A school blog is an important platform for connecting with your current and potential families. It will improve your search engine optimization (SEO), increase traffic to your website via inbound links and reinforces your school as an educational expert in your community.
Blogging is an influential tool for schools today. It is an ideal way to drive traffic and increase inquiries. Google loves a frequently updated blog and will reward a relevant, consistent blog with higher search engine rankings. It helps you establish your own unique presence and establishes your school as a thought leader without the need for a full-scale marketing department or a massive budget.
However, it takes more than consistency to make much progress. You need to understand how SEO works in order to make your website presence stand out.
To accomplish this, you need to implement some proven tactics to boost your ranking in Google. Here are seven techniques you can use to get your content ranked higher.
1. Keyword research
When it comes to improving your school blog’s search engine rankings, the place to start is with keyword research. Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms your potential families are typing into the Google search bar.
Keyword research tells you the topics your potential families care about and how popular those topics are with them. Research the best topics first and then drill down on specific keywords.
Here’s how to research the best keywords:
Step 1. Topics list
Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your families. Think of each topic as a “bucket”. An example of a topic might be “Should I send my child to a private school?”
Step 2. Keyword phrases
Fill your “buckets” with keyword phrases. These are specific keywords or phrases you think your families are searching for. For example, if the topic is “Should I send my child to a private school?” keyword phrases might be:
- Is private school worth it?
- Reasons why private schools are good
- Benefits of sending child to private school
- Private vs public school
- Comparison of private vs public school
- Private school vs public school statistics
- Private school vs public school pros and cons
- And so on
Step 3. Research related search terms
Use keyword research tools to further identify winning keywords. Here’s a list of free tools:
Google Keyword Planner
Enter a seed keyword and discover many keyword suggestions, plus search volumes and competition ratings.
Google Trends analyzes the relative search popularity of a keyword over time. It can help you plan your content calendar because it identifies seasonal and other trends.
Keyword Sheeter pulls thousands of autocomplete suggestions from Google. Just enter a seed keyword and click “sheet keywords”. This tool is great for pulling lots of keyword ideas quickly. It also will give you positive and negative filters, which are helpful for eliminating irrelevant keywords.
Answer the Public
Answer the Public finds questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals and related searches.
Keyword Surfer is a free Google extension that shows estimated global and monthly search volumes for any query typed into Google. If you are wanting to limit your searches to the United States, you can turn the global search volume feature off. This is a really helpful tool; it also adds search volume estimates to the autocomplete results, making it easy to identify search volume results.
Keyworddit is a unique keyword research tool that pulls results from Reddit. Enter a subreddit and this tool will mine titles and comments of threads to find up to 500 results.
Keywordtool.io is an autocomplete scraper like Keyword Sheeter but with a few key differences. First, it’s more robust. Secondly, it pulls from other search engines besides Google, such as YouTube, Amazon, Bing, eBay and elsewhere.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console helps you track your website’s performance in organic search. This means it shows a lot of data about the keywords you already rank for. You can get a lot of useful insights from Google Search Console. In addition to showing your highest-ranking keywords, it will also show you keywords you are ranking for that you haven’t targeted yet. If any of these have lots of impressions and a low click-through rate, it might be worth targeting that keyword with a new page or post.
Questiondb.io finds the questions people are asking about a specific topic. It pulls these from a database of 48M questions sourced from Reddit. You can sort the questions by topic and popularity. This is important because you can group keywords together. This helps you know what questions to answer in your blog. You can also click on a link back to the original source of the thread in case you need more information.
Moz Keyword Explorer
The Moz Keyword Explorer does an awesome job of finding “lateral” keyword ideas, meaning it will give you out-of-the-box suggestions you probably won’t find anywhere else. It will tell you how many clicks you can expect to get from each target keyword as well as priority insights.
Don’t overlook the power of Google as a keyword research tool. In addition to the “autosuggest feature” that pops up when you are typing a keyword or keyword phrase into the search bar, Google gives you “Related Searches” and “People Also Search For” keywords in the right-hand column or bottom of the page. Keep drilling down using these tools to come up with hundreds of relevant keywords.
Ubersuggest is a free keyword research tool that specializes in generating new keyword ideas. You can also use it to identify keywords on other domains.
There are a number of paid keyword research tools you may want to consider. Premium, paid research tools offer a deeper dive into keywords and give you more advanced insights. A few to consider include:
Hubspot SEO and Content Strategy Tool
If you’re a Hubspot customer, you’ll be able to identify and research topics easily using their proprietary keyword research strategy tool.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
This tool gives you in-depth information on each keyword, including search volume, first page competition and how many searchers actually click on a result. It also gives you keyword difficulty and how many backlinks you’ll need to rank on the first page of Google.
SECockpit is designed for SEO professionals. It gives a lot of in-depth information on search trends, organic competition and traffic estimates. While still helpful for newbies, this is a great tool for sizing up the competition and filter the top results.
SEMRush is another well-respected keyword research tool. You can quickly find search volume, cost-per-click, competitive density, difficulty, top-ranking pages and more
Step 4. Calculate the keyword golden ratio
The keyword golden ratio (KGR) is a data-driven strategy for finding long-tail keywords that are underserved on the internet. Here’s the formula:
The number of Google results that have the keyword phrase in the title divided by the local monthly search volume where the local monthly search is less than 250.
- If KGR is less than .25 = You should rank in the top 100 once your page is indexed in Google
- If KGR is between .25 and 1 = You should rank in the top 250 pretty quickly
- If KGR is greater than 1 = You know this is a competitive term even though the search volume is quite low (under 250).
For best results, target terms that rate under 0.25.
