SEO for Schools: Build Your Online Presence
SEO is increasingly important for schools, particularly independent schools that rely on brand awareness and recognition to fill places.
Being at the top of Google’s results for your search term means that you gain far more traffic. It also provides an opportunity to engage with your audience on their terms rather than relying on outbound marketing, which interrupts other activities.
The basics of good user experience and SEO do not change, despite hundreds of Google algorithm changes every year. Your site needs to focus on the user requirements, make it easy to navigate, provide unique content, and build a reputation in the same way you may do offline.
A lot of your activities online will mirror how you market your school offline.
Signs Outside the School: Claiming Your School on Google Places
Since pupils need to come to school, it’s essential that you appear in a good position for local searches. Boarding schools have a little more lee-way with this as parents do not need to drop children off every day, but it’s still a good idea to claim your local position.
Claiming your location on Google Places helps you rank well and provides your school with additional space within the search results since you’ll appear on the map and in the standard results. Google are the dominant search engine, so most SEO is geared towards their preferences. Using a range of their products – from social media through to video hosting – helps you rank well.
Encouraging Word of Mouth: Engaging Through Social Media
It’s important that all schools maintain at least one consistent, informative social media account. Twitter is an excellent choice for immediacy, short updates, and a variety of media, but Facebook is still the world’s favourite social media account.
When it comes to social media, the principle of ‘pleasing Google’ still applies. Google Plus is Google’s own social media account, and provides a range of SEO and PPC benefits if used correctly. When you set up your Google Places listing, you will automatically gain a Google Plus account. Filling out all of the information and adding the occasional status update doesn’t require a huge amount of time if you already have a social presence but it can build out your search results and even enhance PPC adverts.
Talking About Your School: Using the Right Landing Pages and Language
A huge number of schools simply don’t state that they’re a school on their site. If you are a junior school, you will need to explicitly say so in your metadata, in your site content, and it’s best to have a landing page that is simply named Junior School. It’s one of the simplest aspects of SEO, but one of the most ignored. Not explaining that you are a school (and your school type) can lose a huge amount of traffic and really harm search positions.
In addition to your visible language, it’s important that your site structure, URLs, and metadata reinforce that message.
Create a Prospectus: Write Quality Content
Google’s focus increasingly looks at the user rather than pleasing search engines. That’s why your content needs to be unique, engaging, and informative. Your pages need to give an insight into your school, the benefits for pupils, and what sets you apart from the competition. Likewise, your blog needs to regularly provide fresh content and give prospective and existing parents a taste of school life. Rather than being an SEO chore, this is a fantastic opportunity to really show your school’s achievements and personality in a more casual medium than a prospectus or a static web page. It’s also a great time to engage with parents and let them know what’s happening at school.
Mark Ups are Just for Google
Google’s Knowledge Graph provides in depth information about key subjects – whether you need to know a restaurant’s opening times of Joan or Arc’s birthday, you can now see it directly in Google’s search results without having to click through to the websites listed. If you use the right mark up language in the back end of your site, you can enhance your search results within the Knowledge Graph and improve your positioning overall. This is something that trained developers need to add, but it provides another layer to your SEO efforts.