As technology evolves, so does your higher ed paid search strategy. If we did things the same way as in the “old days,” students would laugh. It’s not books and magazines they rely on, but the internet. If you don’t keep up with the changes in paid search, your school could miss out on important opportunities.

Now that summer is literally on our calendars, it’s time to refresh your paid ad campaigns. Students that haven’t chosen a school will be scrambling to make deadlines. Is it possible they will select your college? Only if it can be found online.

Let’s dig into five higher EDU paid search strategies that will help you succeed.

1. Focus on a Relevant Audience

The key to having profitable paid search campaigns is to target the right audience. If you show an ad for your engineering program to a student interested in engineering, they’re more likely to click on it. However, if you show this same student an ad for your nursing program, they wouldn’t care.

Rather than targeting all high school students or those interested in continuing education, create ads for specific audiences. Use relevant language and dedicated landing pages for each.

2. Avoid Bidding on Branded Terms

Bidding on branded terms can be helpful because the costs are low and click throughs are high. But, branded terms in the higher education sector are different. Students who already attend your school access your website through Google. As a result, you can end up paying for students, faculty, and staff who may click on the ads. Avoid bidding on branded terms; you’ll likely dominate in a branded search anyway.

3. Use Specific Programs in Your Keywords

The most effective way to bring in relevant leads is by structuring your AdWords account around the programs you offer. Too often, marketers bid on general keywords such as “bachelor’s degree” or “master’s program”. No one searches for these generic terms, so you end up wasting money. Use specific programs and interests in the keywords, such as “4-year engineering program” or “undergraduate in engineering.”

4. Focus on Top-of-the-Funnel Leads

Once you have leads in the funnel, they generally won’t start searching for your school online. They know where they are going. With this in mind, keep your campaigns focused on top-of-the-funnel prospects. The best ways to reach these individuals are to provide them with compelling content, use PPC and SEO strategies, and be active on social media.

5. Put Mobile Friendliness First

You have a young audience, and most of them will be visiting your website through their mobile device. Be sure that your website is optimized for mobile and prepared to deliver the best experience possible. Students shouldn’t have to zoom in, zoom out, squint their eyes, or have content cut off because of the device they are using. And, if you truly are getting most traffic from mobile, consider bidding more on mobile devices.

Summer is almost here – but not here yet! You still have time to put together successful paid search marketing campaigns to increase applicants.