Private School Marketing

The ultimate short guide to marketing your school

Website Design

Your website is your online storefront. It should clearly explain what you do, be easy to navigate, and make it as simple as possible for a prospect to convert into a customer.

Onsite Optimization

The code of a website is what search engines see. It  determines where and how you appear in the search results. Find customers who are looking for a business like yours.

Offsite Optimization

People rely on social media, maps, and review sites more than ever when looking for businesses. If you aren’t listed in the right places then you risk losing out.

Website Design

Your site is your digital storefront, your business card, your booking engine, and much more. Make sure it works.

Responsive Design

You have probably heard these buzzwords. Responsive Design basically means that your website resizes itself automatically so it looks good on mobile and tablet screens. You can easily test if your current website has this functionality by visiting the website on your phone. If you have to scroll left and right to view all of the page, it is likely that your site isn’t responsive.

This has implications from both an SEO (search engine optimization) and user experience perspective. For a few years now, Google has encouraged website owners to make sure that their sites worked well on mobile – going so far as to filter out non-responsive sites on mobile searches. Starting in 2018, Google is now prioritizing mobile-friendly websites even if the user is searching on a desktop. This has made it imperative for business owners to have a responsive site.

Easy To Navigate

One of the most important (and often overlooked) factors of website design is that a site should be exceedingly simple to navigate. Users have less tolerance than ever for poor design. They expect the website to load quickly, have an obvious menu with easy to understand headings, and for the pages to have the information they need to determine if the site offers the service they are looking for. If any of these elements fail, the user is likely to bounce (leave the site immediately).

A well planned out site can be the difference between acquiring a customer and losing one. There are many ways to optimize your site using user data and analytics (see the CRO section) but the most simple way is to ask for honest feedback from friends and family. If it makes sense to them, there is a good chance it will make sense to your customers.

Reduce Clutter
Less is often more in website design. Negative space can help give the user’s eyes a break and will encourage them to stay on the page for longer
Quality Images
Quality images make sites look professional. Try not to use stock. Buy a DSLR camera or hire a photographer to take pictures of your business.
Site Speed
If your site has poor hosting or very large image files it may load very slowly. This is one of the largest contributors to a high bounce rate.
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Break Up Text
Nobody likes a wall of text. Break up your content into more manageable chunks. Use H2 and H3 heading tags as titles for each section
List Your Services
Make sure the visitor knows they are on the right website. Make it obvious what kind of services you offer and provide links to relevant pages.
Easy to Contact
Make it painless to contact you. Don’t make the user search through several pages to find contact information. Make it obvious.
Social Proof
Include testimonial and reviews from past customers. “Social Proof” can help visitors who are on the fence become customers.
Links To Social Media
Add links to your social media for additional social proof. If your content is something people would share, you can also add sharing buttons.
Online Booking Functionality

Let parents of potential student book their tours online. Online booking systems can make your life easier by integrating with online calendars

Free Site Audit

Check your current website for common error that may be holding back your search marketing performance. You will be instantly emailed a list of the most pressing errors on your site.


Off-Site Optimization

Don’t let your website be an island. Help people find you.

Get Reviews
Reviews from customers are extremely powerful. Ask customers to review your business on maps and review sites.
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Online Directories

Get listed on sites like Niche so people can easily find you. Make sure your profile is fully filled out so parents know what makes your school special.

Social Media

At minimum you should have a Facebook business account that has been optimized. Social media is a great place to showcase your school.

We Can Help You Grow

 Let us take the hard work out of marketing your business so you can spend more time doing what you do best. Contact us today for a free consultation

Onsite Optimization

The code that search engines see.

Keyword Research

The basis for all search marketing is finding out what customers are searching for. Search engines are designed to provide solutions to questions so the most effective way to show up in the search results is to provide the best answer to the question.

Keyword research covers a broad range of topics and techniques. For example, you’ll want to consider where in the sales funnel each term falls – “private school open houses” is more likely to lead to a booking than “private school uniform policy”, but they both have value in the search strategy. You will also want to consider the difficulty and specificity of a keyword – “private school” will be difficult to rank for and will probably not lead to business, while “best private school in Brooklyn NY” will be easier to rank for and is more likely to get leads. 

Keyword Optimization

Search engines used to be very basic in the way that they handled keywords. The page with the most keywords usually ranked the highest. Now, it is much more nuanced. As search engines get smarter, they have started to read the visible and hidden text on websites more like a human would. While you should still use your primary keywords in the page title and H1 you should refrain from “stuffing” it multiple times in the body text of the page.

You should also employ synonyms of your keywords. Search engines understand that if a page talks about teachers, education, students, numeracy etc. it is probably a page about a school and will allow you to rank for the corresponding keywords.

 

 

Image Optimization
Images file names and alt text should be optimized for keywords as search engines still cannot easily determine their content.
Schema Markup
Mark up your address and reviews so they show up in the search results. Add stars to reviews so they appear directly on the search engine results page.
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Social Media Sharing
Add code to the backend of your site so that your information shows up correctly if a customer shares the page on social media.
Competitor Research
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Finding keywords that drive traffic to competitor’s sites is easier than ever if you have the right tools.
Don't Break the Rules
There are rules that websites should follow. eg. one H1 per page, no duplicate content, no missing metadata.
Social Media Accounts
Social media is a great place to show your business ethos. Sign up for and optimize a Facebook business account and respond to enquiries promptly.

Additional Tips

Advanced things to do once you have everything else ticking along

Conversion Rate Optimization

Even if everything on your website seems to be ticking over nicely and you are getting a good number of customers filling out the contact forms and calling in, there is almost always something you can do to improve.

