Search Engine Optimisation: 4 Tips To Help Schools Rank Higher On Google
Search Engine Optimisation, often shortened to SEO, is the process of generating ‘free’ traffic to your website through ranking on search engines. Ranking high on search engine results – most notably Google – can be a great way to secure new enrolments for many reasons.
Let’s consider a family who is planning a move to the area in the near future. In this day and age, it is highly likely that the parents of school-aged children conduct online research on prospective schools around the area so that they can find out more information.
A school needs to have an adequate search engine ranking, or else they may go undiscovered and miss out on enrolment. The majority of all clicks go to the first five organic results, so ranking on the first page for relevant search terms is essential.
SEO is certainly valuable; the benefits of any business – not just schools – ranking at the top of Google search can have enormous benefits, but it can require a lot of time and effort. It is most certainly the ‘slow-and-steady’ approach when it comes to online marketing and works best when accompanying other online marketing strategies.
Even the most seasoned search engine optimisation professional will tell you it can take months for improvement in traffic. On occasion, Google rolls out significant algorithmic changes that often have funny names, such as Panda, Penguin, Fred, and Hummingbird. These updates significantly impact the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), requiring ongoing maintenance of SEO strategies.
Maintenance of SEO strategies involves the backend monitoring of key analytics to determine the performance of the website and specific pages within the site, the evaluation of website load times, re-writing of blog articles, and website copy to match specific high-volume keyword searches from your target audience and broader keyword research.
Completely optimising your SEO efforts can be time-consuming and complicated for the inexperienced digital marketer, but below are a couple of strategies that can help schools rise up the Google rankings.
CONSTANTLY UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE
Those feisty, little algorithm bots at Google HQ do not like stagnant websites. To keep the website looking fresh and lively, ensure that new content, such as blog posts, photos, newsletters, and vital school information is posted on the website.
Many schools are gravitating towards social media to inform parents and update the public on general school happenings, which is a good thing. But in the process, websites are becoming untidy and neglected, looking unprofessional and harming search engine rankings. The easiest way to avoid this is to simply release content on social media and the website at the same time.
LIMIT THE BOUNCE-RATE
Bounce rate is an internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. A ‘bounce’ represents visitors who visit the website and then leave rather than continuing to view any of the other pages on the site.
A bounce rate is an indication of a website’s engagement, and Google uses this as part of its algorithm to rank pages in search results. Naturally, websites with a higher bounce rate are deemed less engaging and are therefore pushed down lower in the rankings. Having a fast, well-functioning website will go a long way in reducing bounce rates. If websites are relevant and easy to browse, users are likely to spend more time on the website and visit more pages.
Google Analytics is a free and popular online tool that is valuable to familiarise yourself with to get detailed information about the performance of your website, including the bounce rate and where your traffic is coming from.
Keywords, as they relate to SEO, refer to terms added to online content – such as a website’s blog posts, copy or meta description – to improve search engine rankings for those terms.
Keyword research is the process involved in identifying popular words and phrases that people enter into search engines based on search volume, competition, and intent. Many online tools exist that can help us with keyword research.
Blogging can be an excellent strategy to complement any search engine optimisation efforts. A weekly blog from the principal can establish expertise and authority in the education field while providing knowledge and valuable information to parents.
Blog topics can be about general happenings from within the school, theories on best learning practices, opinions on new study findings, and how they could relate to the way things operate at the school, the list goes on. Google loves content-rich pages, so a piece of around 500 to 1000 words is optimal – however, any length is better than no blog at all – and ensure it includes relevant keywords.