SEO For Schools

SEO For Schools

SEO for schools may be the biggest untapped potential source of enrolments for you. Do you know how many prospective parents searched for schools in your area last year? If you have not looked into the numbers, you may underestimate the potential of local SEO for schools, or you may assume you have a strong position while the tides have changed. Search rankings are continuously changing and so is SEO practice. This article is a comprehensive go-to article for school marketers that includes everything you need to know to start out in SEO for schools.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing your school website’s organic (free) traffic volume and quality through intentional strategies, both on and off your school website. The biggest question we get asked at Roberts Digital is ‘Where do I start?’ The maze of data can get overwhelming when looking at 100s of pages of content on your website, trying to dissect where your traffic is coming from and filtering through the endless list of possible keywords. The intention of this article is to break the big task of school SEO into bite-sized tasks so that you can steadily make progress and increase website traffic.

SEO for schools may sound scary for non-technical marketers, but it is a surprisingly practical skill that takes a methodical approach to master. While we will cover a few technical aspects of SEO for schools too, most of our suggestions will give you a great starting point. The first step of SEO for schools is knowing your current standing, so we will start with how to perform an audit of your SEO position.

Know Your School’s SEO Position

SEO for schools is less of a science and more of an art form, in that you will need to take educated guesses when starting out so that the data can feed your decisions later on (I recently wrote an SEO health check article to help you cover the basics if you would like to check it out). Have you ever had someone walk into your office and say something like, ‘We are not ranking for independent schools in Woop Woop’. Before you get on the defence, ask yourself this, ‘Is anyone actually searching for that keyword?’ Our starting point for SEO is keyword research – finding out which keywords are driving high quality traffic for your audience, then gaining an understanding of how you rank for those keywords.

Start your research by opening up an incognito browser window (it is important that you do your research in incognito mode so that your previous search history doesn’t influence your search results) and type in what you think your top keywords would be. Spend some time looking at the schools at the top of the results and take notes on the content of their web page, the keyword frequency in that page, the images used and any opt-ins they may have. This process will help you set the benchmark for what you will need to do when creating new content.

The next way to research where you stand is to use Google’s Search Console tool. It is relatively quick to sign up, and verifying your domain will require you to show that you own the school website and have authority to view data on that site.

Search Console for SEO For Schools

Example Google Search Console Performance Report

Once you are setup and have given Google some time to collect data, you can find a report on the top SEO keywords people are using to find your school website by clicking on the performance tab. This report shows you the keywords people are using, your position for that keyword (1-10 is good) and the number of people that clicked through to your website because of that keyword.

How to Choose Your Focus Keywords

Once you understand the keywords that are driving traffic, it is time to start choosing the keywords you would like to focus on for the next year. When starting out, I would pick 12 keywords (one a month) to begin with.

Start off by highlighting the keywords from your search console list that have a high search volume that you are not ranking well for. These keywords represent high opportunity keywords that will be refined to make your final list.

Refine your list further by picking keywords with a high intent behind them, meaning that you should pick keywords that indicate enrolment interest rather than general traffic. For example, leave out keywords like ‘term dates’ and go for keywords like ‘Private School Sydney’.

Also, when starting out, go for long-tail keywords rather than shorter keywords. Long-tail keywords are phrases with three to four words that are specific to your offering, such as ‘Private Schools Near Me’. Build authority by ranking well for longer keyword terms first before you try for the high traffic and competitive shorter terms.

Now that you have your keyword list and know your current SEO standing, it is time to start using them strategically on your website.

Keyword Inclusion

To start off, allocated one web page per keyword so that the content and focus of that page is focused on that keyword. Later on, it will become easier to have a page rank well for a few keywords, but to start, we want to focus all of our attention and effort on ranking well for one keyword per page.

Once you have identified your page’s keyword, you should try to incorporate it through your page by including it in your page title, URL, headings, body copy (especially the first paragraph), and image titles and alt tags. This is especially true for your home page and main landing pages.

There are plugins that help you manage your keyword inclusions by ranking each page on its keyword usage. If you have a WordPress website, YoastSEO is my favourite plugin to use.

YOAST

Link Building

Link building is where the rubber hits the road for SEO. There are three types of links we should be consistently working on for your school SEO:

Internal Links

Internal links are links within your page that link to other pages within your website. This helps users to navigate your website in a natural way and helps Google to understand the structure of your website. If you link from a page that is doing well in terms of being found in search engines to a page that is not ranking as well just yet, your link will help your child page build traction for their own search engine rankings (this is called link juice).

