If you Google’d your school’s name, you’d think it would automatically show up first, right?
Try giving one of your school’s names a Google. If you’ve never done any digital ads or had an SEO specialist look at your site, chances are your website shows on the first page of Google, but there’s a whole lot of ads form other schools popping up first.
Why would Google not show your own school name first? Here are a couple factors and somewhat simple fixes you can try.
Add your school(s) to Google My Business
If this is sounding like a foreign language to you, then you likely haven’t done this yet. Adding your “business” to Google helps it recognize your location, and adds it straight to maps. That way, when someone searches your name, Google knows they’re searching for a place–your place.
Here’s how to add your school to Google My Business:
1.Head to Google.com/business
2. Click ‘Manage Now’
3. Sign in to a gmail account. It might be best to create a gmail specifically for your school if you don’t have one, but you could use a personal account.
4. Type in the name of your school. You will have to do this for each school if you are a district.
5. It’ll ask if you want to “add a location.” Click yes.
6. Fill out the address
7. It may ask you to drop a pin on the exact location of your business. Adjust it and save
8. Fill out the school’s phone number and website
9. Click finish
*You can also see the steps in the screenshots provided below.
To verify your location, Google will send you a postcard with a code. It can only be mailed to the address you enter on Google, so much sure you’re location is ready to receive mail before adding it to Google!
Follow the instruction on the postcard to finalize the process. It’s a little bit of a headache, but a Google customer rep can help you, and this really does make a big impact on your search results.
Or, if it’s not really worth the headache, there just may be a school marketing agency somewhere available to help?
Find something unique about your name (if it’s common)
If your school’s name is very unique already, don’t worry about this step. But School names tend have similar themes, like “Horizon” or “Benjamin Franklin.” If that’s you, it could be one reason why your school isn’t standing out. Try adding an Academy, Charter Schools or whatever is already a part of your brand and make that known. So people know not to just AwesomeSauce School, but AwesomeSauce Charter School.
This will mean that you have the full name branded like this on any materials you have, print, digital and website. Which leads us to…
Make sure your school name and info is clearly stated on your website
A lot of things with search engine optimization (SEO) is back-end. Meaning a specialist goes into your website and adds some code to help Google read the site quicker, thus ranking it higher.
But there are a few simple things you can try yourself to help Google know your school and the name better.
1. Include your school name in headlines, like a “Welcome to AwesomeSauce School” or “Why Enroll with AwesomeSauce School?” on the front page. Google notices headlines a little bit more than the actual text.
2. Have text on the pages, with keywords. Having a couple paragraphs on each page (300 words if possible) allows Google to see that it is, in fact, a real site. It also helps your viewers to know the same, which means more conversion rates.
Keywords are phrases people use to search your site. For example, “charter schools in az.” The name of your school will definitely be a keyword you’ll want to include in the text where you can. Don’t force it, though. Jarring text loses your reader, which ultimately loses potential enrollments.
3. Include a contact page. A simple Contact Us form with all your school’s information in addition to your home page makes a difference. Include it.
4. If you use WordPress, download Yoast. There’s probably a feature like this if you use Wix or some other website builder. For WordPress users, first download the Yoast plugin.
Once it’s downloaded and the plugin is activated, you’ll see something like this on each page.
For your home page, try to include the name of your school, so Google knows; 1. The title of the page to show in search results 2. What the page is about
If you’re unsure how to download a plugin on WordPress, give us a call. We can help take care of your site.
Add ‘alt tags’ to all photos on your site
Again, we’re going to assume you have WordPress for this mini tutorial. If you don’t….you really should. The steps are going to vary for other website builders, but will be sort of similar if you want to try these.
When you upload a photo to your website, it gets added to your “Media Library,” which you can see on your dashboard here.
This will take you to a “photo gallery” of every photo you’ve uploaded so far. Click on a photo and you’ll see a few options, such adding a caption, a title, a description and alt text.
Make sure you fill out all of these for each picture. For one, you have to have descriptions to make your site ADA compliant. For another, it will help with search results on images.
So, try adding your school name to a few pictures. It just might help you get back on top.
Have an SEO specialist take a look
Those specialized in search optimization will be able to to tell you if there is some back-end or even really simple fixes you ought to do to help your school rank higher on Google.
If nothing else works, this is your next step. We just so happen to have SEO specialists right here, at our office. What a coincidence!
Place some Digital Ads on Google
Setting up an Adwords account is free. We’ll have a “user guide” soon available for you to follow if you don’t know where to start. Stay tuned!
But the biggest reason somebody would be outranking you on search is because they placed an ad for your school name. Kind of a trick move, but other schools are allowed to do it and they will!
Set up your AdWord account, and make sure you place a good dollar amount for it, otherwise, those who outbid you will still show up over your ad.
This one is a lot to try on your own. If you’d like help getting started on digital advertising, give us a call at 602.490.0837 or email Trent.Hess@FlipSwitch.com. We’d be happy to see how we can help grow your schools and retain more students today!