Local SEO Guide for Summer Camps: 5 Steps to Better Google Rankings

/Local SEO Guide for Summer Camps: 5 Steps to Better Google Rankings
Local SEO Guide for Summer Camps: 5 Steps to Better Google Rankings 2017-11-12T10:13:37+00:00

Summer camps often find it difficult to bring in new campers. Referrals are important, but many parents simply run a quick Google search and call the first couple of camps they find. To make sure your camp is full, then, you need to get to the top of Google rankings.

We will guide you through our step by step proven process for boosting your camp to that all-important top spot. Before we get started, though, let’s discover why local SEO plays a critical role for summer camps.

3 Reasons Summer Camps Should Invest in Local SEO

Google Replaced the Yellow Pages:

Until not long ago, summer camps could simply place a Yellow Pages ad and draw campers from the nearby area. Today, though, 97% of people search online for local businesses, and there is no doubt that Google rules search.

Free Traffic:

Although it is slowly changing, advertising is still one of the biggest costs that small businesses face. If you boost your Google ranking, you will be rewarded with a constant flow of free traffic, ready to be converted into paying customers.

Quick Results:

While national and international companies will not see much movement in their Google rankings for 6 to 12 months after instituting a new SEO campaign, local businesses have a huge advantage. You are not competing with camps on the other side of the world, and many of your competitors are not taking advantage of local SEO. A targeted campaign could push you to the front page of local Google listings in just 30 days!

Step 1: Choose Your Keywords

First, sit down and make a quick list of keywords that match your services. For example, you might try “summer camp”, “sleepaway camp”, “day camp”, “science camp”, or “sports camp”. When you have a reasonably long list, sign up for a free Google AdWords account.

There is no need to build an ad campaign or set aside funds, but you need the AdWords to use the free Google Keyword Planner tool, which lets you analyze your chosen keywords to see how much traffic they drive. It also suggests similar keywords that may not be on your list.

Now you can narrow down your keyword list. All keywords fall into 2 basic categories:

  • Buying Intent: Buying intent keywords mean that a prospect is imminently ready for your services. For example, a search for “science camp Washington DC next month” suggests that the person is imminently ready to enroll himself or his child in a camp.

    Buying intent keywords should be your primary focus, as they drive speedy results. Feature them on your homepage and create service pages for them.

  • Research Intent: Research intent keywords signal that the prospect is “just looking.” She might be interested in camp, but not today. For example, someone searching for “is my child ready for music camp” might be thinking ahead a couple of years.

    Make these keywords a lower priority, as they are slower to convert. Don’t give up on them though, as they form a terrific basis for FAQs and blog posts. These posts are your introduction to prospects who may remember you when they need a summer camp.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

With your keyword list finalized, you are ready to optimize in 2 places—your Google My Business page and your website. Here are the steps:

Google My Business

Think of your Google My Business page as a tiny website that appears in Google’s “Maps” section. It increases your overall online presence and gives prospects a quick peek at your company. It can also give you a speedy rankings boost, because Google My Business pages are easier to get highly ranked than full websites.

For optimization, all of these elements must be complete and accurate:

  • Verification: First, claim your page and submit it to Google for verification. You will know this step is complete when the word “Verified” and a checkmark appear next to your company name.
  • NAP: Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be exactly the same across the entire internet. Using a local phone number instead of an 800 number tells Google that your business is local.
  • Categories: Google categories are service-oriented rather than result-oriented. Google requires all categories to focus on services instead of results. For a summer camp, the primary Google category is simply Camp. In addition, you can include any other services that you provide, such as After School Program or Day Care Center. If possible, list 3 to 5 categories.
  • Description: The description is a short overview of your business that closes with a call to action. Make sure it is 100 to 200 words in length and formatted similarly to: {Name of Company} offers {summer day camp, or similar} in {Your City}. {Provide some information about your camp and/or why families love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for a free {promotional packet, or similar}.
  • Hours: Make sure that your office hours are up to date, and are correctly listed across the internet.
  • Images: Images are essential to boosting parent and camper engagement as well as showing new prospects all the fun they are missing. Add some photos of your counselors, your camp facilities such as the lake or the gym, and campers engaged in activities (with parental permission). Make sure your images are well-focused, sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. Also consider replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

First, optimize your homepage and service pages (“core” pages) for your buying intent keywords. After that, switch your focus to optimizing your FAQs and blog posts (“content” pages) for your research intent keywords. Here’s how to optimize:

  • Homepage: Serving a similar function to a book’s chapter title, the title tag is the single most critical element on your homepage. Keep it to just 50 to 65 characters long, and format it like this: Summer Camp in {Your City} | {Name of Your Business}.

