Search Engine Optimization (also known as “SEO”) may sound like a fancy and complicated tool that only big companies with a bottomless marketing budget would use. This is a fairly common misconception amongst small business owners, which means you could be missing out on some serious marketing opportunities for your child care center. Anyone can use SEO. It’s just a matter of learning the tool and leveraging it in a way that addresses your goals. Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at the top SEO strategies for child care centers.

Let’s start with the basics. To put it in perspective, nowadays most people don’t use The Yellow Pages anymore to find child care centers, or any business for that matter. A whopping 97% of people are now using the power of the internet to do a quick search on Google and click on one of the first results that most closely matches what they’re looking for. However, you don’t need to be a psychic to figure out which keywords people are most likely to use when conducting a search. Coming up with an effective SEO strategy for your child care center will include doing keyword research, and identifying your audience’s search habits. Let’s walk through this, step-by-step:

1. Figure out what your audience is searching for

With the use of keyword strategy, you’ll be able to rank on Google so that when parents are searching for a child care center in your area, yours will be one of the first to pop up.  First and foremost however, you need to do some research on which exact keywords are being typed into the Google search box by your ideal parent lead. Search terms, for example, “Montessori school in {your location}” are a good starting point. You’ll want to optimize your website headers to match those terms. We suggest coming up with a list of keywords or phrases that best match your center, and go from there. Ultimately, the more visibility your center has, the easier it will be for the right leads to find you.

2. Identify how your audience is using search

Once you’ve come up with a list of the most popular keywords that match your services, you’re going to want to identify how people are searching for you. Take that list of the top keywords and phrases you came up with, and start doing some research on exactly how people are inputting them into their search bars. Are they using phrases such as “top ten child care centers near me”? In addition to giving you insight as to how parents are coming across your center, you can also use these results to help you begin to come up with a strategy. 

3. Buying Intent vs. Research Intent

Typically, buying intent and research intent are going to indicate two different things. If someone is searching “best daycare in {X location}”, chances are that parent is looking to enroll now. As for research intent, if someone searches something along the lines of “what’s the difference between a Montessori school and a preschool”, it’s more likely that that parent is evaluating the options, but won’t necessarily be enrolling his or her child somewhere right away. Whatever these parents’ intentions may be, optimizing your keywords for each of these concepts will be useful as a means to increasing your overall visibility to prospective parents.

At a high level overview, these steps will give you a fairly good idea of why SEO for child care centers is so important for increasing your overall online presence. Doing adequate research to determine what your parent prospects are searching for will give you a much better idea on the specific keywords for which you should optimize your website site content. However, it’s not just keywords and phrases to which you need to pay attention. Like many digital marketing methods, there’s far more beneath the surface of which you’ll need a deeper understanding before you’ll be able to achieve your desired results.

From link and citation building, to “on-site SEO” and “off-site SEO”, there are a lot of technical terms that may seem overwhelming at first. Soon you’ll have a better understanding of how each of these things works, and how they can contribute to a successful SEO formula. Not only that, but the amount of tools available will be utterly useless if you don’t understand what they’re used for or how to analyze them. That’s why we’re going to take a look at the key elements of what these terms mean, and why they need to be incorporated into your child care center’s SEO strategy. 

Citations

What are citations? How are they useful? Citations are incredibly important for your online presence. In addition to legitimizing your child care center in the eyes of your searchers, optimizing your citations for search will also give you a great advantage in your SEO strategy. But what exactly is it? Take for example, Google My Business. This is what pops up on the side of your screen when you search for a specific keyword that most closely matches that business or service. Your citation, at the very least, should include your center’s name, street address, and phone number. This will not only contribute to a user-friendly experience for your prospects, but having solid information on your center’s Google My Business will increase your overall “trustworthiness” on Google.

Once your citation listing has its place on Google, you need to make sure that your center is verified. From there, you’ll also want to check that your center’s information is accurate and up-to-date. You’ve got your center’s name, phone number, and address, so make sure that this listed information is uniform with any other citation listings you already have or are planning to do. Next, ensure that your center’s hours are visible and accurate across the internet. These may seem like minor details, but they are very important so that Google can determine your center’s validity. The next step is to place your center within a category. Whether your center is faith-based, a Montessori school, a learning center, or a standard daycare center, you need to ensure that you’re reflecting your center’s services. We suggest coming up with at least three categories to start.

Descriptions for website optimization

Now that you’ve settled on your categories, you’ll need to come up with a 100-200 word description (otherwise known as a “meta description”) of your center’s services, including a call to action (which will be your next step.) Here’s a good template to follow:

{Name of Center} is a {day care, nursery school, or preschool} in {Location}. {Additional information about the center that speaks to your mission and why parents should choose your center.} Call {Phone Number} today for {incentive such as free registration or discount on tuition}.

After you include a short and concise meta description, your next step will involve website optimization. Making sure the core pages of your website (such as your homepage and the page listing your services) are optimized for buying intent is critical for your strategy. First you’ll want to give some attention to your website’s “title tag.”  This can be found on your homepage, and generally includes the name of your center and its location within 50-60 characters. Your headline or “H1” should include your primary category, and needs to be formatted to include your center’s name and location.

Link building

Now that you’ve devoted some time to coming up with a keyword strategy and you’ve worked on optimizing your website according to your keywords, you’re probably thinking, “What more can I possibly do?” Well the truth is, link building is going to be one of the most vital elements needed to drive traffic to your website, and the overall SEO strategy for your child care center. Generating links and promoting your content is crucial for ranking with Google’s algorithm. Backlinks(links on another site that link back to your site) are actually one of Google’s top three ranking factors. For example, say you come across a page with plenty of child care resources in your area. Consider reaching out to the owner of that page and ask to have your site linked to theirs. That way, when people are looking into these resources, you’ll have a good chance at reeling them in to your website.

Onsite SEO vs. Offsite SEO

“Onsite SEO” and “Offsite SEO” are more or less exactly what they sound like. Onsite SEO involves SEO on your website, and offsite SEO involves external SEO methods (such as backlinks directing curious parent leads to your site.) Other initiatives, such as reviews, social media, or guest blogging are included in offsite SEO as well. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to make sure links directing leads to your website are coming from reputable sources.

Onsite SEO for your child care center will entail a specific area of your website, such as your keywords, titles/headlines, and content like blogs, imagery, and inbound links. Essentially, you’ll be looking to build your website content around the most relevant keywords in order to increase visibility for your child care center. From there, Google (or whichever search engine you use) will index your content, or place the webpages in Google’s search index. The key here is having the core pages of your website be indexed, so that your chances of ranking on Google are higher.

Tools

When it comes to tools, perhaps one of the most important factors here is knowing which tools to use. There are a variety of user-friendly tools available (and a lot of them are free!) One thing to keep in mind, however, is that many of these tools are utilized for different purposes for an SEO strategy. Some tools may be well-equipped for showing you the search volumes for certain keywords, while others are more helpful if you’re trying to find your competitors’ backlinks. Check out some of the tools that Google offers, such as Google Analytics or Google Adwords.

Utilizing SEO strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. However, it will take some time and the right resources to come up with an effective strategy to drive qualified parent leads. Contact Local Child Care Marketing for all of your child care center’s SEO needs.