Looking Back on Traditional Marketing “For the last 50 years, companies used large amounts of money to efficiently interrupt their way into businesses and consumer’s wallets using outbound marketing techniques. The outbound marketing era is over. The next 50 years will be the era of inbound marketing.” Halligan, Shah and Scott, Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs
Seminar Purpose• Examine how Internet search works. – Where do parents search online for private schools? – Which search phrases do prospective parents typically use most? – What types of search results do they typically receive? – What determines the ranking of schools listed on search results pages?• Recommend key strategies for improving search rankings and overall online visibility.• Help schools drive more prospective parents to their website.• Recommend improvements to school websites to convert website visitors to applicants and onto enrolled students.
Where People Search – Top Search Sites• Google Search Engine 64.4% – Google.com 63.6% – AOL.com 0.8%• Bing Search Engine 31.6% – MSN.com 17.0% – Yahoo! 14.6%• ASK + Others 4.0%• Note: Google provide search results for Google.com and AOL.com. Bing provides search results for MSN and Yahoo!.
Search Results for “private schools, Dallas” Search Phrase Local Search Display on Google Maps Google Places Local Search Results
Top Local Search Systems• For this search, Google’s top ranked search results were from Google Places, which provides a listing of the private schools in Dallas that Google Maps has on record.• Google Maps is the local search system for Google.• Google Maps knows the location of private schools that have registered with its service.• That means it can provide search results organized by geographic area.• Therefore, schools in Dallas that registered with Google Maps received higher search visibility than schools that had not registered.• When we think about the fact that prospective parents typically only search for private schools in a local area, you want to maximize your local search visibility.
Top Local Search Systems• “Big Four Local Search Systems” – Google Places / Google Maps – Yahoo! Local – Bing Local Search – Ask Local• Local Search Systems are typically accessed as a link above the main search box of the search engine.
Key Strategy #1:Register with Local Search SystemsLocal Search Site Description URLGoogle Places / Google Free. To the user, it http://www.google.com/Maps appears as Google Maps. local/add/Yahoo! Local Free, or $9.95 per month if http://listings.local.yahoo. you want to add pictures. com/Bing Local Search Free, including pictures. https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ ListingCenter.aspxAsk Local Free www.UBL.org
Search Results “private schools” Local Search Display on Google Maps National School Directory Natural Search Listing Local School Directory Google Places Local Search Results
Top Local Search Systems• For this search, we did not include a location.• The local search system, Google Maps, returned local search results for private schools in Dallas. Because the searching computer was in Dallas, it provided a list of schools in Dallas.• Local search engines can determine where you are searching from. For certain types of searches, the search engine assumes you want local search results so it provides it.• But since there was no location specified, the Google Places listing didn’t have as much “relevance” in relation to the search query. Therefore, it dropped down the list of search results.• We see two Directories listed: • One is a national directory, at www.privateschoolreview.com. • One is a local directory at www.dfwprivateschools.com.• We also saw Google return as search result of Wikipedia, a very authoritative site.
Key Strategy #2:Research & Register with School Directories• These directories will rank highly in national and/or local searches, providing another avenue for people to find your site.• You’ll accumulate links to your site, and search engines love links (more to come on this point).• Research and register with other local directories, even if they are not school directories.• Evaluate their relative rankings in search engines versus their listing fee to determine which ones provide the most value.
Key Strategy #2:Research & Register with School Directories• We’ve addressed how to “get found” in Local Search System Results and in Directories.• The next focus area we need to work on is getting found in Natural Search. Referring back to our previous slide, Wikipedia had a highly ranking search result through natural or “organic” search.• So what does it take to rank well?• Let’s talk a bit more about how search engines think.
How Search Engines Think• Search engines have one objective – to provide you with the best results possible in relation to your search query.• The search results are then listed in order of most relevant and most authoritative.• “Relevant” means the website contained content that matched the search query.• “Authoritative” refers to the website’s influence on the world wide web (www).
