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6 min read

Marketing strategies for schools – a lesson in staying top of the class

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Marketing strategies for schools are more crucial than ever as parents can simply compare competing educational institutions in seconds. Word-of-mouth is one of the easiest ways for playground parents to hear about schools, and if your institution has realised its full marketing potential, then you will become a key topic for these conversations.

SEO for schools – digital marketing strategies

When people search for ‘schools near me’ or ‘best primary school for art’, for example, they are researching a future for their child. This opportunity allows your institution’s website to show them exactly what you could offer. It isn’t a case of selling your school it’s an opportunity to sell potential for success. That is why search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial in digital marketing for schools.

Google My Business

When searching for a school in your area, you’ll most likely find local authority sites dominating the top one or two positions, listing all the establishments in their area. But above that, you may find a Google My Business Map, which will show you the closest schools geographically, as well as a Google rating left by past and present parents. A Google My Business map may be triggered when you also search for ‘primary schools near me’, even if you don’t specify a location.

Setting this up is extremely easy, all you need to do is verify your business with Google to be included in the map pack. If you cannot see the school in this listing, you may have to add it manually. This will be true for new schools, or institutions that have changed their name or location. After this, Google will send a postcard to your address with a PIN on and you can enter this in your account, to take control of that listing.

Blogs for schools

Blogging is a great way to expose parents to what your school is doing every week, it will highlight your successes and improve your search rankings. Talk to your website administrator about setting up a blog that can become a parent’s resource area and may encourage them to share your posts.

School blog ideas:

Potential blog ideas for schools include the following, feel free to use them! The number next to the term is its relative search volume as of September 2017:

  • Creative activities for children (270)
  • Websites for kids to learn (390)
  • Packed lunch ideas for kids (1300)
  • We’ve won an award!
  • Parents and carers – important dates for your diary

Think about anything a parent would want to know, if you receive multiple emails and phone calls about similar issues, make a blog post about it and share it on your social media. For other ideas check out Answer The Public which will bring up search terms for anything related to the keywords you enter. In terms of SEO, your social media will not typically affect the rankings, however having an active blog that engages parents and carers will help your search performance.

When writing content for a blog consider your keywords and craft with those in mind to try and rank for terms and build your school’s online reputation.

Social media for schools

Although not hugely relevant to SEO, it is worth having an active presence online to share your blogs and engage with the community. Even if it is something as simple as setting up a Facebook page to share small updates not worthy of a blog, it is still worth investing time into. Posting photos of events, trips and achievements on social media which tease a larger blog post is a great addition to your SEO strategy. Status Social have a helpful blog on how to create the perfect images for social media, as all the different channels often require different sizes.

Get involved in your local community – offline marketing strategies

Host and sponsor events and engage with your local community. This is the tried and tested method when marketing for schools and allows you to show off your establishment’s abilities to the most relevant audience – the parents and carers of the area.

Involving staff and children in events and collaborating with local businesses is another great way to increase your search presence. This is achieved through link-building.

Let’s say you worked with a local zoo on a biology workshop about the animal kingdom. You could ask them to write a blog post about the day on their website and link back to your school, which will contribute to your school’s developing SEO strategy. In return, you may agree to share it on your social media channels, which could boost the zoo’s traffic.

Linking externally is good practice for your website so don’t be afraid to utilise any existing partnerships with schools and businesses for link-building benefit.

Involve your local Council

Not only are links from the council website invaluable but developing a good relationship with your councillor is an excellent idea. They can help you with local issues the school may be having and allows you to have direct contact with an influencer. What better way to increase the reach of your event than involving the council so they can help promote it too.

School rivalry is good – competitor analysis strategies

If another local school is doing a better job than you in the search engine results pages (SERPs), then do what all teachers tell you not to do – copy their work.

We don’t mean copy and paste all of their pages on to your website, as that is a horrendous plan, but you can appreciate when someone is doing something better than you, and learn from it.

If their site has a certain structure that you think yours could benefit from, replicate it. If they have a certain page that is ranking for a keyword better than your alternative, then see what they are doing that you could be. You can develop better website practice, social media presence and gather ideas for events and teachings.

With regards to link-building, you can use competitor backlink analysis tools to see where the local competition has gained links from. Tools like OpenLinkProfiler are free alternatives to tools like Ahrefs which we use here at Impression. OpenLinkProfiler will allow you to see what websites are linking to your competing schools, and you may be able to match those opportunities and increase the rankings for some of your pages.

Away from digital marketing, if certain competing school’s events are getting local coverage and interest, see if you can do one better. Acquire some of their marketing materials, see what they are advertising as their unique selling point. Why should people go to their school and not yours – find out and edit your strategy accordingly.

Unique selling points – what makes your school different?

Utilise your uniqueness. Your marketing strategy online and offline should be informed by your school’s individuality. If you are marketing for a deaf school or a SEN institution you can target relevant niche places for coverage. You can involve yourself with communities that support individuals with learning difficulties to show what your school offers, for example.

Online or offline marketing strategies for schools should revolve around what you already know is great about your education. Combining online marketing with SEO efforts will boost your reach through search engines and develop your website simultaneously.

Marketing for schools is one long lesson, you just need to make sure the public is listening to you.