Search engine optimisation (SEO) for nurseries
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an awfully technical term for what is really a simple concept – making sure that your website is placed as highly as possible in the Google (or Bing, Yahoo, etc.) search engine results.
When parents, funders and potential staff members are searching online for nurseries in your town or city you want to be doing everything possible to be visible. This article will help you to achieve that.
Removing the guesswork with Google Analytics and Google Search Console
If you already have a website, it is essential to set up (or ask your web developer to set up) Google Analytics and Google Search Console. This should take no more than half an hour and will form the backbone of your SEO and user experience research.
Google Search Console displays information such as the number of clicks to your site and the terms people are typing in to arrive there. It also flags any security issues or indexing problems and offers a range of tools and tests.
Google Analytics displays rich data on your website including visitor demographics, behaviour and devices. The level of detail is astounding.
When you need to run tests, these tools will enable you to draw accurate conclusions from them. Without them, you are flying blind.
Auditing keywords and keyphrases
Keywords and phrases form the link between the information your potential visitors are looking for and the information you are providing on your website.
The right keywords for your website are those that are relevant to your services and that attract the right type of visitor (e.g. parents, jobseekers, funders, etc.). Well chosen keywords will boost your place in the search results which will, in turn, make you more visible.
Appearing on Page 1 of Google for a particular keyword will increase web traffic dramatically.
There are many free tools that can help you to source high quality keywords, including the Google Keyword Tool, Bing Ads Intelligence and Moz Keyword Explorer. These will show you how often keywords are being searched for and how easy it would be to rank for them.
There are also paid tools (e.g. SEMrush, Ahrefs, Term Explorer, etc.) that can help you to dig deeper once you have mastered the basics.
You can use AdWords, Google's paid advertising platform, to run mini tests on keywords of interest by selecting them for short advertising campaigns. Run the campaign until you have had at least 200 clicks, pause it and then check your statistics. This will give you a benchmark against which to judge your SEO efforts.
When choosing keywords, be sure to include location-specific variations (e.g. “Nursery Clapham”). This will reduce the competition and increase the relevance of click throughs.
Page load speed
How fast your page loads is very important to SEO. Page Speed Tools, another set of free Google services, will provide invaluable tips on how to speed up your page load time.
Simply click on Insights and type in your web address and Google will spit out a report on both your mobile and desktop performance. The advice can be quite technical but this should be within the capability of most developers.
If your page loads slowly, the 'dwell time' on your site is likely to go down as visitors click away in frustration. This will undermine your SEO. Slow pages will also mean Google crawlers have less time to index your site leading to fewer pages being indexed. This is why Google are now making it clear that optimising page load speed should be a priority.
SEO and web content
Knowing a good keyword is one thing. Knowing what to do with it is another.
Your keywords and phrases need to appear in specific places within your website code and also within the writing itself. To have an effect on SEO, your web pages should each contain at least 100 words of writing (known as 'copy') and contain your keyword. Use the keyword naturally – overusing it is termed 'stuffing' which can lead to your site being penalised.
As a general guide, your keyword should also be:
- In your title tag
- In your meta description tag
- In your main heading
- In sub-headings
There is more on crafting titles and meta descriptions below. Eyes Down clients are given access to a user-friendly Content Management System (CMS) which gives them the ability to add and edit titles and descriptions with no technical knowledge.
Heading and sub-heading sizes are specified in the code by so-called 'H tags', with the largest being the H1 tag. It is good practice to only have one H1 tag and for this to come before any H2, H3, H4, etc. tags.
Most website text editors will allow you to highlight text and select a heading type.
You can also improve SEO by linking between pages on your website using 'anchor text' – clickable words within the content.
Be good to mobile
Is your website mobile-friendly? If you're not sure, the Google Mobile Friendly Test tool will tell you and give you a heads up about any display problems.
With mobile performance now a key part of Google's algorithm, Eyes Down build websites with mobile in mind from the outset and this is becoming standard practice across the industry.
From a user point of view, busy parents tend to be constantly on the go and using a mobile device to access the web makes sense for them. As the graphic below shows, mobile can be very popular indeed with people visiting nursery websites. Over 57% of the traffic to this Eyes Down client's website came through a smartphone with a further 5% using a tablet.
Read more on mobile friendly nursery websites.
More on meta titles and descriptions
As well as appearing in your written content (as detailed above), it is vital that your keyword is included in your title and meta description tags. These 'meta tags' tell Google's crawlers what your web page is about and are also used when formatting your web page's entry on the search results page.
The title is used to create the blue heading for your entry while the description makes up the black text underneath the green web address. By writing in an active voice with a clear call to action, you will maximise the chances of an impression turning into a visit.
Titles should be between 50 and 60 characters while descriptions should stay within 160 characters to avoid being cut off at the end. Follow the link for some more advice about writing meta titles and descriptions.
Blogging for SEO
Blogs play a powerful role in SEO due to their unique structure.
Each blog post is its own web page and can be optimised for keywords and linked together in the same way as any of your main pages can. However, individual blog pages do not have to appear in your menu and so won't bloat your website navigation.
More about the benefits of blogging.
So what next?
We hope that the above has gone some way into demystifying the world of SEO for nursery websites.
As specialists in designing and building engaging, SEO- and mobile-friendly nursery websites, we would be delighted to have the opportunity to support you in creating or upgrading your nursery website.