How Search Engines Think• When a website has another site link to it to access its content, that is called an inbound link.• The more inbound links a website has accessing its content, the more influence it has on the www. Each link represents a “vote” for the site’s influence, or authority, on the www.• Not all links, or votes, carry the same amount of weight. If a site linking to your site has a lot of influence, it’s inbound link will create a vote with a large amount of weight.• This is also known as “link juice”. Sites with higher authority have more “link juice” to pass onto other sites they link to. The more link juice you accumulate from inbound links, the more authority your site will have.• Let’s now focus on improving our website’s relevance, and then we’ll turn our attention to website authority
Relevance – Content is King• When it comes to relevance, content is king.• Without rich content, you will find it difficult to rank for specific keywords and search phrases.• We first need to know which keywords and phrases prospective parents use when searching online, and then we need to create content that features those keywords and phrases.• But how do we know which search phrases prospective parents typically use most?• There’s an app for that!
Key Strategy #3:Identify Keywords with Google Keyword Tool• The Google Keyword Tool allows you to enter a keyword and see what similar keywords and search phrases people are using.• You can then feature those keywords in your website content.• Go to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal or search for “Google Keyword Tool.”• Type in the keywords or search phrases you would like to test.• The keyword tool will tell you how often the search phrases you entered were used, and then how often other, similar phrases were used per month.• Test different keywords and phrases, then develop a list of the keywords you will want to feature on your website.
Google Keyword Tool Results • A search on “private schools in Dallas” yielded the results shown. • Our test keyword phrase was searched 8,100 times. • The keyword “best private schools in Dallas” was searched 720 times. • By focusing on the phrases “private christian schools in dallas”, and “christian private schools in Dallas”, we more closely match a search criteria that includes the word “Christian”. • That makes our keywords more relevant, and pushes our results higher on the page.
Content is King, But Not Equal• From the perspective of determining relevance, not all webpage content is equal.• When search engines “crawl” your website to determine what the website is about, they give the most weight to the content listed in your page titles and headers, as opposed to just content on the page.• We need to ensure your page titles and headers are “seeded” with the keywords and phrases used most during searches by prospective parents.
Key Strategy #4:Load Keywords into Page Titles and Headers• Load each Page Title Tag with keyword phrases that are appropriate for the content on the page. • Example: “Welcome to Cornerstone Academy - a Private Christian School” • Title Tags are the snippet that appears in the upper left corner or on the tabs of your web browser. • Grandview Preparatory School knew that “Coed College Prep” was an important search phrase for their school, so they included it in their title tag.
Key Strategy #4:Load Keywords into Page Titles and Headers• Load H1 Title Tags with keywords that are appropriate for the web page content. • H1 Titles are the main headings above the content of your webpages. • Every webpage you create should have a thought-provoking headline to grab the reader’s attention, using a keyword or phrase that the webpage covers. • Example: “One of the best private schools in Dallas, Cornerstone offers a Christian private school setting.”
Key Strategy #5:Load Keywords into Meta TagsThere are two types of Meta Tags – Meta Description and MetaKeywords• Meta Description • Text snippet that describes what your specific webpage is about. • Appears with your listing on the search results page.
Key Strategy #5:Load Keywords into Meta Tags• Meta Keywords • Additional text snippet in the webpage’s HTML that allows you to list a few different keywords that relate to your webpage. • Most search engines today claim they do not use Meta Keywords when evaluating content. Some smaller search engines may still use it. • As a best practice, it is recommended to load 5-7 keywords as meta keywords for each webpage.
Current Progress• Identified the most important keywords and phrases.• Loaded keywords into our Page Title Tags, Headline H1 Title Tags, and Meta Data.• Registered our website with local search engines (e.g. Google Maps, Yahoo! Local).• Registered our website with selected school directories and local directories.• Now we turn to your website’s authority.
Got Link Juice?• Link Juice drives your website’s authority on the world wide web.• You accumulate link juice from other websites that link to your website to access your content.• The more authority a website has that links to you, the more link juice they have to share with you.• The more inbound links you have, the more juice that pours into your site. • Facebook • Twitter • Online School Directories • Church’s Website
Key Strategy #6:Create a Link-Building Plan to Raise Authority• Dedicate some time to brainstorm the many different ways you can attract inbound links to your website.• Registering with school and local directories was a good start.• What about school associations and accrediting bodies? What about local church websites?• Maintain a blog on your website and share it with Social Media outlets including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. • Search engines realize that content shared on social networks is extremely influential, and should therefore rank higher in search results.
