Category Archives: Preschool Website

Is a Mobile Ready Website Important for Your Preschool?

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Does your preschool have a mobile-friendly website yet? You can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to find out for sure. Many are, but if you Preschool Website Designhaven’t gotten on-board yet, here are some compelling reasons why this should be a priority for you now:

Families are searching for early childhood education opportunities on mobile.

Moms are busy. Dads are busy. We’re searching for schools at night, during lunch, and while we’re running around with our adorable little ones. It’s not so often we’re plopping down in front of a laptop, with no distractions, to research where our little one is going to go to preschool. The most likely scenario has us Googling “preschools near me” on our phones during the day, and looking through the results. If you’re preschool doesn’t have a mobile-friendly, responsive website, it could get ignored for being too hard to read or too complicated to use, and that means you’re missing out. Non mobile-friendly websites make it ridiculously hard to navigate and get to the desired information. Non-responsive websites make the experience between mobile, tablet, and desktop inconsistent (at best).

Most of your new families come from millennial and younger gen-x households.

Mom and Dad have been on their phones the entire pregnancy. We researched issues about pregnancy: is it okay to feel this pain, when can I feel the baby kick… Then the baby was born, and we kept Googling: how high a fever is too high, what to do about teething, how many wet diapers… Then comes the ECE choice. Their instinct is usually going to be the same: Grab phone, Google it. Should I send my toddler to preschool, preschools near me, best preschools in my area…? If your preschool’s website isn’t mobile friendly, then you have less of a chance of showing up in those mobile search results. You’re off to a bad start if a family’s first impression of your school is struggling to find more information or make contact.

Mobile is still growing.

On average, our schools had an increase of 243% mobile search traffic in 2016 versus 2015. Here are some other statistics that drive the point:

  • 91% of people say access to content is very important.
  • 57% of people say they won’t recommend a website with a poorly-designed mobile site.
  • Over half (51%) of moms use mobile/smart phones more than desktop (41%).

Mobilegeddon is still a thing.

Mobilegeddon refers to a Google algorithm update that launched April 21, 2015. Google had announced it would give priority to mobile-friendly devices for mobile search because “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” Ever since then, Google has continued to push algorithm updates that emphasize their mobile-first priorities. Recently, they have even stated how they will maintain a separate index for mobile-friendly, and that this index will be the primary one moving forward.

It’s not just about search.

Your mobile-friendliness affects word-of-mouth inquiries as well. If I hear about a great preschool from another mom during a playgroup, I’m going to go ahead and Google that school. Does your school’s website offer easy-to-access information for mobile? If your website is hard to use, you’ll see higher bounce rates (families that come to your website and then leave immediately). It’s another lost opportunity to engage positively with your prospective families and introduce another young mind to your programs.

Your competition is going mobile.

As of January 2017, only 27% of preschool websites are not mobile-friendly. On average, families will investigate up 3-5 options when researching early childhood education opportunities for their little ones. That means, you are probably competing with programs that offer mobile-friendly information to your prospective families. What if none of your competitors happen to currently have mobile-friendly websites? Then you have an opportunity to be the first one in your area, and can attract more prospective families to your programs.

Test Your Preschool’s Website for Mobile Friendly-ness

So take a moment to check your preschool’s website with the Google Mobile-Friendly Test, and see what the results are:

Your School’s Website Passes the Test

Great! Here’s your checklist for moving forward:

  • Make sure your call-to-action elements (CTAs) stand out on mobile devices.
  • Make sure forms aren’t too difficult to fill out on mobile.
  • Continue to build amazing content that promotes your programs, their value, and your thought leadership.
  • Make sure you check back in on the mobile version, every time you make a significant update to the website. Chrome has the ability to mimic a mobile device, but you’ll always want to check on an actual iPhone, Android, etc, to ensure complete functionality.

Your School’s Website Fails the Test

That’s okay. Every problem is really an opportunity. This is a great time to go ahead with a redesign.

  • Investigate platforms and options. We use WordPress for our schools because it’s robust, and easy to use once it’s set up.
  • Review your content thoroughly, what needs to get added, removed, or de-emphasized.
  • Look at your technical team. Do you have someone with the skills and experience to develop the website in-house? (Sometimes parents will volunteer.)
  • Look at your budget. Do you have the resources available to hire a professional developer? Websites pricing can vary according to the experience of the team creating your preschool’s website. On average, you’ll be looking at an investment of $3,000 to $5,000, with a low end of $1,000-$2,000 and a high end,$5,000-$10,000. When thinking about budget consider the amount of money brought into a school by a family over the course of their relationship with you. That’s called FLTV (family lifetime value). You can get a rough estimate by multiplying: average annual tuition x no. of years the stay with you, usually 3 x 1.5 to account for siblings. This number is on average roughly $20,088 – $59,400 for schools (this can vary greatly, we have some schools with a tuition of $48,000 a year and others $100 a month).  If you’re website isn’t helping to create awareness and engagement with prospective families then it’s costing your school, and its success, in a significant way.