External Links

External links are links to other relevant websites within your content. Although these are an important part of your SEO strategy, they should be used carefully, especially when there is a specific call-to-action on your web page. When linking to other websites, ensure that you are linking to high quality traffic on well-regarded websites. When linking to external sites, make sure that your external link opens in a new tab instead of taking visitors off your website.

Backlinks

Backlinks are the most valuable links to your SEO strategy, but they are also the most difficult to obtain. Backlinks are links from other relevant websites to your site. For schools, most backlinks are built using paid directories, such as a listing in the Private Schools Guide. There are, however, ways to get free links by contributing articles to parenting and education-related websites.

If you are not sure which website you can connect with, there are online tools like the ahrefs.com backlink checker that allows you to check the backlinks of your competitors. This will give you a good starting point of which website to contact and connect with.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves the technical working of your website. Your website structure, platform and technical setup is hugely important to your school’s overall SEO success. This is why it is so important to have your marketing and SEO objectives front of mind when preparing to build a new website.

While technical SEO is comprehensive field, I’ll highlight a few frequent offenders our team often finds on school websites:

Mobile Friendliness

Since July 2019, Google implemented mobile-first indexing as the default option for their web crawler. This means that your website content is indexed and ranked using its mobile content first. It is important that you spend some time on your phone working through your site content to ensure it is mobile-friendly.

Cross-browser Compatibility

We all have our favourite browser, but it is a good idea to not assume that every browser and device provides the same user experience. A little manual checking on various devices will go a long way. Online browser compatibility testing tools are also another option to check your website across multiple devices and browsers, including the tools from Browser Stack.

Page Speed

Page speed is an important element to consider. Your website should generally take under 5 seconds to load for your user (giving some leeway for internet speed variability). A slower load speed will result in a high drop out rate and subsequently a lower ranking in search results.

Broken Links

Broken links are a major contributing factor to poor SEO results. While school websites are extensive in content, it is important to periodically work through your site to ensure no links are broken. If content has moved, use a redirect to point traffic to its new location. If your site is registered with Google Search Console, the crawl report should pick up broken links that need fixing.

Usability Issues

Issues such as overlapping content or invasive popups, actually impact on your school’s search rankings and your over website usage and are another detail to keep an eye on.

Copy to Code Ratio

The content to html ratio for your web pages is important and search engines prefer pages with text between 500 to 1,500 words as a general guide. If you have a lot of pages with only a paragraph of text on each, try to collate these into one page. This will also make for a better user experience for your website visitors.

Using Google Search Ads to Compliment Your Strategy

We often get asked the question of whether schools should invest in SEO or Google Ads. In an ideal world, a school would invest all their efforts into SEO and rank highly for competitive keywords, but in reality we compete for traffic against various websites, including directories. These competitors are hard to compete against because they have 100s of school listings behind them. Also, we may be competing for students in highly competitive geographic areas or have a competitor show up in searches for our school name. In each of these cases, it is important to have Google Ads to cover your brand. Google Ads should be used strategically alongside your SEO efforts so that you have no gaps in your keyword strategy.

Additionally, Google Search ads can be used to measure the potential of a market and launch your keyword while your SEO strategy catches up.

Measuring Your SEO Success

School marketers can find it hard to keep up with the data and know where to start when it comes to SEO. Due to the the volatile nature of search rankings, it can be hard to place a pin on where you are now and the progress that you have made. While keywords are important and we always want to keep track of our rankings, it is equally important to not get lost in the detail. Keep an eye on the big picture, know how much organic traffic your site is receiving each month and which landing pages are driving the most traffic. These numbers can easily obtained in Google Analytics.

 

Let Us Do The Hard Work For You

Roberts Digital offers a whole suite of digital campaigns for schools to grow their enrolments, check our our SEO Services, or contact us to view a demo of our school campaigns.

Search Engine Optimisation – Getti …

Search Engine Optimisation – Getti …

If you have a website, then you need to know all about SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, or you won’t be seen. It’s all well and good having a pretty website, but more effort and attention should go into having your website found when people key in keywords that your customers will be searching.

I’ve seen so many people invest in a website and then do nothing for SEO. In my opinion, this is all the wrong way around. SEO is pivotal to your success. Search Engine Optimisation will help you to reach the top search results for the keywords that your audience is searching. If you aren’t ranking on the first page or the top 3 results, then you’ve definitely lost potential business. Search Engine Optimisation is a cost-effective way to get new customers because you don’t actually pay for the clicks, but you do have to invest time and energy into SEO to make sure that you are in the top results. SEO is increasingly competitive and it takes a consistent approach to get good results.

