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SEO for Teacher Sellers by Michael De Main, Founder and CEO of The Wheel Edu

The 2020 BERT Update

Today’s article is looking into how Teacher Sellers can use SEO to improve their resource descriptions to ensure they can be found organically on Google, regardless of what marketplace they use. We cover a few basics, some great ideas, and a few bonus pointers to help take your store to the next level.

Don’t worry. For those that are new to SEO, we start slow.

How to get your products found organically

You’ve just finished making your resource. Your cover is amazing and follows the same theme as your others to help your store be visually stunning. You’ve made up beautiful images that buyers can click through. You’ve maybe even made a simple short video of the resource for buyers to watch before they click the “add to cart” button. You’re all set and ready to go.

But how do you get your latest resource, and your teacher seller store found without spending money or spamming your Facebook groups?

The answer is SEO

For those that don’t know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. So just make sure your descriptions are SEO enhanced and you’re good to go! Right!?!

Clear as mud now? Don’t need to read on? 

Seriously though, what the heck does that mean for you and your resource description? It means making something optimised for a search engine to find it easily. And when I say search engine, I mean Google, Bing, Duck, Duck, Go and any others out there. I am not referring to the search engine within the marketplace you are uploading (although the following steps will help). For this article, we will just focus on Google.

These days, people usually go to a search engine first before they go straight to a particular website. For instance, when looking for a worksheet or activity, I tend to search either straight from my phone or web browser. Very rarely do I go directly to or any other marketplace. This is why SEO is important. You need to be found through online search first, rather than just your marketplace’s search. Let’s not even get started on voice search! I tried “Hey Google. Write a blog for me”, but she didn’t understand. And yes, Google in my house is a she (although you can change the voice, I’m not sure my wife wants to hear another man say “I didn’t quite catch that” or “I’m not sure what you want me to do”!!). 

The What and How of Search Engines

Let’s just focus on the world’s biggest search engine. It’s so big it is in the dictionary and become a regular verb in our vernacular. No longer do we say “just search it on the web”, but rather “just Google it”.

So what does Google do? Their motto might be “don’t be evil” or “do the right thing”, but their sole purpose is to get the right information to you. With over 4.5 billion pages on the internet, that is no mean feat! Google uses something called “crawlers” or “spiders”. Their job is to search a page, collect the information on it based on the keywords it finds, and index those pages together. You remember going to the library and using the good old Dewey Decimal System to find the book you wanted for a research task? You’d search through a bunch of cards that tell you where the book might be. You’d then wander the library to find the exact spot (hope it was there), only to search through the book and not find what you were looking for. When I was in University I’d have books piled up on my desk just to find some words or phrases I needed for the essay. Well, Google does all this work for you in microseconds. It has already read the book and knows all the information within it. How does it know exactly what you are looking for? That’s the purpose of SEO.

What's Important for Google?

Spiders are constantly searching pages to work out how to group that page with other pages. The first thing it looks for are short and long tailed keywords. It then looks for authority and relevance. The latest Google update of 2019 (BERT - short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Don’t worry. I have no idea what that means either!) looks for context, nuances, turns of phrase, synonyms, and finally, what pages will answer the search query (the last part is the most important update. More on that later). Firstly, let’s delve into keywords.

What are Keywords?

A key is used to unlock something. Keywords are words that are used to unlock a piece of knowledge. They are the main words used to explain something. In most articles, you will find the same words used over and over again. Google knows to ignore words like “the”, “it”, “of” etc and instead focus on more important words. It figures that if you have gone to the effort to write something and used the words “keyword” or “teacher seller” a lot of times, then they must be important. It will then file this page in the index under those headings.

Not that long ago, people duped the system by doing something called “keyword stuffing”. This is where you put the same word everywhere on the page. The sentences didn’t even need to make sense. Thankfully, technology has progressed and those pages are now ignored. Google looks for keywords that can either be short tailed or long tailed.

Short tailed Keywords

Initially when searching for a topic or thing, people will use short tailed keywords (also known as Head Terms). These are simple search phrases using one to three words. For instance, they might search for “literacy” or “literacy resources”. Now a quick Google search will reveal 224 million results for literacy. Go on. I’ll wait while you check. And what did you find? A brief definition, a wikipedia page, and a variety of different pages? Oh, and a bunch of ads! There is plenty of information on literacy, but if you are looking for something as a teacher, then that isn’t the search you would do. Short tailed keywords are important because they become part of the umbrella your resource will be added under. If your brand new resource doesn’t have the word literacy in it, then you are missing out on a huge opportunity to be found organically as a Teacher Seller. Luckily for us, Google knows a lot of synonyms, so if you don’t get your keyword exactly right, it can, if the page is set up properly, work out the word you are trying to use.

Long tailed Keywords

These days though, who searches using just one or two words? My kids ask Google entire questions! I don’t just type in “literacy”, I type in “literacy strategies for Year 11 reluctant readers” or “what’s the best literacy strategy to get reluctant high school students to read?”.
As you can see, my short tail keywords are still there, but they are also surrounded by other important words that help the search engine whittle down the pages to exactly what I want. 

When searching for a resource, us teachers are usually very specific. We don’t just type in “English lessons” or “Geography”. Well, sometimes we do, but that is because we aren’t sure what we are looking for just yet. We then read, ask more specific questions, read, ask more specific questions until we find that perfect page.

How Does This Affect Teacher Sellers?

