Having a website for a business online is only as good as the ability to notify as many relevant potential customers that this website actually exists.
That is the function and job of good SEO: communicating in search engines and social media why it is worth to visit your website in the first place.
How do you choose a SEO company for your language school?

Understanding SEO

Before you discuss pricing and the current marketing budget you have reserved for doing professional online marketing you need to understand what SEO contains.
It is not some magical piece of code that is added somewhere on your website and you are all golden.
Whoever wants you make believe that probably tries you to sell some snake-oil like products or services that will not deliver what they promise.
SEO requires ongoing marketing efforts by optimizing your website in several aspects: technically (website speed counts a lot for ranking), user-friendliness (you need to analyze where your visitors click most and optimize it) – make no mistake Google already watches what people do on your website and click-through-rates and user behavior counts towards your SEO rankings, your content also counts a lot: it must be unique, keyword optimized and original text, images, and even video in order to rank highly in the search engines. And last not least: who is linking to your web pages? The management and analysis of backlinks is another aspect not to overlook for the optimal performance of your website.
All of those aspects are not more important than the other: SEO is a mix of actually hundreds of signals to the search engines that rank based on how well you perform in all those areas together.
To accomplish all that a lot of research is needed, and a lot of ongoing required work is required. SEO includes consulting of what your language school needs to do on your own and what services and work can be completed by the external SEO team for you.

Industry Specific Experts In Seo Versus Generic SEO Experts

You want to have someone working with you that understands the Language education industry for many reasons. He/She understands the specific terms and phrases that are used in the language industry and is much better suited to do analysis and research.
SEO requires a complete analysis of your website, not just technically, but also for the content. And unique specifically designed content to attract new language students and language product consumers is done best by people who know what is important with the language industry today.
If you get a generic SEO company they will need much longer to understand your needs and how you are trying to approach your new clients and customers. If they are a quality SEO company they will try to understand your content first before making suggestions and going to start on your website.
So a generic SEO company will take much longer and hence will probably be more expensive for you in the long run.

Keyword Research and Branding Consulting

Keyword research is an important and essential activity in order to optimize your website and web pages. Brands rule everything in the search engines. It is impossible to be number one for “men’s shirts” for example if you are not a big brand.
Google favors brands and puts them as a high authority above others. Just look at restaurant listings: how often do you see the Tripadvisor listing first long before you see the official website of the restaurant itself much further down?
It is the same for a language school. You need to start to act and think like a brand and develop your own keywords and even start trademarking words and phrases to coin your own services and teaching strategies. Those brand keywords are exceptionally easy to rank as they are unique and add great perceived value to your business which means higher prices and more profits in the end as well.

Content Creation And Content Planning

Unpleasant news for those who think random blog posts will generate traffic and sales for your product and services. They don’t. The times where just by updating regularly pieces of news was enough to make your website stand out in the search engines are long over.
It does not mean that you should stop your business blog if you have one – you just need to be much smarter today. So smart actually that every single blog post needs to be optimized just around one focus keyword for example.
If you write the content for your website on your own you also should consider getting professional writers to help you. Usually, professional SEO experts work together with writers who understand the value of writing compelling content and still understand SEO requirements when writing text.
And your content can’t be just posted randomly. While obviously need to spread your company news and updates as they happen you also have to be smart for trending search phrases only and capitalize on those by providing specifically designed content around them.

SEO also requires actions that only your language school can do “yourself”

Some people are surprised that when they outsource their SEO that there is still constantly ongoing activities required to keep your SEO results optimized.
One important aspect is the on-time management of social media replies and especially the replies to reviews of your customers. Google employs a so-called “Bad Merchant Algorithm” that pushes down businesses that constantly receive bad feedback and negative talk and ratings. You can prevent this by answering and resolving and removing such reviews. Sometimes the situation is so bad that a damaged reputation can only be fixed by starting your business a new under a new business name.
You can, of course, outsource this but be aware that answering reviews about your own business should be better done by someone who has at least strong insights into your company and not some call center styled service based in a third-world country that knows nothing about your business. A “half-assed” lukewarm respond to reviews can do more harm than a negative review itself in the first place.
Social media is very time-intense of course and not everything is possible and doable without constantly interrupting your day-to-day language school business.
But an inactive dead social media account signals not only to users but also to the search engines that your company is probably not the most valuable to be listed on “page one”.
A good SEO consultant will offer you strategic guidance on how to schedule and automate as much as possible for your social media marketing along with all content writing and strategic help with paid traffic as well.

SEO does always include paid traffic strategies

If you still think that SEO is the “free alternative” to paid traffic online, you are unfortunately stuck in the past as this no longer is the reality today. 10 years ago it was still possible to rank highly in search engine results. Now it is essential that you pay social media traffic via Facebook and Google or Bing in order to enable the search engines to actively use their artificial intelligence algorithm to rank you.
It is like asking, “what was first: the egg or the hen?” – building a website does NOT generate traffic on its own.
So “what was first: the traffic from free listings on search engines or the traffic that you have paid for?”
Obviously, without paid traffic, there will be no free listing on the search engines – at least not HIGH performing, HIGHLY placed free listings.
Yes, as sad as it is those “free, organic” SEO result listings are not THAT free anymore as you are required to get paid real human visitors to take a look at your website in the first place.
A good SEO consultant always coaches you on how to get paid traffic going without the need to have a budget of 10.000 Euros for it. Facebook traffic for example at this time of writing in October 2018 enables you to do paid traffic tests with only a few hundred Euros. Google Ads are slightly more expensive – but with you setting daily budgets you are always in control and once you send initial traffic and naturally rank high you might be able to reduce your ongoing paid marketing costs with smart SEO after all.

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