Let’s talk Google +• I barely have enough time to manage FB, Twitter and Flickr – why should I care about Google+?• Google + sharing is showing up higher in search results in Google Search over FB, Twitter, etc. They are in essence forcing us to create Google+ profiles. Google is aggressively pushing this forward!• Google + essentially ties the whole Google universe together – weeding tightly among all their properties such as Gmail, Google Search, etc.• Put a Google +1 badge on your page similar to your twitter badges, FB badges, etc. Place on upper right side of your page – high probability of views.• User interface is really smooth – Photos pop up in search returns – search your school in Google+ and pictures of your school could show up at no extra cost!• http://www.seomoz.org/blog/why-every-marketer-now-needs-a- google-strategy
Current Progress• We’ve optimized our website’s relevance for the keywords and search phrases used by prospective parents when searching for schools.• We’ve addressed our website’s authority on the www by attracting inbound links where possible.• That means we’ve addressed the two primary elements of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.• We should now be maximizing the search traffic on our website.• Let’s now look at other key strategies for improving our Internet Marketing once a prospective parent lands on our site.
Key Strategy #7:Invest in Your Website’s Design• Make a strong First Impression! It determines whether prospective parents researching your website will inquire further about your school.• Invest in an attractive website design that positively represents your school’s brand and communicates your school’s mission.
Key Elements of Website Design• Brand – It is important to convey a strong brand for your school, including your logo, colors, and tagline.• Photos – Large, professional photos on the home page will draw the visitor to your school.• Content – Dynamic content and a compelling message is important to keep users returning to your school’s website.
Does your school need a new brand?• Your website is the entry point to your brand.• Brand reaches beyond just letterhead and business cards today.
Key Strategy #8:Host Your Website in a CMS• Host your website in a Content Management Solution (CMS). Advantages include:• Establishes a consistent and uniform design across the website.• Enables anyone to upload and edit content and photos.• Simplifies updating and maintaining content going forward to keep your website current.
Key Strategy #9:Provide an Online Inquiry Form• Offer prospective parents a convenient, easy, online web form to inquire about your school.• Allows your school to collect prospective parent information at the moment they are searching your website• Enables you to immediately begin your marketing efforts.• Enhances the online image of your school.• Eliminates manual key entry if integrated with a student information system.• Central Texas Christian School – more than 500 online inquiries per year! Enrollment up from 536 in 2009 to 627 in 2012. www.ctcslions.com
Key Strategy #10:Offer an Online Application Process• Can you think of an application in another industry that you still have to complete by hand today?• Per Dr. Rick Newberry, President of Enrollment Catalyst: “Our parents use laptops, smartphones and iPads to shop, pay bills, bank and perform a myriad of other tasks online. [They} expect our application and enrollment process to be online.”• Online Application processes provide real-time information on prospective families who have begun the process, enabling immediate marketing and targeted communications.• They are proven to result in higher application rates!
Key Strategy #10:Offer an Online Application Process• For example, Living Word Christian School in O’Fallon, adopted Online Application for the 2011/2012 school year.• They collected 202 applications and enrolled 186 new students for 2011/2012, compared to just 100 new students in 2010/2011 - an outstanding 86% increase over the prior year.
Key Strategy #10:Offer an Online Application Process• Per Stacie Harrell at Living Word Christian School: “We had more applicants and new students than ever before because the new system was easier to use than our paper application process. It was easier to stay in contact on where the applicants were on their applications. No one fell through the cracks. Our board is meeting next week to discuss the need of building a separate building now for just middle school. I am able to track future applicants now which I have never easily been able to do. I can show our board now how many people are interested in attending our school for the 2013-2014 school year!”
10 Key Strategies in Summary1. Register with Local Search Systems2. Research and Register with School Directories3. Identify Keywords with Google Keywords Tool4. Load Keywords into Page Titles and Headers5. Load Keywords into Meta Tags6. Create a Link-Building Plan to Raise Authority7. Invest in Your Website’s Design8. Host Your Website in a Content Management Solution9. Provide an Online Inquiry Form10. Offer an Online Application Process