Conversion Rate Optimization has gotten a bit of a bad reputation because people wrongly assume that it is just people changing the color of buttons. In fact, you can change almost every element of a webpage to try to make your site as effective as possible at converting visitors into customers. It may be as simple as changing the image at the top of the page or the location of a contact form to redesigning whole elements of a page.

The most important rule is that all changes should be based on evidence – only change one thing at a time. At ThinkHead Design we make extensive use of heatmaps and multivariate testing to ensure that any changes we make are evidence-based.

Advanced Analytics

Every website should have Google Analytics installed. It is an extremely powerful piece of free software that informs you how users find and behave on your site. 

Once you install the small bit of code on your site, Analytics will start to record information about the pages visited, the amount of time spent on each page, whether or not the visitor “converted” (i.e. sent an email or made a purchase) and much more. 

Analytics integrates with other tools such as Google Search Console to form an extremely powerful (and free) way to analyze the performance of your site. 

At ThinkHead Design, all of our sites come with analytics pre-installed so you don’t miss any data.    

Keyword Tracking

It is important to keep track of how your site is progressing in the search rankings. Unfortunately, the best tools for this job are not free. It is possible to get some insight into your keyword performance without paying for expensive rank tracking software although the data will not be as well presented.

The traditional way is to just type the keyword into google and scroll through the pages until your website shows up. There are a couple of things to bear in mind when manually checking rankings. Firstly, Google presumes that you will want to look at a result you have clicked on before. That means that your website is likely to show up higher than it would for someone who performed the search for the first time. Secondly, Google presents results based on location. Someone in the adjacent zip code may get totally different results to you.

To get around these limitations, have people in different areas look up the keywords on different computers – make sure you use incognito mode to stop Google manipulating your results.

If that sounds like too much work, you could contact a company like ThinkHead Design who will send you a nicely presented PDF report every month with your keyword progress clearly displayed.

Industry Blog

It is very likely that you have seen the blogs on your competitor’s sites. Your competitor may be one of the few companies that regularly update their blog with new posts every couple of weeks or they could be one of those companies who was told to start a blog, saw no immediate benefit, and quit writing it. 

Blogs serve a few purposes on a website. If they are good (readable blogs are always better than boring ones) then they provide a constant source of shareable content that potential customers can link to on their social media pages. They also serve as a place where you can go into greater detail about a specific area in the industry and attract users who search for longer tail keywords (lower volume but more specific). 

They also keep the website fresh in the eyes of search engines. A website that hasn’t been updated since 2010 is less likely to rank as well as one that is regularly added to. 

Blogs shouldn’t be aimless. If you are prepared to invest the time into writing a blog, make sure you post regularly and plan your topics ahead of time, based on a content calendar that targets keywords.     

 

Heat Maps

Like analytics, heatmaps are something you should have installed on your site from the very start. They provide far more detailed information about user behavior on your website and help inform decisions about CRO based on observational data.

A heatmap is basically an overview of where people hovered their mouse cursors, where they clicked, when they scrolled, what pages they visited, and much more. There may be something on your page that is confusing to visitors. With analytics, you may be aware that visitors are bouncing but you may not know why. With heatmaps, you are much more likely to pinpoint the reason.

Heatmaps can also tell you important information about how engaged your audience is. The information you learn may lead you to move an important message higher on the page if users do not scroll down very far or a heatmap may encourage you to reduce the length of a form based on the abandonment rate.

Heatmap providers (such as Hotjar) have a free tier that is usually adequate for the amount of visitors a small business gets. The options for larger businesses are still very affordable.

Visitor Tracking and Marketing Automization

Analytics are extremely useful but they don’t provide the level of tracking that other platforms provide. Tools such as HubSpot allow you to track the movement of a particular user through your website using their IP address and a website cookie. This can provide valuable information that may help lead to a sale further down the line. 

An example of the value of visitor tracking would be that you may know that a site visitor works for a specific company based on their IP address, has visited specific pages, downloaded a whitepaper and subscribed to your email list before they even pick up the phone to call you. These are immensely powerful tools to have access to before a sales call.     

Marketing automation is a fancy way of saying automated and targeted emails. You may have found that sending the same email to potential and past customer leads to a very low open rate. Marketing automation sends different emails to different customers based on where they are in the buying cycle and the kinds of service they are likely to buy. 

Marketing Automation and Visitor tracking can be a powerful combination when they are used together.  

Finally…

These are things that would take far too long to talk about here.

Paid Ads
Paid ads are often an effective way to start your search campaign. They appear immediately and can be readily changed. They can also get extremely expensive if they are not properly optimized.
Email List
Email marketing is still one of the most cost effective marketing strategies available. A good list is extremely valuable. Make sure you are compiling a list of your old customers and try to build it using email signups.
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Social Media Persona
What can you do on social media that will build your brand? Is there something unique and interesting that people want to see? Can you provide useful information to people? Provide value and people will follow you.

Put Your Business in Safe Hands

We have years of experience helping business of all type grow and become more successful. Contact us today to find out how a personalized strategy from ThinkHead Design can help you achieve your goals.

Our Trademarked
Process & Workflow.

We have streamlined our workflow to turn wesbite design, build and optimization around in record time.

You shouldn’t have to wait around for months for a website. We aim to turn around most projects in a matter of weeks.
Project Research
Websites optimized for success from the ground up.
Design
Modern responsive designs. Style and substance.
Technology
We use WordPress for ease of customization and robust security.
Optimization
Design, development and optimization working as one.

Let’s Work Together

If you would like to learn more about internet marketing you can contact us for a free consultation. Our team is made up of some of the most knowledgeable people you will find and always aim to be one step ahead of the latest developments in the industry.