PPC Top Tips for Universities during Clearing


June 2017

Clearing is undoubtedly one of the busiest times of the year for Higher Education; with hundreds of thousands of students avidly searching for their places at university, you must stay on top of the game to ensure you win students.The most important tool for marketing teams to utilise during this time is Google AdWords; this is because Google can reach an extremely relevant audience at precisely the right time.

Here are our top tips on how you can make the most out of your clearing campaign this year using PPC advertising.

RLSA is a remarketing tactic used in search advertising, which allows you to tailor bids to students who have previously visited your site or have visited an open day for example. During Clearing, the search environment becomes very competitive and bids can get crazy. Therefore to make the most of your budget, bid higher for users who you know have interacted with your university, as they are more likely to be further down the funnel.

The main objective for many universities during Clearing is to generate calls. By running call only campaigns, you can direct users straight to the Clearing hotline rather than sending them to the site first. This is particularly useful when combined with RLSA, as you would be reaching users who are familiar with your brand and your offering; as opposed to a user who has never interacted with your site and who may need more information before calling the hotline. A tip for using this on the search platform in AdWords would be to schedule it for times when the hotline is open, as this will mean that budget isn’t wasted when the hotline is closed.

 Ad Extensions can be used to increase the size of the ad and to provide the user with extra information such as site links, reviews, callouts, and call extensions. This is particularly useful during clearing when there is higher competition, therefore the extensions can give the users much more information than just the expanded text ad. Use the callouts to add those extra little snippets of info, add a review for a credible source, or display the clearing hotline for those students who are ready to give you a call.

Adding extensions to the ad will also provide more prominence on the search results, as it will be bigger, and also contain more information than a regular search ad would. This adds improved visibility and more value as the ad is more easily noticed.

One of the most effective ways to use Google AdWords is by using long-tail keywords, especially for high traffic search terms. You will find generic keywords such as “Clearing”, especially on A level results day to be high competition and expensive.

Long-tail keywords use a larger number of keywords in the search string and are less competitive and more cost efficient The best way to pick your long-tail keywords is to think about what your potential students will be searching for within this key period and using a number of combined keywords.

Keeping on top of negative keywords is vital to your clearing campaign, checking and removing negative keywords daily would be most beneficial for your campaigns and will help with the quality score. Failing to keep on top of negative keywords could result in your ads showing for irrelevant search terms wasting your valuable budget.

While highlighting negatives, look at search terms to see in which campaigns the least relevant searches are coming from. If there are obvious keywords that are triggering your ads, could the keyword be more specific? For instance, instead of saying just clearing, you could add university to the keyword (e.g. +university +clearing) to stop search terms coming up for things like house clearing.