When writing your description, don’t necessarily focus on how to use the resource or what’s in it. These should be easily identifiable either in your images, video or samples (for those teacher sellers using The Wheel). I’m not saying don’t include them, but your description should focus more on what phrases, terms and keywords are people looking for? More importantly, how will this resource help the person searching? What are the benefits of that resource and how will it help the teacher or student?

First tip. Scatter your keywords and phrases throughout your description in a natural manner. Don’t have them all in the first sentence.

Warning. There are many free keyword planner tools you can use to help guide you. But watch out, it’s a rabbit hole once you start searching for terms!!

Google is now focused on queries over words

The new BERT update in 2019 has made some big changes and will affect 10% of all searches. It is focused on perfecting your query. People have gone from searching “Disneyland” to now searching “what’s the best time to go to Disneyland with kids?”. Google has changed it’s algorithm to pick up on the context “with kids” and can filter that whole search down to what is most important. This means when describing your resources you need to include not just what your resource is, but what problem it is going to solve and how it will help the buyer. You haven’t just designed a product for literacy, but a product “to improve year 11 boys struggling with literacy”. Answering this query in your description helps Google see the relevance of your resource. 
Second tip. Relevance is also found by the length of time someone stays on your page and what they click on next. If they land on your description and immediately leave, Google thinks that what you have to offer is no good for that query and drops you down the list faster than a child drops brussel sprouts. If the person clicks “add to cart” or any of the links in your description, then Google knows that either: 
a) that page is right, or 
b) it re adjusts slightly based on which link you go to next.

This shouldn’t make it more difficult or make it harder to describe your resources, only to ensure that you have more detail. This is where having Headings (a feature for The Wheel) is really important as the spider can find the right information faster. So let’s delve into formatting.

Formating Descriptions

Google is lazy. It skim reads a page. So to help the spider out, formatting your resource description ensures it finds what it needs. Remember, SEO is about making it easier for the search engine to find the relevant information. 

Unfortunately, for those that use TeacherspayTeachers, you are missing out here. Using Bold and Italics doesn’t actually make any difference to the spider. What it looks for FIRST is Titles and Headings. You can find these in the formatting drop down menu on The Wheel. The first line of you description should be in title format and be the name of your resource. It should also contain at least one keyword. 

Your next heading would then be Heading 1. Every other heading can be any number (Heading 2-5), but you can only use Title and Heading 1 once on a page. Just like any reader, we skim down and read the titles of a textbook to find the relevant starting point. Your description should be the same. Have a title and then add the benefit of that resource in your next few lines. This helps the spider immediately see that you are answering the search query. Then include a heading with possibly what is in the resource, another heading with what it covers, and then the last heading reiterates the benefits the buyer will receive for using it.

Bullet points and numbering are acceptable. These work best when they come directly after a heading. Bold and italic just make it easier for humans to find the right words and have no affect on SEO.

Bonus. The Wheel has both a Long Description and a Short Description. The benefit here is that you get two bites of the apple. Write your long description as explained above, but your short description is where you can focus on just one thing. Don’t use the same sentence from your description. It is there to entice the buyer, plus it means that Google reads your short description on the main page and then again on your product page. Think “how does this product help a teacher or student” when writing your short description.

Authority as a Teacher Seller

We all do it. We listen to someone that everyone else is listening to. We read a book that’s on the best sellers list. We look at a resource because it is featured. Google relies on authority to further promote page rankings. This is where inbound and outbound links are essential.

Inbound links are links from one resource to another. In your description, always link to related resources. ALWAYS. It is easy on The Wheel because you can simply pick 5 related resources when you are uploading and then add more links within your description. When a buyer is on your product page, the related resources are right there (including your short descriptions). On TeacherspayTeachers you have to add the links yourself and a brief explanation of what each resource is. Inbound links are also excellent from Guest blogs, another feature on The Wheel. If you are approved, a blog about a problem a teacher may face, including resources that will help them solve this issue, is a massive boost for your store and SEO. It is super easy to apply to be a guest blogger. Simply fill out the form HERE and send through to with your draft post.

Outbound links send the buyer to another website. This is an article on its own coming soon about how to optimise your blog and to stop using outbound links for your resources. They can, however, be helpful from a website that already has authority, such as The Wheel. Having a link to your own blog in your description says to Google “Hey, I know The Wheel is awesome, but you should also check out this other site I’m linking out to”. As I said though, this will be explained further in another post.

Subjects, Topics and Locations

To further enhance your resource, make sure you include all of the relevant information. These are just as important as formatting and keywords because they categorise your product already.

The Wheel enables teacher sellers to not only add the subject (English, Mathematics etc) but the topic as well (Shakespeare, Maps, Algebra). An extra feature to help your SEO is adding the location. With The Wheel that is a simple process, just click on the states/districts that your resource can be used for. This helps when a person searches for a literacy resource for a particular area.

Now What?

To simplify.

  1. Use short and long tailed keywords in your descriptions with natural language
  2. Fill out all of the options
  3. Add internal links and related resources
  4. Use formatting whenever possible to make it easier to read

To make it easier to become a seller on The Wheel and start receiving 90% commission on your sales, we offer a personal Valet Service where we will:
  1. Set up your store including logo and banners
  2. Transfer any number of resources including
    1. Images
    2. Descriptions
    3. Add short descriptions, and
    4. Add related resources
All the details of our Valet Service can be found here.

Want to join in the conversation? Head over to The Wheel Forum, or our Facebook Page.


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