Learn how to increase the visibility of your school online through improved search, content, digital and bandwidth opportunities on your school’s website.
AT A GLANCE:
- Five common pitfalls of school websites today include inconsistent information, unhelpful Search Engine Results Page (SERP) titles and descriptions, no access to analytics or tracking on your site, losing track of people interested in your school, and a website that’s slow to load.
- You can improve your website’s performance by ensuring your school info is clear and consistent, writing enticing SERP titles and descriptions, enabling Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM) on your website, keeping track of your leads and learning how to increase the loading speed of your site.
Five common pitfalls of school websites today
These five website challenges can compromise your credibility and discourage visitors to your site:
Information and citations online about your school are inconsistent
Your headlines and descriptions in search engine results are dry or unhelpful
You can’t access traffic analytics & user tracking for your school’s website
You lose track of people once they register for an open house or apply to your school
Your school’s website is slow to load
Improve your website’s performance
Each of these problems has a solution that gives you an opportunity to improve your website and your school’s online presence.
1 Check that all of your school information online is clear and consistent
Ensure your NAP (name, address, phone number) citations are correct and consistent everywhere, online and off. Inconsistent citations negatively impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and limit those who are searching for your site. List your school in all relevant directories, whether general (Google Search, Google Maps, Bing, Facebook, etc.) or specific (OurKid.net, cicic.ca, UniRank, etc.). Make sure all descriptions and information about your school are accurate, consistent and on brand.
2 Make your search result titles and snippets interesting and useful
Every page of a website has a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) listing that includes a meta title and description on Google. SERPs are what appear after people type search words or phrases into Google. A SERP from one of your website’s pages may be the first thing someone sees about your school. You have control over what they read, so it’s important to make sure both your headline and description will interest users enough to click through and visit your website.
3 Enable Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager on your website
Many schools rely on third-party administrative tools for their websites. While these can be helpful for an Admissions team to stream online admissions (often connected to your school’s CRM software), it’s problematic from a marketing point of view, because access to your website’s analytics is restricted. Third-party providers protect your site’s data and they may not grant you access, yet you need to understand your site’s data for successful campaign management.
Contact your third-party provider. If you can gain access, the two most important (and free) measurement tools you should enable are Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM). GA tracks basic user actions and behaviours, acquisition channels and conversions. Google Tag Manager (GTM) tracks more complex actions—how far users scroll down a page, how much of a video they view, what page content they view and other specific data. This will help you target and deliver campaign ads to those who are already interested in what you have to offer.
4 Keep track of curious people so you can nurture their interest
Many schools like the niche education software options that are available because they meet a specific need (such as integration with Admissions departments). These software developers can make things work technically but marketing considerations are a low priority. As a result, schools often find that software support isn’t available, pages and forms offer a poor user experience, page content appears visually inconsistent, and—most importantly—schools can’t communicate effectively with prospective parents. Once a parent clicks away from your site and onto a third-party provider’s page, you’ll never know how they ended their search, and if they did or didn’t attend an open house or apply to your school.
When you’re able to build pages on your own website to manage applications and registrations, you’ll know who your “leads” are—those who have shown interest in your school by attending an event or applying online—and you’ll be able to stay in touch with them. A marketing company can help you communicate your school’s value proposition and benefits visually and through messaging that speaks to the needs and wants of your target audiences.
5 Make sure your site speed is fast
Waiting for a site to load can be frustrating for anyone. But site speed is also a key factor in how Google ranks your website. When all other factors are equal, a fast, optimized site will rank higher than one that’s slow to load. A fast-loading site is comparable to an email or phone call that’s returned quickly—it creates the impression that you are responsive.
Several factors can affect site speed. Your server might be small. You might have chosen a less expensive option on a shared server where you compete for bandwidth with other higher traffic sites. The images you use on your site might be huge files that aren’t optimized for web, which causes pages to load slowly. Your site’s programming could be inefficient, which also causes slower loading times. Finally, mobile phones have less bandwidth, so Google will reward (i.e., rank) a fast mobile site first, which will in turn improve search engine results.
Having a strong online presence for your school doesn’t mean you have to replace your entire website. It’s important that online information about your school that directs people to your website is clear and consistent. It’s also critical to be able to analyze and track the behaviours of those who use your site and click on your ads, so you can target and deliver more specific content to those who are already looking.
Metric Marketing has two decades of experience in creating websites for organizations. We work with private school marketing directors and Head of Schools to produce or optimize websites and marketing campaigns and get measurable results. If you want help getting the word out about your school or organization, give us a call.
Want to learn how you can present your school more consistently online?
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This article was originally published on [TBD, 2019]. All content is © Metric Marketing Inc., 2019. Please link to this article if you quote or use any content from this page.