Google Education – Q4 In Review

February 14, 2014 Samantha Lish

PPCThis past week, Jennifer Howard, Education Industry Director at Google, presented the Google Education Search Analysis: Q4 in Review for 2013. Google’s findings reflect much of what we already know: paid search is one of the most effective performance marketing channels available, but that effectiveness has caused the space to become crowded. In addition, increased competition and an influx of new advertisers, coupled with a decrease in overall click volume, have inflated the overall cost per click.

In Q4 the number of ads that a user was exposed to per query increased 13 percent year over year. At the same time, there was a 4 percent decline in click volume and a 12 percent increase in the cost per click. If you want to increase your clicks or decrease your CPC in this type of market, it’s important to plan more strategically.

The tried and true methods are still important. If you want more clicks, knowing what your audience is looking for and extolling your school’s unique strengths are going to perform better than running tired, generic ad copy. If you want lower CPCs, bidding on long-tail keywords will get you less competition.

But beyond just those tactics (which, hopefully, you’re already doing), new opportunities exist within Google’s emerging trends:

  • Geo-targeted Keywords – Search volume for geo-targeted keywords grew 5 percent YOY in Q4. Incorporating your school’s location within your keywords can yield positive results. At DMS, we’ve had amazing success with this approach. Many of our schools have seen geotargeted cost-per-inquiries 40 to 60 percent lower than those without a geo-specific keyword.
  • Online Terms  While geotargeted searches have grown, so have online search terms. In Q4, online search volume grew 13 percent YOY. This is especially important for schools targeting adult learners. Highlight your flexibility where possible to capture that audience.
  • Healthcare & Nursing Terms – Volume related to healthcare terms grew 4 percent and nursing grew 13 percent YOY. This is an area of high demand and has the opportunity to deliver strong results. If your school offers healthcare or nursing programs, consider allocating a higher proportion of your budget to these categories to take advantage of this growth.
  • YouTube – Education searches on YouTube grew 24 percent YOY, and as the second largest search engine (behind Google), that’s a big deal. Prospective students are turning to YouTube to view everything from campus life to testimonials and training videos. Compelling videos placed on YouTube can really show what your school has to offer – in a format students are clearly seeking.

The Google Education Search Analysis: Q4 in Review presentation hit on some of the challenges we all experienced in 2013. However, if we take the time to capitalize on the emerging trends, we can set ourselves up for success moving into 2014.

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