SEO for Schools: A Complete Guide [2023]

Suppose you are a school or education provider targeting local and international students. Imagine if a parent or prospective student is looking for courses or the schools like yours through search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.).

You must appear in the SERP results and grab those enquiries and enrolments. In that case, I am sure you know the importance of Google’s first-page ranking.

Currently, there is massive competition in the market and parents and students have many options to choose from regarding their education and desired discipline.

It is vital to have solid online branding, credibility and ranking on search engines to portray a strong brand and top choice of students to get more enrolments. In short, Google’s top ranking is significant when your prospectives are contemplating it.

I have 7 years of experience in the education industry. I worked for one of the leading PEI in Singapore, offering Diploma to Degree, Masters and Doctorate pathways. I was responsible for the yearly digital marketing strategy and lead generation for Singapore, Malaysia and Tajikistan campuses. To grow the domain authority, I added SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Content Marketing, Blogging, high authority domain Backlinks and Digital PR submission in my digital marketing strategies, and here below is the outcome.

Here are some samples of my digital marketing results for the Education industry:

Google Analytics Screenshot of Singapore Education Website Digital Marketing Project.
Google Analytics Screenshot of Singapore Education Website Digital Marketing Project.

Google Search Console Screenshot of Singapore Education Website Digital Marketing Project.
Google Search Console Screenshot of Singapore Education Website Digital Marketing Project.

Regarding quality leads and long-term results, I strongly recommend SEO and Google Search Network (GSN) marketing. Yes, I kept a higher budget for these two online marketing channels, and the results are satisfactory.

The #1 Result In Google Gets 27.6% of All Clicks. Only 0.63% of Google searchers click on something from the second page. That is why I kept hitting for the top position of my education site through SEO and GSN.

In this article, I’ll discuss my experience with what you should be aware of about SEO and its role in digital marketing for the school or University you are promoting. Let’s get started by discussing the definition of what “SEO” stands for.

What is SEO for schools?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be described as implementing the correct practices in (and off) the school’s website to ensure that search engines determine that you’re the most suitable option for the user’s search query.

For instance:

If you’re an education provider in Singapore, you would like your school and available programmes to appear on the first page of Google when a potential parent or student types in “private school Singapore”.

Google.com.sg search results page screenshot for private school Singapore keyword.
Google.com.sg search results page screenshot for private school Singapore keyword.

Consider it this way…

Google (and the other search engines) would like users to discover valuable and useful content when they browse their sites. Otherwise, they would need help to keep people using these platforms.

Thus, Google will only show relevant content they consider valuable based on keywords users search for and ensure users are satisfied.

If your school wants to increase the number of students, SEO will be an essential part of your marketing plan. Let’s look at some strategic ways your school can boost its SEO ranking.

How Can I Make My School Appear on Google?

Search engine optimisation can become complicated and often appears like you’ll need an advanced degree to apply. Even looking at a few fundamental SEO strategies and having a firm grasp of the fundamentals could significantly improve the rankings of your school.

Here are a few SEO tips that any website of a school must implement:

Pick the Right Keywords

The first step of SEO strategy is to conduct keyword research that involves identifying the terms your target audiences are looking for. 

Google Keyword Planner Screenshot.
Google Keyword Planner Screenshot.

You can use the free tool from Google, available under Google Ads. It is called Keyword Planner available under Tools & Settings.

Screenshot of Google Ads Tools & Setting Features.
Screenshot of Google Ads Tools & Setting Features.

Alternatively, many paid tools are available such SEMrush, AHREFS and many others.

Conduct an On-Page SEO Audit and Fixing

School and University websites are prone to have a lot of pages, including sub-domains. But the majority of their pages need to be addressed by SEO.

These landing pages that aren’t noticed can include pages containing courses that were removed from the school’s curriculum or even whole sections of the website, including news or blog.

On-page SEO consists of many tasks. Ensuring images have an alt tag, appropriate metadata and word count on the target pages.

