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Importance of Digital marketing for Universities

In the increasingly competitive market for student recruitment, a successful university needs to have a digital marketing strategy. In this post we look at digital marketing for universities and look at the options available at this time.

The world around us is becoming increasingly more online. The access to information that people have at the click of the button appears to be endless. Whether it’s purchasing a new shirt or planning a holiday just about everybody researches online.

Each generation is becoming more and more tech savvy.  I think it’s fair to say that the current young generation are so used to having access to Smart Phones and Tablets that their first instinct is to search for something on their phone before doing anything else.  According to research people aged between 15 and 24 in the UK use their mobile phones on average 387 times a day.

For Universities that is the ideal age bracket for people to target. That is the main target audience.

digital marketing for universities - search trends

Over the past decade there has been a significant rise in people doing full-time degrees. But not only are more people going to university; from 2001 to August 2016 49 new universities were formed. This is open hunting season.

Not only have we established that the ideal target audience for Universities use their smart phones but the market is also becoming increasingly competitive. This is why it’s so important to have a strong online presence.

Getting Found Online


Unfortunately an SEO campaign takes time. The days of spamming a webpage with keywords have long gone with search engines becoming much more advance.

The key to a successful SEO campaign is content; high quality, informative content. When it comes to universities, people are going to want vast amount of information regarding their course. Having in depth guides and information is crucial to not only your potential students but to your SEO.

Search engines look for deeper content. The more time you invest into developing content in the correct way to optimise SEO then the bigger jump you’ll have over rival universities.

digital marketing for universities - search volumes

As you can see there’s no shortage of searches regarding universities and courses. These are general search terms; you ideally want to be ranking for key terms that a lot more niche. As this will give you the best chance of ranking competitively and people will be searching with a more specific aim in mind.

As well as content a very important part is technical optimisation. Whereas technical SEO may not have a huge impact on how highly you rank on a search page it allows you to be able to rank highly on a search page.

Technical SEO allows search engines to index your site and understand what your pages are about. Technical SEO also improves user experience. Technical optimisation can help to improve site speed, improve the navigational structure and optimise mobile experience.  This will make people more likely to stick with your site once they’re on.


Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a fantastic way to target specific areas you want to focus on. You can decide which search terms you want to have an advert appear for.

digital marketing for universities - SERP

As you can see; Google now displays 4 adverts at the top of their search result pages. This takes up the majority of the page for most desktop screens. For mobile devices you have to scroll down before you see the natural search results.

This all means that it is crucial that you set up a PPC campaign within a competitive market. You don’t have to set aside a budget for every university course but for the most crucial areas where you feel like you have to appear at the top of the page you should be striving to be at the top.

A well-structured PPC campaign will have a high quality score. A high quality score means that you can be bidding less than your competitors for search terms but still be appearing above them. Your quality score is made up of; Click-through rate (CTR), the relevance of keywords, landing page quality/relevance and the relevance of ad text. There’s a lot that goes into making a strong PPC campaign with a good quality score.  One of the factors is landing page quality/relevance. This is where a strong SEO and PPC work together. Benefits of using SEO and PPC.

Social Media

As a university you need to stay with the times. Social Media Marketing is becoming more and more popular. There’s a clue in the name that with social media you have to be social. It’s a great way to interact with people. People can feel like they know someone before they have even meet them through social media.social media marketing for universities

How many people choose a university based on how they think they’ll enjoy life there? I don’t know exactly but I’m sure it’s a lot. With more and more people going to university you want to stand out from the crowd. Engage with your audience, as I mentioned earlier; they need to feel like they know you before they even meet you.

You have to be persistent and structured. You can’t simply upload the odd post and expect things to change. Have an aim and with the right structure and plan you can engage with the perfect audience.

For more information, QS have developed a 4 step guide here  and econsultancy have written a great piece on how to recruit overseas, which is now a prime consideration for most universities, especially in these post Brexit days, but if you have any further questions regarding digital marketing for universities then don’t be afraid to Contact Us. Alternatively visit our website for loads more about digital marketing and how it could help you.