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!
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:
"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.
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:
Adding some of these to your site will improve how much search engines trust you, and put you higher in search results.
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 daynurseries.co.uk, 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.
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."
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:
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!
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.