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    Blogging is a Win/Win for Charter Schools

    Last updated 4 months ago

    Charter schools are a great example of an industry that is growing in both popularity and competitiveness. In fact, we’ve built an entire digital marketing program around helping charter schools recruit more students. There are a lot of moving parts to the marketing strategy, but there are something’s that even the smallest of schools can do to give themselves an edge.

    Why should Charter Schools blog?
    It’s just good public relations and good branding. Parents who are researching the right school for their child have an opportunity to get a feel for the schools culture, values and activities. In effect, build a comfort level with the school before they even engage a councilor to explore admissions.

     

    Likewise, parents of current students are likely to enjoy staying up to date with school activities along with an increased familiarity and satisfaction with the faculty. Both of course are retention factors. It’s just a great way to keep motivated parents informed, and well…motivated.

    Increased Web Presence:
    Word of mouth is incredibly effective, but you can’t rely on word of mouth to get in front of parents at the exact moment they are searching for alternative education for their child. That’s why it’s so important to constantly be running an inbound marketing campaign. And yes, your Charter School MUST show up in the search results for keywords like “charter schools (insert your location here)” or “at home schooling” or “online high school” as a major objective of your inbound marketing strategy.

    Blogging is not the end-all to a robust web presence, but it is a contributing factor. Search engines look for a constant stream of quality content, and a blog is an effective means of facilitating that content and augmenting your overall online marketing efforts.

    How you blog is as important as how much you blog.
    You want people to actually read it, share it and comment on it. The more attention it gets, the more the search engines take notice and have reason to rank your blog article on the search results pages and get in front of more parents who are considering a Charter School education for their child.

    Some Blogging Basics:

    • One idea per post: If you find yourself straying off topic, congratulations… you just figured out your next blog post.
    • Word Count: How much is the right amount of copy? The answer is not one more word than is necessary…not one word less than is necessary. Job number one is to engage your readers. Close behind that is drawing the attention of Google and the other search engines. We generally recommend 300-600 words, but if a deeper topic warrants more coverage, don’t sell yourself short. Search engines have recently started to favor longer posts.
    • Sexy Title: Or at least interesting or relevant. Keep it appropriate for the audience, but make it unique and interesting enough to stand out. It also doesn’t hurt to throw in a keyword or two…but not at the expense of the integrity of the title.
    • Images: Find a great image that compliments the article. This is vital for sharing on Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, etc. Be careful about using licensed images, the financial penalties are over the top now, and many of the larger stock photo companies are actively using image recognition software to patrol the Internet and extract huge fines from them. When necessary we supply fully licensed images for our clients as part of our school marketing packages.

    Many Hands make Light Work:
    Yes, blogging can be a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming for any one individual. Here’s a few strategies to spread out the work to lighten the load:

    • If every instructor and administrator were assigned just one article to write per month, there would be an abundance of quality content publish on a regular basis. After all… why should they be the only ones handing out homework?
    • What about a “Kids Corner” where you let motivated students take a whirl? Or it could be part of an assignment where the best of the best get published.

       

    • It can be a team sport. If you aren’t going with an “all hands on deck” strategy where everyone blogs, perhaps assembling a team of motivated staff to handle the writing is a way to share the load. You might consider rotating the staff in and out so everyone gets a chance to write. That will also help to keep it fresh.
    • Hire a ghost writer or third party. We often write many of our client’s blogs on a regular basis. In some cases we augment their contributions, in other cases we do all the writing. Keep in mind, that you will probably lose a little of the personality when a third party takes charge. That’s why we recommend a hybrid strategy where our copywriters share the load with the school’s authors.

    What to Blog About?

    There really is no limit to the topics of interest. Think of your audience; existing parents and students would probably like to stay up to date with happenings regarding the school. That might include anything from preparing for finals, to preparing for that field trip. Perspective parents might like to know more about student life, or the school’s learning philosophy. Students might like to see what their classmates are writing…which might also be especially appealing to perspective parents.

    Speaking of parents, how many of them might want to do an occasional guest post? They could write about their careers, and how their education enabled them to achieve their aspirations. Or perhaps a tech-savvy parent might write about learning software they have tested.

    You don’t have to limit yourself to one blog category. For example, you could have one blog entitled “Home Room” and another entitled “Kids Corner” and a third one called “In the News” and yet one more entitled “Play Ground”.

