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Google Ads for University

Google Ads for University: How to Create an Effective Campaign

Google Ads advertising for a university is a proven way to promote degree programs and courses to future students. But, for it to work effectively the campaigns should be targeted and have sufficient budgets to reach the right audiences.

Whether your university is in London, Manchester, Leeds, Buckingham or anywhere else, it’s important that you follow the right process to set up your campaign and target students who are interested in your degrees and courses.

So, here are tips for a Google Ads campaign set up for a university, and hopefully this will help you get started the right way.


1. Campaign Objective

Google Ads promotion for a university should primarily focus on getting enquiries from prospective students, for their degree and course programs. So, the campaign objective should be a Leads objective to promote the courses as they request more information about them.

The Google Ads system will then adjust the features to help you achieve your objective and goals.

But, you can set up a campaign without the guidance of the system and not set up an objective. This gives you greater control over all the features and you can customise everything to your needs.


2. Campaign Type

The Search campaign type is one of the best for a university because it targets people who are searching on Google for degrees and courses. So, you’ll find relevant keywords and then build your ad groups around specific keyword themes and have related ads for each of those groups.

However, it’s a good idea to have multiple campaigns so you can promote many courses and also target multiple locations if you want to. But this may require a larger budget, which is something you should factor in as you plan your advertising campaigns.

There are other campaigns you can test too, like Performance Max, that allows you to advertise on all the Google inventory including Search, YouTube, Gmail, Display and more. This is mostly an automated campaign type and ensures that you reach a wider audience.


3. Campaign Budget

Setting a Google Ads budget for a university can be more challenging than other industries. That’s because it’s normal to start with more than one campaign at launch, to target a wide range of students looking for different courses. So, to capture many of these you’ll need to have many ads and keywords and it’s best to create separate campaigns for some of them.

To get started, I recommend setting a budget of at least £400 per campaign and then you can increase it as your performance improves. And you can also set up a Remarketing campaign to bring past visitors back to your website, to complete actions that are important for the university.


4. Bidding Strategy

Next, you’ll pick a bid strategy for your campaign. There are two bid strategy types in Google Ads: automated and manual bidding. And with the Lead objective and campaign type you’ve chosen, you’ll see recommendations on the one to select based on your goals.

For a new account and campaign without any past conversion data, it’s best to start with the Maximise Clicks bid strategy to get as many clicks as possible within your budget limit. The system will set the bids at auction time to drive as many visitors as it can to your website.

And after you’ve set up your goal tracking and are getting at least 15 conversions per month, you should consider switching to Maximise Conversions or Maximise Conversion Value bid strategy.


5. Keyword Selection

To run an effective Google Ads campaign for your university, you need to find the best keywords to bid on. There are several ways to find these keywords and one of them is through research with the Keyword Planner tool in Google Ads.

Another option is to carry out competitor research, to see what keywords other universities and colleges are using in their campaigns. This is possible with a platform like SE Ranking.

And as you find your keywords, you can group them according to themes and set up the ad groups that you need and that relate to the degrees and courses you are offering


6. Text Ads

One of the recent updates to pay per click (PPC) advertising in Google Ads is the addition of Responsive search ads. This ad type provides you with 15 headlines and four description lines, which is a lot more than the previous standard and expanded text ad formats.

This means that your ad is created at auction time based on the context of the search. So, as a university you can provide as much information as possible about your offers and allow the system to come up with the best ad combinations based on its machine learning algorithm.

This saves you a lot of time and means users get to see the most relevant text for their search queries.


7. Ad Scheduling

Google Ads allows you to select the times to run your campaign. So, you can pick specific days and hours to run your ads and target people who are looking for a university and are likely to make contact.

The default setting in the campaign is for the ads to run 24/7. But you can adjust this easily and focus on specific times that you find relevant.

However, as a university, it’s best to start by running ads 24/7 so you can test performance across all the days and hours. And later you can adjust the settings to target potential students when they are most likely to convert.



This article has covered some of the main points for a Google Ads campaign set up for a university. You may still have questions about setting up an effective one for your university, so feel free to contact me to discuss.

I’m a Google Ads consultant with over 15 years’ experience in the industry and I work with universities that want to set up and manage effective campaigns online.

    I'm a Certified Google Ads Expert and Marketing Author and in this blog I share my latest tips and secrets on how to promote your business successfully on the web and increase customer loyalty, retention and advocacy on Google Ads.

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