Step 5. Narrow down your keyword list further
Use Google Keyword Planner Tool to flag any keywords that are too competitive or have too low search volume. Make sure you are including a healthy mix of “head” keywords (keywords with only one or two words) and long-tail keywords (three or more word phrases) in your mix. If you’re unsure about a keyword, check Google Trends to see if the keyword might be a good one to invest in (if it’s trending upwards).
2. Give your audience value
You already know building trust with your audience is THE most important aspect of marketing.
The way you build trust is to provide value. Providing value to your audience is understanding WHO your audience is, and what they CARE ABOUT. Here are some ways to go about doing this on your school blog.
Share your unique point-of-view
What makes your school special and unique? My guess is there are many ways in which your school is special compared to other schools in your community. Once you have identified this unique perspective you bring to educating your students, you can use your point of view to explore topics of interest your target families, thus giving them reasons to “KNOW”, “LIKE” and “TRUST” you.
Teach them something they want to learn
Parents want to learn new things, especially about how to be a better parent or how they can better support their child’s educational experience. There are SO many topics related to parenting. Here are 304 Pinterest Board Topics that can easily be converted to school blog topics…
Make them think
Humans are thinkers; it’s a part of our nature. If you can create content that makes people think, you also give them value that connects them to your school and makes them want more.
Making them think may be as simple as asking a question that goes deeper than just the surface. Questions create an open loop in our minds and we strive to find an answer. So think about it and try to come to a conclusion. That conclusion or response could be something that changes the life of a parent or student. And is valuable. Insanely valuable.
Share your message
Your school has a message to share. And that message becomes a part of your marketing and informs the content you create. Your message may not be for every family and that’s OK! They are not a prospective family for your school. Think very specifically about who needs to hear your message and who will resonate with it the most.
Tell them a story
People love stories. Take the time to collect stories from your teachers, staff, and administrators. Stories allow you to connect with your audience and that is valuable because people crave connection.
Get to know them
Ask your target audience questions about themselves. Ask your enrollment officers to share their insights about your prospective families. Learn who they are and what they need and want from your school.
3. On-page SEO
Here’s a list of the on-page SEO tactics you should keep in mind:
- Focus on 1-2 long-tail keywords that match the intent of your target audience
- Use your keywords in the most important places such as the title, meta description, headings, content, and URL
- Optimize the meta description and use all the space
- Optimize your images with image alt text
- Don’t use too many similar topic tags
- Use internal links whenever possible
4. Choose a format that has the best chance of getting links and shares
Research has shown that certain blog post formats tend to get more links and social shares. In research conducted by Buzzsumo and Moz, content that makes people think and form opinions, are authoritative, well-researched and evidence-based perform the best.
Types of formats that work the best tend to be in the form of:
- List posts
- How to
5. Word count
How important is word count when it comes to high-ranking school blog posts?
The truth is there’s no precise, optimal word count. Extremely short content (i.e. 50 words) has been known to outrank 1,000-word blog posts. Any length can work if it’s written well.
That said, research has shown that longer, more in-depth posts rank higher in Google. Searchmetrics found that the top 10 blog posts contain an average of 1,285 words. serpIQ found 1,500 to be a good target length.
More important than word count is the topic. There is no minimum length or even minimum number of posts or minimum number of pages on a website; content quality and relevance are key.
6. AIDA model
The AIDA marketing model is a simple formula for thinking about marketing and communications. AIDA stands for:
These “stages” refer to the process a prospective parent goes through before enrolling in your school. The idea is to identify where in the AIDA process a parent is and supporting them in whatever stage they are in so they can move on to the next stage.
For example, “awareness” is when a parent first becomes aware of your school. What information do they need at this point to want to learn more about your school? What will help the parent “know, like and trust” you enough to become interested in enrolling their child in your school?
“Interest” refers to the next stage when a parent becomes interested in learning more about your school. What questions is the prospective parent likely to have? What will help them form a desire for enrolling in your school?
“Desire” is when a parent knows they like your school and possibly want to invest in enrollment. What questions will they most likely have at this stage? What questions are forming in their mind as they compare your school with other schools they are interested in?
The final “A” in the acronym stands for “Action”. This is where the parent is ready to enroll. What next step will the parent need to make to enroll? What objections might they have and how will you address those objections?
Some say the AIDA model has been used by marketers for over three centuries. This is likely because the AIDA model has been shown to be an effective marketing approach.
7. Promotion tactics
Unfortunately, research shows most content never gets much traction. One reason may be because many blog owners don’t have a strong blog distribution and promotion plan in place.
There are many ways to promote your blog online.
Promote your school blog to your existing audience
When you share your post with your existing audience, you are bringing your fans or prospective families back to your website time and again – and keeping your school “top-of-mind”. This is an incredibly smart tactic. You should promote to your email subscribers and social media fans and followers.
Run Facebook ads
Even if you don’t have a large budget for content promotion, you should promote your blog post to new, potential families using the power of Facebook advertising. You should be able to get clicks for less than $0.30 per click-through, so even if you spend $100 per post you should be able to get 30 clicks – and many more impressions (people becoming aware of your school).
Publish (or repurpose content) on social bookmarking sites
Social bookmarking sites are online services that allow you to share blog posts with other members of a community by simply tagging your blog page with a web-based tool that “bookmarks” the page so you can easily access and share it.
Examples of social bookmarking sites include:
Creating good, quality blog content can be costly and time-consuming. If you’re going to invest the time and money, make sure your blog posts continue to attract traffic and views over the long term. The strategies above should help!
Click here to read the original article posted by Brendan Schneider on SchneiderB Media on Feb 27, 2020.