Most school marketers will have heard about SEO (search engine optimisation) by now and you may have even attempted to optimise your own school website at some point. But what many marketers fail to do is to recognise the value of relevant content. Not just the marketing content you want to get out there, but the answers your audience is searching for. Because ultimately that is what Google is – a search engine. They provide answers to the questions we’re searching for answers to – where do I find that pair of shoes I saw on the telly? what time is the corner shop open? what should I look for in a boarding school?
Questions on the internet can get asked and answered in many different ways all which can result in your school being found online:
- A parent has heard about your school and does a search for you by name
- They’ve done a keyword search such as ‘all-girls prep school’ and you’ve come upon the local map and/or search results
- Your school is listed in an online directory, or you’ve been mentioned in a blog or article with a link to your website
- A parent has a question or concern to which you’re providing the best answer – i.e. how to help a child overcome shyness, the pros and cons of single-sex education, or how to support your child’s transition from junior to senior school.
There are other ways of course that your school might be found online but the above four are probably the most likely scenarios – all of which you, and your SEO efforts, have control over. Obviously, there are some technical considerations when optimising your website, but in this article, we’ll stick to the types of meaningful SEO content you can create to ensure you’re found in search results.
Your School (Business) Information
Your Google Business Profile (previously called Google My Business) is your first point of call for local SEO. When a parent is searching for a school (by name or otherwise) Google will take the user’s location into consideration and show those on the map closest to their locality. In order to appear on Google Maps, you need to ensure you’ve told Google exactly where your school is located. The good news is, by default most schools will already be on the map. Regardless, if you haven’t taken ownership of your account yet, do that now to ensure all your contact details are correct and your location accurate. Further optimise your profile by adding recent photos of your school, add events such as your Open Day, and share your announcements, blogs and even newsletter.
Blog Posts and Articles
One of the best ways to create valuable SEO content is blog posts. Blogs are often longer and contain more valuable information to search engines than your average school web page. This of course is based on the assumption that your blogs provide content that is of substance and value to your reader. Don’t confuse blogs with your school news. News is more focused on the school and therefore not typically the type of content that would be considered of value to search engines. Think of content that answers the questions of your visitors and provides opportunities for you to link to your school pages. An example might be ‘The Difference between a Prep School and a Primary School’. For parents new to the independent sector or those not from the UK, the language and structure of schools and the ages associated with them can be very confusing. Your blog can explain the differences and include links to your own Prep page. It’s a win-win for both visitors and your Prep search rankings.
Guides and e-Books
Much along the same lines as a blog, guides or e-books provide valuable information for the user, however, the difference often is the length and depth of the information provided. Like blogs, guides and e-books are most valuable from an SEO standpoint when their content is timeless. Great content stands the test of time and even with small changes can continue to rank highly over a number of years. Think quality over quantity here. In addition to providing great SEO value, guides can be used to capture data from your visitor. Not every publication has to be gated, nor should they be. Pick the content that is most valuable to your target audience and add a download form. Just be sure not to ask for too much. Put yourself in their shoes!
The Write Stuff
Understanding your audiences is key to creating content that matters, but how do you identify the content that improves your SEO ranking and which content leads to conversions? A few tools come to mind. Google Search Console is great for not only telling you the keywords you’re being found on but the content that attracted your visitors. Google Analytics is fantastic in that it can identify which content is popular with your audience, but unfortunately, it ends there. A platform such as AMAIS™ takes your content analysis one step further and can reveal the content that is key to conversions. Armed with knowledge from all three sources it’s ultimately not about producing more content – it’s about producing the content that has the ‘write stuff’ – that’s SEO friendly, attracts the audience and in the end, leads to conversions.
If you’re looking for help with your school’s SEO I’m here to help.