It’s that time of year. Teachers are well into their summer breaks and you’re probably double-tapping your colleagues’ vacation photos on Instagram with a hint of jealousy. For independent school marketers and communicators, this is go time. No knocks at the door. No last minute flyer requests. Just time for you to hunker down and strategize with a clear head.
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients is, “How often should I update the content on my school’s website?” In short, there’s no one size fits all approach. Each school will have its own litmus test when it comes to maintaining and updating its website content. But here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for a new school year and admissions cycle.
Consider your target audience. Your content shelf life might be longer than you think.
Before you start swapping photos and replacing videos, it is important to remind yourself for whom the site is intended. Today, many independent schools design their public-facing websites for prospective families. Aside from bragging rights, these sites don’t serve a functional purpose for current constituents. This can be a challenging concept to explain to your parents, students, and even your own faculty and staff.
We know how tempting it can be to respond to knee-jerk reactions, like, “We have to change that photo! So-and-so graduated a year ago!” But your target audience won’t necessarily know that. And they likely won’t care. They’re scrutinizing your site to determine whether or not the school is the right fit for their child.
So if you have a killer photo that conveys the spirit of your institution, or there’s a powerful sound byte in a landing page video, don’t worry if the subject has departed. If your content tells an important story, you don’t need to replace it right away, despite what your colleagues and parents may think. On the other hand, if you have an image or a chunk of web copy that feels lackluster, or you’ve since captured or created an even better piece of content, by all means, refresh!
SEO best practices benefit you and your prospective families.
It pays to be on Google’s good side, and you can do this on the cheap. For better or for worse, the way to earn high search rankings has shifted from the use of metatags and keyword-stuffed copy (these are still important components of your SEO strategy) to an emphasis on content. Quality content that is regularly generated. If you’re not already blogging or adding content to the news section of your site, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Luckily, these two components of your SEO strategy go hand-in-hand. More content provides you with more opportunities to use keywords, and more opportunity for Google to index your site. And, the more information you share, the more value you’re providing to prospective families. Valuable content will position you as subject matter experts and can help turn an inquiry into an application!
Timing is everything.
During the summer, when prospective families (and your dear colleagues) are immersed in summer fun, you have the flexibility of updating your website. Take this time to comb through your pages to determine whether or not you can optimize and refresh the information you’re serving up.
You don’t, however, want to disorient a prospective parent by changing things up in the middle of their admissions journey. When they visit your site, they’ll expect a familiar user experience. It’s good practice to build a mini content audit into your workflow each summer before you welcome the community back to campus.
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