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    Do These 10 Things to Boost Website Traffic

    Posted by TeenLife


    SEO is an ongoing strategy you should be employing for your teen-centered programs and services. While your work is never fully done because you'll need to adjust your strategy based on algorithm changes and emerging keywords teens and parents use. As the industry slowly shifts and adjusts, once you put in the effort upfront, you should start seeing results.

    This is a primer to help you get started in generating valuable traffic to your website. You’ll learn 10 essential SEO elements, what they mean, and how to build a strategy designed to generate traffic. Click here for a handy checklist. 

    Why Is SEO Important?

    When a user searches for solutions or answers to questions related to your business, are you showing up in those searches? Or are your competitors leading the way?

    Users searching for information are often primed for a conversation and ready to convert. Showing up in searches related to your offerings is far more effective than running generic ads, like a billboard or radio spot that anyone and everyone will hear. 

    And then, of course, there's the matter of cost. SEO isn't free, per se, because it requires your time. Once you put in the initial investment, you should see results long-term with minimal ongoing maintenance.

    Here’s a summary of why SEO is important:

    • Users are searching for information, making them ideal prospects for your business
    • You can outrank your competitors to enter your prospects’ decision-making early
    • It makes your website more visible, which helps build your traffic and gives you more opportunities to convert prospects
    • SEO is very cost-effective
    • Tracking SEO results is easy with Google Analytics once you configure your account for conversions

    Getting Started with SEO Basics

    With a better understanding of why SEO matters, here’s a look at the areas of your website you should evaluate to improve your rankings and earn organic website traffic.

    1. Site Speed

    Website load speeds should ideally be three seconds or less. When sites take longer than three seconds to load, 40 percent of consumers say they will abandon the site. And search engines know how important this factor is in creating a good user experience.

    Google offers PageSpeed Insights, a free tool to check your load speeds. While the results might be somewhat technical and confusing, here’s a look at some ways you can improve your site speed.

    • Compress images: while the image quality won’t be quite as good, image compression can do wonders for your site speed. Many images today are extremely high-quality, which means large file sizes. Consider shrinking them to about 1000 pixels or using an automatic extension or plugin to do it for you.
    • Minify JavaScript, CSS and HTML: these are all parts of the code that make your website look and function the way that it does. But often, free website templates you can find from sites like Wix, Squarespace or WordPress come with large blocks of code that could be far smaller and perform at better rates. On WordPress, you can use the plugin WP Rocket to minify your code. Or use an online minifier tool to find areas of opportunity. 
    • Enable browser caching: browsers can store website data temporarily. Then when the user returns, the website loads faster because the data is there locally in their browser and doesn't need to be downloaded from remote servers. A helpful plugin for caching on WordPress is WP Rocket

    There are several other ways to improve site speed that require more technical know-how and don’t have a plugin to help speed up the process. But starting with these tactics can produce effective results to improve your website speed quickly.

    2. Website Architecture

    Consider how your website is organized and how pages link and relate to one another. Building clear pathways for users can help both SEO and the user experience.

    One way to evaluate your architecture is to review how many clicks it takes to reach your various website pages. The deeper your pages are buried, the worse your user experience will be and the less likely you are to rank well.

    For the most part, this is a large ranking factor for larger websites that struggle with elevating their hundreds of pages. But smaller sites can still suffer from hidden or deep pages that make it challenging to find information and take the next step with your company.

    Instead of linking all pages out to a contact us page, consider adding a form within the various pages to make conversion faster and simpler. And avoid linking out to pages with minimal text. Instead, incorporate that text into the master page to reduce lengthy user experiences and cluttered websites that pull down your total search rankings.

    3. Keyword Research

    To show up in search results, you need to know what search terms or keywords people are using to find content like yours. Only then can you optimize your website for those search terms. 

    And while on the surface keyword research sounds simple, it is far from it. That’s because several factors go into determining which keywords are the best for you to target. Here’s an explanation of some key terms when it comes to selecting the best keywords for your website.

    • Search volume: search volumes can vary from 10 searches per month to millions of searches per month. The higher the search volume, the larger your potential audience is. And while reviewing search volume, you might also consider local search volume if your programs only attract students from your community. That way, you know how valuable that search term could be for you specifically.
    • Relevance: you must choose your keywords carefully and understand the searcher’s intent. For example, a residential window installer might find search terms like “how to install Windows.” But when you type that search into Google, it has nothing to do with windows in a home and everything to do with upgrading a Windows operating system. That makes the keyword irrelevant to the residential window company. You have to think like a customer to find the most valuable keywords to get the most from your SEO.
    • Competition: this metric tells you how many other businesses are also targeting that keyword. Keywords with high competition will be more challenging for you to rank for. It’s better in those cases to go with lower-competition keywords, even if the search volume is lower. First-page rankings for lower search volume, lower competition keywords will produce far better results than page five rankings for high search, high competition volume keywords.

