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8 Search Engine Statistics You Need to Know in 2016 (And Why They Matter)
Mia Major

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is no longer a question of "love it or leave it." It has quickly become one of the most vital pieces in determining the success of a school's online presence.

So love it or hate it, SEO and PPC are two components of your digital strategy that you can't leave behind in 2016 — and here are eight data-backed reasons why.

Search Stats for Schools

83% of search query paths (AKA, a simple Google search) begins with an unbranded term. Tweet This Stat!

Why it matters: It is a hint that Word-of-Mouth-Marketing might be dying. Rather than prospective families finding your school through a branded search, like "St. Paul's School in Maryland," they're finding your site through searches like "best all-boys school in Maryland" or "private schools in Baltimore."

This underscores the imperative importance of optimizing your website for search and using Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads to ensure visibility in the searches that matter for your school.


80% of education search query sessions (AKA, the time spent on your website from search) don't end with a conversion. Tweet This Stat!

Why it matters: Shopping, anyone? If your website doesn't make a strong first impression you most likely won't be on a prospective family's "revisit" list.


72% of education search query sessions don't convert (AKA, inquire or apply) until more than two weeks later. Tweet This Stat!

Why it matters: So, of those 80% who don't convert, nearly three-fourths of them take more than two weeks to make a decision. How do you ensure they convert to your school? Remarketing.

This statistic speaks to the growing importance of using remarketing campaigns and PPC to target website visitors with your brand and messaging over and over again throughout those two weeks.


60% of all organic clicks go to the top 3 search results. Tweet This Stat!

Why it matters: Top of the page means top of mind for prospective families. If your school's website isn't appearing in the top 3 search results — or even the first page — chances are your school's website won't be found in unbranded search queries (which comprise the majority of searches). In one study, only 7.4% of clicks were below the 4th organic listing on a mobile device, versus 16% on a desktop, and only 62.9% of tasks resulted in a scroll-down.


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More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan. Tweet This Stat!

Why it matters: Prospective families aren't just searching for your school from the comfort of their home on a laptop; they're searching on-the-go. This means, not having a responsive website can hurt you. In April 2015, Google began favoring mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results to improve searchers' experiences. So, if your website isn't responsive, but your competitors' are, you will rank below them in search.

(Search Engine Land)

Finalsite schools see an average of 50% of website traffic coming from smart devices. Tweet This Stat!

Why it matters: Your school's website is the go-to resource for prospective families coming to your site from search, logging into their portal, checking directions for an away game, or simply looking for a phone number. As mobile use continues to exceed desktop use — especially among today's digital natives — having a responsive website is no longer an option, but an expectation.


In an eye tracking study, 47% more clicks went to the map and local listings when they were above the organic listings. Tweet This Stat!

Why it matters: The positioning of these local listings has a significant impact on your website traffic. With only three listings appearing in the map on both desktop and mobile, it is important for your school to be there.

Want to get in that Google map listing? Here are a few tips:
  • Have a complete and accurate Google+ page for all school campuses. Focus on the number of citations and NAP accuracy across local directories.
  • Get reviews! You will notice that schools who rank in the map listing typically have a rating in Google.
  • Work with a consultant to build a keyword-rich website.

An independent school admissions ad spears an average of 15 times in Google search results for every $1 spent on clicks. Tweet This Stat!

Why it matters: With PPC, you're getting bang for your buck, literally. With school budgets getting tighter, it is time to stray away from traditional forms of advertising, and focus on strategies with proven results. PPC campaigns are an affordable alternative to magazine ads and billboards, and offer trackable metrics and proven ROI.

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