For small schools, your rankings in search engines like Google are the secret ingredient to a successful marketing strategy. To reach your marketing goals and improve local search results, your website and its content needs to be optimized to its full potential.
In this blog post, we’ll give you insider secrets on how your small school website can rank higher in local searches and positively impact your SEO, marketing funnels, and student recruiting strategy.
What is a local search?
Local searches and local SEO occurs when a Google search query for a business is made and Google provides top results for businesses based on the user’s location. For example, if you search “small private school near me,” Google will show primary results for schools within a short mile radius from your current location.
As shown in the example below, Google will showcase the closest options in a list format connected to Google Maps, where users can read through ratings, hours, and find the addresses, in addition to other pertinent information. This is called a “Google 3-pack.”
There are several strategies that can help improve local search results for your small school, including claiming your Google Business Profile, optimizing your website homepage, and more. Keep reading to find learn more!
1. Create Google Business Profile to Improve Local Search Results
We’ve written about Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) countless times, and cannot recommend it enough for your small school marketing! This tool is a Google profile your small school can create that allows you to connect with your school communities and directly track online performance and appearance through Google metrics. A Google Business Profile also allows you to be able to add your school’s location and contact information, as well as show community reviews and interactions with your communities. It’s essentially a one-stop shop for all the elements needed to make a first impression.
A Google Business Profile can be enhanced in several ways to impress Google searchers, and parents who may discover your profile. Note the different items listed above: Address (which is connected with Google Maps), contact information, hours of operation, reviews, website links, and even uploaded images. If you haven’t set up a Google Business Profile for your small school yet, you can learn how to do so here— we’d be happy to help you through this process.
2. Prioritize the content on website homepage
The homepage of your website is your first impression to prospective families. It is the first thing site users lay their eyes on, and it should be designed to prioritize the most important content on your website. It should contain the most important information necessary for a parent to understand the values and uniqueness of your school. It’s never a good sign if an interested parent or potential school family scrolls through your homepage and their impression of your school is soured by poor organization and lack of helpful content.
Organize your homepage with the most important content up top. This includes the name of your school, your tagline, who you are and what your mission statement is. For example, if you are a Montessori preschool in Raleigh, North Carolina, make sure that information is plugged throughout your homepage and is easily found. Users shouldn’t have to scroll to find the most important data.
Additionally, make sure your most important information is consistent throughout your website! This will help your SEO as Google will recognize your website as an actual entity and not a scam website created by bots in order to improve local search results.
3. Focus on the power of text
Though a picture can say a thousand words, there truly is no greater power for your website than strong text. Pictures and other multimedia are fantastic elements to plug into your website and they are necessary to convey the message you send to school communities (make sure you use Alt Text!) ; however, they cannot totally replace text and important information.
It should be a goal for your website to have a phrase that tells your audiences “this is the kind of school we are.” A phrase like this should encompass the “about” of your school and share your mission without getting into too many details.
Design TLC client Charlotte Jewish Day School’s “about” statement is: “Charlotte Jewish Day School is a vibrant, growing learning community rooted in an educational philosophy that motivates, challenges, and celebrates the whole child and is united by our shared love for and connection to Judaism.”
This statement is short, sweet, and to the point. It explains what the school is, why the school exists, and who they serve, without getting into the nitty gritty.
At the end of the day, you must be able to tell the story of your school through text in addition to pictures and video.
While images are great, text is what is recognized in Google searches. As stated above, your school’s mission statement or “about” statement should be repeated throughout your website and optimized for SEO, so it can help you rank higher in local Google searches. If your school is an all female school in Boston, and nowhere on your website does it say that you are an all female school in Boston, then you must readjust your website text accordingly.
4. Create a useful footer
A website footer is a space to plug important links and necessary information about your school. While the footer of your website can encapsulate your school branding, it’s not a place to get overly creative and out of the box. Your footer should be simple, effective, and clear in order to help improve local search results.
Take a look at the website footer for Parker School. It is in line with the school theme with brand colors and fonts, yet it is easy to digest and full of important information. At its core, your footer should be useful. Include primary links like how to apply, how to contact your staff, the school address, social links, etc.
The footer is important because the information included can be tagged in Google searches, and can help you rank higher through assets like Google Maps.
Does your small school website need to be optimized to rank higher in local searches? Look no further— we’re ready to help you achieve the school website of your dreams. Contact us today for a FREE 15-minute consultation.