This article will look at what SEO is, why it's important for your success as a tutor and how you can get started with it. If you haven't heard of SEO before or maybe you've heard about it but aren't sure what it's about, this article is for you.
By the end of this article you will have a strong understanding on why SEO is important for your success as a tutor and you will be able to take the first steps to working on SEO.
What is SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
It's a fancy name for a group of activities you can do to improve where you show up in search engine results such as Google. A website that uses good SEO practices is likely to move up in the rankings of search engines and be seen by more potential students.
There is an entire industry built around SEO as it can make or break businesses and professionals. A tutor who applies good SEO practices can end up in a position where they never need to think about marketing again as their website will constantly attract new students.
Why is SEO Important for Tutors
Go to a search engine and type in '[subject] tutors in [town name]' - inserting the subject you mainly focus on and your town name. So if you're a Math tutor in Portland, you would type in 'Math tutors in Portland'.
Have a look through the results and make note of the first position you show up (whether your website, social media profile or directory listing). The chances are you won't show up on the first page and if you live in a competitive area, you may not show up on the first few pages at all.
Now look at the first page results. Any tutors who show up on the first page will receive most clicks from potential students. Any tutors showing in the first three positions will receive the majority of all clicks from potential students.
So how important is it to show up on the first page in the search results? The chart below shows the percentage of people who click on a search result based on it's position:
CTR stands for 'Click Through Rate'. It's simply the percentage of people who click on a certain link.
Let's say your website shows up in fifth position in Google. That means about 3.09% of people who see those search results will click the link to go to your website. What if you could raise your website so it moved up to third position in Google? The number of people who click to go to your website would more than double to 7.22%.
If you could work up to the first position you would receive a massive 18.2% of clicks to go to your website.
The reason why SEO is so important for your success as a tutor is because the higher you end up in the search engines, the more potential students will find you.
Let's look at the search results for 'Math tutors in Portland Oregon' (ads normally display at the top but have been disabled for this example):
Some of these results may look similar to what you see for your own town. Large tutor directories such as thumbtack.com and wyzant.com are likely to show high in the results.
Notice that the first actual tutor shows up in 8th position? 'Christine's Math Tutoring Services' is the first actual tutor in these results.
Christine has an advantage in that her listing stands out over all the others before hers. All the other results are directories while she's an actual tutor. So a potential student is likely to scroll down and see Christine's name stand out and click on it.
So while the above chart suggests Christine should receive about 1.75% of all clicks, in reality she will receive far more because of her business name.
Extra tip: You might notice that there is another tutor in 9th position: 'Portland Math Tutor'. When you compare the two results, which one grabs your attention the most? Christine wins by a landslide and it's why our guide on Choosing the Right Tutoring Business Name is so important.
Christine's business name will always win over a business name such as 'Portland Math Tutor' so check out the guide above to understand why.
Christine's website is showing in eighth position in the search results. That's a good result considering all of her competitors are below her. But what would happen if she could raise her position?
A small jump from 8th to 5th could easily double the number of potential students who contact her. If Christine applies some good SEO practices to her website, she could easily jump up to 5th, 4th or even 3rd position.
Let's review the key lessons covered so far:
Key lesson: SEO is the practice of improving your website so it can move up higher in search results. This is important because it affects how many potential students can find you online. Getting your website to the top of the first page can dramatically improve your results now and far into the future.
It should be clear why SEO is so important to your long term success as a tutor. Showing up high in search engines can attract far more students for you than any other form of marketing combined. If you're currently spending time and effort trying to attract students, applying SEO practices to your website is an excellent use of your time.
How to Get Started With SEO
It should go without saying that you need to have a website to be able to start applying SEO practices. If you don't already have a website, you can either set up your own website or get a professional to build one for you.
Let's start by looking at some common terms used when talking about SEO:
- Search engines: Google, Bing, Yahoo and others are search engines. SEO experts usually only talk about Google as it's the dominant search engine used today.
- Rankings: the position your website is listed in the search results. They are counted from the first non-ad result displayed. A ranking of 4 means your website is the the fourth result from the top of the first page. The ideal ranking is first.