So remember, your website should be a driving force to bring awareness, inquiries and tours. If it’s not introducing new families to the awesome-ness of your programs, then you won’t have the new families your school needs to thrive.

Redesigning Your Preschool’s Website? Avoid These Mistakes

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A modern website is a critical tool for every early childhood education center. With so many schools looking to redesign and capture the attention of prospective families, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are five big mistakes, and how you can fix them.

1. Coming Soon or Under Construction Page

So you’re in the midst of getting a wonderful new website for your preschool. It’s not quite ready, and your volunteer web developer wants to put up a “Coming Soon” or “Under Construction Page”.

download

What this really does:

Over time your old website was ranking in search for various keywords. It probably wasn’t that many unless you know what you’re doing, but it was something. What you’ve told Google, Bing, and other search engines by removing your website is No, I’m not a valuable preschool with a history of providing information about my programs, please ignore me. This isn’t a good signal to send. 

How to fix it:

Put your old website back in place as soon as you can! Create a development environment for your incoming (new) website, so you can make tweaks and edits until it’s ready for launch. Make sure to either password protect the development environment, or use your robots.txt file to block access to the development environment so you avoid creating duplicate content. When the new website is ready to go live, schedule the perfect time: usually this is later at night or on a weekend to avoid disturbing your audience. Then make the switch.

2. Not Redirecting Old Content

Your website has most likely gathered links, perhaps through social media, word-of-mouth, email, and so on. If you change the URL structure of your new website at all (Ex. /aboutus vs /about), your old links will no longer work, and prospective families will be greeted by a large 404 error message.
404

What this really does:

In addition to annoying people who happen upon an old link to your school’s website, you’re also missing out on a valuable opportunity to retain the authority that search engines were giving you due to having acquired that that link. That can lead to a swift decrease in rankings.

How to fix it:

Be sure to 301 redirect the old pages to their new locations. For example: point the old tuition page was www.discoverypreschool.com/tuitionandfees to the new www.discoverypreschool.com/tuition-and-fees

3. Removing Important Pages

While reviewing the information architecture (IA) for the new website, someone decides that the Mission and Philosophy pages should be one new combined page and the statements should be shortened. The problem is, no one looked at the Google Analytics to determine whether these pages were top landing pages for organic search.

What this really does:

Not being mindful of how your pages are promoting awareness about your preschool means that you could be accidentally deleting pages, or removing content that families find very important. When you remove pages that are acting as important doorways into your website, you’re removing pathways for prospective families to find your school.

How to fix it:

Review your Google Analytics and Google Search Console to determine your top landing pages. Having this information in hand means you can make informed decisions about the best ways to reorganize content.

4. Not Installing Your Analytics Tools

If you’re running Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formally Webmaster Tools), make sure these tools are still running properly (And yes, your school’s website should be running Google Analytics and Google Search Console).
Preschool Google Analytics Example

What this really does:

Not having your tracking tools working means you’re in the dark about how your prospective families are interacting with your website and content. Are they seeing the tuition page and instantly leaving? What path do they follow on your website? This is all information you’ll be missing if the tools aren’t currently installed and working.

How to fix:

You can ensure Google Analytics is working properly by accessing your Analytics account, and looking at Real Time Reporting. Open your school’s new website in another window, and make sure that it reports at least one real time user. Google Search Console is a bit more tricky. You’ll have to keep an eye on it in the upcoming weeks to ensure that you remain verified and maintain ongoing access to the data.

You’ll want to watch this data over the next several months to keep an eye on elements like impressions, average rankings, click-through rates, and site errors (in Google Search Console); as well as traffic, bounce rate, and time on page (in Google Analytics).

5. Noindex = Invisible to Search Engines

You’ve got this fantastic new website. You’ve checked it over, the new images look gorgeous, all the new content describes your programs beautifully. Shortly thereafter, you notice a drop in inquiries, and you’re showing up less often in the search engines. Then it’s discovered, your robots.txt contains a Disallow: / or meta tags specify noindex.

What this really does:

The noindex tag tells search engines not to index the page (not to show it in search results). Disallow: / in a robots.txt tells search engines you do not want them to crawl your website or show any of it’s pages in search results. This is helpful in a development environment, where you don’t want the development website to be indexed, but you don’t want either being applied to your newly launched website.

How to fix:

Check on-page robots meta tag by viewing source on a single page. If you see a tag that says “X-Robots-Tag” followed by noindex (or noindex, nofollow), then this page on your school’s website is likely blocked from search engines. Also review your robots.txt file by either checking it in Google Search Console, or manually reviewing the file to make sure you don’t see a Disallow: / instruction line.

Redesigning your website is such a great step in the right direction for marketing your preschool. Make sure you avoid these mistakes so you can enjoy your new website, and can use it to start attracting more families to your amazing programs.

 

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