Let the education SEO experts assist you with finding and fixing orphaned pages of the website and all other on-page education SEO issues.

Be Alert for Duplicate and Plagiarism Content and Fix It

Content is the most crucial element for SEO for schools, and duplicate content can damage any website’s ranking, particularly in education. 

One of the most significant issues with the same content found on .edu sites is an incorrect application of HTTPS-secured protocol. For instance, many school sites are accessible simultaneously via HTTP and HTTPS. 

The version with an index of the website is the secure one. Although users may not know the technical aspects of fast connections, they know that they prefer an HTTPS website when they provide personal data, such as the data required to enrol online.

I rely on the best tools, such as Copyscape, to find duplicate content. There are many free tools available that you can use, for example, SEO Review ToolDupli Checker and Copywritely. Still, with the free version, there are word limits.

Website Indexing Issue

Examining the indexing of educational websites is vital to ensure the health of your site’s SEO. However, checking for indexing issues is essential when designing or revamping the website.

Indexation is crucial in building a solid SEO base and is one of the most frequently encountered issues that cause crawl mistakes.

In simple terms, to appear in the search engine’s results, your website pages must first be accessible to search engine crawlers.

You can use this formula on Google to check how many pages are indexed:

site:domainname (e.g. site:https://articlesenior.com)

Alternatively, if you have set up the Google Search Console, go to INDEX -> PAGES -> View data about indexed pages.

Check indexing of the website in Google Search Console
Check indexing of the website in Google Search Console

Website Loading Speed Must Be Resolved

The speed of page loading can impact SEO and is one of the crucial ranking factors directly for Google, which was verified through Google’s Algorithm Speed Update back in 2018. 

One of the leading causes of slow loading speed for educational websites is web hosting. Because your server data centre, CDN, SSL and many other factors are crucial and are considered by the search engine algorithms.

To get better results from your education site’s SEO, seek SEO expert assistance on the web hosting plan selection.

In addition, sometimes website developers use multiple scripts and codes to make the website more excellent also never optimise the heavy images. Still, those scripts are serious and are another reason for the slow website loading speed.

You can use the free page speed tool to check what is causing the slow speed of your website and fix it.

Website Page Loading Speed Test Tool.
Website Page Loading Speed Test Tool.

Optimise Your Website for Mobile Search

Did you know that over half of all search queries on Google are performed on smartphones?

Mobile usage is often higher than 50%. The education sector is definitely one of them as their primary group consists of people aged between 18 and 30, who tend to spend more time on their mobiles rather than a computer on a desktop. 

Mobile users perform most of their tasks via their phones. For example, asking questions about admissions, reaching out to their counsellors, and even filling out an application for admission and making payment online.

Refer to the below screenshot of the Education website Google Analytics. The stats include SEO and paid online marketing campaign performance; we clearly can see that most of the traffic came from Mobile devices.

Education Website Google Analytics Mobile Device Performance.
Education Website Google Analytics Mobile Device Performance.

Find Broken Inbound Links and Fix

Inbound backlinks are part of the SEO strategy to increase the education website’s ranking on search engines. A well-crafted inbound links strategy leads to SEO success.

The correct backlink works simultaneously in two ways: it will drive traffic from referrals to your website. It will help to rank better on search engines.

There are several reasons the website has broken inbound links. For example, the website is redesigned, and developers always keep the old URLs, diploma or degree courses are teach-out, created the wrong URL and renamed.

However, the server still has the incorrect URL and many others.

An experienced education SEO expert can help find all these issues and fix them. You can see the drastic growth in the website performance once all the broken links are resolved.

Keep Your Wikipedia Page up to Date

Ensure your school’s Wikipedia page is up-to-date and free of any inaccurate information since it is portrayed on the first page of the organic results.

Digital Press Release Submissions

Google closely follow the news and media content. Suppose your school website content is published on renowned news websites.

In that case, it gives a strong brand signal to the search engine’s crawlers and directly influences the SEO performance.

