As well as teaching ballet (and designing t-shirts!) I have a career in marketing for high street brands. In this job I have to understand digital marketing and implement activity to improve brand presence and performance online. This knowledge and activity is transferable to a dance school business, so in this blog I will share my tips with you on how to improve your online marketing.
Blog #1 How to rank your dance school higher on Google searches
We all use Google, but do we know how it works?
No one person truly knows how Google works. To decide which web pages to show when you search for something, and in which order to show them, Google uses a unique algorithm that is kept top secret. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialists spend hours studying Google activity to try and discover what actions can have a positive effect on how your web page is ranked by Google.
Here I am sharing some straightforward actions you can take to improve your website’s ranking.
What can I do to help my dance school website rank higher on Google searches?
On your website (on-page)
Make sure you include key words about your dancing school as many times as possible in the text of your website, without spamming. For key words think, ‘What will a potential new parent type into Google to find me?’ To avoid spamming don’t write key words over and over again in goobledegook paragraphs.
- Key words for a ballet school could be along the lines of ‘Ballet classes in Horsham’, ‘Children’s ballet Horsham’ etc. For example in one paragraph you might write, ‘The Sandra Powell School of Dancing has been teaching children ballet in Horsham for over 40 years” and then later on the same page you could write, ‘Children’s ballet classes are held at St Leonards Hall in Horsham.’
- You should repeat the key words for your school in different sentences, however, you must be careful not to ‘spam’ as Google will recognise that you are trying to trick it, and it doesn’t like this! For example it’s not a good idea to write a paragraph that sounds something like this, ‘For children’s ballet classes in Horsham come to the Sandra Powell School of Dancing. The classes for children in ballet at Sandra Powell are great. If you are looking for a ballet class for your child in Horsham, come to the Sandra Powell School of Dancing.’ Google will penalise you for writing gibberish paragraphs like this.
Keep adding new content to your website. There will probably be a lot of content on your website that doesn’t change from term to term. However, Google will reward you if you keep adding new content to your site. When Google sends its spiders out to crawl the web and index website pages it likes to see that websites are active not stagnant.
- The easiest way to do this is to create a blog on your website. You can then write new blog posts regularly. Ideas could be to write a review of a performance you’ve seen, put a write up of the exam session or competitions your pupils have entered, ask one of your pupils who has been to summer school or attends extra classes (eg. Associates, Scholars or Summer School) to write a short piece about their experience, or share interesting articles you’ve seen about dance.
- Make sure to post about your new blog article on your social media channels to drive traffic to your website to read the blog. The amount of traffic to your website and the length of time people spend on your website are all pluses in Google’s eyes, so aim to write long, engaging and shareable articles.
- Update your photos regularly. You may have seen a report from Google to your email which tells you how many times your photos have been viewed in a month. Google loves new content, so if you can add photos (e.g. pupils ready to dance in a competition or exam, or performance photos) this will be positive for your website – and it will also be a boost to your pupils for them to see you celebrating their successes!
On the world wide web at large (off-page)
Links are absolutely critical to how Google views and ranks your website. It is important to link your website to a number of other websites to connect yours into a larger network. This improves your trust and authority scores, which Google takes into account when deciding where to rank you in a search result.
There are key websites which Google rates highly. These are well trusted and authoritative websites in their field. Links from .org websites (eg ISTD) or .edu websites carry greater weight with Google than .co.uk or .com links.
- www.istd.org can have a positive influence on your dance school website. Make sure you complete your profile on danceteachers.org and include your website address. This link between your site and the ISTD will win you points with Google. If you have teachers at your school who are on the faculty committee, request that the school website is added to their biography.
- If you also teach in a state or private school or nursery and you have a biography or profile on a school website, ask for a link to your dance school website to be included. (Tip – If they are not keen to drive traffic away from their own website to yours, write a helpful article about starting ballet classes on your blog, and ask them to link to that page).
- Business listings also contribute positively to Google’s view of your website. This resource has a handy list of local directories (updated Jan 2019) that you can work through https://www.websitehelper.co.uk/top-30-uk-business-directories-for-your-business/ Work from the top down, as they are listed in order of merit. This website confirms that, “Submitting your business to directories is great for Local Citations. What are Local Citations I hear you ask? Local Citations are multiple consistent mentions of your business information on local business directories. Search engines like Google use these mentions as a trust signal and consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) mentions of your business will help you to rank in local Google search results.”
I hope this list of key tasks to improve your website ranking is both understandable and manageable for you to action. Achieving the top spot on an organic search can make a huge difference to your business, with 30% of people clicking on the first result Google returns. Most of us are in a competitive marketplace in our towns and cities, not only competing with other dance schools for business, but also with other clubs and hobbies. By setting aside time to work on your digital marketing, you will make your business professional and engaging to 21st Century customers and you will reap the rewards in your Google rankings and consequently your enquiry levels.
If you have any feedback on this article, or if you would like to suggest a topic for the next blog post, please comment below or use the Contact Us form.