Paid Search: Optimizing Your Enrollment Marketing Efforts

As many digital advertising experts know, paid search strategies are integral to the digital marketing process. This is the case for many reasons, including the fact that keyword strategies can determine how effective you’ll be at positioning your school in front of your ideal prospective student.

In addition to impacting your school’s ability to connect with new students, keywords determine what type of content appears on your school’s blogs, web pages, videos, etc. As such, educational leaders that wish to optimize their online presence & brand positioning should know that developing customized, effective keyword marketing strategies is imperative. To expedite and optimize your team’s keyword research process, check out the below strategies:

1. Decide Which Keywords You Should Be Using.

Well, obviously.

Sounds simple in theory, right? Actually, determining which keywords you should be using in your paid search campaigns is the first & most important step to ensure you are getting the most of your keyword strategies – and it can be daunting when you’re first starting out. To get the ball rolling, can carefully analyze your institution in terms of key factors like your location, school type, and course offerings. Next, you should think about the type of words and phrases people might use when searching for a learning institution like yours. For example, schools that offer Criminal Justice courses should consider using a keyword that would attract a student who is interested in pursuing a career in that field.

While the strategy listed above can be helpful throughout the keyword research process, it’s important to note that the keywords you come up are probably the same ones that other schools thought of. This means that hundreds and hundreds of colleges & universities may be using them to advertise their content online. Because only a few of these institutions will attain a high ranking in the SERPs, it may not be prudent for small institutions to spend time optimizing for popular keywords. Try to think about your school’s specific value proposition within its market and go from there.

2. Check Out the Competition.

This isn’t a huge secret; identifying and getting to know your specific competitive landscape is key. Learn and borrow from schools that operate within your market sector – specifically, look at the keywords they’re targeting. To get started, select several similar institutions that you can complete analytic work on. In the beginning, confine your analytic work to 3-5 similar schools. (Over the course of time, you can branch out and analyze more institutions.) Once you’ve chosen a few, you can use SEO competitor analysis resources to determine which keywords are most integral to your competitors’ paid and organic initiatives. Analytics tools like SEMrush and SpyFu take the guesswork out of competitive analysis, and you can try them out them for free for a while before you’re required to purchase access to the data you want.

If you’ve never used SEO competitor analysis tools before and think the process will be complex or convoluted, don’t worry. Tool use is extremely simple and involves entering the competitor’s website URL into the search field and subsequently examining the list of keywords that comes up – that’s basically the entire process. If you note that any of the keywords are applicable to your school generally or one of the specific programs you offer, make a note of it.

3. Gauge Keyword Efficacy with Google Keyword Planner.

Once you’ve compiled your list of keywords, you need to make sure that the keywords you’ve selected are actually worth targeting. Your main goal should be ensuring that there will be adequate search volume for the keywords in question. (Search volume is the quantity of searches that take place for a particular term or keyword.) Another thing that you’ll want to consider is which types of websites rank for specific keywords (in terms of both advertising and organic results). If you note that several of your competitors are yielding high rankings with specific keywords, these are likely the terms you’ll want to consider using.

The tool you should make use of to gauge keyword efficacy is Google Keyword Planner. This tool was designed for the purpose of evaluating the keywords used in Google AdWords advertising. If used strategically, GKP can also be appropriated to select the right keywords for the content that appears on your website. When you do a search in GKP, the tool will populate a bar chart showing you the search volume for the term in question over the last year. The bar graph should contain information for both desktop and mobile devices which is very useful information to help your school better serve its digital audience based on experience.

4. Evaluate Your Success Levels.

Your campaigns are up and running – now what? Analytic work is an important, inalienable component of the keyword marketing process. This is the case because analytic work enables you to gauge the results being generated through the use of specific keywords. Note that the analytic process is an ongoing one because, as with all other aspects of life, the online world is constantly changing. This means that the immensely popular keywords of today could be gone tomorrow (or several months down the line).

When you begin evaluating the efficacy of your keyword marketing process, note that success typically takes time – patience and sticking with your marketing strategy is key. Generally, schools won’t see substantive improvements in the SERPs for 4-6 months. This is why higher education marketers should strike a balance between giving the keyword marketing process time to generate results and doing the analytic work necessary to determine which terms require elimination or replacement.

One of the keyword tracking tools you may want to consider using for analytic processes is Moz. You may also want to consider using Google Search Console. This tool works with Google Analytics to provide insights into the searches that take prospects to your educational website. In some cases, a business site could rank well for something no one ever really thought about. This is why using these analytic tools is integral!

If you’re looking to position your school in front of the right student at the right time via paid search strategies, the above tips should give you a pretty good place to start. For even more strategies and experience, contact our team today to see how Banner Edge can partner with your institution to put your school in front of your target student audience.

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