You’ve no doubt already heard a lot about SEO for school websites. But, beyond the jargon and buzzwords, what is SEO, really, and what can you do to help your school website rank higher in search engines?
Read on to find out everything you need to know about making your school unmissable online.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It involves applying a number of best practice changes to your website using your content management system (CMS), then tracking the impact of these changes on an ongoing basis. The end goal is to give your website the best chance of appearing as highly as possible on search results pages, so that pupils, parents, staff and stakeholders can find you easily and quickly, then click through to your site.
SEO is a long term and ever evolving marketing process that you’ll need to be patient with, invest in, and keep up to date. In time, well managed SEO will naturally increase the number of visitors to your website from the organic (unpaid) search results. When used alongside paid search campaigns (PPC) you can really dominate searches by appearing twice in the search results; once in the sponsored ad position and once at the top of the organic search results.
What is involved in SEO management?
SEO for school websites is often overlooked because in addition to being time consuming, it also involves work with your website’s content management system (CMS), which many people will not feel comfortable with, or have the appetite to manage.
Below are some of the features we work on when providing SEO for schools:
- Choosing and using relevant keywords across your website
- Making sure you’ve added ‘alt tag’ copy to your images
- Making sure your website ‘title tags’ are correct and optimised
- Keeping your ‘meta tags’ consistent and optimised for each page
- Reviewing your website URL so it is easier for search engines to index
- Building links with relevant external websites
Why is SEO for school websites important?
Good SEO will, in the long term, increase the number of people who can find your school website. Critically, it will also make sure that you appear against targeted searches, meaning that the visitors to your website will be relevant to your type of school and the services you offer. SEO will help you appear in the search results when people type in your school name, the facilities you offer, term dates, relevant special events or your school’s location (eg. ‘Best schools in Hertfordshire’).
There are many other factors that will influence how your school website performs in search engines. For example, making sure your website is responsive so that it functions brilliantly on all devices, including mobiles and tablets, is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your SEO. Google rewards responsive websites by ranking them higher in the search results, so a responsive website is a must-have, rather than a luxury. Our team works with clients every day to upgrade their existing ‘desktop only’ sites to become fully responsive across devices, and every new website that Cleverbox designs and builds comes fully responsive as standard.
Another way of improving your SEO is through the use of blogs. These should be updated regularly and include relevant keywords to the types of searches your school should appear against. When writing blogs for your website, the length of each blog, the subject matter and even the images that sit within the blog will all contribute towards your SEO score.
What is organic traffic?
Organic traffic is the term used to describe visitors to your website that have found you through a search engine listing that you have not paid for. Many people don’t notice that when using a search engine like Google or Bing, some listings will appear at the top, bottom or side of the page with ‘Ad’ beside them. These are paid for listings. Everything else you see is an organic listing. If a user clicks on this listing and is directed to your website, they will be counted as an organic user or traffic.
Positive SEO performance for schools will boost your organic listings, allowing you to appear higher on search engines without having to pay for the privilege.
How quickly will I see results?
SEO for school websites is an ongoing process that will usually take a few months to show a significant uplift in website performance. It will also depend on market competition, and the starting point of your website. Creating strong SEO for schools is a long term strategy that requires time and regular management to achieve the best results, but is pivotal to the long term success of your website and the level of interest in your school.
How do I measure success?
Success can be measured through a number of areas;
- An uplift in organic traffic to your school website
- A boost in direct traffic (people who type in your website URL directly)
- The keywords that Google associates with your website
- More effective paid advertising campaigns (PPC) to complement your SEO
What to do next?
At Cleverbox, SEO for school websites is something we pride ourselves in. Whether you need a one off website audit and best practice campaign or ongoing SEO management for long term results, we’re here to help.
If you’re not sure of where to begin, we’d love to talk through your needs in more detail and help you find a package to suit your budget!
Highlights of our SEO packages include:
- Budget monitoring so you can assess the value of your SEO package
- Campaign tracking to give you full visibility of your performance
- Targeting, to make sure your school is in front of the right people
- Potential to extend campaigns – for continued benefit
Glossary of SEO terms
Alt Tag – The description of an image, which usually isn’t displayed to the end user. Alt text is important because search engines can’t tell one picture from another and will use this to decide if your images are relevant to your content.
Meta Tag –These tags are located within the header section of your HTML code that help describe the contents of a page. These will also appear as the page description on search engines.
CMS – Content Management System – This is the name used for the back end of your website where changes can be made to the design, content, images and coding.
Organic Traffic – Users who find your website through search that has not been paid for.
Bounce rate – This is shown in a percentage and in the amount of users who visit your site but leave without viewing any other pages. Ideally this percentage is as low as possible, as you would want users to visit your site to engage with your content without bouncing out.
Keyword – These are the words you are targeting within the search engine. SEO for school websites could include words around course types, location, vacancies or school places.