Google is the most widely used search engine today, making it vitally important that you understand how to write content that ranks high on Google. And chances are if your content ranks high in Google, it will also rank high in other search engines such as Bing. Your website and blog content needs to appeal to parents and provide real value to them. Although the Google algorithm is built using many factors, you can follow several simple guidelines to help your content receive a high ranking.
Guideline #1. Answer Parents’ Questions
Schools might think that pushing out as much content as possible will help your website’s SEO performance, but you also want to make sure you attract the right audience. You want your content to reflect the mission and philosophy of your school as well as answer the questions you know parents have in the back of their minds.
The beauty of this guideline is that niche questions are often search queries for which you can rank. For example, it’s easier to rank for “are special education services available for students in private schools in YourState” than “private school special education” because there is more competition for the latter.
You know your parent-base best, so what questions do they have that relate to the education you provide? Suppose you’re having trouble coming up with topic ideas. In that case, one tool I find helpful for discerning parents’ questions is AnswerThePublic, which will give you a wide variety of queries asked on various topics. Just be careful because you can only run three inquiries a day using the freemium version. An alternative to AnswerThePublic is SEO Coach, which will help you discover content topics and find the right keywords for your school marketing.
Guideline #2. Focus on Specific Topics
In order to rank higher on Google, you need to keep your topics narrow and comprehensive. The idea is to dive deeper into the topic rather than a broad offering. Make sure all content on each page is relevant to the primary topic.
Your school website should be broad, but each page or post needs to maintain a narrow topic. For example, if your topic is about “technology and media literacy”, make sure you keep the content focused on promoting information literacy.
One way to think about this is to remember that snippets for individual pages or posts are displayed in Google search results, not your whole website.
Guideline #3. Keep Your Content Fresh
One of the best ways to keep potential parents coming to your website is to regularly publish new, compelling and helpful content. A great way to do this is to incorporate a blog on your site. A blog is useful because you can schedule content ahead of time and update it often.
Read more: 50 Captivating Blog Topics for Schools
Guideline #4. Understand Searcher Intent
When you write content you need to be aware of the intent a searcher will have when searching for your topic. For example, if they are looking for virtual events, you will want to make sure you offer registration information and possibly replays of past events. Google will rank a page higher that caters to the customers’ needs and offers an excellent user experience.
Guideline #5. Add Videos to Your Posts
Videos are popular with parents; they will usually stay on a page longer in order to watch them. This makes Google think people are really into your content and will rank the page higher. Also, include internal links to related and relevant pages on your site, encouraging visitors to stay on your site longer. The goal is to keep visitors on your site as long as possible to boost your Google ranking.
Guideline #6. Find Quality Backlinks
There are many factors that influence how Google ranks a page. One such factor is backlinking. Backlinks are when another site links to a page on your site. In essence, each backlink signals a “vote” to Google that your page is popular and probably offers relevant, useful content and a great user experience.
In order to make your content backlink-worthy, find out the type of content other sites link to for independent schools in your niche. Once you’ve created the link-worthy content, reach out to sites who already link to that type of content to inform them about yours.
Read more about generating backlinks here: 12 Best Practices for Generating Backlinks to Your Website
Guideline #7. Get Shown in Google’s Answer Box
The Google Answer Box is the section at the very top of the page – even before ads – that answers a searcher’s question without them even having to click-through to the page. This means your snippet will be shown in Position 0, the very best position possible.
Here’s how you can increase your chances of ranking in Position 0:
- Identify queries that don’t yet have an answer by searching in an incognito window (go to the three dots in the upper right-hand corner and open the browser window to find the incognito link).
- Create content that answers the questions
- Optimize your content by adding “How to” in your page title, URL, and H1 tag.
- Structure your “answer” as a numbered or bullet-point list on the page
This structure will allow web bots to recognize your page has a specific answer to a question and will increase your chance of securing the top position.
Guideline #8. Don’t Use Black Hat SEO Practices
The Google algorithm has become sophisticated; Google can recognize relevant content, organic links that drive traffic and a positive user experience (such as a mobile-friendly interface and clear navigation).
Black hat SEO practices to stay away from include:
- Buying links
- Creating domains and subdomains with duplicate content
- Hidden text links
- Doorway pages
- Content automation
- Keyword “stuffing”
- Spammy links
Using black hat SEO practices places you at risk for getting blacklisted by Google, meaning your site will not show up in Google search results at all. And you don’t want that to happen. You're much better off
While there are various tactics for improving your Google ranking, it really comes down to one basic strategy: always keep your end-user in mind. By focusing on your parents/potential parents and what they need (and want) and incorporating that type of content into your website and blog content, you will naturally increase your rankings as well as the number of inquiries and enrollments to your school.
Want help with your SEO efforts? SEO Coach will help you optimize your school's website and Google My Business listing for higher Google rankings. No need to hire an SEO Consultant. Click here to learn more: SEO Coach DIY Software for Schools.