Have you searched for your school’s name lately? Chances are your site ranks #1 (if it doesn’t please contact us now!), but your site isn’t the only one that’s showing up. More and more the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are being dominated by ratings, social media sites and videos about your school. Old news you might say, but what you might not be paying attention to is if this is hurting your top converting keywords, your brand terms.
Let’s say you run ads on TV, do some online display buys, social media and billboards, the first thing a prospective student is going to do after viewing these ads is search for your brand term. Search engines are used both as a navigational tool (people rarely type in a URL directly) and as a first line of research. Scanning down the SERP after searching on your school’s name, a prospective student can gauge fairly well if you’re providing a good service.
Let’s look at some examples…
Take a look at results for the search term “itt tech.” Clearly there are some negative reviews out there for the school that are taking over the SERP, 4 out of the 11 organic listings have a negative connotation.
If a prospective student sees a video that says “ITT Tech Sucks” or “ITT Tech is a SCAM,” chances are they are not going to enroll. But, let’s say they do decide to ignore the warning signs and click on the itttech.edu site these negative sentiments are still going on in the back of their mind, therefore making it a harder enrollment process.
How about another example…
The incorporation of ratings directly on the SERPs can also have a huge impact on your brand terms’ performance. Look here at Bradford College Columbus, a whopping 3 stars plopped right next to their organic listing. Not to mention the repeated call out of 3 stars on multiple other organic listings on the SERP. All of the advertising that is driving branded searches has become less effective because once the prospect searched, they saw bad reviews.
Long gone are the days where students have to dig to find out what kind of reputation a school has; it is laid out for them during the first steps of their research.
The question is: what are you doing to help save your school’s reputation on Google?