Coronavirus has flipped the education world upside down. As this school year begins, teachers, students, and their families all adjust to new implications of online learning. Over the summer, enrollment in private, independent schools spiked as frustrated parents searched for alternatives to public school for their children. Enrollment for this school year may be a bottleneck now as the semester carries on, but enrollment for next semester will begin before we can blink.
No one knows how this school year will pan out, or if social distancing regulations will become the new normal in the future. Despite the confusion and uncertainty of your school’s modality, your team is going to eventually begin preparing to welcome the next batch of students. Parents will begin their online research, making your school’s website important as ever.
While parents and families do their online research, you want your school to be at the forefront. Strong rankings in Google searches can be chalked up to your school’s SEO efforts. In this article we’ll explain how to align your school’s SEO with your target market during the pandemic.
Key points for understanding your school’s SEO
First thing’s first: you need to understand the basic fundamentals of private school SEO. It’s imperative to know how:
- Google evaluates and ranks online content in searches
- Your local school community searches for online information
- High-quality content impacts your school’s website
It’s beneficial to analyze Google Analytics for your school and detect gaps in your online marketing efforts. See where exactly you need to focus when adjusting your SEO. Being aware of the current state of your SEO and recognizing what needs changing is a strong first step to standing out against your competitors.
If you’re in charge of your private school’s marketing efforts, you may already know the ins and outs of this. You know people are spending more time on their computers than ever before. Parents are frustrated, overwhelmed, and actively looking for different learning experiences for their kids. Next, you need to analyze your largest target audience: parents.
Analyzing your SEO target audience
In this situation, your target audience is most likely parents and families of the students you’re trying to enroll. For your SEO to be effective, you need to know what is making them tick– what are their needs, their current online behaviors?
Right now, the patience of parents is low. They may be searching for private school information, but the searches are shallow; most parents won’t venture past the second or third page of Google results. It’s imperative that your school makes the first or second page of results.
How parents are searching for private schools online
To better understand the gaps in your SEO, it’s important to know how your audiences are doing for their research. What exactly are parents searching for on Google during their online searches? According to a case study completed by Truth Tree Consulting, Google searches for “private schools” in July were the highest they had been in five years. The same trend applies for the search “online tutors.” What methods are helping parents search more effectively? The following are a few searching methods that parents employ:
- Google search filters (location, type of school, etc.)
- A simple Google search is an obvious first step for any online resaerch. In short, parents are condensing their Google search results by applying basic keywords and simple filters like location, type of private school, etc.
- To help filter the millions of results the internet provides in a simple search, using quotation marks around the information narrows the search down. For example, if a parent searched “private schools, Richmond Virginia” then Google would show results only for private schools listed in Virginia.
- Directory sites
- Some parents will narrow their private school search results by digging through one of the many local and national private school directories. These directories, like the National Association of Independent Schools, help parents filter their online searches.
- Private school review sites
- Review sites like Private School Review help parents filter their online searches by allowing parents to geographically filter schools, compare them to competitors, and read reviews of alumni.
- Social media sites
- Social media is where your audiences can truly see the culture of your school. Parents will search for your social media accounts to see what content you post and get a first impression of your school’s brand.
Adjusting your SEO
How do these methods tie into your school’s SEO efforts?
After recognizing how parents are searching for private schools, your team should adjust the keywords you include in your content. After adjusting the keywords, include them in your website titles so they stand out in Google searches. A strong website title, slug, and meta description will encourage parents to visit your website.
Once you have made a list of keywords, put them into a tracking tool like Ubersuggest or KWFinder and see where you rank. We track keywords over time to see progress in ranking, or to be alerted when a position drops. We love seeing big jumps after a relaunch or optimization effort, such as this one which jumped from 29th place to 3rd!
Do your own Google research. Use an incognito window in your browser (otherwise Google knows that you already visit your own website and will skew results), search common phrases like “private schools accepting applications”? If you notice these are popular searches in your area, it’d be beneficial to include “Accepting Applications” in your website title to attract parents that are looking for those words specifically. You can do your own research on online community forums, like Facebook, Reddit, or Quora.
At Design TLC, we can help you optimize and track your website content. Contact us today to learn more about how we can guide you through methods to improve your school website SEO.