Here are the top benefits of PR submissions in education SEO:

  • High authority backlinks from the news & media sites counted as high-quality links and help SEO ranking.
  • Introduces your site or available courses to new users.
  • Increases your education website visibility for search engines.
  • News sites are regularly crawled by search engine bots, and PR site backlinks immediately benefit SEO efforts.

Appropriate Word Count and Keywords Density

If you search any keyword on Google and check all the top 10 organic results sites’ word count, you will find the average word count on each page.

Some highly competitive keywords require extra effort to rank higher on SERP. To expedite the process and research, I use the SEMrush tool to determine the word count requirements.

Go to the SEO Content Template section and add your target keyword and location.

SEMrush Content Optimisation Tool.
SEMrush Content Optimisation Tool.

Let’s take an example your school is offering MBA programmes, and you want to rank on Google page #1 with the “MBA in Singapore” keyword on Google Singapore.

Below, the SEMrush screenshot will show you the minimum word count required on your targeted page and all other sites currently ranking on Google page #1.


SEMrush Target Keyword Word Count Tool.
SEMrush Target Keyword Word Count Tool.

While fixing the word count on your target web page simultaneously, it is essential to maintain the keyword density, which should be 1-2%. For example, if your web page has 1000 words, you can add your “MBA in Singapore” keywords 10 to 20 times.

Refer to the below example of how to insert the target keyword within your web page content body:

Keywords Density on Target Web Page.
Keywords Density on Target Web Page.

Optimise All the Pages on Your Website

Optimising all your pages, including About Us, Admissions, Student Care, and others, is vital. When you hire an SEO agency and give your list of target keywords, usually, the agency optimises the selected web pages only according to the given keywords.

Due to that, the website needs to get the deserved web traffic. Ensure you have updated all your website page’s Meta titles and Descriptions.

Create Unique Pages and Content

Google dislikes duplicate content and will block websites it considers not distinctive. Ensure that each page’s content isn’t copied, pasted, or repeated throughout the site to stop this from occurring. SEMrush website audit function will help you find duplicate content.

Use Appropriate Heading Tags

To make your site more efficient, you should use the primary keyword in all heading tags. The best practice is to begin every page with a single headline (H1 tag). Then the content is divided into sections using the H2 tag, and sub-sections are marked with the H3 tag.

Make sure that your web page should have at most one H1. You can have multiple H2, H3 and H4.

You can simply press CTR+U to see the view page source and CTR+F to find the H1 to ensure that it’s used only once.

<h1>Full-time and Part-time MBA in Singapore</h1>

Backlinks Profile and Count

When another website page link to your website is called a backlink for your website. Backlinks signal to search engines and matter significantly when ranking your website on the search engine’s results page.

In easy words, backlinks are the vote for your website to rank higher.

Distributing your website links to other high-quality sites with good volume sends a signal to search engine crawlers and helps boost your domain rating and ranking with your target keywords.

Involving SEO experts in the backlinks strategy is vital because acquiring poor or spam site backlinks will harm your domain and its credibility.

The education SEO experts do in-depth research on the backlink domain first and ensure that the website has a quality rating and will help the website’s ranking.

To conclude, quality backlinks and a better count could boost your domain’s rating and, as a result, increase your site’s rank on SERP.

To plan your backlinks strategy, it’s always good to check your competitor’s backlinks count and how they have distributed their backlinks.

I use SEMrush to find this information and set up the strategy accordingly.

SEMrush Tool Backlinks Analytics.
SEMrush Tool Backlinks Analytics.

Internal Links Within Website

Internal links assist Google’s crawlers. The more simple the process is Googlebot to browse and crawl your site, the more efficient. Including internal links with other web pages of your site is also highly recommended and is one of the top SEO strategies.

For example, the primary page of the School of Business should have links to its related pages, such as the MBA programmes list, business diploma and degree pages, entry requirements, course brochure, faculty, etc.

Adding a Blog to the website helps increase the internal links. Regular blogging will increase the page count, and a quality blog always receives good organic traffic.

