As learning tools change, you update classrooms with new technologies to enhance the educational process. Dusty chalkboards and outdated textbooks alone don’t cut it anymore.
But what about updating your marketing efforts? Gone are the days of putting up a few social media posts or relying on word of mouth to attract new students to your charter or private school.
An increasing number of people are turning to Google to find nearby locations. Reports indicate that 90% of people rely on the internet to find a local business.
For an effective school marketing plan, harnessing the power of Google is a necessity.
Getting a leg up over other schools in your area is easier when you incorporate local SEO into your education marketing toolbox.
In this article, we’ll cover how local SEO works, the value of citations, and the benefits of getting listed in a school directory.
How does local SEO for Schools work?
You should approach your marketing plan, thinking of your school as a business.
A well-executed local SEO strategy can propel your school from barely visible to a top-ranking organization.
Local SEO refers to certain practices that boost the likelihood of your school showing up in both Google Map results and the primary results page.
For example, when we search “ private schools in Miami,” a few schools show up on the first page of Google.
Miami Country Day School is a top result in Google Maps. Clicking on the school reveals its Google My Business Profile.
It’s no coincidence that the top-ranking schools for this search all have great Google My Business (GMB) profiles. GMB is the cornerstone of local SEO. With the help of this free tool, smaller schools can compete with large ones for rankings on Google.
Setting up a profile is simple. Once you have verified your location so that Google knows you are legitimate, you can enter relevant details about your school. This includes hours of operation, a phone number, and the school address.
Fortunately, we don’t have to use trial and error to determine how to show up in local results. Google shares this information freely.
Here are the three key factors that affect your local SEO ranking, according to Google:
Google is committed to providing users with the most useful information that matches a search term. The more information you give about your business, the more likely Google is to pull it into search results. Say your school specializes in the arts. Add information about this specific aspect of your school so that people searching for art-focused schools are more likely to find you.
This one is pretty obvious. People searching for local places want results that are close by. Google knows this and produces results that are near the user’s location. Keep your address up to date to allow users in the neighborhood to find you.
Does your school have multiple locations? Check out this guide on how to use Google My Business for more than one location.
If your school is well known, it’s more likely to show up at the top of local search results. Famous landmarks and museums have high prominence that boost them to the top. But there are other ways to enhance this factor. For instance, having a lot of reviews signals trustworthiness to Google, which can contribute to a higher local SEO ranking.
Another great path to prominence is to increase the number of mentions your school has across the web. That’s where citations come into play.
What are citations?
Citations are a key method of increasing prominence.
No, we’re not talking about the citations that come at the end of a well-researched paper.
In local SEO, citations refer to mentions of your school in online directories, on websites, or other social platforms. These mentions can differ, but they include three basic components—your school’s name, address, and phone number (NAP).
Google states that when determining prominence, “information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories),” influences local SEO rank.
Online platforms, such as school directories, offer a simple way to gain mentions that link back to your site. Here is an example of a school directory entry for the Miami-based private school mentioned earlier.
Best school directories to list your school
We’ve now established the importance of local SEO and the role that citations play in strengthening it. To sum it up:
- More citations lead to higher local rankings.
- Higher local rankings mean more visitors see and click through to your website.
- More website visitors lead to more tours scheduled, and students enrolled.
Now it’s time to start growing your mentions online. Here are 10 school directories to get listed in to launch your path to prominence.
Niche is one of the most well-known school directories online today. It creates “report cards” for schools based on a variety of factors, including teachers, college prep, diversity and academics. Niche allows administrators to claim and manage their school profile. Once you claim your profile, you can track engagement and analyze competitor schools.
U.S. News School Directory
While best known for its college rankings, the U.S. News Directory also offers information on high schools. The website ranks high schools in all 50 states and generates a list based on how schools compare to each other. It uses a specific methodology to rank the schools, meaning you have little control over where your school ends. However, getting mentioned by this site is another step up the local SEO ladder.
Private School Review
Private School Review is a great resource for parents searching for schools and recent news relating to education. This school directory allows users to compare different schools. It also has a breakdown of private schools by state. According to the website, PSR receives over 300,000 unique visitors every month.
This directory has a large database of schools and relevant information. It separates schools based on categories to make the searching process easier. The amount of options available is impressive—featured categories include baptist schools, country day schools, gifted schools, ADHD schools, and more. This directory is transparent about the web traffic it receives and offers a breakdown of page visits and ranking for those considering getting listed.
Center for Education Reform
The Center for Education Reform advocates for improvements in the education system and launches initiatives. Unlike other directories that include an array of school types, this directory is focused on charter schools. If your institution is a charter school, this could be a great citation opportunity.
The Washington Federation of Independent Schools is active in the education legislation arena, advocating for private schools. The directory features schools across Washington state that “include religious, nonsectarian, independent, accredited and non-accredited schools in urban, suburban and rural settings.” To be listed in the directory, your school must be a WFIS member.
National Center for Educational Statistics
The Institute of Education Sciences manages this school directory. Since this is a government-run directory, the database of schools is large. The directory features public schools, private schools, and colleges.
Directory of Accredited Independent Schools
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges offers a school directory that provides a look into independent schools in the region. The website states that NEASC accreditation is “a globally recognized standard of excellence [that] attests to a school’s high quality and integrity.” If the NEASC accredits your school, make sure that it is listed in the directory.
Florida Department of Education Directory
The Florida Department of Education Directory features private schools and charter in Florida categorized by district. Being listed in this directory is a great way to get more eyes on your school. That’s because the site shows up in the second spot of the Google search results page for the term “Florida private school.”
California School Directory
Another state-specific directory, the California School Directory, has information about private and public schools in the Golden state. This directory also comes in an app format for easier use on a mobile device. The CSD website is the first result for the search term “school directory California.”
How do you create a sustainable local SEO strategy that works?
Accumulating citations, managing your GMB profile, and learning best education SEO practices is a lot to juggle. If you want your school to stand out but need a helping hand, consider bringing on an SEO agency. An agency has expert knowledge in the technical aspects of SEO and understands how to apply these to enhance your digital presence.
Markitors has helped schools improve their local SEO and meet marketing goals with custom strategies tailored to their unique needs. We can develop education blog topics for your school website, gather brand mentions, increase your local SEO effectiveness and more. Want to know more about how Markitors can leverage local SEO for your school? Schedule a consultation today.