With more than 700,000 international students heading to the U.S. in 2012, the race is on for colleges and universities to attract the best and brightest. International students can add cultural diversity, fresh thinking, and diverse perspectives to your student body. Most institutions are also interested in seeking students who are highly motivated, will fit in well with the existing community, and have the financial resources to attend.
As admissions professionals across the country know: building relationships with high school students can be difficult. Add in thousands of miles and vast language and cultural differences, and you’ve increased that difficulty ten-fold. Many colleges and universities don’t have the resources to send admissions counselors abroad to meet prospective students face to face, so we need to relay on technology to bridge the gap.
At Elliance, we believe that a mix of smart website structure and content, search engine optimization and pay per click (PPC) work can effectively grow the pool of international prospects.
Here are some areas to focus on when you consider a PPC campaign for recruiting international students.
- Understand your prospects. As with any enrollment campaign, the first thing you need to focus on is a deep understanding of the prospects that you’re trying to attract. In this case: where are they? What languages do they speak? What are they looking for in an institution of higher education? All of your choices should be made with these considerations in mind.
- Location, Location, Location. Once you’ve identified the target student, you can determine just how targeted it’s possible to be from a geographic perspective. The targeting options within Google Adwords varies from country to country, but in some cases you can target specific areas within a country or even a specific radius around a particular location. Narrow your focus appropriately.
- Say it well. When building relationships with prospective students, you want to make sure you’re speaking their language. In this case: literally. Use a translator to ensure your keyword lists, ad copy and landing pages are properly translated. We suggest using a human translator, not an online tool, to ensure that cultural subtleties are taken into account. Using an inappropriate term or an awkward translation is not going to win you hearts and minds.
- Use a country-specific domain: If you currently only have a ‘.com’ domain, consider getting a country-specific domain for your translated PPC landing page. This is not only important for SEO (to show Google that a website is intended for a specific geographical target for relevant ranking in the SERPs) but also makes your display URL and landing page look intended and relevant for your PPC audience.
With 75% of the world’s searches performed outside of North America, search engines are proving to be a critical tool in every aspect of our online lives, and international student recruitment is no different. How have you used search to build connection?