Thanks to research shared by Google’s education team during a Hangout on Air, higher institutions are getting the opportunity to better market to prospective students. Higher education information is on demand on mobile devices, confirming that young adults do more than just search for concert tickets and fashion trends on their smartphones. Not only can we verify that higher education searches are on the rise, but also we can better understand what features are important to prospective students.

Demand for Online Education Information

The demand for education info has increased to 4% YOY (year over year), with brand-related terms and the school’s name dominating many of the search queries. Another interesting trend is that more students are searching for traditional universities that are offering online academic programs as opposed to schools that have historically offered them. Online programs are no longer a unique commodity; they are expected by students on some level.

To further expand on this idea, consider the popularity of MOOCs (massive online open courses). Although there is still much debate regarding the validity of MOOCs, Google’s data shows that many students consider these online courses during the exploration process. Terms related to specific degree programs are also on the rise in YOY terms, especially MBA programs that dominate searches.

Search Queries on the Rise; Paid Search Clicks are Not

Interestingly, just because education search queries have increased doesn’t mean that clicks have, too. What marketers need to focus on is relevancy and differentiation. What makes your school different? What do you have to offer that other schools don’t? How does your university interact with the community?

With the high cost of education, more students are choosing to stay in their local community while having the opportunity to interact with teachers and students. So, start there. Include geo-focused terms and community-related activities such as forums and student organizations. Searches with a geolocator in them have grown 11% YOY, while those that use general terms like “online” have decreased 10% YOY.

By understanding the needs of the modern-day student—competitively priced, online academic programs that are close to home—higher institutions can better market to prospective students and enhance their PPC campaign. When continually updating these campaigns and expanding to mobile search, student inquiries and enrollment will grow in volume.