Imagine you wrote a blog on “10 Reasons to Study MBA in Singapore”, and with your SEO efforts if it’s ranking on page #1. You will get good organic traffic and can expect some enrolments by adding your MBA programme links within the blog content.

Craft Catchy and Meaningful Meta Descriptions

The meta description is the short brief paragraphs that Google presents in its search results. A well-defined and catchy description help attracts visitors and receives better CTR.

It is essential to write the meta description according to your target keyword. It should be available within your meta description. Search engine crawlers prefer to see the target keyword by which you aim to rank your specific web page.

The best practice for meta description length is 155 characters which include spacing.

Refer to the below screenshot to know more about how it looks on SERP:

Example of Meta Description on SERP.
Example of Meta Description on SERP.

Include a Blog on Your Website

Search engines are drawn to current, relevant content, and blogs are the most effective way to accomplish this consistently. Feel free to link your school’s blog to your site’s home page for quick access.

Regular blogging helps generate quality leads and helps directly in the website ranking.

If you are up for regular blogging, select a fixed day of the month and live your blogs on that day so that search engine bots will crawl and do timely indexing.

Core Web Vital Friendly Website

The purpose of this algorithm is to provide a better user experience. These are very crucial in an education website’s SEO ranking.

It was introduced by Google on May 28, 2020. better score on Core Web Vital ensures your website’s visibility and ranking in browsers, especially on Mobile.

According to Advanced Web Ranking Blog, out of 3 million web pages, including Mobile and desktop, about 39% passed the Core Web Vitals metrics, while 61% were below the threshold. Not only this, but when the Core Web Vital algorithm was launched, it found 87% of eCommerce Websites Failed Google’s Core Web Vitals.

There are many tools to test the performance of your website. https://pagespeed.web.dev/ and Lighthouse Google chrome extension.

Basically, Core Web Vital revolves around these factors:

LCP (largest contentful paint): The amount of time to render the largest content of your website. The largest element is an image, video, or perhaps a large block-level text element. This is important because it tells the reader that the URL is loading. (Source: Google Support)

FID (first input delay): The time from when a user first interacts with your page (when they click a link, tap on a button, and so on) to the time the browser responds to that interaction. This measurement is taken from whatever interactive element that the user first clicks. This is important on pages where the user needs to do something because this is when the page has become interactive. (Source: Google Support)

CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): CLS measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page. The score is zero to any positive number, where zero means no shifting and the larger the number, the more layout shift on the page. This is important because having page elements shift while users try to interact with it is a bad user experience. If you can’t find the reason for a high value, try interacting with the page to see how that affects the score. (Source: Google Support)

For reference, here is my own blog Core Web Vital score:

Core Web Vital Performance Check on pagespeed.web.dev Tool.
Core Web Vital Performance Check on pagespeed.web.dev Tool.

Benefits of SEO for Schools

I hope you found the above information fruitful and logical. Hence, you already know how crucial it is to have Google page #1 ranking for your school.

Indeed, Google top ranking sites get higher traffic and CTR. According to Forbes, SEO can drive a 14.6% conversion rate and even more if done correctly.

There are many benefits of SEO for Schools and Education providers: 

1. An increase in website organic traffic

A successful SEO strategy for schools can boost the number of visitors to your education website because of higher rankings in search results. This means more potential students and parents will visit your site and enquire/enrol for your programmes.

2. Cost-effective and Focused

SEO is the anytime better and more effective marketing channel. It directs quality traffic to your website while users seek information on schools and education on search engines.

SEO is entirely different from billboards and flyers, called offline marketing, because they target an audience regardless of their interest in your offerings.

Offline marketing can be very costly because you’re advertising to the masses. You need to know how many customers are curious about your school. There needs to be a target which results in lots of cost being thrown away.

Picking the right keywords and correctly done SEO can be highly beneficial and economical for your school. It can deliver better ROI and focused marketing among the target audience.

3. Branding & Recognition

Employing SEO for your school website will make you more prominent in the search results and more visible on the internet and search engines.

