The online education market is just getting started and will continue to expand. The future of online education allows anyone to share their expertise and make an income through teaching. People love a good Netflix-style binge, and online education gives those who are eager to learn exactly what they crave.
Platforms such as Teachable are like candy to a child, except it’s not just on Halloween, you can gather up a whole bag of goodies anytime! Students have year-round access to video modules, worksheets and learning communities any time they want. Online teaching is a game changer for educators and learners alike.
So you have created an awesome course offering loads of value for your target market but now what? Yes you can have a great launch plan but wouldn’t be nice to also have your courses found in Google results? Many online course creators are totally ignoring the SEO features of online teaching platforms and are missing out on some new students. I know I get so happy when I see a new student enrollment so this year I am making sure my own courses are optimized for Google Search.
Lets chat about how you can optimize your online classes so new students will find your awesome online courses ON GOOGLE.
Pre-work. The basis for SEO aka being found in Search Engines like Google is text, so it’s vital to know which text your audience is using to search course topic ideas surrounding what you teach. For this, I do a little keyword research. Therefore, step one is to start a keyword list for your course topic.
The pre-work is researching whether people search the term “course,” “class,” “training” or even something else. This will vary depending on what the course topic is, so take my Pinterest SEO class as an example. From the get-go, I know people are looking more at “Pinterest Marketing Course” and not “Pinterest SEO,” so I will start with the more common keyword. If you are brand new to keyword research, feel free to join my free Keyword Strategy mini course.
There are 3 tools you can use for keyword research to rank your online courses on Google.
- LSI Graph website. This is now one of my new favorite tools for finding alternative keywords to add to my blog posts and improve SEO. I have written about LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) before, and what LSI does is look for synonyms and relevance of a keyword, which in turn gives you insight on better word usage for your text. This tool generates keyword ideas for you based on what real users search for and terms that are ranking online. When I search for “Pinterest Marketing Course,” I see the word “training” a lot. So I add some of these to my own list.
Next, I look up “Pinterest SEO.” I get more SEO-strategies types of keywords that my ideal audience won’t necessarily be looking up, but there is one I do like. “How to use Pinterest for SEO.”
Then I also look up general “Pinterest Tips.”
I love “how to market your business on Pinterest,” “Pinterest tips and tricks,” and “Pinterest tips for beginners.”
So, I want you to also do this step and look up 3-4 variations of your keyword [blog course topic]. So for keyword research start a Google Doc, Ever note file or wherever you save data on your computer. Now lets move on to keyword research tool #2
2. Google Suggest. Now we can plug some of these ideas into Google to see if it will suggest other ideas. Google Suggest is just those words/phrases that appear in the dropdown of Google as you start typing. So again, I start with “Pinterest Marketing.” Before I even finish typing the word “marketing,” the following show up:
I like the words “course,” “tips,” “ideas” and “guide” that I see there. I also see “2016” in some here and in LSI, which means it’s not a bad idea to add “2017” in my course description and SEO sections. More on that in a few.
Bonus SEO tip. I like to see how many sites are ranking for the keyword I am going after, and to check this, you add quotation marks around your keyword when searching in Google. This shows me those sites ranking for that exact key term.
- Google Keyword Planner. It’s no longer as great as it was in its glory days, but it can still show us some insight. If you had signed up to Google Adwords back in the day, the planner is a free tool. If you are going to sign up for it now, there will be a hurdle to bypass Google wanting you to place an ad, so grab one of those Google Adword coupons you’ve been ignoring because having access to this tool will be worth it. I have seen some folks just add a credit card and not do a campaign to gain access, and others have found they can’t get access at all any more, so it’s up to you if you want to try this as a keyword tool or not.
I usually filter by Avg. monthly searches and want to know which keywords have the most volume per month. So you can customize your search by specifying average monthly searches, and choose low and medium competition. You can also choose country if not in the US. The rest I leave as is.
