Did you know that there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day — and that 90 percent of the world’s data was generated in the last two years?
That’s crazy. But it’s easy to believe — just think of all of the data we create personally each day: photos, emails, tweets, notes, videos … the list goes on and on. Much of that content is, well, garbage. It’s stuff that we create and forget; data that we’ll most likely never look at again, yet it exists until we delete it.
The problem arises when that clutter-content collects in important places — like on your school’s website.
When bad content choices muddy up your strong school storytelling efforts, you run the risk of getting lost in the quintillion-byte dump. That’s why it’s so important to constantly review your school website and fix any content mistakes being made.
Here are the most common school website content mistakes we see, and how to fix them.
Set reminders in your calendar to review your school website content on a quarterly basis. Make note of content that is outdated, missing or no longer supports your school’s story.
Scan your site for these common school website content mistakes to ensure your site is telling the right story:
If the statistics are to be believed, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average website visit; 20% is more likely. So it’s critical to make sure that the words they do read are important. Too many words on a page decreases this chance.
Your task: review your school website, and make a list of pages and paragraphs that can be consolidated or deleted.
Huge blocks of texts are as off-putting on the web as they were when you were writing them back in high school. Because reader attention spans online are seriously shorter than your average goldfish, you just don’t have the time to allow your readers to scan through big chunks of content to find your core story.
Your task: Fix your page formatting by cutting back on content, breaking up big paragraphs with headers and subheads, and adding bulleted, scannable content where you can.
You may not think of your text as a design element, but it is. Content that breaks your brand style guide stands out like a sore internet thumb. It’s so important to keep font types, text sizes, colors and styles consistent across your site.
Your task: First — if you don’t have them — create a simple website brand guide that defines correct fonts and styles for all page and image elements. Then, make style adjustments as needed.
Offering up outdated content is like handing each and every dream student or family the dusty old brochure from 1999 that’s sitting in the back of your storage closet. You would never do it in person — so why would you do it online? Content that’s wrong or old gives readers the impression that your school’s communications are careless or obsolete.
Your task: READ YOUR CONTENT. Better yet, have someone who is not in the weeds at your school read your content. Sometimes it’s helpful to get a fresh perspective in order to see inconsistencies or mistakes.
AP Style, that is. While I know grammar rules are made to broken online (somewhat), sticking to some basic style guidelines and editing rules will make your content more professional and polished. Use the Associated Press Style Guide as your go-to website content bible.
Your task: Create a content style guide for your school that defines how you will tackle specific grammar and punctuation issues. (For example, are you course titles in Title Case or Initial caps? Do you write in first- or third-person?)
Once a website launches, content can erode quickly — especially if more than one person has the ability to update the site. By keeping editing power to a select few people who know and understand your brand voice, you’ll protect your site from imposter content.
Your task: If you can, make sure that there is one content gatekeeper for your site — someone who understands your school’s voice and can make any edits necessary when someone submits new content.
Your website is your most important marketing tool, not a catch-all for all the brochures, documents and course descriptions your faculty or staff want to share. So you may need to disappoint some of your team members in order to keep your site fresh and pristine.
Your task: Whenever someone asks you to post something on your school website, ask yourself: Why do our dream students and families need this? If you don’t have a good answer, don’t include it.
If you haven’t heard, keyword stuffing is dead. School website visitors don’t want to read a list of all the terms they may have searched for in the past. They come to your site to read something meaningful and helpful about the topic they’re interested in. So stop trying to artificially cram in every word and phrase related to your school, and instead give them authentic content that answers their questions or addresses their concerns.
Your task: Go ahead and do keyword research — and then incorporate only those terms that fit authentically within the story you know your audience wants to hear.
So you’ve written some really killer copy, led readers down an interesting path … and then smacked them into a brick wall. Where are they supposed to go? What’s next on this journey? Without a strong call to action, readers will take that information you provided and bounce along somewhere else.
Your task: Revisit all of your website calls-to-action and make sure they’re leading dream students and families down the right path.
So those are the top 9 no-no’s, but there are many more. If you want more school website tips and tricks — including our School Website Story Audit Workbook — check out our FREE Resource Library.