Put that final polish on those key elements of your class — class and lesson titles, class and project descriptions — so it can be discovered by the right students.
In this article:
- How SEO and Merchandising Work Together
- Optimize Class and Lesson Titles
- Optimize Your Class Description
How SEO and Merchandising Work Together
“If you think of merchandising like a retail store where your Skillshare profile is the store and classes are your products, then elements such as a compelling cover image, clear class title, and well-written class description can make a huge difference in making sure students find and take your class.”
– Audrey Ra, Illustration Teacher
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a process of improving web-based content so that it ranks higher in search engines, such as Google or Skillshare’s catalog search. Merchandising is what Skillshare calls all the publicly visible elements of a class: your class title, lesson titles, cover image, project description, categories, and skill tags. In addition to class quality and student engagement, most of these merchandising elements have an impact on SEO, which in turn impacts how students discover your class through Skillshare’s catalog or search engines like Google.
In the grand scheme of things, merchandising is a small part of class production, but it has a tremendous effect on ensuring the right students find and take your class, and that the number of students taking your class continues to grow. So this article will present some guidelines for refining merchandising elements, as well as additional formatting considerations to ensure the class meets our Class Quality Guidelines.
Optimize Class and Lesson Titles
Your class and lesson titles should help both students and search engines understand exactly what your class is about. Follow these best practices to help make your titles SEO-friendly.
Include Relevant Keywords in Your Class Title
Brainstorm a list of keywords related to your class. Consider your class from some different angles, such as:
- Topic (e.g., Hand Lettering)
- Skills or techniques (e.g., digitizing, blending, animating)
- Tools (e.g., Photoshop, Excel, DSLR camera)
- Project (e.g., Watercolor Florals, HTML website)
- Takeaways (e.g., Build Your Brand, Improve Productivity, Develop Your Style).
Once you have a few keywords to work with, the quickest and easiest way to pick the ones that have potential is to type the beginning of your search term into Google and see what auto-populates. This will show you some of the most popular searches people are conducting around your keyword category.
Then, craft your title around one primary keyword. If the primary keyword can appear in the first few words of the title, great! But overall aim for an authentic, natural-sounding title. Don’t try to “keyword stuff” your title, i.e., adding extra keywords in hopes that it will make the title more SEO-friendly.
Create Lesson Titles That Accurately Reflect Your Outline
Think of lesson titles as a table of contents for your class that will quickly orient students to what they are about to learn. Ideally, your lesson titles should make it possible for students to jump right to the lessons that are relevant to them. Take a look at these classes on Skillshare to get a sense of the lesson title format and how they provide a clear outline of the class.
- Daily Meditative Art Practice: Pen, Paper, and Patterns
- Style Your Space: Creative Tips and Techniques for Interior Design
Class titles should stay between 30 and 70 characters to maximize readability and to prevent your class title from being truncated in Google search results. Lesson titles should be 35 characters or fewer so they don’t get cut off in the video player queue. Note that these character counts include spaces.
Remove Numbers and Symbols
Skillshare automatically numbers class lessons, so there’s no need to add numbers or use generic labels or symbols such as “Video #1” to your titles.
Use Proper Capitalization
A title like “Color Theory for Designers” looks more polished than “Color theory for designers.” For all titles, capitalize the first and last words, as well as nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Avoid all-uppercase or all-lowercase titles anywhere in your class. If you're unsure which words should be capitalized, this tool will help you (select the "Chicago" tab).
Read It Aloud
Read your class title out loud, or better yet, ask a few of your friends or family members to do the same. Does it sound catchy? Make sure it rolls easily off the tongue.
Stick To It
In addition to choosing a class title that describes the content of your class, make sure the title is evergreen and that it won't need to be changed or updated in the future. Updating your class title after publishing will change your class’s URL, which results in a drop in SEO rankings and lower visibility for your class on organic search, i.e., on Google.
Optimize Your Class Description
Here are some best practices for formatting your class description to help it stand out in search results.
Start With the Most Important Information
Put the essentials about your class right at the top of your description so they're visible to students from the start. The first 2-3 sentences are also the text most likely to appear in Google search results and on social channels, so make those lines especially informative and engaging.
Optimize for SEO
For SEO purposes, your description should include your target keywords. Work your keywords naturally into the body text — don’t “keyword stuff” your class description or include keywords randomly or out of context. Use natural-sounding language, and check your spelling and grammar as well. Quality is important for SEO.
Format Your Description for Readability
Make your description easy to read (and skim) by using bulleted or numbered lists, and hyperlinks when appropriate. Look for ways to split up long paragraphs.
While not necessary for SEO, adding some visuals to your class descriptions can make them more eye-catching to students browsing your class. Seeing what's possible can also encourage a potential student to take your class. You can drop in examples of the finished project or stills from one of your lessons.
While not relevant for SEO, it can’t hurt to include links to other relevant material in your class description to give visibility to what you offer as a teacher. Consider adding:
- A link to your personal or business website, if you have one and it’s relevant to what you’re teaching on Skillshare.
- Links to your other classes on Skillshare.
- A link back to the primary category page associated with your class topic. For example: skillshare.com/browse/fine-art or skillshare.com/browse/photography.
- Title Capitalization Tool: Use this free online tool to convert your class and lesson titles to Title Case.
- Using SEO to Increase Traffic to Your Skillshare Class: This post on the Skillshare blog has some actionable tips on how to improve your class’s SEO rankings.