How to help your school stand out online

The internet has become the primary source of information for parents looking for the best school for their child, which means you need a strong online visibility. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help

1. Focus on content and structuring

The two most crucial elements of optimising your school’s online visibility are making sure your site is regularly updated and that it is easy for people and search engines to navigate.

Make sure that each page has an individual title and that all the information included is relevant. If you copy-paste large pieces of text from elsewhere or duplicate pages and content within your own site, the search engine will see it as a potential spam site and lower your ranking. You should also ensure that you follow web standards such as using alt tags to describe your images, and relevant text for any hyperlinks.

2. Be mobile-friendly

In April this year, Google expanded its ranking criteria to include mobile optimisation (how well your website displays on mobile/tablet devices).

Sites must now adapt to smartphone and tablet screens and provide a user-friendly interface

This change will have a huge impact, affecting searches in all languages worldwide. Sites must now be able to adapt to smartphone and tablet screens and provide a clear, user-friendly interface. You can test your site’s compatibility using Google’s own tool.

3. Choose the right keywords

Search engines are far more sophisticated these days, so the positioning of relevant keywords has become a lot more important. “Black hat search engine optimisation”, the tactic of stuffing or spamming your page with keywords to boost rankings, is no longer effective. Search engines must be able to make sense of your content and data, so picturing them as a human trying to read your page is the best way to ensure that keywords are not inappropriately placed or over-used.

Long-tail keywords are less popular as they have a lower “search volume” – how many people will search for that terminology? – but some SEO experts say that a return to these will be the way forward.

For example: using “Primary school curriculum for 2015” will face less competition for ranking than using “curriculum” on its own. Although far more people will search the term “curriculum”, many people are moving towards inputting questions rather than just single words.

4. Backlinks and social media

The number of external links to your website, known as backlinks, determines the popularity of your website. You can improve this through sharing links to your website on social media. Google+ is perfect for this as it links directly to Google’s search engine.

Create a Google+ account for the school featuring your website link and your search rankings will increase almost immediately.

Each backlink has a weight associated with its positioning. For example, a link to your website on a BBC page will be awarded greater weight than one on a friend’s blog, as it has a better reputation.

So there you have it, a simple four-step process to ensuring your school is easy to navigate and visible online; something that could make a real impact on the perception of your school if done properly.

Darren Ryan is technical services manager at the website company PrimarySite

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