Digital Byte: Why Schools Need Local SEO…Right Now

Carnegie Higher Ed Jun 13, 2016 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

If you’re a school that draws locally—whether you’re PreK–12, a community college, or even a continuing education program serving adults within driving distance—local search engine optimization could be the key to improving your online presence to both prospects and parents alike.

If you are unfamiliar with local SEO, it basically ensures your school is visible to those actively searching for you or related offerings in your area. Local SEO strategies differ slightly from traditional SEO, because the ultimate goal is to have a strong regional presence on all search engines that includes your website and social media properties, an accurate knowledge graph, and any business directory listings.

Here’s why local SEO is more important than ever:

1. You’ll own the SERP:

Since most people won’t view past the first page of search engine results, it’s important for your institution to show up on the first page—and more than once. Local SEO helps you do just that. Curious about what “owning” a SERP (search engine results page) looks like? It’s when your paid ad shows up first for a brand search, followed by your organic listings and social media accounts, plus a knowledge graph on the right.

2. You’ll drive conversions

Unlike other methods of advertising like e-mails or display impressions, search results show up in the exact minute someone is looking, ensuring that relevant listings appear in front of a qualified audience at the exact time of intent. This allows them to “convert” in the way that makes most sense to them. That’s why paid search does so well in driving conversions too. It’s a direct response tool. And local SEO doesn’t just focus on the website itself; it includes other properties where prospects might be likely to “convert,” whether they apply on the spot, or take a more subtle action such as following a Facebook page, calling the school, etc.

3. You’ll improve your speed

We all know mobile usage is up, and so is the need for speed. Consumers want immediate gratification. A sound technical structure of a website can help improve loading time, which makes for an optimal user experience. Local SEO, when done right, takes all of those things into consideration. Curious to see how your site stacks up? Google has created a free tool that will give you insights on speed and mobile friendliness; give the Google page speed tool a try.

4. You’ll meet your prospects where they are

We all know traditional newspaper and print readership is on the decline. Back in the day, you could leave flyers or advertise in the yellow pages or local newspaper. Today, your prospects turn to the Internet first for news and information. Adults use their smartphones for finding out about everything from the weather or the nearest dry cleaner, to where their child (or they!) should attend school.

Ensuring sites like Google Maps, Yelp, and Wikipedia are all properly linked, contain the most relevant keywords, and accurately reflect your location(s), logo, phone numbers, and hours are imperative. So before you roll out your (institutional) wallet to support a local .com in your city, think about improving your own local SEO as a smarter way to gain those impressions.

Need help getting started? Talk to us today or check out some of these other great resources to learn why local SEO matters:

Local SEO: How To Rank Your Local Business (Search Engine Land)
How Important is Local SEO to Your Business? (Small Business Trends)
Simple Math To Show Potential Clients Why Local SEO Is Important (Search Engine Land)

Follow Angie on Twitter @AngieMayWard

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