Mapping keywords to the student journey is our higher education marketing agency best practice

Mapping keywords to the student journey is our higher education marketing agency best practice

The most effective college enrollment marketing strategy is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a set of techniques college marketers employ to secure page one rankings on Google, Bing, and other search engines. Choosing the right set of keywords and creating content infused with those keywords is how college marketers achieve coveted page one rankings for their programs and schools.

Elliance works with higher education marketers to not only map the right set of keywords across the prospective student journey, but also to optimize their website and social media to secure Google page one rankings for those keywords. We undertake this task regardless of whether the objective is to increase enrollment for undergraduate, graduate, online, adult, or international students.

To make a college decision, prospective students and their families move through a logical set of steps. At each stage of their journey, students and families use a unique set of keywords on Google and Bing to search for information.


Smart colleges know that the student search begins long before they are ready to go to college, so they continuously promote themselves by sharing stories of innovation, and offering summer camps, pre-college programs and community-oriented programs. As teenagers enter high school, students and families start looking for colleges with more intentionality. People who are believers in college education begin thinking about the majors they might want to explore. Taking into consideration their kids strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, they educate themselves by exploring potential degree options and the career paths they open. On the other end of the spectrum, the college skeptics turn to keywords like “is college worth it?”, “is a college degree worth it?”, and “Is getting a degree in <major> worth it?” to look at alternative pathways.


Next college-bound families move to the consideration stage where they look for institutions offering majors and degrees of interest. They start using keywords like “best colleges for <major>”, “starting salaries for <major> majors”, “colleges near me that offer <major>”, “<major> programs in <my region>” and more.


Next they reach the decision or preference stage where they look for “<college> reviews”, “<major> program reviews”, “<college> rankings”, “<college> tours”, etc.


Finally, they make their purchase decision, finalizing financial aid terms and making a deposit. During this phase, students and families tend to search for keywords such as “accepted student portal for <college>”, “how to make a deposit at <college>”.

Once they have been accepted, they are subjected to a different set of “pick us, not them” and “melt prevention” strategies.

Understanding student and parent personas and behaviors underpins our marketing approach. We apply this strategic thinking to promote all majors, programs and schools to bolster enrollment. This disciplined approach turns skeptical college administrators into believers and transforms them into legendary leaders.

If you are seeking an higher education marketing agency to grow your enrollment, endowment and reputation, consider partnering with us.