    Promoting Your Blog:
    The typical strategy that we use for our Charter School clients consists of a coordinated effort and repeatable steps.

    • In the blog article, we hyperlink to other blog articles on the website or perhaps relevant pages to the blog topic.
    • We write a “Teaser” which is no more than an interesting and VERY short paragraph to pique the interest of parents, perspective parents, students and teachers who are following our school clients on Social media such as Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. This teaser links directly back to the specific blog article. This not only drives direct traffic to the article, it signals the search engines that something of interest is happening on your website (that’s a good thing).
    • We schedule these teasers to go out simultaneously on all of our client’s social channels.
    • We encourage everyone to “Share” the articles with their circle of influence.

    There are many facets to a comprehensive inbound digital marketing strategy for Charter schools, private schools, of any industry for that matter. Blogging is just one tool in your online marketing toolbox, but it is something that your school can have a great deal of control over and actually help move the needle and fill up those classrooms.

    Charter School Marketing is a marketing program developed by Kreative Webworks specifically to help charter schools get more visibility in their authorized districts and recruit more students.

    What is Visual Content, and why do I Care?

    Last updated 4 months ago

    Face it, the Internet is all about content. Why else would you go there unless you expected to find a product or service that you’re looking for, or to consume videos or music, or to share socially with your friends? Visual content is simple converting your message to something consumers “see” rather than just read. It comes in many different flavors, but here are a few of the more popular ones that you can leverage for your business:

    Infographics:

    A nicely designed and targeted infographic is amongst the most sharable content on the Internet today and should be a part of every businesses Digital Marketing strategy. Simply put, and infographic is a fun and efficient way to learn about a topic without doing a ton of boring reading. Even heavy, dry statistical based information becomes easy to digest. Here's one we did for a Wedding Photographer in Laguna Beach California.

    Essentially a series of text and images organized into one large comprehensive graphic designed to present complex information easily and clearly. The ultimate goal is for it to be shared. In fact, high quality infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than text articles. Why? Because human beings are naturally visual…and lazy.

    What are the Benefits of having my Infographic shared?

    Branding: Create something interesting and let others do the work for you. Tastefully branding the graphic with your company logo, contact information, and even a call to action can grow your brand and position you as an authority in your industry. A particularly good Infographic can go viral (or at least be shared between friends and groups on Social Media). Whenever the Infographic is shared, it spreads your brand across your demographic. The idea is to put it in motion and let everyone else spread the word for you.

    Direct Traffic: There is a ridiculous amount of information on the Internet…most of it noise unless it’s something that is of particular interest to us as individuals. Anyone who takes the time to look through your Infographic has already pre-qualified themselves by virtue of the fact that they were interested (why else would they bother looking at it?). If it’s a topic that is near and dear to their heart, and it’s a product or service that you offer they may click through to your website out of curiosity alone.

    Backlinks to your website: One of the most enduring search engine optimization factors has been links form other web properties (blogs, other websites, directories, etc.) back to your website. Search engines make the assumption that if someone was willing to link to a page on your website, without you necessarily linking back to them, you must have something of value to share. Because of the fun –factor alone, webmasters are more prone to publishing an Infographic (and the associated link back to your website) than they are posting a text based article.

    Social Signals: Consistent with backlinks to your website being an indication that you have something of value on your website, search engines also factor in shares, likes, re-tweets and re-posts from Social Media, and infographics are full of the types of info we love to share with our friends on social media like fun-facts and interesting tidbits of information.

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    Adaptive SEO: A new way to think about Search Engine Optimization

    Last updated 10 months ago

    First you have to understand that Google’s objective is to promote the best websites, not the best “optimized” websites. Search engines want to display the most accurate and varied results for each and every search query. Search engine optimizers know basically what the engines are looking for and attempt to gain a competitive advantage by “gamming” the system.

    These techniques were not only publicly advertised, but considered industry best practices. The problem was they never met Google’s guidelines in the first place…they just happened to work.

    Google is Smarter than You and everyone you Know.

