Business development

The beginner’s guide to SEO in the Early Years

Increasing your enquiries through search engine optimisation
A photograph of marketing manager Fabio Pereira
April 12, 2023
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In a rush? Here’s the quick run-down:

  • Even the term SEO (search engine optimisation) can feel intimidating for those of us who feel less technically able. But it really only means following certain steps to make your website easier to find.
  • When you search for things online, the order in which the results are shown to you depends on a few factors, many of which you can positively influence, to make your website appear higher up in the list.
  • Let’s take a look at some of the basic things you can do to improve your website, both in terms of rankings and usability, to get you more enquiries.
  • Check out our handy glossary at the bottom of the page, where Fabio explains the terms you’ll come across on your SEO journey.

You might have ended up on this page from our newsletter. You might have clicked on this article in the EY Business Playbook. But the chances are, you’re here because you googled something like, “the basics of SEO for Early Years settings”. 

But why does that matter? Well, if you found this article through a search engine, it tells you how useful ranking top of the list of results is. And it’s exactly the same for your setting. If parents and carers type “nurseries in [your local area]” in their search bar, where does your setting appear in the results? If you’re not sure, or you’d like to appear higher in the search results (and get more parents to your site), we’re here to help. 

Famly’s manager of growth marketing, Fabio Pereira, has worked in marketing and communications for 6 years and is sharing his top tips for mastering the basics of SEO, even if you just had to google what SEO means.

Let’s get started!

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SEO for nurseries: Answering a Google search

Search engine optimisation is all about driving organic traffic to your website (basically, visits that you haven't paid for with an online advertisement). And, successful SEO campaigns have a lot to do with whether you 'answer' what someone has searched for.

For example, your target audience (prospective parents in your local area) might search for “nurseries near me” or “child care in [our town/ local area]”. That means you need to know that the search engines can easily see that your setting’s website 'answers' that search.

Here are some of the best ways to do this:

  • Have your address clearly shown, or even better, a map showing where you are, on the homepage of your website.
  • Clearly signpost other key information, such as the name of the manager, names and photos of the team, a phone number, and when you're open. All of this is important for SEO data.
  • Add links to your social media profiles.
  • Have different site pages for different information. This makes your website easier for Google to 'understand', but also makes it more user-friendly for potential customers.
  • If you want to create content for parents and carers, to support your digital marketing, put your blog posts on different pages and save your first page for all the key information above.
  • Use the right keywords.

"Luckily, Google is getting smarter and smarter," Fabio advises, "So it's harder to get it wrong. It knows that a certain group of words or terms mean the same thing, so you're more likely to rank for the right searches."

All of this also contributes to the level of 'trust' Google and other search engines have in your website, which we'll get on to next.

Search engines like to know you can be trusted

Just like the parents looking to find a setting for their child, Google and other search engines like to know you and your website can be trusted. Search engines, like prospective parents, use 'trust elements' on your page to see if you are who you say you are and that paying customers are safe. So what is a trust element?

As well as the verifiable information we talked about in the first paragraph, trust elements can be any of the following:

  • An Ofsted rating or grade.
  • A certificate of achievement or accreditation, like Millie's Mark.
  • Something that demonstrates membership of an organisation, like the Early Years Alliance.
  • Customer testimonials from existing or past parents and carers.

Adding some of these to your site will improve how much search engines trust you, and put you higher in search results.

Creating a Google Business profile

As well as doing everything you can to optimise your own website, Fabio's top tip is to create a Google Business profile. This adds you to Goole Maps and means you appear in the top section of local Google listings for businesses and improves your ranking overall. Local businesses are likely to be your biggest competition, so you want to outrank those competitors' links!

Once you’ve made your profile, think again about that key information that answers the Google search queries you want to rank for. If you’re a nursery in Brighton, then make sure you have that in your profile so parents can find you.

You should also aim to claim any profiles you have on list sites, such as, so you can gain access and add your website address. Having your website linked from other websites creates what are called 'backlinks' which Google also really likes (and so helps drive traffic to you).

To get a little technical, link building from referring domains with high authority (basically, your website being linked to by websites Google really trusts) will improve your own Google rankings.

A photograph of Scrabble pieces spelling out 'SEO audit'

SEO tools: Google Search Console and keyword research

One of the easiest ways to optimise your website and rise up the Google rankings is by using the right tools. 'SEO tools' might sound a little intimidating but they're designed to make the job of getting your website seen even easier.

But can't I just Google us to see where we are in the rankings? Well, not really. You'd need to make sure you're logged out of any Google or search engine account and use incognito mode, but even so, the results you get might not reflect the reality of what happens when people search.

Instead, Fabio recommends using the Google Search Console, which is a free tool. The sooner you use it, the better, as it's not able to look into the past, but it can help you find what you're ranking for , by search volume, to help you drive more traffic to your site. Plus there are plenty of training resources to help you use the tool to improve your SEO performance.

Say you want to rank highly when parents search for ‘nursery in Brighton’. With Google Search Console, you might find that your rank homepage ranks for this term, but your average position in the results page is too low, so you get almost no clicks. It could be something as simple as your homepage not showing clearly enough that your setting is in Brighton. Adding that information clearly on your homepage means you will then rank higher for that search, sending more parents into your website.

"It's a free service and it gives you an overview of all the traffic you're getting from Google," explains Fabio, "Plus all the keywords that you're already ranking for, and which pages. You can get a lot out of it without having to get too technical."

If you want to do specific keyword research and find the right keywords to optimise for, your best bet is the Google Ads keyword tool (called Keyword Planner) but this is more involved and technical.

Optimising your website’s functionality

As well as how you lay out your content, it’s important to your ranking that your website works as well as possible. Therefore, it's also a good idea to:

  • Ensure the loading speed is as good as it can be - if you have an external content marketing company or SEO agency, you can ask them about this. If you're doing it all yourself, you can improve page speed by downsizing large (heavy) images and getting rid of unnecessary animations, as these can slow your web pages down.
  • Try to get rid of any technical errors or broken links to other sites (including internal links to other pages on your site)
  • Make sure your site is optimised for use on mobile phones too. So much of your parent engagement will be on phones rather than desktops, so consider how your site looks when it's compressed onto a phone screen.
  • Add meta descriptions to your pages. A meta description is basically a short summary of what the page is about.

Google analytics and knowing if your SEO campaign is working

Generally, it can take around 4 to 6 months to see significant results if you're working on SEO optimisation, which can feel pretty slow. However, there are a few ways to know that things are going in the right direction.

You might notice an uptick in enquiries, for example, where prospective parents are beginning to see your site more often. Perhaps you've gained a few new followers on your social media, who might have found you from your website.

Sadly, SEO isn't an exact science as we don't really know every detail that Google uses in its algorithm when ranking sites. However, if you're really keen to get into the nitty-gritty, Google Analytics can offer you some insight and SEO reports.

While it is a great tool, Google Analytics does require some time and effort to learn to use it to its full potential, so this one is only for the really keen among us!

The big ideas

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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly ensured the Alphabet House team felt well-supported in communicating with parents about finances and bookings, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.