    The 100 to 150-character meta description is next. Provide a quick snapshot of your main services and end with a call to action. This format is recommended: {Name of Company} offers quality {summer theater camp sessions, or similar} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today for a free {promotional packet, or similar}!

    The H1, also known as the visible headline, must be short and sweet, and must contain your primary category. Format it similarly to: {Camp} in {City, State}.

    Write your page copy last. This 500 to 1000-word overview should be clear and strongly edited. It should provide a good description of your camp, list your core services, and end with a strong call to action. Use your primary keyword as it naturally fits in the copy.

  • Service Pages: Build a separate service page for each core service you provide. Optimize your service pages just like the homepage, but don’t forget to switch to the relevant keyword.

Step 3: Build Citations and Links

With the basics of your local SEO campaign in place, you can build citations and links. Both increase your Google rankings and improve your online reach.

  • Citations: A citation is simply an online directory listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number). Possibilities include general national directories such as Facebook and yellowpages.com, general local directories such as your Chamber of Commerce website, and targeted directories for summer camps. Double-check that your NAP is consistent across all listings.

    Note that some directories accept only paid listings. Take a peek at Google Analytics before you commit. It makes no sense to give money to a site that does not drive traffic and conversions.

  • Links: Getting to the top of Google listings is virtually impossible without inbound links from authoritative, credible websites. Build relationships with businesses that offer complementary services to your own, such as schools or community groups. Then ask to trade links. Use a tool like the Moz Open Site Explorer to see where other camps found their links.

Step 4: Ask for Reviews

Customer reviews are a vital part of your local SEO campaign for two reasons: they help convince prospects that your camp is a great one to try, and they reassure Google that your business is legitimate. While all review sites can help, you will see the quickest boost to your rankings from Google My Business reviews. Send your satisfied parents an email with a link to your Google My Business profile, and directly ask them to write a review. If you do this frequently, you will have a steady flow of recent reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

The only way to know if your local SEO campaign is working as intended, and to find parts of the campaign that still need a bit of help, is to track your results. There are many ways to track and analyze your data, but these 3 are arguably the most important:

  • Rankings: Google’s displayed rankings are customized to the individual’s past browsing activity. Therefore, you can only learn your true rankings by using a tool. For an excellent free option, ask your webmaster to install the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). Be sure to track your rankings at least once a month.

    For a deeper analysis of your rankings, consider a paid tool, such as the rank tracking tool from RankRanger.com. It tracks not only your webpages, but also your Google My Business page, and automatically updates ranking data from all of your SEO campaigns.

  • Traffic: Google Analytics is the best way to track your traffic, or individual website visitors. In addition to your total traffic, you can view the traffic for each webpage, as well as the percentage of traffic that found you in Google search. Check your traffic report every month, and see if you can identify any long-term trends.

  • Conversions: A conversion is a concrete behavior that you want prospects to perform, such as contacting you for a free promotional packet about your camp. Google Analytics can track both web and phone conversions. You can also learn which services drive the most conversions, and even find out which of your individual pages have the highest and lowest conversion rates.

Ready to Get Started?

Now you know why a targeted local SEO campaign is crucial to signing up more campers. Work through the steps in order, and fully finish each step before moving on to the next. Here is a recap of the 5 steps:

  1. Keyword research
  2. Keyword optimization
  3. Citations and Links
  4. Reviews
  5. Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping summer camps attract more local customers through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

Click here to request a Free SEO Quote

Want more Local SEO tips?

Enter your email address below to get our FREE Local SEO Checklist