The sudden shift in online search behavior in 2020 marked obvious changes in the higher education landscape. Drastic shifts to online education happened nearly overnight. While many students were uncertain about the decision-making process, there was an obvious spike in searches for degrees in online education. At the same time, there was a drop in searches for degrees earned in-person. Throughout the remainder of 2020, online-related search traffic was up significantly and users were searching for online opportunities of all education levels, including K-12 and college. But, what are the long-term implications now that in-person learning is once again becoming a viable alternative as campuses re-open?
Today, as we are nearing the end of COVID-19 restrictions, we are once again seeing changes to online search behavior. Searches for online education are declining from their peaks as we see an increase in searches for non-modified searches (those that don’t include descriptive terms like ‘online’). While we are no longer seeing peak-level search volume for online-modified keywords, it is becoming clear that we’re also not returning to 2019 levels. In fact, Google is now projecting Year-Over-Year (YOY) growth for searches within the online degree category toward the end of the summer and into the last half of the year.
The demand for keywords that include a qualifying match (such as “online education”) has grown significantly, but still represents a relatively small portion of all education-related searches. That doesn’t mean that marketers can ignore these valuable keys to searcher intent. Qualifiers can still have a place within an advertiser’s keyword mix and strategy. In addition to the growth trend for online-related searches, keywords that include “top”, “best”, or “near me” have seen significant year-over-year growth. Every indication is that these modifiers will continue to grow while providing marketers with valuable information and targeting opportunities.
At EDDY, we are constantly monitoring the state of the higher education landscape and providing the best data possible to help colleges and universities. Want to learn more about how our team of digital marketing experts can help manage your paid search campaigns? Contact our higher education and marketing experts today.