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  • Writer's pictureJack Ritchie

The #1 FREE Marketing Tip For Your Early Childhood Service

Whenever you think about a business, product or a service, how many times have you opened your phone and typed '(product) near me' into Google?


Whether it's 'cafe near me,' 'Coles near me' or 'childcare near me,' it's a go-to for many people looking to satisfy a want or need.


This is a huge element of what' s called local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).


Don't be scared by the fancy wording - it just means that If you're looking for something in a particular location, lots of businesses are competing to be the first result on the page that comes up you search - the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Getting on that first page, or somewhere near the top, means that people will see your business.


Local SEO sounds very 'digital', and you may not think you can master it, but it's a lot easier than it sounds.


To put things in perspective, 78% of location-based searches (i.e. '(product) near me' or '(service) in Sydney') end in an offline purchase, which means that the majority of these people are ready to buy. On top of this, 53% of enquiries about joining a child care centre are made online.


So we're talking about people who are actively looking for your service and they're ready to make a purchase or a decision, which means you don't want to miss out on this opportunity!


What is Google My Business?


When you do a location-based search, you're usually going to get some ads at the top, followed by some Google My Business listings, followed by some more Ads and then finally the websites that relate directly to your search.


A Google My Business listing is like a shop window - it's what you see before you decide to go in.


A listing should include all of the relevant information about a business, such as the address, contact details, website, reviews, photos taken by both the organisation and customers, and the opening and closing times. It's like Google, the Yellow Pages and TripAdvisor rolled into one.


But what does this mean for a parent?


Well, it gives them all of the information they need to make an enquiry. It tells them where to go, what time they can go, who to call to verify something, and they can sign up or learn more by going to your website.


When somebody is ready to make a decision and they get all of the information they need to buy, you're a local trip (or tour) away from having a new family onboard.


Want to get a Google My Business Listing? Follow the instructions on this link.



How to Set Up Your Listing


A Complete Listing

You can manage your listing by putting in all of the information possible.


Your listing needs to be complete if you are to get families to choose your service. The more information people have, the more confident they'll feel about choosing your centre, so make sure there is as much information as possible on your listing.


For example, if your centre is in a building with multiple businesses, you may want to put the building floor in the address, to allow people to find it more easily. This will make the journey into the service more smooth and the centre tour will get off to a good start.


Regularly Update Your Listing

All of the information needs to be accurate.


Changes in phone numbers, opening hours etc. may interrupt a family's journey to enrolling in your service, so make sure you get off to a good start by keeping the information in your listing up-to-date.


Optimise Your Listing

Just like everything else in SEO, it has to be optimised. The quickest and best way to do this is to include words that are specific to your business.


For example, you may offer ECEC services, but there are lots of different kinds of ECEC out there. If you're a Long Daycare provider, include 'daycare' in your description. This means that people who are looking for a particular type of service (e.g. parents with children aged 0-3) will find you, and these people will be more likely to enquire.


Got any offers on at the moment? You can put them in your Google listing.


You may also want to put some photos up of your centre, learning environments etc. - anything that may entice people to visit.


Optimise Your Website

Once people visit your website, there are many factors that decide where your listing shows up.


The longer people spend on your website, and how often they fill out an enquiry will help your chances, so make sure you give them all the information they need, and make the sign up form as easy as possible.


Better website performance = better SEO performance.


Reviews

One thing Google My Business can't control is your reviews.


That is solely down to you. By offering a good service and letting people know that they can write a review on your Google listing (and that it would really help you out), you can place your business above the local competition.


It's as simple as a quick email, text, or post on your parent communication app.


Being 'Hyper-Local'


Of course, local SEO should turn into more children at your service if your physical service is as optimised as your online presence, but how can you make sure that you're going to get those local SEO benefits?


Let's take a preschool in Newtown, within Sydney's Inner West. Whilst it is in Sydney, how likely is it that somebody from the CBD is going to travel to Newtown when there are so many options that are closer?


You may be attracted to targeting a larger audience across Sydney, but with so many competitors from all sides of Sydney, a preschool in Newtown would find it hard to match a family's search criteria enough to become one of the first listings if they optimised for all of Sydney.


Instead, the preschool should be optimising for searches that are hyper-local - i.e. within walking distance.


Not only that, but they should be optimising for details about the business as well as location e.g. 'Preschool Newtown', rather than 'Childcare Sydney'


The more narrow you get, the more closely you will match a parent's search criteria, and the better the results.


Where to go now?


Once you've gone through your listing, it's important to keep on top of your enrolments system.


Make sure you give families a tour of your centre ASAP, and use software that makes the enrolment process quick and easy.


OWNA's all-in-one childcare app makes it easy for parents and centres to enrol their children, as well as engage with families over time to improve their experience.


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