There’s always a lot of chatter about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how to achieve the best rankings.

Some of our clients have been contacted by some SEO agencies and told this agency can help them improve their rankings using ‘upgrades’ that are already on their website. It has a tendency to make us dubious - why pay someone to do a service when they didn’t look at your website to find out if it was already there.

From our perspective, it’s worrying when an agency promises large increases to your website’s SEO without a clear plan for what they would do, and what specific improvements could be made to your website.

Providers may be told they’re getting a service and end up being charged for something they already have. The ‘SEO improvements’ the agency promised never materialise, and you’ve wasted money on ‘advice’ you didn’t need.

We thought the best way to combat this was to give you a quick summary of all the SEO features builds into your onCourse system, so you have a laundry list you can compare to when the agency sends you a proposal with big promises on improving your rankings.

If you don’t know much about SEO, here’s a great intro.

Copy is one of the most important aspects of your SEO

In our office, the first response you will get is to the question ‘how do I improve my SEO’ is ‘write better copy’.

It’s the second and third response too. Effective copywriting is one of the single largest contributing factors to your SEO and has a number of benefits for your SEO, your search results, and your enrolment rates.

Much of the ranking and searches online will be looking at the content of your website, so it’s important to have good content, particularly good copywriting.

Procedural or ‘Technical’ SEO

Some aspect of SEO are more procedural. They’re things do so you don’t get ranked lower than someone who has them, or to make sure you rank higher than someone who doesn’t have them.

onCourse automates pretty much all of these procedural steps.

SEO Tags

First up - a ‘tag’ in SEO is a bit of code on the page that tells the Search Engine what the information is, like ‘This is a Venue’, or ‘This is the right page here’.

Scheme.org is where the all the agreed tags are stored.

Meta Tags

Meta Tags are bits of the code embedded in your site that tell search engines what the pages or site about. They’re basically telling the search engine what is what.

They are automatically included in your onCourse website template.

Education specific tags

In 2017, Scheme.org introducted education specific tages, like, Education Organisaion, or Education Event.

These tags help the Search Engine understand what is ‘education’. When the user types ‘learn Macrame in Barraba?’, the search engine can use the education tags to rank the ‘education’ higher in the results.

For training providers, these types of tags are important, because they help to match your site to the users’ request. There were introduced fairly recently, so not all training providers know they exist, or that they can help match their classes to the user course.

onCourse adds education tags automatically, so you don’t need to worry about it.

SSL/TLS encryption

<a href+”https://www.ish.com.au/s/onCourse/doc/design/seo.html#seo-tls”>SSL/TLS encryption</a> - SSL/TLS encryptions is a technical terms for how you make your site more ‘private’ for users.

This is a type of end-to-end encryption search engines like. A site with this encryption are viewed as more legitimate and will get ranked higher than sites without it.

HTTPS or secure sites

HTTPS another way that websites can make improve privacy for your users.

HTTP is an acronym for HyperText Transfer Protocol, which is basically the way you tell the computer ‘take me here on the internet’. It tells the Web server to fetch and transmit the requested page.

It’s the beginning part of the URL - http://

https:// or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure is a protocol to encrypt the information when it fetches it. Using the SSL/TLS encryption we talked about above.

It’s the beginning part of the URL - https://

The S is for Secure :)

Like encryption, sites with HTTPS are considered more legitimate by search engines (particularly Google), so they rank above a site with HTTP.

HTTPS is standard with all onCourse sites.

Mobile First

Search engines are now looking at mobile computing as the next big thing (it’s already the big thing), and you will get higher SEO if you have a mobile version.

Responsive websites, or mobile first websites, are standard for onCourse website templates.

Current or updated info vs the same page building ‘clicks’

If you’ve heard the term “click bait”, you may be aware that organic searches, or ‘clicks’, have a positive impact on your SEO. The more people visit your site for that search, the higher your ranking becomes.

This is one of those things that we all kinda know but doesn’t always click. (pun intended)

Training providers in particular struggle have a structual and technical problem to solve with this. You need updated content so people can find the classes, but you also need ongoing or ‘evergreen’ pages to collect click and build your organic search rankings.

In theroy, you could make every call it’s own webpage. But the information for a class goes out of date very quickly, and you’d need to create new page for each new class. If you do that, you will lose the SEO built on the original page, and there’s no real way to transfer it.

It’s also very difficult to manage. This challenge was part of the reason onCourse has been built as an integrated system. As an integrated website, you can use the database to create dynamic pages, which automates the process of creating your webpages.

onCourse manages this for you with the Course/class set up. The Course is the page on your website, and the class appears as an element of that page. This means the course page is evergreen content, and the class information is added an removed based on the approval and dates.

This means when you share the course page on social media, it remains relevant even two years later, as you can still collect new enrolments into new classes.

Integration is the most effective way to manage this, as there is so much information being added and removed in any given training provider, you could have a full-time staff member to update our site and still struggle to keep up to date.

The integration between your onCourse website and database ensures your class details are current so the search engines can look at more specific responses like Art Classes Hornsby July 2018. But your page is course so the ‘click’ can keep building as long as the course is still being delivered.

Changes you make will be updated on your website within 15 minutes or less and doesn’t require additional staff time or specialist skills to complete.

Things that might be recommended, but are of limited or little importance

Keyword meta tags are sometimes still part of an agencies recommendation but no longer considered relevant by webmasters.

One commentator described keyword meta tags as ‘fossils’ of early SEO algorithms. They are no longer in use onCourse does not use them.

If I want to better my SEO, what can I do?

With some much automation, there isn’t much in the procedural SEO you need to do. The basics like tags, updated content, encryption, HTTPS, are all managed for you.

There’s still plenty you can do to improve your SEO. Most of it will be in copy and your digital strategies. Do you want to have a new feed that will link to your social media back to your website? Do you have blog posts you can use to drawn interest into a subject area?

We say this so much but your time in SEO is best spent on your content and copy. Course descriptions, blog pages, sharing content on social media, etc, are all fantastic ways to build your organic search rankings, and part of your overall digital strategies.

If you’re like a few ideas of how to spruce up your website and improve your SEO, we have some blogs on Writing Effective Course Descriptions, ** Other ones

SEO has something call organic searches, the amount of clicks people do on your site. This basically means that the more people view your site for something, the more it builds your SEO.

Linking pages helps this. When someone clicks on your related courses link, this provides more information and builds your SEO on that page. You can do this by adding a related course or related product, or adding video content in your course description, or adding tag links in the bottom of your blog content so they link back to your course pages.

Rule of thumb with internal linking is that every page should link back to your courses pages at some point, so they pull the user back to the enrolment.

Links from other websites to your website help to build your SEO. One of the best ways to achieve this is to use your website URLs in your social media strategy.

Using the onCourse links with your Social Media is a great way to get external links to your website, and very effective to get links from the social media platform connecting back to your site.

You course pages are evergreen content so you can share them on social media, and they will take users to the most current class information, even if its two years after the original post.

This can have the added benefit as they sometimes get it as a ‘memories’ later on, and this makes the new course show up on their feed.