How to Save with Your SEO

SEO is an area where unfortunately people can waste money paying search engine optimisation companies to do unknown work on a site that they aren’t seeing any measurable results for. Don’t pay an SEO company if you don’t know what it is that they’re doing and if you don’t get monthly reports to show your progress. A good SEO company will be adding good quality content to your website or they’ll tweak current content and images to make it more SEO friendly. You should be able to see your investment on your website and not just have unknown work done on 3rd party sites that you never actually get to see. Those techniques typically don’t work. All of our SEO work is focused on your website so that it invests in your selling platform.

Going Around in Circles with Your SEO?

The best way to prevent going around in circles, having a great results one month and a lacklustre result the next, is to get monthly comparable reports so that you can see your progress each month. You need to know exactly what work is being done and when it is being done so that everyone is accountable. The more transparency and accountability with your SEO work, the better your results will be.

I currently offer SEO work for my clients and I have got great reviews for the results that they have achieved. If you would like to know how I can help you with your SEO, or search engine optimisation, please book a consultation to see if I can help you.

Conversion Optimisation: Know What Works …

Conversion Optimisation: Know What Works …

Conversion Optimisation: Know What Works …

Hello everyone, this is Mara Roberts and in today’s episode, we are going to be looking at conversion optimisation to create a website that actually converts to paying customers. So many of my clients have tried things like Facebook advertising and Google AdWords and they come to me a little bit confused because it doesn’t quite work out the way they wanted it to.

You may have tried something like a Facebook ad or Google AdWords campaign and seen that you are paying for quite a few clicks but those clicks aren’t actually converting into paying customers and that can be quite a frustrating scenario for the business owner with a tight marketing budget.

Conversion optimisation is important because the problem may not actually lie with Facebook advertising or Google AdWords but it may actually be your website, and your website may not actually be an effective tool to convert visitors into either email subscribers or paying customers.

How Does Conversion Optimisation Help You?

Conversion optimisation helps you to optimise the rate that people convert into your email list or become paying customers. So the first thing to do when looking at conversion optimisation is to make sure that your website is focused on getting people to take action and this can be done through the content on your page and including ample opportunities for people to say “Yes, I read this content and Yes, I’m interested. Okay, let me contact you or let me sign up or let me get a free download or let me buy low-cost products.” And, that means that on every page there should be a point where people can click a button to do this to take that action whether it be within the content or a contact form on the sidebar or an opt-in offer into a blog post.

The next thing to do is to test and measure every single page on your website because every single page is another opportunity to convert into a customer. And, so how do we do this, how do you business owners test and measure websites.

What Will We Do First?

The first thing to do is to A/B split test on every single page on the website. An A/B split test is basically a that has two versions. So, you may be testing, for example, the button colour and if that makes a change in how many people click the button.
An A/B split test basically will serve version one (1) of your webpage to half of your audience and version two (2) of your webpage to the other half of your audience and your test will tell you which page is most effective.

Business owners really should put into place a system for testing and measuring everything. Often people will put a webpage up and then they will see that it is not working so they will change it and have no record or history on the change that they’ve done or what works or it doesn’t work.

I recommend right from the get-go to have a testing system in place where before you make any changes you test the assumptions, you test your opt-in offer, test your button colours, test the placement of the button colours, and different forms of content like videos versus images versus info-graphics.

The next thing to do is to look at something called “Heatmap” and this is basically a map of where people are clicking most on your website and this will really help you to choose exactly where to put your call to action buttons. And many of us make assumptions about how people use a website and the heatmap will tell you where people are clicking and where their focus is at.

What Other Tools Can Help?

Another really nifty tool that you can use for conversion optimisation is visitor mouse recordings which basically records the session when people visit your website – it works an assumption that people actually point the mouse where their focus is at and so as you often see on this mouse recordings, people reading through website and they scroll the mouse through the content as a read through it.

Mouse recordings will also answer questions like on how they navigate your site what they’re clicking on and the sort of information they are really looking and what they want from your website.

These are very nifty tools that you can implement to your website to start testing how people using your website and from that data, you can improve conversions. The average businesses owner may be asking: “Well how can I implement this into my business, I am not really a technical person?”

There are plenty of books and resources on conversion optimisation and I encourage you to get reading, look up books on Amazon and do some reading on the different resources that are available to you. It does not have to be an expensive exercise for you to learn in this area. And if you have any questions, you can always contact me and I’ll happily have a look at your website for you.

I encourage you to get started on your conversion optimisations today. Start testing every single piece of content that you put out there and don’t make assumptions about how people are using your website. If you want the tip sheets and a heat map example, please download it on the blog, and I’ll happily give that to you as a free resource below.

