According to Wikipedia, search engine optimization, or SEO, is defined as the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine's unpaid results. What this means is that by using SEO techniques for your school's website, you will be increasing traffic to the site, improving keyword ranking, and boosting the number of inquiries received. However, before you can begin the SEO process, here are some suggestions for creating a well-visited website and increasing exposure among the World Wide Web.
Researching appropriate keywords for your school should be the first thing you do. Several key criteria should be included when determining what keywords the school's website should rank for, including:
- Relevancy to your school - is it private, Christian, classical, etc.
- Keywords used by competing schools
- Grade level
- Predicted keyword traffic
Make a list of words that you think your website should rank for, then use a traffic predicting website to determine how many people will most likely use that word in the search engines. Google AdWords has an excellent and free tool for predicting keyword traffic.
Now that you know what keywords you would like to rank for, it is time to write content around those keywords. One common mistake is to put the keyword in the content as many times as possible. Not only will that method not help your SEO efforts, but it will actually hurt your rankings and could get you thrown off of the search engines completely. Instead sprinkle your keyword in different variations throughout the website. For example, instead of constantly writing "Memphis Christian School," you could say something like "Christian school in Memphis." Keep in mind that the content should be written for your readers, not the search engines. Only use keywords where needed because Google will consider it unnatural and will penalize your website for it.
Having a well-designed website that will appeal to your audience is not an option, but a requirement if you want to get traffic. This includes the placement of your menu, speed, the layout, and overall design of the website. One of the most important aspects of website design in 2015 and beyond is that it is mobile responsive. This means that your website will automatically reconfigure itself to be readable by the device being used to view the website. Google is now penalizing websites with lower search rankings who do not have mobile responsive websites. Also, writing content that your audience will want to read is a must. If any part of the website design has a below average design, your visitors will leave your site as quickly as they entered it.
Link building is an important component of SEO for schools, especially when high-ranking websites are linking to yours. There are plenty of link building websites out there that will allow you to list your website in their directory. Do not do it! These websites often have low page and keyword ranks. Instead, search for websites that have a powerful online presence and will put you and your school in the forefront of your target audience. This is easier said than done and in future articles on SEO will talk more in depth about link building.
After giving it a few weeks, check your rankings both on the search engines and on websites like Google Webmaster's Tools in order to get a better idea of what is working and what isn't in your SEO campaign.
SEO results will not happen overnight, but by being consistent and following these tips, you will quickly begin to see more website traffic.