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The 5 Intentions of a Parent Searching for a School Online

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When parents go to their favorite search engine and type in “private school,” what are their intentions?

At Truth Tree, we have found that intent is broken into five categories:

  1. Finding schools
  2. Learning about schools
  3. Comparing schools
  4. Trying to enroll at a school
  5. Looking for your school by name

Understanding where parents are in this intent cycle allows you to proactively design, re-design, and execute your search engine marketing strategy.

Let’s look at the 5 types of search intent, what they mean for schools, and where to focus your tactics based on the parents’ goals.

1. Informational Intent: This is usually where parents begin their search. They may be window shopping, “kicking the tires,” or intense research mode. People in this stage usually have minimal knowledge of the private schools in their area, who they serve, and their philosophy of education. To find this information, they ask broad questions like, what private schools are in my area? or best private schools in San Diego. Tip: Creating content that will help parents during their search journey is an excellent tactic. They just got started and likely don’t know all the ins and outs of the admission process. So a blog you produce could be entitled, 5 Things to Know When Searching for a Private School Something like this is sure to get a click from many of those in the informational intent stage.

2. Discovery Intent: Now families have the basics to run refined searches. They’ve got the vernacular and buzzwords ready to plug in to their favorite search engine. Parents will also include specifics about their wants and needs for their child. Examples in this intent stage may include, Montessori school with a middle school or private Jewish school with aftercare that accepted students with ADHD. These are what we call the “known, unknown” parents in your area who could be a good fit for your school but don’t know who you are and who you serve…yet. Tip: Long-tail keywords tied directly to responsive search ads or an array of specific expanded text ads will make your ad stand out in the crowd. If someone searches for a private school for girls that is STEM-focused and your ad says, All-Girls STEM School, you’re getting that click!

3. Comparative Intent: Now families have their list of potential schools or at very least the kind of school(s) that interest them. They want to know specifics about what makes your ethos or your specific school better than the competition.. Searches may resemble, All boy’s school vs. coed, or Are progressive ed. teachers better than traditional ones? Tip: Use the comparative nature of online shopping to your advantage. If someone types ins, which is better, all-boys or coed school? Point it to an ad that reads:

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