Thanks for listening.

Get SEO Ranked with These Three Tips!

Get SEO Ranked with These Three Tips!

Get SEO Ranked with These Three Tips!

Get SEO Ranked with These Three Tips!

by Mara Roberts

Hello everyone, this is Mara Roberts and today we are talking about on-page Search Engine Optimisation or SEO – all the SEO that happens on your website that you can control. On-page SEO is important for you if you want to get your website to rank well and to improve your position in Google, Bing or Yahoo, and this, in turn, will result in you getting a larger amount of leads and more customers. Your search engine organic ranking is very important factor in getting customers.

On-page search engine optimisation is low cost and is also easy for you to do as long as you have the right systems in place and work at it on a continuous basis. So the three techniques I’ll be showing you today will easily, if you do only those three things, set you apart from the average Joe’s website and your website will perform better than the average website out there.

So what is on page search engine optimisation? It’s basically all the SEO that you can do on your website. And it helps Google to know exactly what your website is about and it includes things like the keywords that you use, the page titles, the meta-descriptions, as well as factors such as your search speed and accessibility – those two things are huge factors in terms of ranking your website. So what are the three steps that I recommend for your on-page search engine optimisation?

The first thing is to edit the title of every single page on your website and the title should include the keyword that you want to rank for. The next thing that you need to do is to have the keyword that you are trying to rank for mentioned two to three times within the content of your blog post or your page content. And then the last thing that you want to do for your on-page SEO is to create a meta-description. And a meta-description basically describes what your content is about and it also includes your keyword.

So those are three tactics that you can do for each page but just be careful to not overdo it. So don’t mention a keyword when it doesn’t make sense in a natural sentence and also don’t double up on your strategies and don’t use a keyword, the same keyword for few pages that you’re trying to rank for. It all needs to read well and look natural within the content of your website.

So the next question that I often get is, well, what keyword should I be trying to rank for and people will spend hours trying to research which keyword has the highest search volume and they try to rank for those keywords. But I actually recommend a strategy that solves your customers’ problems well and start answering the questions or the topics that your clients are interested in. So really get your ideas from your clients and emails you receive from them or comments on blog posts.

So I’ll leave you with three action steps that you can take to better your site’s performance and so those three steps are to edit for every single page of your website including the title of the page and it needs to be keyword rich. And then to also include the keyword two to three times in the content of every page and to also include a meta description that describes your content and includes your keyword. If you do those three things consistently on every single page, your website will perform better than most websites out there.

So if you have any questions or comments, I encourage you to write a comment on the blog. This is Mara Roberts from adfinitycreative.com. Thank you so much for listening.

Search Engine Optimisation – You May B …

Search Engine Optimisation – You May B …

Search Engine Optimisation – You May B …

My competitor just paid $5,000 for something that took me 30 minutes to do – Search Engine Optimisation.

It always surprises me that some business owners haven’t realised that they don’t operate in isolation and really your business is part of a bigger ecosystem. I think it is vital for us business owners to get out there and meet with our customers and yes, engage the competition through networking and even shared interviews and discussion.

Just recently I had a great interview lined up with a conversion optimisation specialist based here in Brisbane. On the morning he called me up and very graciously said that he couldn’t do the interview anymore because one of my competitors had just hired them to beat my ranking for several search engine keywords. I know that they would have paid in the area of $5,000 for a basic SEO package, and that makes me smile because honestly, I set up my on-page SEO in less than 30 minutes and I am still number one on Google in one of the most competitive categories!

I know that I will always be a flexible and approachable option for my customers and I will always remain competitive when my ‘competition’ (a marketing agency) is hiring another marketing agency to do their marketing and that agency is outsourcing their SEO work. Guess what they do with their clients’ work?

Business owners tend to spend a lot of time trying to stay ahead of the competition. And in my opinion, we spend way too much time watching people that have never taken a customer from us. Unsubscribe from all the emails and rather spend your time focusing on growing your business. I would love to see a business environment where competitors actually grow and learn from each other. There are plenty of fish in the sea and wise collaboration will place you as an expert in the industry.

As a marketing agency, I have found that doors tend to be closed and it’s very much a dog eat dog environment. I would love to see the barriers lowered, and business owners being more open with their expertise – give clients so much value that they choose you for your speciality over competitors.  It is important that we know our strengths, know who we are as business owners and know exactly how to speak to our customers’ hearts.

That’s the sort of business I want to build and I hope that is the sort of business that you want to build. If you want to learn how to attract customers because they choose you over competitors instead of them choosing you because that’s all they know, then please contact me below and I will happily give you a few pointers.

 

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