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Marketing Your School’s New Website
Connor Gleason

You’ve flipped the switch and your school’s new website is up and running — congratulations! It seems your online presence has instantly improved, but it still begs the question: If a website is launched and no one sees it, does it make a difference?

What seemed like countless hours of hard work and sweat (and hopefully not too many tears) has finally paid off — but the work isn’t over quite yet. Sharing the exciting news with your internal and external audiences is all about driving traffic back to your site.

The final chapter in launching your school website is sharing it with the world and getting it in front of the right audience. Let’s review the tips behind marketing your school’s new website.

Prior to launching a school website

Marketing your site is a healthy mix of internal communications and external announcements that occur over a period of time. But even before your site is live, you’ll want to let your families, students, and staff know about the big changes (and improvements!) that are on the way.

The first step is letting your internal audience know the date of your launch and what to expect — new layouts, where to log in, key emergency contacts — anything that could disrupt their normal routines. Doing so ahead of time will help avoid any confusion or issues on launch day.

The official announcement

Once your site is live, you’ll want to communicate and celebrate the launch with a number of external audiences and additional constituents. To do that, be sure to use all the tools at your disposal, like email, newsletters, press releases, social media, and, yes, even your own brand-new website.

Website notifications

Grosse Pointe Academy utilized Finalsite Page Pops to update users about their new site right on their homepage. It’s a great strategy to reach users and encourage visitors to explore the site and leave feedback.

Grosse Pointe’s site was more than ready to go live, but posting an announcement like this is especially helpful if your site launches and it’s not 100% ready for prime time. A little note like this can give your team a grace period as the finishing touches are added to your site.

Lakota Local School District put their new website front and center — on their new website — with a hero image and links to helpful resources like a video tutorial on how to navigate the site and a form for submitting feedback. A brief video for users to help find their way around can be useful for those who are expecting everything to be in the same place, which isn't always the case.

Publish your own story

When it came time to launch, PVSchools posted a great recap of their website redesign project as a news story for the district. The page details all the site’s updates, like its improvements to the navigation, the “find it fast” feature, multilingual capabilities, and how to subscribe to the latest district news and notifications. What’s especially helpful is the neatly designed table that lists all the new schools’ URLs so families can easily update their bookmarks!

Share it on social media

Don’t forget to get the word out on social media, too! Sharing your favorite screenshots and posting them on social is a great way to gather likes and start sending traffic to your site. It’s also an opportunity to start a conversation with a new hashtag that can capture the excitement of a fresh start!

Saigon South International School celebrated its 25th anniversary with the launch of its new website, a rebrand, AND a new mascot, creatively weaving the announcements together on its new site and across social media. Take a look when you have a moment — it’s a beautiful campaign!

Send a press release

Putting together a press release is a great way to notify your community through local media coverage. Because your school is a key component of your extended community, news sites, and online journals will be quick to scoop up a story about your new online space. Include a few quotes from your school leadership, head of school, the IT team, or your school board about your efforts to include more voices and stories.

Highline Public Schools did that with the launch of their site, which was quickly picked up by PR Newswire and distributed to thousands of news sites and subscribers around the country.

Reach back out to families who saw the OLD site

Reconnect with families who recently inquired and let them in on the big announcement. Since your new site is a better representation of the value of your school, reaching out to prospective families and sharing the “new” site can present an entirely different online experience. 

Craft an email with the highlights of your new site and don’t forget to share the links to the revamped pages about your programs, differentiators, and your admissions process to restart any relationships that may have lost their spark. Since your new site is streamlined to collect inquiries and engage families, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get them back into the funnel.

Let your alumni know

A major upgrade to your school’s brand and identity is a milestone in the story of your school, and just like any other important alumni news, your graduates and former students want to know about it!

Work with your alumni and/or development office to craft an email to your alumni network, letting them know about the new site, especially if you’ve overhauled your alumni pages or alumni portal. Alerting them of new ways to leave a class note, catch the latest campus news, easily register for the next reunion, or you know, make a gift… is a great reason to check in with your graduates.

In Texas, Trinity Valley School shared its launch via a mass email to its extended community. Accompanying screenshots called out its new curriculum and EIC pages, as well as its streamlined admissions process made possible through SchoolAdmin, Finalsite’s enrollment management software.

