A beginner’s guide to optimising my school website for Search Engines

Do you often click on the Next button at the bottom of Google search results? Most people don’t. In fact, 55% of clicks come from the first three links alone (not counting paid ads). Getting your site to the top of the results page is what SEO for schools is all about.

New to search engine optimisation (SEO)? Here’s how you can get started.

Writing for Google

When you put a phrase into a search engine, that’s a keyword. That’s right – a keyword doesn’t have to be a single word. Here are some examples:

Using keywords in your text signals to Google that your site is relevant for that phrase. There are free tools that let you research what people are searching for. And lots of guides on where to use keywords on each page.

Pro tips for choosing keywords:

Search volume isn’t everything. ‘School’ has 246,000 UK searches per month, but it’s not a great choice. It includes people looking for national news, salsa schools – even SEO schools. ‘Secondary schools near me’ is better, because searchers are more likely to be prospective parents

Think about location. Your keyword research tool should let you specify your city or region. This gives you local data, rather than national stats. For example, 110 Oxford people search for ‘primary schools near me’ every month.

Your school name is an important keyword. If it’s fairly common, add your location. For example, rather than Notre Dame School, try Notre Dame Southwark (480 searches per month). 

Writing for humans

Google says it will promote helpful and high-quality content. Good writing and design matter when it comes to SEO for schools. Here are some tips to bear in mind:

Did you know that people read online content differently to printed text? In fact, most readers only skim. Web copy should be easy to digest and grab attention fast. Subheadings make your pages easier to navigate.

The Guardian targets a reading age of 14. The Sun aims for eight. Most schools have parents from all walks of life, so keep things simple. Readability tools like the ones in Word or Hemingway can help. (If your English teachers are busy.)

Show, don’t tell. You don’t need to tell people how friendly your school is, if you can make them feel it through your words and images. Collect favourite phrases and rules in a style guide for your school.

Finally, if you’d like readers to do something (like ordering a prospectus), then say so. This is a ‘call to action’ in marketing speak – and it works.

Technical matter

Google also measures the technical performance of your site. For example, how fast do the pages load? Is it mobile-friendly? You can register with Google Search Console for free. It tells you if there are any issues with indexing your pages and other useful data. There are lots of great guides available for different technical SEO requirements.

SEO isn’t a one-off effort. The internet changes every day and Google’s algorithm gets updates too. Start with the basics and then monitor your site’s traffic using free tools like Google Analytics. 

You may want to work with an SEO for schools specialist. But there’s lots you can do with a little research of your own. If you want to optimise your website, we’re here to help. Please get in touch.

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