Google has over 200 different factors that determine where your school's website ranks in the search results. Some of them technical in nature, but here are 5 easy ones that I bet you didn’t know were important:
Google and Bing have no more patience to wait for your page to load than your visitors do. When prospective parents “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 web page.
QuickTip #1: Reduce the file size of images on your website, and strip out any old or extraneous code that may be slowing your website down. This is something you may need the help of a pro for. Trust me, it’s worth it. Your visitors will appreciate it too.
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Search engines like domain names that have been around for a while. It’s harder to rank a brand-new domain, than an “aged” domain that Google is already familiar with.
As long as we’re talking about domain names, I bet you didn’t know that Google will actually check to see how long you purchased your domain name for. The longer you commit to owning it, the more they take you seriously when calculating where to rank you in the search results.
QuickTip #2: Although you can’t control how old your domain name is, you can buy one that’s been around for a while on the secondary market. Plan to pay a lot more if you go that route. Also be careful that you don’t buy one that has been tainted by a history of black hat SEO practices or had been associated with unsavory content.
Go ahead and part with a few extra dollars and purchase your domain for 5-years or so. Google and Bing will respect you in the morning, and you won’t have to worry about it until you’re too rich to care.
Identical content on the same site (even slightly modified) can negatively influence a site’s search engine visibility. Creatively “borrowing” content from another website may not technically earn you a penalty, but Google will only give credit to the original, or more “authoritative” website who published it.
QuickTip #3: This one may be obvious, but write quality original content that your readers will love, and search engines will think worthwhile to showcase in their search results. Sounds easy, right?
Videos, embedded SlideShares, Images, and other multimedia appear to act as a quality signal. Google likes when you create content for real people…not for them. Generally multimedia is not there to impress a search engine, it’s there to supply additional content for your prospective parents. Extra points!
Related to that is image optimization. Titles, descriptions, captions and alt-text send important signals to search engines and factor in to your authority.
QuickTip #4: Use images and multimedia wisely. Don’t just force-feed them onto a page because you just heard Google likes them. Most content management systems (like WordPress and many others) allow you to optimize your images…so take the extra time with each image and do just that.
Google doesn’t like stale websites. They like websites that not only add content on a regular basis, but especially websites that occasionally update entire sections of content on existing pages. You may have noticed that Google often shows a page’s last update for certain pages.
QuickTip #5: It’s a best practice to review your school's website periodically to see if it needs to be updated just to keep pace with changes in your school. Can anything be said better, or different, or more thoroughly (or more concisely)? One of the reasons blogs are so popular is that they give a place to add fresh content regularly without junking up the rest of your website.
Want to know the other 197 Google ranking factors? Probably not, but if you want some help with them, just contact us and we’ll do a complimentary analysis and make a few suggestions. No charge (that’s the complimentary part).