Redesigning Your Preschool’s Website? Avoid These Mistakes

By January 10, 2017 Preschool Website No Comments

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”.

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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.

 

Author Tiffany

Hi, I'm Tiffany. Every day I help owners, directors, and school leaders to connect with more families. They nurture the next generation of young minds, and I get to help them fulfill their goals. It doesn't get much better than that!

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