to know how well your strategy is working. Google Analytics is a good place to start. You will want to track your indexed pages, conversions, return on investment as well as what keywords are ranking on SERPs. These can help you identify what’s working as well as areas of opportunity.
Make a monthly plan to keep your SEO up-to-date
You will want to make sure you are taking time each month to keep up with your SEO strategy. Here are some ideas to include in your monthly plan.
- Continue to conduct keyword research and find blog post topics to help get your site ranked in SERPs
- Identify blog posts that need to be updated or refreshed
- Assign content creation to team members
- Stay current on SEO best practices
- Track your progress at the end of each month
An SEO strategy can be challenging to create and execute. However, finding a strategy that helps your school achieve your marketing goals will be well-worth your efforts. And, if you need additional support, consider SEO Coach. SEO Coach is a simple-to-understand tool designed specifically for schools to learn how to conduct SEO. SEO Coach gives you the knowledge and information you need to design a SEO strategy for your organization. Learn more about SEO Coach here.
Does your school have an SEO strategy? What other elements of a strategy should be included in this post? Please leave a comment below…