- Keywords: words or phrases that help the search engines figure out what your website is about. It is also what people type in to search engines. Eg: 'Physics tutors in London' uses the keywords 'physics', 'tutors' and 'London'. The entire phrase 'Physics tutors in London' is also a keyword.
- SERP: Search Engine Results Page. This is the page the results of a search display. You ideally want your website to display on the first page to attract the most students.
- Local SEO: activities that help you rank higher for search terms in your local area. When a student search for 'tutors in [town name]', the websites that use good Local SEO practices will rank higher.
- Page titles: the page title used on your website are important for your results. The title of this page is 'SEO Basics for Tutors' and you can see it at the very top.
- Headings: headings are larger text used throughout your website. The heading above these bullet points reads 'How to Get Started With SEO'.
- Body text: this is the text used on your website. The text you are reading now is body text. The content of the text plays a massive role in your SEO results.
The more you read about SEO, the more you will hear the above terms so get used to their meanings.
SEO is a massive topic and we'll create a course on it in the future. For now, here are some simple tips to get you started.
Make sure your business name is suitable
If you've already been tutoring for years and have an established business name, you're not going to want to change it. But it's important to remember that your business name plays a massive role in your SEO success. As explained in our article Choosing a Good Name For a Tutoring Business, a business name such as 'Sally Smith Math Tutoring' is actually far more effective from an SEO point of view than something like 'Brilliant Minds Tutoring'.
As much as you might like a 'creative' business name, they can really hurt your SEO.
A suitable name will make use of relevant keywords that potential students are likely to use to try and find a tutor. For local tutors this often means including your town name in your business name. If you specialize in a specific subject, make sure you use that subject in your business name.
The main reason why your business name is important is because it will likely be used in your website domain name (eg: sallysmithtutor.com), page titles, headings and throughout body text. Use a SEO relevant business name and you will find it much easier to achieve good SEO results.
The amount of content on your website matters
The typical tutor website has around 4-6 pages of basic information. It usually has a homepage, information page, about me page and a contact page. When Google looks at a website that only has 4 or 5 pages in total, it won't rate the website very highly. If each page has very little text (eg: less than 300 words per page), then Google is likely to ignore those pages completely. Why? Because websites with very little content aren't useful or valuable from Google's point of view. Google wants to give people a good experience and only list websites that contain good quality content. If Google sees a website with very little information, it's not going to display that website high in the search results.
This means if you want better SEO results, you need more high quality content on your website. Don't think of your website of a place you put basic information together like a brochure - your website needs to be more than that.
The good news is that because most tutors websites are quite poor from a SEO point of view, with a bit of effort it's easy to stand out from the crowd.
Use relevant keywords throughout your website
If you offer Math tutoring, create a page talking about Math and how you tutor your students. Google will take notice of the words and phrases you use in that page and recognize that you're a Math tutor. Then when a potential student searches for a Math tutor, you're more likely to show up in the results.
Likewise, if you tutor offline, you will want to talk about your local area. Mentioning your town or nearby towns will help Google understand where your tutoring service is relevant. So when a potential student in your area searches for a tutor, Google will know that you're relevant and will be more likely to show you in the results.
Make sure your website is up to date
If you created your website over five years ago, the chances are it uses out of date practices. Keeping your website up to date is important as Google won't rank your website very high if there's problems or uses out of date technology. As a simple example, many people now search online using a smartphone. If your website isn't 'mobile responsive', Google won't list your website in mobile search results. When you consider well over 50% of people now use mobile devices to search online, that's a significant number of potential students who may not be able to find you!
While there are so many different ways you can improve your SEO results, the above actions will help you get into a good starting position. Here are actions we recommend to get started with SEO:
- Use a suitable business name (if you're just getting started as a tutor)
- Add good quality content to your website
- Think about what keywords are relevant to your students and use them throughout your website
- Keep your website up to date with technology changes
To learn more about SEO and how you can use it to grow your tutoring business, check out our comprehensive Online Marketing Course here.
If you have any questions on SEO or need clarification on anything covered in this article, ask your question in our Q&A section here.