How to use keywords in class descriptions
Help your courses show up in search results - on Outschool and Google - by using the right keywords in your class listings.

Keywords are at the core of good Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The term “keywords” specifically refers to terms or phrases related to your class subject that families are likely to search, either on Outschool or using a search engine like Google. In this post, we’ll go over a few ways you can write your class descriptions to show up in search results and connect you with your target audience. Before reading further, we recommend starting off by familiarizing yourself with basic SEO concepts and definitions.

Much of the content you see here comes from educator Kellie Thompson’s Virtual Conference session. Check out the recording of her presentation for even more insights!

The short list

We’ll go more in-depth into how to use keywords in your class listings later on in this article, but let’s begin with a quick rundown of Kellie’s top tips for helping your class show up in the right search results.

  1. Use your main keywords in your title, then your best synonyms and related keywords in your summaries. Don’t keyword stuff (meaning use the exact same words over and over again), and remember Outschool’s policies on copyrighted material.
  2. Include broad and specific language. For example: “This class is about bugs of all sorts! In each session, we’ll focus on one type of bug, including ladybugs, beetles, stink bugs, cockroaches, and more.”
  3. Avoid emojis, excessive punctuation, hashtags, and abbreviations, since search engine algorithms don’t like to see them. Abbreviations may be appropriate if they’re used more commonly than the actual phrase (for example: “FBI” instead of “Federal Bureau of Investigation”).
  4. Search for your class topic as if you were a parent or learner. What did you type in when you imagined you were a parent or learner? Did your class show up? If not, which classes did show up, and what keywords are they using that you might be missing? If nothing showed up – you may have identified an opportunity to rank #1 for a certain topic. Don’t forget to check out the parent topic request list for recent popular searches and keyword inspiration, as well.

Now – let’s dive a little deeper into what steps you can take to become an SEO superstar.

Identify keywords

To decide which keywords you should include in your class title and description, you’ll need to conduct research into how people are searching for your topic on the web. We link to some helpful resources on conducting keyword research in this article, and here are a few more guidelines that will come in handy as you think about your Outschool class titles, summaries, and descriptions.

1. Define your niche

Think about what topics you teach. Are they very broad (like: Geography of North America)? Or very specific (like: The Geological History of the Blue Ridge Mountains)? You want to include keywords in your listings that attract the right parents and learners to your class, but also make sure you don’t miss out on connecting with a wider audience.

If your topic is very broad, consider how you could include more specific keywords. Example: Instead of “In this class, we’ll learn how to draw animals,” try “In this class, we’ll learn how to draw animals like lizards, snakes, alligators, and other reptiles.” In the second example, you increase your chances of appearing in search results for “draw… each specific animal,” in addition to “draw animals.”

If your topic is very specific, consider adding in general related terms. Example: Instead of “In this class, we’ll learn about the history of pointe shoes,” try “In this dance history class, we’ll learn the story behind how ballet pointe shoes were invented.” In the second example, you increased your chances of appearing in search results not only for “pointe shoes” but for “dance history” and “ballet.”

Including a variety of broad & specific keywords helps you connect with different sub-sections of your audience. Here’s one more example: Let’s say you teach a class on 6th-grade math concepts (a broad subject). In your keyword research, you find out that people are often searching “6th grade fractions tutor.” You teach fractions and offer 1:1 tutoring! But – your class listing doesn’t use those terms explicitly, and some searchers aren’t finding your class. By changing up your keywords to match what searchers are looking for, you can increase your chances of showing up in their results.

2. Describe your ideal learner

Take a moment and imagine your ideal learner for the class description you’re working on. Better yet – grab a piece of paper and start recording your ideas! Begin by writing down things like:

  • How old are they?
  • What language do they speak?
  • What part of the world are they from?
  • How do they learn?
  • What problem can I help them solve?
  • What are they passionate about?
  • Do they have any other defining characteristics?

Take a look at this guide and worksheet for more help defining your target audience.

Once you’ve painted a picture of your learner (this is also called an audience persona, in marketing terms), use that to inform how you write the content of your class listing. Speak directly to this learner’s wants and needs, and describe how you can solve their problem. Remember, for classes designed for younger kids, you’ll want to gear the messaging towards parents since they’ll be the ones searching and booking.

Kellie uses this example in her presentation: She identified her target learner audience for one of her classes as kids ages 5-7 who struggle with reading English. The problem many parents are trying to solve for this age group is how to learn and recognize letters in the alphabet – and those are probably the keywords they’ll use when searching online (don’t forget to verify your hunches with good keyword research). So, instead of titling her class “Phonics for K-2 Readers,” she may show up in more search results if she titled her class “Early Elementary Letter Recognition.”

3. Brainstorm keywords & synonyms

After defining your subject niche and audience for a class, you’ll need to identify which keywords will help you appear in the right search results. Kickstart this process by writing down a list of words related to your class topic – from broad to specific.

Then, go back through that list and see how many synonyms you can think of for each keyword. Because keyword stuffing can hurt your performance on search engines, using synonyms for keywords can help you reach a large audience without angering the algorithms.

If you really want to maximize your success ranking on search engines outside of Outchool (like showing up in Google searches), use a keyword research tool to check for competition and opportunities. If you’re brand new to SEO, this video course offers an in-depth introduction to keyword research and more.

Research Outschool trends

Searching what classes are currently available or trending on Outschool can help you understand where there are opportunities for success. Your goal should be to gain a better understanding of:

  1. Are learners/parents looking for these keywords?
  2. Who are my competitors when parents search for classes directly on Outschool?

To provide insight on what families are searching, Outschool publishes data on popular search terms, enrollment trends, and parent topic requests on a bi-weekly basis. You can also opt-in to receive educator e-newsletters that include these tips and more delivered directly to your inbox by toggling on the “Occasional updates about Outschool” tab here.

To gauge what other classes may be appearing for your keywords on Outschool, do a few searches as if you were a parent or learner. Notice what shows up in results, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are these classes about a very similar topic to my own? What keywords are they using?
  • Are there very few or no classes showing up for my specific keywords? Is there an opportunity here to fill a need?
  • How can I stand out from classes similar to my own, and what keywords can I include in my listing to make my unique offerings obvious to searchers?

What matters most

The good news about modern search engine algorithms is that clear, accurate, and natural writing is the best way to please website crawlers and appear in results. At the end of the day, remember that your #1 priority should be making sure that your class listing describes how you’re going to solve a problem or meet a need for your learners and adheres Outschool’s Standards for Class Listings.

To expand your SEO knowledge and learn skills that can help you on and off the Outschool platform, explore our beginner’s guide to SEO. When you’re ready, head over to this guide to writing class listings for SEO for more tips on including keywords in your description & title.

Don’t forget – keywords aren’t the only way to reach new learners! Take a look at our free professional development course on the Four Ps of Marketing or the Building Your Business section of the Educator Handbook for more business tips.

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