The search bar is where it all begins. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a key component to designing your charter school website. In short, good SEO means your website is easy to find. When done right, SEO leads to lots of “organic” traffic to your site—if a parent in your city is looking for a school like yours, your school will appear high up in their search results.
What are best practices for SEO? The more often you refresh content on your site with new blog articles and web pages, the more search engine algorithms will look at your site and index the content that’s there. This is why a blog component to your website is essential.
If, for example, you want to be known as the STEM charter high school in your town, plan on publishing at least 10 distinct blog articles in six weeks all about your STEM curriculum, your STEM students (with their permission), your STEM teachers, and the STEM “extras” your school provides. All of this content will teach Google, Bing, and other search engines that your website is for high schoolers in your area and focuses on STEM.
So the upside here is: optimizing your website to provide good search results doesn’t cost money. The downside: it can cost time, energy, and effort to get the search rankings you’d like. The goal is to get on the first page of search engine results, but it takes some time.
Here’s what to consider as you embark on your SEO journey.
- Think about what families and kids might be searching for when they are looking for a school like yours.
- Put yourself in your prospective families’ shoes and think about the questions they are Googling, then write blog articles that answer those questions.
- Ask new families how they found your school and what they searched for online.
2. A blog is an important SEO tool, but every page of your site should be optimized for search.
For example, if you are a STEM charter in Sacramento, make sure you put the phrase “Sacramento STEM charter high school” on your homepage, and have a page dedicated to your STEM program on your site.
3. SEO can feel complicated, but even a simple strategy, like using keywords, can provide big results.
There are a few steps you can take for every page and blog post to make sure they’re SEO friendly, and there are tools out there that take a lot of the guesswork out of it. One such tool is keywords.
How to choose a Keyword
Let’s use our example from above—you are a STEM charter school in Sacramento. First, we’ll need to pick the keywords to optimize for. There are several ways to research which keywords are optimal, including Google’s own Keyword Planner and Moz’s Keyword Explorer. These tools provide information regarding the frequency of search for a particular keyword as well as options for different variations of a keyword.
Short-tail and Long-Tail Keywords
There are two basic types of keywords: short-tail and long-tail. Short-tail keywords are search phrases with only one or words—their length makes them less specific than searches with more words. Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases—they are more specific and are used when users are further along in the Marketing Funnel. When choosing your keywords, you’ll want to sift through both short-tail and long-tail keywords along with many variations.
Using our example, you might brainstorm the following keywords:
- Charter schools (“short-tail” keyword, broad appeal)
- Charter schools Sacramento
- Sacramento charter schools
- STEM schools Sacramento
- STEM charter schools
- STEM charter high school Sacramento (“long-tail” keyword, more specific appeal)
The goal for keyword optimization is to enable people to easily find exactly what it is they’re looking for. If you choose to optimize your website around the short-tail keyword “charter school,” it’s possible that anybody looking for a charter school anywhere could click on your search result. If a parent from Arizona or Los Angeles lands on your site, the odds are that they’ll bounce right off to go find what they are really looking for.
The practices above highlight the fact that you don’t just want anybody to find your site—you want people in your area who are looking for your type of charter school, and you want it to be easy for them to find you. Google likes to see that you have quality, engaged visitors who don’t immediately bounce from your site. They want to see you live up to your content promise, and when you do, the algorithm will reward you with a higher page rank.
There’s so much more to learn about SEO for your site. It’s a part of your digital marketing strategy, which is important for raising general awareness, fundraising, meeting enrollment targets, and creating a diverse network of champions that will nurture your school over the long term.
Want to dive deeper? Download the Digital Marketing Guide. This workbook will empower you to build and follow through on a simple digital marketing strategy for your school. You can use these pages to set goals for your school, refine your messaging, set strategic marketing goals, and achieve them through various digital marketing programs.