TVS also proudly put the site’s accessibility and multilingual features in the spotlight along with its virtual tour options, giving users greater access to all that they offer.

Make sure all roads lead back to your site

Once you’re live, make sure your online listings, business profiles, email footers, links for social media accounts, etc. all point back to your site. Increasing the number of quality links and referral traffic back to your site will help it establish authority with search engines.

A simple (and free) way to get traffic to your website is by tapping into search engines via directory listings. Having your new site associated with business listings in Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Yelp, and Niche is important for local SEO, as parents will most likely search for a school near them.

And don’t forget: Submit your website to Google Search Console so it can crawl your site, index a sitemap, and properly take stock of all your new pages.

Enter your site to website design competitions

Explore options for submitting your site to some of the hundreds of web design competitions. Standing out as an internationally recognized website could be some of the best exposure and well-deserved recognition for all your hard work.

Edina Public Schools’ recent launch earned them an Award of Excellence in the publications and digital media category by the National School Public Relations Association, and guess what? They submitted a press release that was picked up by local media outlets — a win/win!

If your school partners with Finalsite for your website redesign, we’ll enter the most outstanding and creative site designs into some of the most prestigious website competitions that showcase the best school website designs and user experiences. With a little luck, your site can join the long list of award-winning Finalsite websites!

SEO & Digital Advertising Fundamentals for Schools

Invest in SEO and PPC campaigns

You’ve invested so many resources into launching a beautiful new site, but it won’t guarantee an immediate boost in website traffic. In fact, with a new site, you’re likely to see a drop in website traffic in the days following a launch, as Google does a digital double-take and re-crawls your pages and redirects. That’s where having a solid SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC strategy can come into play.

SEO campaigns for new websites

Boosting your SEO with a campaign will help improve your organic search engine rankings and drive massive traffic to your website. It will take time, but posting high-quality content and adding simple things like meta descriptions, alt-text, and title tags to your pages will make a big difference. Start a blog and create outbound and inbound links, enable sharing buttons, and start to get your content out in the world so can rank for what your audience is looking for.

PPC ads for new websites

Focusing on SEO can greatly improve your ranking in search, but PPC (pay-per-click) and re-marketing campaigns improve the likelihood that qualified traffic is reaching the specific pages you want them to.

PPC ads through a Google Ads campaign are a perfect tool to promote and market new school websites, and unlike longer SEO campaigns, the ads can be up and running almost instantaneously. 

For example, if someone were to search for "best episcopal schools in Atlanta," SEO best practices would help a private school in Atlanta appear on page one. That said, ads appear before organic results and would boost your chances of getting more traffic to your site. And once clicked, your PPC ad would ensure users land on the page you want them to, like an admission page designed for conversion.

Kudos to St. Martin’s Episcopal School for its PPC efforts supporting the launch of its new site. Not only does their ad show to families searching for those important keywords, but the ad sends users to their admissions page to help encourage conversions.

Paid advertising is a way to bid for a position on the first page of search results, but beware, PPC campaigns can come at a price, literally. A top position within search results could cost you — regardless if your visitors convert or not. Google Ads is a powerful tool, but it has some of the highest costs and competition in digital marketing. Plus, newer websites with less authority will have a lower quality score and pay more per click than older websites with more authority.  

Need an SEO and PPC ad refresher? Sign up for our free, learn-at-your-own pace course on SEO & digital advertising fundamentals for schools.

Remember: “New” is relative

School marketers talk about their “new” website for a week or two, but then the excitement fizzles and the buzz fades away. Back to work…

For you, “new” might mean a site that’s just a month old, but to someone who’s never visited your site, “new” can mean something totally different. To everyone else, it’s just your website, but you can use that to your advantage.

What matters to every user — whether it’s their first visit or they’re frequently returning — is that your new site has amazing content, resources, and a better user experience. You’ll get the most mileage from your site if you keep reminding your community of all the impressive bells and whistles your site offers, compelling them to visit your site and celebrate with you.

Key Takeaway

Launching a new school website is an exciting time, but the work isn’t over yet. Creating a plan to market your site is an important step in the redesign journey, one that involves proactively communicating the changes, reconnecting with different networks, and making sure your site is seen by the right audience.

Digital marketing and consulting services for schools. Click here to request a consultation!

Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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