To restrict or not to restrict? That is the question.

In the career college sector, there is a lot of attention being paid these days to the restriction of school names and trademarked terms being used as bidding keywords on the various search engines. Because it is such an individual decision to make, there is no clear black or white answer as to what is the best way to go. I am here to offer you some thoughts on the types of things that you should consider before making the decision to either restrict or release a restriction on your school’s name.

If you are a very large, well-established school that has no issue with trying to circulate your brand more just to get your name out, then restricting terms will probably not have an adverse effect on your lead flow. The marketplace is already well aware of you and your name and, therefore, you do not need additional listings in the search engines in an effort to saturate the market. If someone types in your school name, the strategy would be that they would see your organic listing and go directly to your web site. The only difference that you might see is in conversion rates due to the landing page differences. Your partners will typically drive traffic directly to a lead form for optimum conversion. If you direct people to your site as a whole, there are a lot of ways that your visitor may become distracted or surf away from your site before filling out a form. Another example of when restricting would be less likely to cause an adverse effect is if your school has a very distinct name that separates itself from the general terms used to search for career colleges. Most likely when someone types in your school name, they are sure of what they are looking for and will immediately click on your site’s link to find you.

Conversely, if you have more generic terms in your school name, (i.e. Colorado Career College), then you may find that when people type in your name, they are going to see a multitude of listings that are for the various schools and colleges in Colorado. In this situation it is in your best interest to allow your partners to bid on your name. That way, if there are going to be listings when you type in those terms, they will at least be your school. You will not be able to enforce a restriction on terms that can be used in general context, so you might as well work with your partners to push your competitors off of the page in favor of listings for you and your school. Also, if you are a newer, smaller, or less established school, it might be in your best interest to allow bidding, at least for a while, to let your name and brand permeate the Internet market.

If it is not about the number of leads that you receive and it is solely a matter of concern about how your brand is being represented, you can always work out arrangements with your agency or vendors to either allow only in-house bidding, or to handpick the partners who will be able to bid on your brand based on how well they convert or the manner in which they represent you.

Always be aware that there may be a drop in your conversions when you place a new restriction on your partners’ marketing efforts. Many vendors will not show a school on their sites if bidding is restricted because that is their strategy for converting leads at a higher percentage. So if they have been doing well for you, you may end up losing high-traffic search engine placement, as well as a high-volume partner.

All in all, it is a very individual decision for each career college to make. You should work with your agency and/or vendors to make the right choice for your marketing strategies and your school.

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