Having an informative, stand-out school website that portrays the message and personality of your school is must. It is equally as important to boost your school website's search engine visibility, and grow website traffic, by putting in place an SEO plan.
SEO - Search Engine Optimisation - is the process of optimising a website to push it up the search engine results page with the objective of increasing both the quantity and quality of traffic to that website.
Search engines aim to show users the most relevant results for their specific search. To do this successfully, search engines scan or 'crawl' websites to understand what that website is about and determine if it will 'answer' the search query.
1. Keyword research
The first step in your SEO plan therefore is to think about all the possible searches a prospective parent may input into a search engine when looking at schooling options for their child. 'Independent Schools, ' Private Schools', 'Private High School', 'Boarding Schools near me' etc.
It is best to consider what the longer searches prospective families will input, such as 'Independent Schools in Oxfordshire' 'Girls boarding schools near me'. These are known as long tail keywords. As there will be fewer websites relevant to these more specific searches there is a higher chance of your school website featuring on the search engines top search results for them. It also allows for a higher quality of audience to potentially see your website as you know they are looking for exactly what you are offering.
2. Page title and meta description
Once you have collated your list of keyword phrases it's time to utilise them on your webpages. Each page of your website can have a unique title - the text that appears in the tabs at the top of your browser - and meta description - a brief text of around 140 characters that summarises what the content of that web page is about.
The title and description are some of the first things a search engine will look to to determine a websites 'ranking' amongst other websites in answering the inputted search, using keywords and long tail phrases in them is an important part of any SEO plan.
3. Creating useful, relevant content
Create blog posts around your keyword research. Make sure to include the relevant keywords in the page header as well as a few times throughout the main body of the blog post, whilst not over doing it! This allows the search engine bots that crawl your website to understand what each webpage is about and determine if it answers the query of the searcher.
Refreshing existing blog content is an easy-win, as opposed to creating new content from scratch. Start with blog posts that already garnered high traffic to your website, they have already performed well and so a slight refresh could start a second wave of social interaction and traffic, and then move on to refreshing seasonal posts.
A refresh could include additional text, changing out the imagery and/or adding links to new pages on your website. It's also important to check that your initial chosen keyword is still relevant. If not, do some research and consider updating the keyword, in the page title, meta description, header tag and throughout the blog text.
4. Optimising the speed of your page
The speed at which a webpage loads - the time it takes for the content to fully display - is another factor in where search engines will place it on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Both sites list ways in which page speed can be optimised inclusive of:
- Optimising images, make sure any images on a webpage are in the format PNG and are smaller than 100kb maximum.
- Changing the browser cache settings on a webpage, browsers cache information so that it doesn't have to reload the entire thing when a visitor returns. Check the expiration date on your webpage and extend as necessary to optimise page speed.
If you'd like to delve deeper into SEO check out the 'Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors'.
We can help you make the most of your school website and improve your SEO.