It seems like everyone talks about SEO. You know you need to do it, but what is ‘it’, exactly? Let’s go through step by step and cover 13 daycare SEO tricks that work every time.
A quick primer on what and why
Unless you just happen to have spent a lot of time researching or learning about it, some aspects of SEO are likely a mystery to you. So let’s take a very brief pause to get at least a basic understanding of what SEO is and why it matters.
SEO isn’t even a word, it’s an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. That basically breaks down to all the things you do in an effort to ensure you appear as high as possible in the search results every time someone goes online to search for something related to your business.
Your own personal experience with searching for things online surely tells you that you’re not apt to scroll through page after page of search results. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in the first page or two, you’ll just do a new search with slightly different phrasing to see if you can get different results.
When others do the same thing while searching for your business, you ideally want two things:
- To be as listed in as high a position as possible on the first page, and
- To show up only when the person doing the searching would find you and your business highly relevant to what they were looking for.
In a nutshell, SEO is about trying to accomplish both those goals.
Other important points to keep in mind
Contrary to popular belief, you do not optimize your website for SEO. This is where a lot of amateurs mess up.
Each page of your website gets optimized individually. Not only that, but every blog post, article, video, photo, and other content types. Any one of them could show up in search results on their own. Users clicking on one of them will not be taken to your website’s main page, they will go directly to the content or page they found relevant enough to click on.
If setting all that up sounds like a lot of work, initially it is. Once you’ve gotten it set up, then it’s really not much more cumbersome than creating content that isn’t SEO-friendly.
It’s also crucial to keep in mind who you’re trying to attract and what phrases they are likely to search to find you.
Don’t use generic terms such as “daycare”. Opt instead for more specific — and more targeted — phrases like “best daycare center in [your location]”. And don’t limit yourself to just one or two key phrases either. Cast your net as wide as possible and optimize for as many keywords as you can think of. Just so long as you keep it relevant.
In that vein, optimize for search terms that address any and every competitive advantage you have. Do you have medical staff onsite? Experience with food allergies? Certified teachers? Extended hours? Your own vans or buses for pick up and drop off? Can you handle non-English speaking families? Whatever it is that sets you apart from your competitors is something to be touted and optimized for.
The difference between SEO and “Local SEO”
Being a local business catering exclusively to local customers puts you at a huge advantage. You don’t have to compete for ranking against giant companies with their larger budgets.
Except for those in your immediate area, you don’t even have to compete against other businesses of the same type. After all, a child care center in Detroit isn’t actively trying to lure customers from Baton Rouge or Tallahassee. Even the centers in the next town over may not be competing with you. So you can find and use the very same keywords that work well for them and just add or substitute the name of your location.
Maintaining an active blog and regularly posting content to it is one of the most important things you can do to improve your SEO.
Think of it this way, if someone finds you online but your website has very little information or content, why would they choose you?
Having an extensive library of articles and a rich variety of interesting content doesn’t just give the search engines a way to find you, it also establishes your credibility and expertise in your field. This gives parents a secure feeling of knowing they are sending their children to a high-quality provider.
Speaking of having a rich variety of content, things like photos, videos, artwork, and other media are more than just nice to look at. Search engines love to see these things because they know that people love to see these things.
How to go about optimizing your content
No matter whether it’s a written article or some other kind of content, don’t just slap it up there and expect to get maximum results.
There is a methodology that will really help super power your efforts and your results.
- For every page you create, think hard about how to format the title. This is going to show up on the search results listings page and in the title bar or tab of a person’s browser when they click a link to check you out. So even though you can make the title as long as you want, only the first 50 characters or so (including spaces) are going to be visible.
Try some variation on this format: Child Care in [location] | [appended info]
For your main page(s), append the name of your business. For other pages, append some very brief description about the purpose of the page.
By the way, the title we’re talking about here doesn’t show up on the page itself. (That comes later.) It gets applied behind the scenes and is mainly only looked at by search engines and browser software.
- Meta Description also gets applied behind the scenes. This is a 100-150 character description of what the page is about. This may also show up on the search results listing page but nowhere else.
Try formatting it something like this: [name of company], offering quality child care in [location]. Call [phone number] to arrange a visit.
- Headline is the industry jargon for the human-friendly title that appears on the page. That may be the title of a blog post or article, the name of a podcast or video, or any other title that will appear at the top of a page for visitors to see.
