Is your school website attracting enough visitors for you to be able to meet your school marketing goals? If you’re not attracting enough visitors, that means not enough people are engaging with your content. And fewer visitors means fewer enrollment leads. Why is it so difficult to attract visitors? There may be several reasons for this, such as bad design or poor content; however, the most probable cause is that your school website may be too hard to find online.
While it may be hard to believe that your website could become unsearchable on the internet, it’s actually a surprisingly common issue for websites. While your school website is up there on the internet, open and accessible, it’s also up there with a billion other websites. And finding it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Unless your visitors already know about your website and its URL, the only way for them to find it is through the use of search engines.
Google, the most popular search engine, can help you get the exposure you need for people to easily find you. Your goal is to appear on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when people search for Christian schools in their area. For your school website to accomplish this, you need to follow Google guidelines to be able to rank higher on those SERPs. And no, we’re not talking about having to pay for advertisements to appear on top. Paid traffic has its uses but only when you can consistently fund it.
How Are You Ranking?
You can see how your school website fares by searching for private schools in your general area using specific keywords. Look at the results and see how your school website ranks. Does it appear on the first page? On the second or third pages? The further down in the results, the more likely your website can be considered “unsearchable.”
Imagine all the traffic you’re missing on if you’re ranking too low. Visitors and prospective families are slipping you by because they cannot find your school easily and may have opted for the schools that appeared higher on the list. If your school isn’t showing up on search engines competitively, that means it’s lagging behind on search engine rankings.
You can apply several methods to boost your rankings, but it’s best to first understand the whole concept behind all this, which is SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
SEO And Why It’s Important
SEO is the practice of increasing both the quantity and the quality of traffic to your website. SEO does this through guidelines that are enforced by search engines. You apply SEO through organic search engine results, which means that visitors who come to your school website do so by clicking on it in the search results. Organic traffic is any traffic that you don’t pay for, the more desirable type of traffic.
SEO is crucial for your school marketing. If you’ve been applying inbound marketing principles for your school, then you definitely should have an SEO strategy as well. This may be one of the most complex concepts to master when it comes to increasing your school website’s visibility on the internet, but it is certainly one of the most important.
Done correctly, SEO helps you attract visitors who are legitimately interested in your school. It’s about recognizing what people are searching for online. In your case, prospective families looking for the right private school.
As previously mentioned, there are several guidelines that make up an SEO strategy. However, for this blog, we’ll focus on one of the easiest techniques that you can apply on your school website now that can increase its ranking: internal linking.
Internal Linking and Your Rankings
Google takes notice of content that gets a lot of attention. The more popular a blog post is, the better chances for its webpage to rise in the rankings. This may sound like a call for you to pay for advertisements to boost your content, but fortunately, it isn’t.
You can do this for your content right now with minimal effort and at no cost. How? By internal linking. On any of your blog posts, you can promote other topics by inserting a link going to it.
In this article about email lead nurturing, internal links have been inserted.
Each of the links leads to separate articles that are also found on the same website. By linking back to your other topics, you are giving it more exposure by letting your readers know that you can provide more information from other related articles that you have on your website. As with any online content, the more it gets clicked, the more it becomes popular.
Internal linking is a part of On-page SEO, which is the practice of optimizing individual webpages so that they will rank higher while gathering relevant traffic.
Internal linking has three main functions:
1. To help navigate around your website.
2. To display your website’s design.
3. To distribute page authority and ranking power.
While only number one can be experienced by your website’s visitors, all of these functions play a role in ranking your website. Search engines will determine if your website possesses a solid design and if its pages carry authority.
Remember, the internal linking structure of your website lets Google’s search engine, as well as your website visitors, know what each page is about, and where (what page) to go to next.
Here are a few more examples of internal linking:
1. An article from Bloomfield Christian School blog about the “3 Disadvantages of Technology in Education”.
The author adds a link to another one of their related articles, “3 Advantages of Technology in Education”:
2. Covenant Christian Academy’s blog article, “Helping Your Child Adjust To a New School” that includes a link to another relevant topic.
The internal link goes to a blog article they previously wrote about ”summer camps.”
In both examples, the posts promote other articles relevant to the topic as well as other topics that may pique the reader’s interest.
As your website visitors consume the content on your school webpages, you can keep feeding them links to articles they might find relevant to them. This will, in turn, keep them on your website longer. And the longer they stay, the better for you.
This also strengthens the value of your website when it is analyzed by search engines. The network of links that travel back and forth between pages and blog posts create a system of interconnected content.
Get More Votes For Your Website
When people link to your school's website, Google will recognize that your website carries content that is worth linking to. The same principle works for internal linking. When you link to other pages on your website, Google will also recognize this as a "vote", or a show of support, for your content.
The more your content gets linked to, the more votes it receives, thus ranking you higher in search engines. So, basically, adding internal links to your content can increase the number of votes you receive.
Here are a few tips on proper internal linking:
1. Produce lots of content.
The key to more internal links is having more content to link.
Keep writing more articles and keep linking all your related topics. You can learn more about this by reading our guide.
2. When you link, link deep.
Have you ever noticed how some people share links about a website they’re interested in?
“Hi, I found this great article about how to prepare your children for kindergarten. You can check it out at http://www.thiscoolschool.com.”
When you visit the website, you’re taken to its homepage, not the article itself. You still have to look for the article by yourself by navigating through all the homepage menus in order to find it.
It can be annoying, right? Now imagine if that’s how you present your internal links to your website visitors. They’ll probably end up confused and disappointed. They may also give up looking for your article and just leave your website.
That’s why you have to use very specific URLs to direct your readers to the content that you’re linking to. For example, this link: http://thiscoolschool.com/blogs/tips-preparing-your-kids-for-kindergaren loads the specific article.
This is called a deep link and will help your content get the exposure it needs, as well as the rankings that you want.
A shallow link, on the hand, merely brings you to a website’s homepage. Shallow links will not help your content in terms of SEO.
3. There is no set number of internal links you can use.
While including multiple links is a good idea, too many can be distracting for the reader. A general rule of thumb is to include anywhere between one to four internal links.
4. Your internal links should be relevant to your visitors.
Link only to content that provides the best value and information to your visitors. This will improve visitor engagement on your school website. Promoting content that doesn’t align with the article’s topic can drive away your reader’s interest.
For example, linking an article that includes tips for effectively running school tours to an article about improving your school’s website design is not relevant and can detract interest.
There are also other SEO practices and techniques that we will cover in other posts. For now, internal linking can help you begin SEO on your school website.
Tackling SEO for your school website may seem like a complex and daunting task. But if you’re employing inbound marketing strategies for your school, then SEO is an inevitable and crucial component of your overall plan. Keep in mind that it’s no longer about just having a website for your school, but providing your school an online presence. And your reach will depend on how you approach, plan, and implement On-page SEO, starting with internal linking.
The more SEO tactics you implement for your webpages, the more organic traffic your school website will obtain. A well-thought-out SEO strategy utilizes methods that can be easily implemented, like internal link building, but should be practiced regularly until it becomes second nature.