The more visitors visit your site and logo, the more familiar and confident they’ll become with your brand.

4. SEO Delivers High Quality Leads & ROI

If you are investing in digital marketing tactics, you’ll want the best returns on your investment. If you have a well-thought-out and attractive SEO strategy, you can be sure to reap an incredible ROI.

Why?

According to Hubspot: 61% of B2B marketers stated that SEO and organic traffic generate more leads than any other marketing initiative. Not only this, 70% of online marketers say that SEO is better than PPC for generating sales.

Refer to the below screenshot of one of my Education site’s overall Goals & Conversions. You can clearly see that organic SEO traffic generates higher conversions than other marketing channels.

Education Website Google Analytics Goals Performance.
Education Website Google Analytics Goals Performance.

5. SEO Increases Brand & Domain Credibility

One of the significant benefits of SEO that many schools overlook is how it can boost your brand credibility on the internet.

Being in first place in results indicates to the users that Google or a different search engine, such as Yahoo or Bing, is a trusted source for your site. That’s why 75% of users stay on the first result page.

Search engines are trusted to filter results to them and eliminate spammy sites. Google and others search engines recognise this, and that’s why they employ off-page and on-page signals to determine the ranking of websites.

They use cues from your content to your website to show your website’s security and trustworthiness.

6. SEO Evaluates Your Performance Using Real-Time Numbers

It’s crucial to comprehend the effects on your investments, regardless of whether it’s in marketing or advertising. SEO and digital marketing for schools are a tremendous benefit: you can track your strategy’s effectiveness.

The most significant advantage is that you can access your analytics for digital marketing in real-time.

Through Google Analytics, as well as other tools for web analytics, it is easy to evaluate the effectiveness of your SEO strategy.

The most important metrics to keep track of include the traffic on your website and sessions, pageviews, conversions and the time spent on your site.

It will also help you evaluate your ROI on digital marketing and provide concrete insights into the campaign, enhancing your SEO approach.

7. Promote Your School 24×7 With SEO

Suppose your school’s majority of students are from overseas. In that case, you must ensure that your website and promotion are there according to their time zones.

Let’s say you are a business school in Singapore and targeting other Asian countries. There are good average monthly searches specifically for “study in Singapore”, “MBA in Singapore”, and many others. If your website is not ranking on Google page #1, how many potential enrolments are you losing?

Google Ads Keyword Planner: Average monthly searches
Google Ads Keyword Planner: Average monthly searches.

This is where the other significant advantage of SEO comes in. It can help advertise your business 24×7. 

You’re not trying to reach customers with a billboard they come across when they leave town for the weekend. You’re contacting them when they’re searching on search engines.

8. Generate More Leads with Well-planned SEO.

A significant and often mentioned advantage associated with SEO is increased sales leads and school enrolments. It is evident during your day-to-day activities. You can check Google Search Console to see which keywords the users use to find your website on the SERP.

Suppose you have set up Google Analytics and goals correctly. In that case, you can have complete reports and analytics of your lead acquisition and audience behaviour.

The key to success is the right SEO expert for your School’s SEO. You will be advised on the appropriate keyword selection.

Ranking your website high on SERP to get better & quality leads which give higher conversions than any other paid marketing.

You can see drastic changes in the leads flow the moment you acquire Google page #1 ranking with the highly competitive keywords your students and prospects are searching for.

9. SEO Help Your School Stand Out From Your Competitors

Most people browse the internet to research before making a final decision. 

You can expect your competitors to invest in SEO and digital marketing strategies. If you don’t invest in SEO, your website will not appear on Google search results. 

Imagine your competitors are ranking on Google, but you are not. Then all the prospective students will enrol with your competitors because they could not find your school on the SERP.

SEO is a must if you wish to be competitive against your competitors. Most users only go up to the top of results, which can reduce your enrolments and programme enquiries.

Spend money on SEO and implement a strategic plan to outdo your most formidable opponents.

