Digital Marketing

5 Things Not to Do for School SEO

April 15, 2019

A note from Digistorm: This post was originally published in February 2018. We’ve updated it to include more valuable, relevant content and more recent statistics.

How much does your school know about Search Engine Optimisation? We often share important things to do to your school website to improve your SEO, so in this post, we’re going to focus on what not to do.

Search engine optimisation, abbreviated to SEO, can seem like a complicated and often daunting task for any business without the explicit know-how. However, it’s actually nowhere near as scary as it seems, and is an extremely valuable tool when you have the right knowledge to guide you through it. We’ve talked at length about SEO best practice on the Digistorm blog, but today we’re here to give you the low-down on what not to do.

Note that all these cool tips relate to optimising your SEO from a blog and onsite content perspective. Keep on reading to discover our five handy don’ts when it comes to school SEO.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the unofficial term for over-sprinkling your selected keywords throughout your copy with the intention of making the post rank higher. Rather than having a positive effect on your school’s SEO, though, keyword stuffing is actually penalised by search engines. There are a few ways to ensure good keyword distribution and avoid keyword stuffing:

  • Identify multiple keywords for your post. Although you may have a ‘key’ keyword (say that three times fast), it’s important to come up with secondary keywords to use throughout your post that may have greater ranking opportunities due to lower difficulty. These will help elevate the post’s SEO without appearing to Google as keyword stuffing.
  • Stick to the once every 3-4 sentences rule. If you want to know roughly how often you should use your keyword (in its exact or modified forms, e.g. plurals or different tenses), the rule of thumb is every 3-4 sentences. Of course, you’ll need to manipulate this based on the length of your content -- if the post is only 8 sentences, you may be able to get away with using it once more. Similarly, if it’s a long post, you’ll be able to use your keyword less frequently whilst still keeping the volume the same.

Forgetting to optimise images

Images can actually have quite a strong bearing on your school’s SEO if you complete a few simple steps. The first one is optimising the image title. Think about how often you use Google image search -- most of us employ this tool quite regularly, even if it’s just for context or inspiration. It’s important to keep in mind that some users may find you via image search, but only if each image within your posts is optimised, thus allowing them to do so. Create your image’s file name with the keyword incorporated as naturally as possible. For example, if your keyword was ‘SEO for schools’, you could label your image ‘SEO-for-schools-guide-tips’ or something similar to ensure it ranks well for your intended keyword.

The other step you cannot miss is providing alt text. Not only is alt text integral for visually impaired users (it’s able to be input into hearing devices, unlike images) but it can also boost your SEO. Search engines want to know that all the fields have been filled out, so to speak, so they’ll favour posts with every speck of relevant information included. Ensure that your alt text is relevant to the image -- essentially just a description of what’s pictured -- and use your keywords if they can be included in a relevant and natural manner.

Headings with no keywords

As we’ve mentioned, search engines will scour every aspect of your blog post and check that all their required needs are met. When they’re scanning your post headings, you want them to see your keyword, thus pushing your post up in the rankings. Of course, creative headings can be great for engagement, but your SEO will thank you for using your ranking keywords anywhere there’s a h1 tag. Plus, you’ve got to ensure it still sounds natural and not like a robot wrote your headings. So, what do you do?

Let’s run through a quick example. Say your keyword is ‘school marketing tips’ -- you’ve done your keyword research, identified a really good opportunity and are ready to get stuck into creating relevant content. The ideal heading would be something like one of these:

7 School Marketing Tips You Can Implement Today

These School Marketing Tips Shouldn’t Be Ignored

11 Innovative School Marketing Tips for Better Engagement

Each of these headings is successful because it calls out the keyword with ease but frames it in a really natural way that’ll draw in the attention of readers. For more tips on headings, check out our post on how to fix your school’s headlines in five minutes.

Duplicate content

In the world of SEO, duplicate content is a total no-no. Although there may not be a physical penalty for doubling-up, what does occur is that Google eliminates results that are too similar to one another, thus removing an opportunity for you to rank. So, it’s a no-brainer that you’d want to stay away from duplicate content in order to fulfil as many ranking opportunities as possible!

Avoiding duplicate content is quite an easy step towards better SEO, but if you need a little assistance, creating a content calendar will do the trick. Using a spreadsheet or a calendar app, input the pieces of content you’ll be publishing. Make sure you note the keyword you’re looking to target and include a link to the post or post draft. Adding in a column or note for when the post is published should also help workflow, ensuring you avoid the simple mistake of replicating your content.

Ignoring meta descriptions

Meta titles and descriptions are ultra-important, not only because they give potential readers an insight into your post’s content, but also because they benefit your SEO immensely. If you’re not sure what we’re referring to here, the meta title is the first line of text that comes up within each search result on Google or your search engine of choice. The meta description is the two or so lines of text that sit underneath the meta title and serve to contextualise the post a bit. Together, these give readers (and Google) a run-down of your post’s content.

As a result, it’s super important to give your meta title and description a bit of attention. Try and incorporate your keyword into both of them in as natural a way as possible. Ideally, you will have already structured your title around your keyword, so there’s no need for your meta title to be any different. When writing your meta description, think of it as a quick (50-300 characters) summary of what your post is about, so incorporate your keyword so that it reads naturally and draws readers in.

Want more SEO tips from the Digistorm team? Check out our guide to increasing your school’s ranking in Google using SEO.