- The copy, or on-page text, is the final step for optimizing any given page. Each page or article on your website should cover only a single topic. Do not combine topics. For example, coming across a page with information about bottle feeding, potty training, and after school programs will hurt your results more than help.
Each of these would make great pages or articles on their own, just keep them separate.
Along those lines, you should also have separate pages for each of the services you offer or each area of specialization you handle. Then each of those pages can be optimized for specific search terms relevant to the content found on that page.
Some search engine optimization doesn’t take place anywhere on your website. It actually happens on third-party sites that you neither own nor directly control. However, don’t underestimate its value!
One of the key items to optimize is your citations. Citation is the industry term for your business’ contact information: name, address, phone number, etc. This may appear in directories as well as in sometimes unexpected places like online maps.
The reason updating your citations is important is two-fold.
- First, it reduces confusion if users find you in multiple places online. You want them to know it’s you. You also want them to have accurate contact information to get in touch with you if they choose to do business with you.
- Second, Google and other search engines will analyze the consistency of this information. They view inconsistent information as the sign of a business that’s being poorly run. In that case, they may actually penalize you in unrelated ways such as lowering the ranking of your blog posts or videos.
A website’s “authority ranking” is basically a measure of credibility. Sites that are viewed as a credible information source will tend to be favored by search engines. Your own site’s authority ranking can be influenced in a number of ways.
The first and most obvious is, of course, to publish a lot of reliable information and to actually be credible. But that’s not the only measure.
Getting other sites to link back to yours is an important indicator of authority. So if you can forge partnerships or otherwise get links or endorsements, it will help your SEO. The key is that those other sites must be related to your business in some logical way.
Rather than trying to get links from plumbers and car lots, instead go for mommy blogs and pee-wee sports leagues. Schools, PTA groups, neighborhood associations, and your local chamber of commerce are also great ones to target.
Review sites such as Yelp factor highly into a website’s authority ranking. Encourage your customers and employees to post reviews of your business. These not only help your SEO, but will also assist prospective customers decide to do business with you.
Industry-specific referral sites such as Care.com and Angie’s List are also great both for helping would-be customers find you and for building your authority ranking.
Surprisingly, it can also help your SEO to publish a page listing and reviewing all the child care centers in your area. Although this may seem like you would be promoting your competitors, it’s all in the name of letting Google see that you offer authoritative information.
This is such a great trick that it’s almost subversive.
To understand the logic, you have to consider the motivations of a company like Google. They want to be seen as providing relevant and useful solutions to user queries. If someone is looking for “best child care in Albany”, Google isn’t going to just blindly match on that combination of words. They try to understand what the person is asking and guide them toward a useful answer to their question.
So it isn’t always enough to just be the best child care center in your city. If you can also be an authoritative resource for finding out what the best child care centers (plural) are in your city, Google will refer people to your website as having authoritative information that helps answer their question.
Naturally, once users are on your site, there are plenty of other ways to encourage them to take a look around. If they like what they see, many may look no further. In short, you become the default option.
Focus on intent
Take a page from Google’s playbook. Don’t just try to optimize for lists of words or phrases. Not even when they are related to your business or industry. Try to consider the intent behind someone searching for a particular word or phrase.
Is it a pregnant mother simply doing research months before her baby is even due? (This is an example of “research intent”.) Or is it a family who just moved to the area and needs to get their children enrolled this week so the parents can start their new jobs? (Purchase intent.)
There are other drivers behind online searches but those two cover at least 90% of what’s relevant for driving more customers to your business.
You’ll want to develop content that addresses and caters to both types.
Summing it all up
So that was the short course on boosting your results through SEO. A baker’s dozen of tips to skyrocket your success! To recap:
- Optimize for individual pages, not just your site as a whole.
- Use highly targeted search terms.
- Play up your competitive advantages.
- Focus on Local SEO.
- Build and maintain a rich library of relevant content.
- Make use of a variety of media; photos, video, audio, articles, etc.
- Metatags is the umbrella term for the descriptors and other info that the search engines see but visitors to your website do not. Make sure you are using these effectively.
- Clean up your citations.
- Try to get relevant backlinks.
- Encourage reviews of your business.
- Get industry and professional association listings.
- Be the go-to resource in your field.
- Understand and cater to search intent.
There is a lot to know when it comes to SEO. And the landscape is constantly shifting. If you want a partner that specializes in, not only SEO, but holistically helping child care centers increase enrollments and become more successful, talk to the experts at Local Child Care Marketing. 855-215-3838 We’ve got what it takes to help you succeed!