Higher Education Marketing Keyword Research

At Evolve Digital Labs we pride ourselves on keyword research. It’s a critical component of SEO audits and a benefit for brands to make sure they are targeting the correct audience. Keyword research is the foundation for implementing successful paid search campaigns and bolstering website content which drives conversions.

Advantages for Higher Education

The advantages of thoughtful and efficient keyword research for Higher Education institutes cannot be undersold. Universities both large and small are facing shrinking budgets, and an applicant pool, which assumes the education investment, is not worth the cost.

Those contributing factors make marketing initiatives all the more important, especially as it relates to cost-efficiency. Our goal in executing keyword research is to determine the terms and phrases prospective students are searching for to find a solution. Keyword research needs to be at the core of the marketing plan to ensure organizations are getting the most traffic for their investment.

Evolve Digital Labs analyzes five components for keyword research, including search volume by keyword, organic difficulty, client’s customers, client’s products/services and the client’s consumer path.

Segmenting Keywords

By segmenting keywords into campaigns we’re able to assess phrases in terms of search volume and organic difficulty.

Search volume relies on the number of national searches for a term each month, these terms are often broad vs. very specific queries for a brand or product – thus they are harder to rank for.

Organic difficulty is set up on a zero to 100 scale, with 100 being the most difficult. Organic difficulty is calculated based upon the total effort of competition in the search engines. Because the scale is incremental, ranking organically for high difficulty terms should be considered a long-term goal.

MBA Program SERP

In this case, the phrases at the top are paid, while those below ranked organically. There are a few colleges listed, vs. Wikipedia entries, and media articles. The organic difficulty for the term “MBA Program” and the search volume are both high, meaning ranking or moving up on the SERP will take time.

Higher Education marketing keyword research has multiple applications for growth in terms of both paid and organic strategies.

Paid Search Application

Like other businesses higher education organizations will have keywords which are difficult to rank for organically. Improving a website’s authority, to be capable of ranking in organic positions for recommended terms, requires a strategic plan and can be time-consuming. Paid search offers the flexibility of short-term exposure to targeted audiences, as organic efforts get underway. In cases where pages do rank organically, paid search for targeted “brand” terms may still be used to keep competitors from stealing prospective traffic.

Organic Search Application

Organic strategy should start by targeting terms from the keyword research that contain moderate search volume and moderate to low organic difficulty. Those keywords will allow for “quick wins” on the search engine results page, while concurrent site improvements and content optimization will help organizations eventually rank for significant more difficult terms.

For some universities keyword research may only be a component of paid search, but it should be at the forefront of all aspects of a higher education marketing plan.

Download our FREE online market audit checklist to learn more about our approach and how we can help your organic and paid search efforts.