Higher Education Google Search Volume Up for 2017, Gray Associates Reports

July 25, 2017

Google search volume for academic programs and institutions of higher learning in the United States is up for each of the first five months of 2017, and was up five percent for May, according to an analysis by Gray Associates, a higher education strategy consulting firm.

“A Google search is often a student’s first step in deciding what to study and where to enroll,” noted Gray CEO Robert Atkins.  “Search volume is an early indicator of future enrollment trends since searches typically precede students making inquiries about programs and/or institutions.”

Google Search Volumes.png

Gray tracks search volume on 5,000 keywords for the 200 largest academic programs and for 70 higher education brands.  The analysis was presented at its July 20 webinar on the most recent student and employer demand trends for higher education.  Other findings were:

  • The top 25 keywords associated with Medical Assistant and MBA generated the most program searches in May 2017, approximately 200,000 for each of these programs.
  • Keywords associated with Health Care Administration were the most expensive in May, with a weighted average cost per click around $23.
  • The University of California – Los Angeles was the most searched brand among the 70 higher education brands that Gray tracks.  UCLA appeared in more than 13.5 million Google keyword searches, more than twice for the second most-searched brand, Harvard University.

While 2017 search volume is running ahead of 2016 levels, inquiry volume, which measures specific requests for information about a program is down overall, but more important, is significantly different for online and on-ground programs.  June inquiry volume ran 21 percent ahead of 2016 for online programs, while it was down 10 percent for on-campus programs.

“Search is really the front end of the funnel.  Inquiries are a little further down the funnel. We have people who at this point have filled out their name, phone number and email and told people what academic program(s) they’re interested in and whether they want that program on-ground or online,” Mr. Atkins pointed out.  He added that he “wouldn’t be too concerned about the decline” because colleges and universities appear to be focusing on fewer, better quality inquiries.

Conversion rates, i.e. students who are actively engaged in applying to an institution, are improving.  For March 2017, the most recent “mature” month, conversions were running two percent ahead of 2016.  The gains came from conversions for online programs, which were 91 percent higher year-over-year.  On-campus program conversion rates were 14 percent lower for March.  Gray counts conversions by the month an inquiry was received. It can take as long as six months for the conversion rate to fully mature because prospective students are taking longer to make decisions.

Download the full report here:  https://info.grayassociates.com/grayreports-july-2017-student-and-employer-demand-trends-webcast-download

About Gray Associates

Gray Associates, Inc. is a higher education consulting firm.  We help clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies to maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.  Gray uses proprietary analytical techniques and an industry-leading database combining information on inquiry volumes, demographics, competition, and employment, to help faculty and school leadership develop institutional strategies, select programs, pick locations, and prepare curricula.


Media contact: 

Ellis Simon, 516-524-6804, esimon@optonline.net

Company contact:
Mark Keleher, 617-366-2831, mark.keleher@grayassociates.com

Gray Associates

Gray Associates, Inc. provides the best available data, software, and facilitated processes to help higher education institutions make high-stakes decisions regarding academic programs, pricing, and locations.

Related Posts

International Students Are Returning to the US

Good news! The total number of international students enrolled at US institutions has rebounded after falling sharply in 2020-21. We took a deeper dive into the data to see what is driving this growth, what programs international students are interested in, and where those students are located.

How to Find Academic Opportunity with Emerging Programs

Every year, Gray features five new and emerging academic programs with high potential in our 5 Emerging Programs webinar. Get ready for our upcoming webinar with the following blog and find out why your institution should start the new year by thinking outside of the box and considering all of the possibilities!

Top 10 Blogs on Academic Program Evaluation

The most wonderful time of the year is here – a time for friends, family, and being thankful. This is the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind, and catch up on some good reading. We picked out ten articles on academic program evaluation that you don’t want to miss.

About Us
closeup photo of

Gray Associates, Inc. is a software and services firm focused on higher education. We help education clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies that maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.

Let’s Socialize

Popular Post