Each year, universities and educational institutions must fiercely compete with one another to win the allegiance of incoming undergraduate candidates. And since a major portion of the recruiting process is conducted online, ranking high on user searches is an essential component of standing out. 

That said, when it comes to PPC, there are some all-too-common mistakes that educational marketers make, but could have avoided. To that end, here are five missteps you should avoid this upcoming fall. 

#1 Overbidding on Top Words 

The point of an auction is to get the best deal possible. But when more people are competing over the same items, the price goes up quickly. 

The educational PPC space is one of the most competitive, and thus, expensive in the Google Ad market. That means the top keywords are costly. For instance, degree ranks as the 8th most expensive word to bid on, costing $40.61 per click. 

Even if you’re a major university with a prodigious endowment, bidding on these types of keywords may still not generate the type of ROI to be worth it. And for smaller institutions, it’s a surefire recipe for burning through your limited PPC budget. 

Instead of searching for the most popular words, consider user intent. Focus on long-tail keywords that are more closely tied to user queries.  

#2 Not Leaning into Social Media

PPC goes beyond Google ads. It should also include social media.

In most circumstances, paid social can be an incredibly useful PPC tool. But it’s especially relevant to your potential student population—the demographic most likely to be on and respond to social media. 

Creating paid social campaigns targets your desired audience where they’re most likely to be. Not to mention, it allows you to drill down to focus on certain segments by age, region, interests, or events. 

#3 Failing to Create Custom Landing Pages 

Every single PPC campaign you roll out should have a customized landing page that a student is directed to after clicking on a PPC ad. For example, if you’re targeting biology majors, they should be sent to a landing page that discusses your program, teachers, courses, etc. 

Landing pages are tools for driving users further down the funnel towards application and enrollment. But sending them to a generalized landing page—or, even worse, the home page— may have the opposite effect. 

#4 Not Bidding on the Brand Name

Although it’s wise to avoid spending money on many of the top keywords, one of the places you shouldn’t try and save is bidding on your university’s name. Bidding and holding on to your school’s name ensures that:

  • Students that are already aware of your brand name can search it
  • Competitors can’t take it and then direct interested users from your page to theirs
  • You can enjoy the robust CTR thanks to high user intent

Fortunately, a branded name won’t likely be very expensive because it’s fairly niche. 

#5 No Ad Extensions 

Want to optimize your educational ads? 

Ad extensions make it possible to add site links, call extensions, and location extensions—all of which enhance the quality of the ad, provide more information, and entice the user to click. 

They’re easy to add and provide significant value to the searcher. There’s simply no excuse not to have ad extensions. 

Higher Education Digital Marketing

Want to roll out a winning PPC campaign for your university? 

Then start by taking the necessary measures to prevent the mistakes above. And, remember, these are just a few of the more common blunders.

The good news is they are avoidable, especially when you partner with a professional PPC agency like Semgeeks. 

As your partner, we can help you build highly-optimized program-specific campaigns that drive enrollment—whether you’re a community college, technical school, 4-year institution, or grad school. 

Want to learn more? Let’s your PPC strategy today. 


Wordstream. How Does Google Make Its Money: The 20 Most Expensive Keywords in Google Ads. https://www.wordstream.com/articles/most-expensive-keywords

Pew Research. Social Media Fact Sheet. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/social-media/