Search: it's something all school professionals want to completely understand, as it is the key to organic search success. But all those algorithms, acronyms, abbreviations, bots, and everything else in between that comprise a search, make it pretty easy to get lost.
How can I improve our ranking? What is affecting my school? How can I fix what's not working? Where should we even start?
Today, we turn our focus to one little piece of the equation: NAP / NAP+W (Name Address Phone + Website). This is the "thumbprint" of a business — or in your case, school — online.
Local search engines use NAP information to judge the accuracy of the data in their own indexes. This data is found by crawling your website or from these providers like Yellowpages.com, citysearch, and more. Consistent NAP information is essential to getting more citations and improving search engine rankings.
In short, having consistent data on your website, in search — and just about anywhere else your share information about your school — ensures that your school is determined as a real entity by Google bots, and not a scam.
So how can you be sure your NAP data is consistent on your website and in search?
Your solution can be summed up in three little words: Use more text.
Now, I know that we constantly preach to "ditch the text" on school websites to improve the user experience. So I promise, we're not contradicting ourselves here. Adding paragraphs upon paragraphs of text to your school's website isn't going to help your search engine ranking or your NAP.
However, adding the right amount of text in the right locations, does.
The content of the text on the home page is weighted the most when determining what searches a site would be a good result for.
So for example if someone does a search for "all girls school in Atlanta," and nowhere on your homepage in text does your website say that you're an all girls school in Atlanta, that is certainly going to hurt you.
Here is what you can do to improve your NAP and search engine ranking:
Free SEO Worksheet
Tell your audience who you are with text, not just images.
From a user experience perspective, it can be pretty frustrating to not be able to figure out where the school is located, what grade range it is, or what kind of school it is from the home page.
It's why we put such a stress on having these kind of details on your homepage constantly.
And while it is frustrating for your users to go digging to find out those exact details, it is frustrating for bots, too — and that hurts you.
Every school homepage should have a line of text (not an image that has text!) that reads something like this from Bancroft School's homepage:
"Worcester's premier college preparatory co-ed day school serving students from Central MA and MetroWest, PreK-Grade 12."
Nestled right beneath their logo, it is the perfect location for improving your NAP and UX.
Here are a couple more examples:
Find a way to describe your school using text only.
Even if it is just once, find a way to discuss what your school does, who you are, what you represent. Your goal is to say "this is the kind of school we are."
While text used to be boring, new fonts and design capabilities are making text, fun. So, web designers are putting a growing importance on typography in 2016 because it enhances creativity, readability, user experience, and performance in search.
Not sure how to incorporate so-called "boring" plain text onto your homepage to discuss who you are?
Check out these homepages for inspiration:
As you can see, the text doesn't ever detract from the design — it simply becomes a part of it, enhancing the look, feel, UX, and performance.
Use text to craft a detailed footer.
Your footer was never really meant to be a place to get too creative. By nature, it is where most users scroll to get basic information about your school.
Your school's website footer should include the following in text:
- Your school's full, official name
- Your address
- Phone number
- A brief description of your school, if not noted in the header or elsewhere on your site
Here are a couple of strong footer examples that look great, even though they are all text:
Conclusion: Text and Your Brand
Text — or typography — has the opportunity to enhance your brand, user experience, and performance in search when done correctly. Focus on having the right text in the right place on your homepage to appeal to both your users and bots that crawl your site.