    You might assume “Adaptive” means reactive, but that’s not quite accurate. In fact where SEO is concerned it’s just the opposite. For years search engine optimization companies have been reacting to Google and adopting their techniques to outsmart the search engines.  These practices not only proved to be unsustainable, but have taken a dramatic turn for the worst. Regardless of what you think, Google is smarter than you, and everyone you employ… regardless of how tricky you think you are.

     

    Adaptive SEO is about Web Presence Optimization, not Search Engine Optimization.

    Adaptive SEO is about NOT playing cat and mouse with the search engines. It’s about developing a legitimate long-term, bulletproof web presence by doing things right. It’s about developing and sharing good quality content, it’s about link “earning” not link building. It’s about a good sound technical structure for your website, with easily indexable pages, clear navigation and fast load times. It’s about being mobile friendly and socially active (yes, your social presence is an actual search engine ranking factor). It’s about reviews and reputation and citations on directories and other reputable and industry related websites.

     

    So where did your Google Rankings Go?

    Did you used to have top rankings for all those money keywords, but they literary dried up over night? …and I do mean overnight. If you’ve seen a slow decline in rankings, or if your rankings fell off a cliff on a specific date, it was most likely because your SEO team wasn’t playing by Google’s rules.

    So what happened? Were you actually penalized for these tactics? The answer is both “yes” and “sort of”. “Yes” if these tactics were blatantly overused, “sort of” if all those tactics which were previously sustaining your search dominance were simply no longer being counted.

    Backlinks (links from other website, directories and web properties around the Internet) are a ranking factor. Suppose you had 1000 incoming links, but 950 of them were cheap “spammy” links that your SEO company purchased instead of earned. There was a day when you woke up and Google decided to no longer give you credit for those 950 spammy links. Now you have only 50. Naturally your search results are going to take a hit. Were you penalized? Sort of…it was more like a “correction” similar to what the stock market goes through periodically.  Similar to investing in good quality stocks with a track record of a return over time, Adaptive SEO is about investing in quality techniques and developing a sustainable long-term strategy…not about using questionable practices that will eventually stop working.

     

    Where to start?

    Start with the Research

    Landing Page Love… Optimization in 2013

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Landing page design is more about psychology than anything else. The idea is to persuade a visitor to your page to do a very specific thing (give you their contact info, request a demo, or the holy grail of marketing… a transaction).

    What is the goal of any marketing campaign?

    The obvious answer would be to generate leads. Whether it is organizing an event or advertising on television or in the print media, the end goal is to generate leads that can be converted into sales. Every branding activity that a business engages in has to support this objective.

    This brings us to the next question;

    What is a landing page?

    Simply put, a landing page is a web page that helps businesses capture leads. It is different from a Home page, which usually serve as the doorway to generic information about the various products, solutions, and services offered by the business. As such, a typical Home page has too many elements vying for the visitors’ attention. A targeted landing page will work towards compelling a visitor to take the specific and desired action.

    There are several ways a visitor can be directed to your landing page:

    • Search engine results link when someone runs a query for your keyword
    • Clickable links in your pay per click ad or other online advertisements
    • Links pointing to this page incorporated in social media posts
    • Email campaigns providing links to this page
    • Organic search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns throw up links to this page during relevant keyword searches

    The impact of your landing page can be measured by analyzing the number of visitors who convert. Tools are available to measure the number of visitors. These tools will also provide you information on the means by which they landed there – was it your SEO strategy or your PPC campaign or your social media activities or even your direct mail campaign. 

    If your campaigns are attracting a lot of visitors but none are converting into leads then the problem might lie with your landing page. The solution lies in enhancing and optimizing your landing page to maximize conversions.

    Types of Landing Pages

    Depending upon the objective you want to achieve, your landing page can be of two types:

    • Informational landing page: If you want to present yourself as a thought leader then you can create an informative landing page, which displays content that is relevant to your visitor. Ideally, the information should center around the keyword that brought the visitor to your landing page in the first place.
    • Action-oriented landing page: This is a landing page with a clear call to action.  It could be oriented towards convincing a visitor to buy a product or capture contact information through an online form. If making a sale is the objective, you have to ensure that previous interactions with you provided the visitor enough compelling reasons to do so. If capturing information is your goal then you can do so by offering valuable content.