Once I click and it opens results, I look at the keyword ideas tab. Next, you can toggle the filters if you want highest to least numbers or vice versa so click on monthly searches to get the keywords which have the most volume.
I look at the next column called Competition. You want to avoid high-competition words because high competition indicates they’ll be harder to rank. I then scan the results to see which keywords applies to my courses. Out of these, I like ” How to get followers on Pinterest, ” Pinterest Business”, ” How to use Pinterest” and ” Pinterest for Business”. Remember that none of these have the key term SEO but if I can get students who are interested in Pinterest Marketing, they will want the SEO training as well too.
Now comes the juicy part. Optimizing your online courses for SEO and search so that new students find your classes and trainings. (See what I did there? Wink wink.)
Teachable is my favorite online teaching platform, and it’s the one where I host my classes. It’s super easy to use and to set up, plus I love the interface for my students. I also of course adore how they have SEO sections I can fill out to help get my courses found. Double win. If you wan to optimize your teachable course, then open up your course on back end and go to tab that says SEO.
Once you click on SEO, you will see three sections to fill out or review: Friendly URL, Page Title, and Meta description.
FRIENDLY URL – It’s wise of them to tell you to make it friendly because you should! And now, looking back at my URL, it should have had the word “tips,” and I see there was no need for the word “workbook.” You SHOULD NOT change the URL after you publish your course because it will create a broken link. (Well, unless you have not released it to anyone yet… then you can.)
PAGE TITLE – This is text that appears above your URL, and you will see it bolded in search results as the top line for each result. The page title should not be longer than 60 or so characters and should have keyword phrases that would make someone want to click on it. So using those most common words, especially if they have adjectives, is key.
META DESCRIPTION – This is where you can write a bigger, full-sentence or two-sentence description of your course, again using the top keywords you found in your keyword research.
After doing some research for my Pinterest course using the 3 tools mentioned above, I tweaked the Page Title and Meta description as follows:
For my Meta Description, I decided on the following:
Learn how to use Pinterest to market your business and get new clients. Pinterest has powerful SEO. Come learn marketing tips and training.
Meta description should not be longer than 150 characters. Now your turn, login to your Teachable courses and optimize them. Remember to click Save.
Bonus Tip. It is important to connect your Teachable course with your Google Analytics so you can see where the traffic is coming from and compare with before you optimize your course for SEO. Just follow the instructions here.
2. WordPress Courses.
If you are using a course-type plugin on WordPress or something like Zippy Courses, then you will need to optimize your course sales pages by using a Word Press plugin called Yoast SEO. Once you install this plugin, it creates a box inside the dashboard at the end of each page and post.
Then you can follow the same rules in regards to the keywords and use the same amount of characters in filling out your SEO title and site title. Just tell the plugin the main keyword idea for that page by filling out the Focus Keyword. Then, click on SEO title and rewrite it using the terms you want to use.
Overall, once you have done the homework, which is to find out what ways your users are looking for the types of courses you teach online, then you can get your courses found not only by your fans but by new visitors who will convert and become your student.
If you were struggling with keywords and want to learn more about how they apply to SEO, sign up for my Free Keyword Course.
If you are wondering if you can host an online course on Squarespace, you sure can. You basically create private pages for your videos and worksheets. You can read this great post here by Latrisha with more details how to launch your course on Squarespace. The sales page for the course will be a regular public page so you can optimize the settings of that page using the same method of finding the keywords and updating the Page Title and Description. Log in and go to your course page. Then click the gear icon and new box will pop up on the right side showing the Navigation Title, Page Title, and Description. You are only filling in the Page Title and Description as the navigation title appears on your actual website, so you don’t want to change that. Make your changes and click save.
If you need more help with Squarespace SEO, check out their tutorials.
I hope you have enjoyed this step by step blog post on how to get your online courses found by new students so you can grow your business and online teaching. Feel free to comment your findings below and ask any questions.