In the November issue of the School Messenger, you learned how to "Launch Your Christian School's Website in Seven Simple Steps." This is an exciting marketing option to help you reach a wide online audience of potential parents and students who have never heard of your school. In addition, a school website vastly improves your visibility and authority as an organization within your city and your surrounding community. Now, we're taking your website one step further by showing you how to improve your website's ranking in search engine results.

SEO Defined
SEO is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. Although it sounds quite technical, the meaning is very simple. SEO is the process of improving visits to your website by improving your website's ranking in search engine results pages. For example, when you're using a search engine, you type words into the search field and scroll through the results. According to the words you typed, the search engine finds relevant websites that best match the words for which you searched. The higher your website is in the search results, the more likely someone is going to find it. With SEO techniques, you can help potential parents or students find your Christian school's website easier!

Tip 1 - Get Inbound Links
Most search engines rank your website according to the amount of inbound links you have from other websites. Therefore, the more websites that link to you, the more authority you have. To get started, add links to local community websites, local church websites, and blogs.

Extra Tip: Make sure inbound links are relevant to visitors. Think quality, rather than quantity.

Tip 2 - Add Keywords
Keywords are the words you think people will type in a search engine to find your website. For example, if someone lives in Miami, Florida, and he is looking for a local Christian school, he might type the keywords of "miami florida christian school" in the search engine. Keywords are naturally found in the content of your website. Placing keywords in headlines or webpage titles can help the search engine recognize your website faster. If you're unsure what keywords you should use or curious how many times people search for certain keywords, use this handy keyword tool!

Extra Tip: Keywords shouldn't be overused. This is called "keyword stuffing" and could cause search engines to ban your website from search results. A good rule of thumb is to write your content naturally for people to read and avoid using unnecessary keywords.

Tip 3 - Submit Your Site
Search engines do a great job of searching the web to find new websites to index or place in their search results. However, if you are impatient or want to ensure your website is found by search engines quickly (especially if you have just launched your website), you can submit your website manually to the search engine. Think of it like adding your name to the phone book! All the main search engines also accept sitemap submissions. This will help them discover each page on your website.

Extra Tip: Submission doesn't guarantee better ranking in search results, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Tip 4 - Track Your Progress
Check to see how your website is doing in search engine results. You can't improve if you don't know how your website is currently performing. Sign up for Google Analytics for free stats and find out how visitors locate your website, as well as where and what your website's visitors gravitate toward for page content. You might be surprised. These numbers will tell you how others really view your website. From this, you can gather information on what to add or improve.

Extra Tip: Don't have time to track SEO or change content? Get students to help! Make your website a topic of study as a part of your students' computer classes or ask knowledgeable parents or teachers to volunteer.

Tip 5 - Have Great Content
This may seem obvious, but the more relevant your content is, the more people are likely to visit your website. Place the most-read content in an easy location where visitors can quickly find it. Most of all, have content that people want to read. Describe your Christian school, your staff, your course offerings, the steps for enrolling, athletics, and events. All the information should also be clearly labeled on your website's navigation. Remember, adding fresh, up-to-date content is important because even if your website ranks well in results, it isn't beneficial if visitors can't find what they need.

Extra Tip: Always have your phone number and contact information visually displayed on every page, so potential parents and students can get a hold of you!

Final Thoughts
If starting a website is like opening your doors to the world, adding SEO is making sure those doors are right in front of everyone who wants to enter! Of course, there are many different aspects of SEO you can try, but these main points should improve your website's placement in search engine results. Keep in mind, SEO is not an instant, all-in-one answer to helping your website's ranking. SEO often takes time to see improvements, and updating SEO is a continuous process.

Because search engines are always changing how websites are found, the best rule to follow for SEO is to always have good content. Quite simply, if your content is relevant and findable, your website will have visitors! Plus, the more potential parents and students who visit your Christian school's website, the more opportunities you'll have to reach souls in need of Christian education and the message of God's glory and salvation.

Does your school's website use SEO techniques? Share your own thoughts on improving your website's visibility in the comment field below.

*Alpha Omega Publications® is not responsible for content on third-party websites. Please be aware that the content on third-party websites is not reviewed, monitored, controlled, endorsed, or affiliated with AOP.