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13 SEO Things You Can (Sort of) Do Yourself

Young student dressed like a businesswoman learning about SEO.

13 SEO Things You Can (Sort of) Do Yourself

I’m putting the final touches on an eBook I’m writing in preparation for an industry conference I’m speaking at later in the week, and it occurred to me that this would make a great blog post. Problem is, it’s a full eBook, not a blog. So my challenge is to create a post using only 1 paragraph for each topic... and make sure it’s still useful AND quickly readable.

Challenge accepted…

#1: Relevant, Useful & Quality Content

Because the search engines are ranking you based on your likeliness to appeal to prospective parents, good content that actually engages visitors and keeps them on your site longer signals them that you have something of interest to offer. Staying on point with your topics and keywords signals search engines what you’re all about and what they should be ranking you for.

#2: Page Load Speed

Google and Bing have no more patience to wait for you page to load than your visitors do. When visitors “bounce” or don’t spend much time on your site, that signals the search engines that you are not that useful, and gives them no incentive to rank your school's website.

#3: Image Optimization

Oversized image file sizes directly affect Page Load Speed and all the consequences that go with slow loading websites. Ideally you would want to edit the image as close to the proper size that you actually need, and make fine adjustments with the CMS if necessary.

#4: Header Tags

Header tags (the bold headlines and sub-headlines) that separate sections on your page, visually break the page up into “snackable” sections making it easier to scan through the page and provide a more pleasant user experience, thus keeping visitors on your site longer and reaping all the benefits associated with that. Search engines also heavily weigh the keywords that appear in your Header Tags more than they do in the body copy.

#5: Outbound Links

To make your content more useful and relevant for prospective parents, you can link out to authority sites for more in-depth information that your readers can use. Linking out to well-respected authority sites will not only increase the relevancy of your content and the time readers spend on your site, but recent studies indicate that they send trust signals to Google and improve SEO ranking.

#6: Various Multimedia

Images, videos, slideshows and audio can make your page more interesting and more useful. Once again keeping visitors on your site, and passing good vibes to the search engines. Also, search engines know that you are creating that content for users, not for them… extra points!

#7: Broken Links

Getting a 404 error page while you are looking for something is not just anticlimactic, it frustrates both people and search engines. Search engines consider a large number of broken links as a signal of an old, neglected site and this can impact your SEO ranking.

#8: Readability

You’re not impressing anyone by using academic jargon or a 25¢ word when a 5¢ will do. If it’s too hard to read, readers will just skip it. That effects your quality score and ultimately the search engines.

#9: Layout & Formatting

People don’t read on the Internet, they scan…they see headlines, bullet points and images. Then if they like what they see, they may start reading the body copy. If they like what they read, they will be on the page longer and will be more likely to consume your website’s information.

#10: Contact Us Page

It may be obvious that every school website should have a contact page (isn’t that what you want prospective parents to do?), but websites that have sufficient contact information are considered to be more trust-worthy and therefore may rank higher by search engines. Consider interactive maps, trust icons and a privacy statement.

#11: Site Architecture & Navigation

Avoid requiring more than 3-clicks for a visitor to find what they are looking for on your website. That will help parents find what they are looking for quickly without frustrating them, reduce your bounce rate and increase your dwell time (average time on site). Not only will users thank you, but so will search engines by indexing more pages on your site. Once your pages get beyond that third click, the search engines start losing interest in you.

#12: Mobile Friendly

Consumers now search more on mobile devices than on desktops. As of April 2015 Google started pushing down non-mobile friendly websites in  the search results when the search was being conducted on a mobile device. Which is now the majority. Companies like Niche or Great Schools, that act as search directories connecting prospective parents to schools found that 55% of all searches comes from mobile devices.

#13: Social Sharing

At a minimum, sharing good quality content on your site can result in more incoming traffic and incoming links…both of which absolutely do influence search engine placement. Installing social sharing buttons on your website not only makes it easy for users to share your content, and thereby improve user experience, it can also help you rank higher on searches.

So there you have it….

13 SEO things you can (sort of) do yourself in 1 paragraph each. Makes me wonder why I bothered to write the entire eBook.

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