Private School Marketing with SEO and Paid Search: Case Study

Industry: K-12 Education SEO

"I have been getting a good number of qualified calls.
Applications during a key enrollment week grew 200% year from last year from 3 to 9."

View The Results

Paid Search and Organic SEO for Private School Drives Admissions

Online marketing has been an increasingly important channel for private schools of all sizes. This is due to many reasons:

  • A younger demographic of millennial parents who have their own preferences for how they find, research, and go through the Admissions process (and it is increasingly digital!)
  • Competitor schools in the area are becoming increasingly savvy and turning to using online marketing channels
  • Channel effectiveness of traditional marketing tactics such as print, advertising, and referral marketing is decreasing

To remain relevant, schools must be cognizant of these facts and have a plan of action to address evolving buyer behavior and preferences. An Atlanta-based PreK – 8th grade independent school hired me to begin transitioning their strategy from traditional admissions marketing tactics that were no longer as effective to more online digital marketing channels.

SEO Activities:

The school was very strategic about beginning efforts in the spring so that we’d be ready when Admissions season started in the fall. Over 6 months we did the following:

Organic SEO Foundational Work:

We created a plan of 1-time and ongoing monthly activities that directly and indirectly impacted SEO that included:

  1. technical improvements
  2. optimizing content on the site
  3. creating new content based on target market keywords and identifying growth opportunities that previously weren’t addressed on the site
  4. working with the PR team to understand backlinks and social media SEO
  5. enhancing their Local SEO presence through a set of one-time activities and ongoing management 

Top of Funnel Content Marketing for Admissions Keywords:

We shifted the blog strategy from that of “megaphone marketing” about the school to a lead-generating strategy to improve communications and conversations with new families and not just highlight information for existing families. Activities included:

  1. Creating a calendar of lead-gen blog posts was created and implemented consistently month to month
  2. Using internal linking to point links back to our key pages

 Dedicated Budget to Paid Search Campaigns:

Because organic SEO does take time and the market is competitive in Atlanta, we dedicated a budget to Paid Google Search ads in order to get to the top of google for key searches. Adding Paid Search is a great way to complement both Local Search efforts and Organic Search efforts, which are all 3 separate and distinct channels with their own set of activities needed.

Conversion Tracking, Measurement and Reporting:

Neither digital marketing work nor campaigns should ever be launched before:

  • Conversion actions are identified (both macro and micro conversions)
  • Changes are made on the website to encourage these actions
  • Each action is carefully tracked; for schools, that means contact form completion, phone calls, and emails to Admissions Directors; we also tracked the marketing channel source for completing the online application
  • Monthly reporting on a number of key metrics was conducted to measure our results in each of the areas and to make sure we were moving in the right direction

The Results

After 6 months, right in time for Admissions season, we achieved success from Digital Marketing strategies in the following ways:

  • Organic SEO: growth of 83% for the number of target keywords we had ranking on Page 1 (from 23 keywords to 42)
  • Paid search efforts bringing in clicks and calls
  • Blog posts supplementing efforts and bringing in additional keywords over and above what our Admissions pages could generate. As an example, this blog post generated important keyword visibility and clicks (direct and indirect SEO signals) that were competitive due to the number of big competitive big franchise daycares and preschools

seo for preschool

Best of all, the Admissions Director reported on these two results during a key enrollment week:

“I have been getting a good number of qualified calls”

“Applications during a key enrollment week grew 200% year from last year from 3 to 9”