Search engines reign supreme for college and career school research

Education related search volumes have continued to rise. As 9 in 10 students have not formed an intention of where they want to study at the outset of their research (Google with Ipsos OTX 2012) it is vitaly important to create a strong online presence for marketing success. Recent study by Godigital underlines how absolutely critical it is to optimise study programmes for search.

The major findings from the research conducted in January&February 2016 confirm that:

  • 53% prospective students went to search engines to research colleges and career schools. Having a strong search presence based in quality content is key for schools to appear in those crucial searches. 43% were most influenced to click on search results that included information that was most relevant to them.  24% of students actually used Youtube or other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and followed schools that they were interested in, mainly on Facebook.
  • A school’s website and online ratings mean a lot to prospective students – 42% of students found that school’s website influenced their decision when picking a college or career.
  • Although a lot of great marketing can be pinned down to excellent timing it does not appear to as crucial in the educations sector. 21% of students took more than 12 months to make a decision.
  • The quality of the programme often seals the deal for a student to select a school (colleges and career schools should make programme information prominent and easily navigable (ease of website use is critical! 32% students say poor navigation on a college or career schools website turned them away from that school). The second most important item prospective students look for on a school website is tuition and financial aid.
  • The most effective way to reach out to prospective students after initial contact is an email. According to 75% of students – they preferred to receive communication via email over any other medium (including social media  or direct phone and text messages)
  • Interestingly, on campus visits are often the deciding factor for prospective students. Students can do all the online research in the world but actually visiting the school makes all the difference.

Digital Marketing Essentials – UK biggest SEO conference

I had a pleasure to attend a few sessions at Brighton SEO last Friday and here are the main take aways for all my readers:

-       Bing’s market share on the rise! These guys work hard to catch up with the rest of the world (GOOGLE) and currently 45% of internet users search on Bing every month! Windows 10 has been a catalyst for this growth

-       Its all about connecting the user with brand experience and to allowing them to express themselves in a natural intuitive way, not just punching keywords!. Its all about delivering the RIGHT message, on the RIGHT platform at the RIGHT time

-       Content: catchy titles to increase CTR becoming more important than keywords. Quality content is key.

-       Ranking factors differ from industry to industry, what works for E commerce and Finance does not necessary work across Health (or Education)

-       The future of Google – machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence

-       Site speed for content marketers: in order to increase web speed we should be looking at the following web elements: Images, Fonts, Scripts and stylesheets, Video size

-       Build SEO campaigns and links based on people’s emotions: decisions are made emotionally and then backed up by logic!  An agency shared their successful campaign (generated a lot of attention and links) about commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the battles of Narvik. See the example: https://blogg.expedia.no/slaget-om-narvik/en

And finally, let me share a massive Epic PR fail with you – a must know for social and content marketers!  Waitrose supermarket asked Twitter why people go there using the hashtag #Waitrosereasons but got some answers it did not like…such as: I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people (retweeted 127 times) (ups..).  SEE more http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/9553232/Twitter-jokers-ruin-Why-I-shop-at-Waitrose…-promotion.html

Google Adwords policy updates

In 2014 Google launched a new and improved Adwords Policy Centre. With several policy updates to date, Google has been cracking down on content quality on the paid side in the way their organic search team did with Panda. Additonally, in February 2016 Google rolled out a dramatic change that removes ads from the right side of its desktop search results, and places ads only at the top and/or bottom of the page.

In their most recent announcement, the content of the ad cannot be related to the following topics:

  • Personal hardships related to relationships (example: bereavement products or services)
  • Personal hardships related to abuse and trauma (examples: domestic abuse shelters or victim advocate services)
  • User identity related to marginalised groups (examples: immigration services or legal services for refugees)
  • User identity related to transgender identification (examples: information about gender transitioning or transgender discrimination lawyers)

More information about prohibited content https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/6008942?hl=en