    4. Meta Data

    Website metadata includes page titles, descriptions and image alt text. These factors are all important in helping you rank for your target keyword.

    Page titles might be automatically generated within your website based on the header you’ve selected. For example, an “About Us” page will have “About Us” as the page title. But customizing that to be “About Our Teen Program in Chicago” might serve your SEO needs better than a generic page title. When drafting page titles, the best practice is to keep them between 30 and 60 characters. That way they don’t get cut off and search engines view them more favorably.

    Meta descriptions should tell the user what the page is about while using your target keyword for the page. They also often include a call to action because that’s the text that shows up under the page title in search results. In a sense, it’s like ad copy if you were writing a search engine ad. Keep it friendly, approachable and less than 160 characters.

    Alt image text provides context about a photo to website users when the image doesn’t load or when they are using a screen reader. It’s an important way to communicate with website users. But it’s also a valuable SEO tool that shows search engines your website is ready to welcome everyone. Use the space to describe what is happening in the photo and incorporate your target keyword if it makes sense.

    5. On-page Optimization

    Once you know what keywords you want to target with each page of your website, you can begin incorporating the keywords into your website using on-page optimization. This brings together several elements listed above and aims to provide user-friendly content.

    When incorporating keywords into your web pages, you don't want to go too crazy. This is known as keyword stuffing and can reduce your rankings. Select one target keyword and a few secondary keywords that are relevant to the page and aim to use them sparingly and strategically.

    In addition to keyword use in the body of the web page, page title, meta description and alt image text, other on-page optimization factors include:

    • Relevant internal and external links
    • Use of videos and multimedia to engage users
    • Score of 60 or higher on the Flesch-Kincaid reading scale, which measures the ease of reading the text
    • Content volume (generally web pages should have 300+ words)
    • Responsive website design
    • URL structure (you don’t want to allow your content management system to build URLs using a random string of numbers and letters but instead use page titles)

    6. Internal Linking and Backlinking

    Linking within your website is an important ranking factor. You have full control over internal linking, which means offering users opportunities to view relevant additional reading based on what they are currently viewing. You might link your enrollment page to your about our programs page to make it simple for the user to navigate from one to the other without going to the main menu searching for it. That’s an example of internal linking.

    Backlinking refers to links to your website from other websites. It is something you have less control over but can influence in a variety of ways.

    • Request links from reputable websites, such as local high schools or non-competing teen programs
    • Submit guest blogs for publication on third-party websites
    • Send news releases to news outlets that link back to your programs
    • Sponsor events that earn you links from event pages

    When building backlinks, focus on quality and not quantity. Research the website’s domain authority to make sure it won’t pull your website down. The higher the domain authority, the more valuable the link will be.

    Avoid hiring companies that promise hundreds of links within a month or two. These are generally spammy links for low-authority websites that can do more harm than good.

    7. Content Planning

    Once you've assigned keywords to your various web pages, you'll see what's left that you still want to target. You should use those keywords for content planning, including blogs, videos, infographics, email marketing and social media.

    Static websites generally do not rank as well as those that site owners regularly update. That’s one reason why a blog is valuable. But blogs and new content also serve the needs of prospects and customers because they help answer questions and direct them toward valuable information.

    You should look for ways to add valuable content to your website at least monthly. This might be a blog, explainer video, user-generated content, FAQ section, etc.

    8. Sitemap Submission

    Once you launch a website, you should submit the sitemap to Google. You can do this using Google Search Console. Content management systems like WordPress offer plugins and extensions that make it simple to generate your sitemap for ease of submission.

    Google lists a variety of ways to generate and submit your sitemap to make the process simple.

    9. Analytics and Insights

    SEO is never done. You should set up SEO monitoring on your website through a tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs. These tools will tell you how you’re ranking for SEO and how changes to your website are impacting those scores.

    For example, you’ll see metrics concerning site health to help you adjust your strategy to best meet search engine requirements. Or if you add a new page to your site and forget to add a meta description, that will show up as an error on your next report so you can resolve it before it impacts rankings.

    As search engine algorithms change, your strategy might need to adjust as well. Monitoring your website’s analytics will tell you if there’s a sudden drop or increase in your organic website visits. That way you can adjust accordingly before it impacts your bottom line.

    10. Directory Listings

    Get your website listed within relevant directories. For example, your local chamber of commerce might be a good place to seek out a listing. Find where your community offers student resources and work to get listed in those directories. This provides both backlinks and more exposure for your teen programs.

    TeenLife offers one of the most valuable online directories for teen-centered programs and services. With 1.5+ million unique visitors per year, we’re the go-to resource for students and parents seeking information about academic and enrichment opportunities for teens. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you with your marketing strategy.

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    For more information on this and other great programs for high school students, go to www.teenlife.com.