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Google’s Q2 Education Search Trends: How Should You Adjust Your Strategies?

By Megan Quillin
Here’s what Google’s Education Search Analysis really means.

Each quarter, Google releases their highly anticipated Education Search Analysis. This report gives insight into search trends within the paid search space for education.

Here are the highlights from Q2 and what they mean for your strategy:

Google Stat: Education searches saw a 1 percent increase in Q2 year over year (YOY). This was mostly driven by an increase in non-brand queries (13 percent YOY). Brand queries were down 2 percent YOY.

What it means: Non-brand continues to increase in queries but from our own experience, we see that non-brand queries have lower click-through rates (CTRs), higher costs per click (CPC), and lower conversion rates compared to brand. We've found that this is leading to higher overall costs per inquiry (CPI) and means that we need to focus on gained efficiencies across non-brand keywords. 

Our recommendation: Maximize search performance and put a focus on optimization. We recommend aggressive ad copy testing, landing page optimization, long-tail keyword expansion and relying less on broad match.

Google Stat: Brand searches saw a 2 percent decline overall, with career educators seeing the biggest decline at 12 percent.

What it means: With the trend of declining brand demand over the past year, we continue to observe an evolution in how users are searching. Rather than going into a search journey with a particular brand in mind, users are shifting to rely more heavily on non-brand queries throughout the research process. The reduced investment in awareness marketing may be at play here as well, whereas searchers may not have as much familiarity with brands as before.

Our recommendation: Maintain a focus on awareness driving brand efforts. Plan for declined brand queries quarter over quarter.

Google Stat: Q2 2016 was the sixth consecutive quarter that career education brand demand has declined YOY, with the drop in demand continuing to accelerate.

What it means: As brand demand continues to decline overall, we expect higher search CPIs as the marketing mix is more dominated by higher cost, lower efficiency non-brand terms.

Our recommendation: To lessen brand decline, invest in top-of-funnel awareness marketing with differentiated messaging to stand out amongst competitors.

Google Stat: Mobile queries are up 18 percent YOY versus the 13 percent increase last quarter.

What it means: It’s more important than ever to prioritize mobile conversion and monitor performance of mobile inquiries all the way to enrollment to ensure profitability across all devices.

Our recommendation: Monitor brand CPCs and plan for gradual increases. Mitigate increases by strengthening click-to-inquiry rates for brand traffic.

Program search update

When evaluating the demand for program keywords, we see similar trends to previous quarters. Healthcare and Nursing still dominate program search queries. Esthetician is seeing strong growth along with Art/Design and Culinary. If you offer these programs, you are likely enjoying a boost in search queries and demand from 2015 to 2016. 


Here’s a recap of our takeaways and recommendations: 

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