    How to Optimize Landing Pages in 2013

    A good landing page needs to target a particular action. Leading visitors to your Home page, for instance, can prove confusing. The visitor might have been searching for information on a particular keyword. Now unless your Home page immediately offers information related to that keyword it is likely to leave your visitor confused. More often than not, this will result in a quick exit from your website, and thereby, a missed opportunity for you.

    You need to be very clear about what you want your visitor to do once they land on your website. Only then can you increase the possibility of converting your traffic into actionable leads.

    Below we have listed a few measures you should take to optimize your landing pages in 2013.

    1. Singular purpose: You need to be absolutely clear about the targeted traffic and the action you desire from them. Minimize distractions.  Eliminate unnecessary copy, graphics, form ?elds, and links. Provide clear and simple call to actions. Do not confuse your visitor. Make it easy for them to focus on your call to action.
    2. Short lead form: Visitors hate filling forms, so the longer your lead form the more the number of visitors who are likely to drop off. Keep it short. Capture only information that is necessary to stay in touch. 
    3. Relevancy of content: Ensure that the content on your landing page is relevant to your keyword. Highlight the benefits of engaging with you for business. Ideally, your landing page headline should match the link your visitors clicked to get there.
    4. Call to action: Make sure your call to action (CTA) is clearly visible. Use directional cues to direct attention to your CTA. Have CTA links spread across the page in order to make it easy for visitors to take action whenever they are ready.
    5. Responsive design: Think like a user. Test your page to check whether it provides information that is relevant to the keyword they used. Is it visually pleasing? Is the messaging consistent throughout?
    6. Transparency: Visitors will always be wary about sharing their contact information. Clearly state what you intend to do with the information you collect. Ease any concerns they may have about the information falling into wrong hands. Highlight your contact information such as phone number and address. Provide links to your social media handles at the bottom.
    7. Test thoroughly: Creating a landing page is only the first step. Use real-time A/B or multivariate testing to continuously test the various elements on your landing page and determine what resonates best with your visitors. Improve your page accordingly.

    Landing Page Webinar:

    On April 25, Chuck Bankoff, Director of Web Services for Kreative Webworks will be conducting a public webinar where he will outline the common mistakes businesses make when it comes to their landing pages and why these can instantly kill your campaign conversions.  In addition he’ll also share 6 steps to effective landing page design that will help ensure your overall paid advertising success.

    You can register at: www1.gotomeeting.com/register/824345448

    Mobile Websites are Dead. Long Live Mobile Websites!

    Last updated 1 year ago

    With web traffic from mobile devices set to surpass that from desktop computers in just a few years, how can mobile websites be dead? While mobile traffic will continue to increase, what’s coming to an end is the practice of building a separate mobile version of a site. New technology now allows us to create one website that will elegantly adapt itself for smart phones and tablets by using responsive website design.

    Anyone who has tried to navigate a conventional website on their smart phone knows how frustrating that can be. Most of them just aren’t “thumb friendly”. The solution until recently has been to build a separate mobile version of a site with a simpler design, less content and larger more finger friendly navigation. The site server would recognize when a visitor is coming from a mobile device and serve up a stripped down version of your website. Since the mobile site would have a different URL (often with an “m.” added to the beginning) mobile sites have sometimes been referred to “m dot” sites. 

    A responsive website will recognize the type of device you are on and adapt its size, scale and features accordingly. It can add, change or even delete features based on the capabilities of the device. This not only makes for an improved user experience but it eliminates the need to maintain and update multiple websites saving time for webmasters and marketers. You can also expect to lower your bounce rate and increase the time users spend on your site. The major search engines have made it clear that they prefer you maintain one URL, so responsive design is now the best practice for SEO as well. The initial development time for a responsive site is greater but that’s investment that’s should pay off over time. While it may or may not be worth the effort of updating existing sites to make them responsive, if you’re developing a new website it’s most definitely the way to go.

     

    About Vin DeCrescenzo

    Vin is the Digital Marketing Director for WSI Online Solutions. He has over 15 years of experience in Digital Marketing and is both a Direct Marketing Association and Google Adwords certified search engine marketer. Vin is a graduate of Colgate University with a Degree in English. Prior to starting his career in Digital Marketing, Vin worked in Film and Television and as a journalist in his native New York City where he still resides. He travels frequently to South Florida and throughout the country to consult with businesses and organizations on how they can benefit from Digital Marketing.

     

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