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SEO for School Websites – The Basics

 

When developing any website, it is important to consider where it will appear in search results. After all, who would visit a website they cannot find? Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the practice of improving your website's standing in search engine results in order to get more visitors. However, it is very easy to get confused by the terminology the industry uses and knowing what techniques to use can be very daunting.

In this article, we will explain:

  • how search engines rank webpages
  • what criteria are used to determine the rank of a webpage
  • simple relevant techniques for school websites that can improve a ranking

 

How it works

The major search engines use automated software called crawlers to find and index web pages. Once a page is indexed, it is passed through various algorithms to determine its relevancy to certain search terms and then ranked appropriately. These crawlers will revisit a web page frequently to assess any recent changes and rerank the page accordingly.

The algorithms used are updated on a frequent basis and the criteria used are changed at the whim of the search engine, so it is important to keep an eye on any announcements relating to such changes.

 

The criteria

The major factor when determining any web page's search rank is content. Simply put, if your web page is entitled "Uniform" but contains no content relevant to that title then it won't rank very well, if at all for the search term "uniform". In the past it was possible to trick search engines to rank pages with no content relevant to the search term but today such a trick will have the reverse effect.

Other criteria include:

  • The title and headings used
  • The URL of the page itself
  • How quickly your web page and any assets (images, videos, etc) loads
  • How your web page looks and interacts on a mobile device
  • Meta keywords and descriptions

These criteria can and will be changed over time so it is important to know what practices are and aren't relevant in modern SEO. Search engines will constantly make smaller changes to their criteria without warning but major changes are usually announced.

 

Improving SEO on a web page

Taking a school website as an example, the main functions of such a website should be:

  • to showcase what ‘s on offer to prospective students and their parents
  • to provide easy access to current information for current students and their parents

 With that in mind, an easy way of improving SEO on any website is making sure that each page includes the following:

  • Headings that are relevant to the title and content of the page. These will be checked by the crawlers.
  • Content that is relevant to the title of the page. If the page is about Uniform, then the content should be about Uniform.Any content sections should be easily readable and not obscured by other elements on the page. This is especially important on mobile as the user will want to access this content as quickly as possible and pages will get a lower ranking if that isn't the case.
  • Google updated their algorithms earlier this year to rank websites with a good mobile experience higher than those that don't.
  • A “readable” URL address that matches the title of said page and makes sense to the person viewing it (an example being www.school.org.uk/uniform) Such URLs will be detected by crawlers and will be taken into account when ranking the page.
  • Most CMS systems will offer the function of turning on readable URLs or use them by default.
  • Meta keywords and descriptions that match the title. Meta data has a diminished role in modern SEO but can still help by providing keywords you want to associate with the page as well as a description which can be used by the search engines in their results. 
  • Most CMS systems will offer the ability to define keywords and descriptions for each page
  • Using too many keywords or long descriptions will have a negative impact on rankings, so it is best to use 3-4 keywords at most and keep descriptions brief and to the point.

If you have any questions about SEO on your school website, give us a call on 01933 303520 - we'll be happy to help. 

 

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