Learning how to create school website content is difficult due to a variety of factors that contribute to a website’s success. Among these factors, content for a school website should not only be high quality but also must conform to best practices for site-building and search engine optimization (SEO).
School websites must publish content that draws traffic and engages visitors in order to convert prospective families and retains current families. Content creators should follow some basic guidelines during the website building and managing process. By following these rules, schools can maximize on the potential of their website content.
Before you begin, consider having a professional perform a website audit to identify any weaknesses. Once a new strategy is in place, follow these 8 rules for excellent school website writing and media content.
1. Always Use the Three-Step Formula
Before any school website copy writing begins, it’s important to set up the three-step formula. Several different names define this basic formula, yet it boils down to simple best practices that all content must follow:
- Grabbing attention
- Fueling intrigue by providing details
- Provoking the desired action
Marketers might have heard of this formula under a different name, such as the “inverted pyramid” or “AIDA format.” Content, no matter what form, must include these three components in order to be effective within a marketing strategy.
For example, the majority of copywriters are familiar with writing copy that follows the “AIDA” format. Were you aware, though, that this formula should be applied to pictures, infographics, and website structure as well?
On the website, grab attention with headlines, videos, or pictures. Second, provide copy that speaks to the questions and interests of the target audience. Third, offer a strong call-to-action in the form of a tagline with a link or large button that leads them to the next stage in the sales funnel.
Now that you are familiar with this formula, we will be applying it to the next seven steps. Keep in mind that no matter what type of content is involved, the format is essential.
2. Write with SEO in Mind
SEO finds its principles on practices that have proven through analytics to be effective in driving interested traffic towards websites that would serve them best. Search engine companies build their algorithms with the searcher’s interests in mind, so the key to cracking these algorithms is to build website content that is searchable, skimmable, and valuable.
Holding a basic knowledge of SEO practices and consistently applying them to content for school websites will increase traffic, thereby improving conversions if an effective marketing funnel is in place. When following SEO guidelines, the school website will enjoy an improvement in:
- Ranking in search results
- Amount of website traffic
- Quality of website traffic
- Increased interest in services
First and foremost, school website copy creators should read about SEO guidelines for school marketing to optimize the entire website. Regarding content writing, however, there are a few key rules to keep in mind. Particularly, content creators should refresh the website with new content regularly, strategically implement keywords, and prioritize readability.
3. Maximize CTA Potential
In order to convert prospective families visiting the school website into enrolled families, a call-to-action must be present. Call-to-actions (CTA) come in many forms, but on websites, they are most prominent as large buttons that lead visitors to the next step of the conversion process.
During website copy creation, create CTAs that are powerful and eye-catching. Use action words instead of descriptions, such as “Apply Now!” instead of “Application Forms.”
Additionally, CTAs should appear everywhere so that no matter where the visitor is looking, there is a CTA immediately available.
For example, a school should focus on two important CTAs: one encouraging application, and one for more information. Prospective families drawn to the site will follow these two actions as part of their discovery and decision process. Website copy CTAs should offer an extremely accessible way to follow through with these steps.
Throughout the website, CTA buttons should partner with every block of text. As prospective families learn about the academic and athletic programs, it should be as simple as clicking a nearby button to sign up for more information and contact the relevant people in charge.
Moreover, anchoring the CTA buttons within the website navigation menu will cause them to be accessible and memorable. Website visitors, noticing the CTA buttons immediately, will always know where to find them once they are ready to sign up and apply. These ever-present buttons will also act as a constant reminder of what the prospective family should do next.
4. Perfect Pictures, Infographics, and Video
In the first section, we explained that the three-step formula applies to all content forms, not only writing. To expand on this idea, pictures and infographics are important pieces of content for the school’s website and must follow the three-step format. At first, how to apply the formula is not immediately obvious, but it’s actually quite simple.
Instead of providing an uninterrupted block of text, school website creators can dazzle with pictures of the school and its students. Done well, pictures can improve the website’s design, impress visitors, and even improve SEO.
Regarding the three-step formula, pictures are a key piece of content for the first step: grabbing attention. Beyond that, adding captions to pictures provides more content for search engines to use, opens up an opportunity to build more interest, and allows for another CTA.
Extend this formula to video marketing as well. By themselves, marketing videos have the advantage of fulfilling all three steps of the formula. Expand on this by providing a well-written title and visually interesting thumbnail.
Adding a caption and offering a transcript can also improve SEO and build interest. Finally, a CTA in the end screen and popup cards with links bring viewers to the next step in your marketing funnel.
Commonly, marketers believe that providing infographics with statistics is enough. Unfortunately, providing a simple infographic in that way is to miss a huge marketing opportunity. Visitors might be interested in the statistic, but then what?
Similar to pictures, infographics grab attention due to their visual nature and are simpler to digest than straightforward text. Take the opportunity to add text that builds interest and provide a CTA. For example, an infographic highlighting how large the campus is should also provide information about how the campus space is used and then allow visitors to click a button to schedule a tour.
Another way to think about optimizing infographics, pictures, and videos is to think of them as social media posts. The graphic or picture is part of the post, but what caption and CTA will you add?
To sum up, the lesson here is to always ask how you can apply the three-step formula to the content in question.
5. Stay Skimmable
In the spirit of staying skimmable, we’ll keep this section short. When learning how to write school website content, you must ensure it is readable.
Prospective families visiting the school website should not be bombarded with walls of text. Reserve long-form content to articles and blogs, keeping in mind that schools want visitors to inquire for more information when interested in the programs.
Rules to keeping written content skimmable are:
- Leaving enough white space between and around text
- Keep blocks of text shorter than 300 words
- Break up text into 2-3 sentence paragraphs, varying lengths throughout
- Use numbered and bulleted lists where possible
- Emphasize key phrases with alternate text formatting
As a result, prospective families can decide fairly quickly whether the school is right for them and act accordingly.
6. What Do Families Need?
Marketers often spend time building a complex and comprehensive website, yet they forget to ask an important question: What will prospective families want to find when they visit the school’s website? After all, the website is for them, not the school.
Of course, there are key pages and sections that all school websites should have, such as directories, calendars, and contact information. When it comes to building the navigation for the site and including other information, however, marketers must consider exactly how a visitor will navigate the page.
Ask questions such as:
- What information will a prospective family look for first?
- What values, programs, and services should the school emphasize?
- Which resources should be immediately accessible to visitors?
Using the answers to these questions, website writers should prioritize copy that delivers these needs in accordance with where they will appear on the site.
7. Stimulating Word Choice
Without a doubt, website copy should be concise and skimmable, much like an Instagram post. Further, it must consist of stimulating word choice. It is not enough to provide information; you must provide it in an interesting way.
In the process of writing content for the website, avoid passive tense at all costs, be consistent with grammar and spelling choices, and delete all redundancy. Also, remember to stick to a chosen tone of voice and speak directly to the audience to personalize the message.
Some tips for better word choice include using “you” to speak to the audience, using action phrases instead of descriptions, and intentionally picking words with the correct connotation for your message.
8. Always Check Mobile View
Finally, always check how the website content translates to mobile device screens. Having a mobile-friendly website is not only essential to reaching audiences who primarily search online using their phones, but it also is a key factor search engines consider when ranking the site.
Create Excellent School Website Content
Catering to the target audience’s needs is key when learning how to improve your school website content. Combining the three-step formula with SEO best practices and stimulating content will propel the school’s website to the top of search results and improve enrollment.
Vujaday has successfully worked with schools to implement effective marketing strategies such as website building and content creation. Contact us today to get started on improving your school’s website.