Silly marketing jargon and its many abbreviations – CTR, PPC, CTA – can feel overwhelming, and quickly fall to the bottom of a busy summer program director's long to-do list.
At TeenLife we aim to take the mystery out of marketing lingo, so today we’re diving into the one acronym your camp can’t afford to ignore: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
Why SEO is Important for Summer Programs
Buyer behavior has changed dramatically over the last decade, and just as you probably “Google” products and services throughout your day, parents and teens are doing the same.
If they’re looking for an enrichment program like yours and you don’t rank at the top of a SERP (search engine results page), it’s possible they’ll never even know you exist. Consider these statistics:
- 70% of links search engine users click on are organic, not paid ads
- 60% of all organic clicks go to the top 3 search results
- 75% of users never go past the first page of results
The bottom line: SEO for summer programs is no longer optional; it’s vital for the success of your business. The good news is you don’t need to cut through bureaucratic red tape looking for the budget to hire an SEO consultant, because with the simple tweaks outlined in this post your site will quickly rise to the top of the SERPs.
Step 1: Create a “Long Tail” Keyword Strategy Around Buyer Personas
We’ll get in-depth on “buyer personas” in another post, but for now think about what your ideal visitors are searching for, because to properly optimize your website for search engines you first need to consider the humans at the keyboards.
As creatures of the Internet Age, we’ve evolved from broad search terms like “summer programs,” and become really good at narrowing our queries with longer phrases like, “summer theatre programs in boston,” “american literature immersion camps,” and “for-credit summer programs on the east coast.”
These “long tail” keyword phrases help to level the playing field of search engine rankings, and if you’re creative about writing content around these terms, you’ll quickly climb to a top position on Google without every buying a single pay-per-click ad.
To get started, make a list of long tail keyword phrases you want your site to be found for on page one of a SERP, including a few variations of each. If you have trouble brainstorming topics, ask your team for a list of questions frequently asked by parents, teens and educators.
Don’t skip this step! These search terms are going to fuel your entire SEO strategy, and are necessary for the following steps.
Step 2: Blog With Keywords in Mind
When you’ve compiled your list of long tail keywords, it’s time to start creating content around them, one at a time. Search engines love blogs because they’re date stamped, have a unique title and URL, they’re categorized like a book, and they aim to educate the searcher on a topic specific to their needs. As I’ll explain in Step 3, they provide multiple opportunities to include a target keyword phrase.
Take your list of keyword phrases, and think of at least one blog article you can write around each topic for each of your personas. Let’s say one of your phrases is “pre-college academic summer prorams.” Of course you want this to appear on appropriate static pages of your website, but for blogging purposes consider these post titles targeted at different readers:
- Parents: “How to Choose the Right Pre-College Summer Program for Your Teen”
- Teens: “5 Reasons to Attend an Academic Enrichment Summer Program Before Applying to College”
- Schools: “New Research: The High School Benefits of Pre-College Enrichment Programs”
Think outside the box, and use variations on keywords so that Google sees you is an authority in summer immersion programs. The more often you post and the deeper you get into each topic, the higher and faster you’ll rise in search rankings.
Step 3: Put Keywords in Their Place
Humans and search engines alike need clues into the context of your content. This is where “on page SEO” comes into play.
The most important places in a blog post or static web page for target keywords are the title, URL, meta description, page content, and section headings.
If your website is on a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or HubSpot, you can specify target phrases and the software will tell you how your SEO is doing as you type (WordPress example illustrated below):
It's important to choose only one phrase to focus on per blog post. Do this on a regular basis, and your website will be fast-tracked to a premium position on Google and other search engines.