Even if companies in your field don’t use SEO, it’s an excellent advantage for your company if you’re the only one.

10. SEO Make Your School’s Digital Marketing Strategy More Effective

SEO is a component of your plan if you expand your digital marketing efforts. It can help your overall marketing campaign in a variety of ways.

It also enhances other aspects of marketing through digital channels, such as blogging, video marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.

When you create a comprehensive digital marketing plan, you’re increasing your competition on the internet.

This can be an essential advantage when you compete in a competitive market or with competitors that have more resources than your business.

A more robust digital marketing strategy with SEO will yield a greater return on investment.

11. SEO Reduces the Cost of Advertising Dollars

SEO will also benefit your school by reducing your marketing costs. With a properly-planned SEO strategy, your school will likely be on the top page of Google results for highly-valued keywords. 

This gives your company the possibility of reducing the cost of advertising and also investing it elsewhere to get more student enrolments.

Here is one of my education industry SEO project keywords ranking. 95% of keywords I brought to Google page #1. You can imagine how many leads and enrolments were captured. SEO gives a higher conversion rate than any other marketing channel.

Education industry SEO ranking performance.
Education industry SEO ranking performance.

12. SEO Can Boost the Local Reach of Your School’s Marketing

Even if your school only targets local students, SEO delivers many benefits. 

With the help of SEO, you can rank your School on Google Maps listing on top.

Optimising your school’s Google My Business (GMB) comes under SEO strategies. Regular SEO helps generate phone calls, enquiries, direct visits to your school and web traffic to your website.

Here is the performance of one of my School’s GMB profiles:

Google My Business, School profile interactions.
Google My Business, School profile interactions.

Google My Business, School's direct phone calls.
Google My Business, School’s direct phone calls.

Google My Business, School's direct visits through Google Maps.
Google My Business, School’s direct visits through Google Maps.

13. SEO of Your School Improves Student Engagement Rates

When it comes to full-fledged SEO marketing of your school, it counts the user’s engagement and better Pageviews & Average Visit Duration. 

SEO experts bring your school website to the top of Google and ensure that users are retained and enquire or enrol with your programmes.

The SEO expert will optimise the top competitors’ sites and their content styles accordingly and propose your website’s content optimisation. Here are some top factors that are considered when its a matter of students engagement on your website:

  • Appropriate Metadata of your web pages.
  • Quick and easy navigation of the inside & main pages. Students should be able to find the desired pages within 2-3 clicks.
  • Good reading score of the content, short paragraphs, appropriate images, infographics and video planning.
  • Relevant FAQs on the enrolment and programme pages.

There are so many areas that your SEO experts will be analysing, fixing and optimising. This ensures that students are well-engaged when they search and land on your website from Google ranking.

SEO for Schools: Conclusion 

Google regularly updates its algorithms, and remember that optimising your school’s site can be challenging as it requires a team and expert involvement. 

SEO is a bit time-consuming process. You may not see results in 3-4 months if no SEO is done before or the SEO expert was not involved during your website development.

But YES, if your domain is old and your website is developed on a Google-friendly platform such as WordPress, results can be expected within 3-4 months.

Allow the SEO expert to analyse your website and provide your domain SEO audit report. I have proven records of delivering results in a short time.

Here are the top reasons why you need an expert in school website SEO:

  • The SEO expert is up to date with the Google algorithms changes and plan & fix your website on time.
  • The SEO expert has their own high domain rating link-building database. This helps acquire the backlinks quickly, a game changer in the school’s SEO ranking.
  • The SEO expert uses multiple tools to analyse the website’s past performance and current issues.
  • The SEO expert does in-depth research on your top competitors and plans a bulletproof SEO strategy to outrank them.

The school SEO basically revolves around three SEO factors. These are ON-PAGE, OFF-PAGE and TECHNICAL SEO, and you require an SEO specialist to implement them to rank your school website higher on Google.

Simply hire a school SEO expert and just sit back and relax. Let the experts assist you and grow your enrolments!

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