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Google Ads for Schools: 10 Easy Ways to Boost Your ROAS

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If you work in marketing, you may be familiar with the term “return on ad spend” or ROAS. This metric shows how much money you earn for each pound you spend on advertising. 

For example, if you spend £1,000 on a Google Ads for schools campaign and get £5,000 back, your ROAS is 500%.

Like all marketing channels, you need to ensure your Google Ads campaigns are profitable. If your ROAS is looking a little worse for wear, you need to give this critical metric some love. 

We’re often asked if Google Ads can automatically manage your ad bidding with ROAS in mind, and the answer is yes. You can set Target ROAS on your campaigns. 

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When you do this, Google identifies which customers are most likely to convert on your site and increases the amount it bids to get their attention.

However, smart bidding isn’t right for everyone. We always recommend optimising your Google Ads yourself to ensure they’re primed to receive the most traffic and conversions. 

With this in mind, here are ten of our top tips when it comes to Google Ads for schools and ROAS.

Not sure if Google Ads is right for you and your school? Here’s why you should be using it!

1. Review who (and where!) you’re targeting

A number of targets lined up outdoors

When developing a marketing strategy for your school, it’s essential that you have a target audience in mind. You need to think about the type of parent you want to attract, from where they live, to where they work, even down to their hobbies.

You can apply this targeting to your Google Ads campaigns, meaning your ads are most likely to be shown to the customers you want to attract.

How can you focus your campaigns? One of the first things you should do is set which area or region of the UK you want to show your ads in. This means you don’t waste money trying to appeal to people who aren’t within commuting distance of your school.

You can also use ‘in-market’ audiences to drill down even more. In-market audiences are ones where Google has actively identified that a person is researching a specific topic, for example, primary and secondary schools, or post-secondary education. 

By adopting an in-market audience, you can specifically target parents or students that are ready to enrol in a new school.

2. Stick to phrase match and exact match keywords

Wooden tiles spelling the word keywords

One of the easiest ways to burn through your ad budget when setting up a Google Ads campaign for your school is to use keywords that are too vague. This means that your ads may be served to people who aren’t interested in your services but click on them anyway.

Google Ads gives you three options when it comes to keywords:

  • Broad match. These are searches that loosely relate to your keyword. For example, if your keyword is school enrolment, it could match applying for a primary school place or setting up a school
  • Phrase match. These are searches that include the meaning of your keyword. For example, “school enrolment” could bring up the school enrolment process, or independent school admissions. Phrase match can also include synonyms of your keyword
  • Exact match. These are searches that match, or nearly match your keyword. For example, [school enrolment] could bring up school enrolment or school admissions

While broad match keywords can be good for driving traffic and keyword research, they can cost a lot of money. With phrase and exact matches, you get more targeted traffic and customers that are more likely to convert on your site. 

Another way to keep your ROAS nice and high is to use negative keywords – we’ll tell you more about this later.

3. Use display ads

Open laptop on a wooden table demonstrating display ads

When people think of Google Ads, they generally think of the search ads that pop up when they enter a search query on Google. 

However, display ads, those visual ads that follow you around the web, are great for ROAS too! The Google display network reaches 90% of internet users worldwide, making it a fantastic option for targeting people as they browse their favourite sites.

Why are display ads so good for improving your ROAS? Firstly they’re cost-effective, with clicks costing a couple of pennies each time. 

Secondly, they get shown to prospective customers again and again, meaning you can increase brand awareness. 

Finally, you can target specific audiences and websites, increasing the chances of getting those all-important leads and enquiries.

Give display ads a try alongside your other Google Ads for schools campaigns. You can create your own adverts or let Google create dynamic ads using a selection of your images, photos, and videos.

4. Bid on your school’s name

Person writing on a notebook

It might seem counterproductive to bid on your school name when it comes to Google Ads. If people are searching for you, they want to visit your site anyway, right?

Bidding on your school name (also known as a branded campaign) can help boost ROAS in two ways. Firstly, it stops your rivals from bidding on your name and stealing your traffic. Bidding on your name pushes the average bid up, making it more expensive for competitors to piggyback on your marketing efforts. 

Secondly, you can manage how your result looks. With organic results, there is the risk that Google might not use the page title and meta descriptions you specify. 

However, with a paid search ad, you determine the URL, copy, imagery, and other assets (more on that later) that appear on your ad, giving you complete control over your brand. 

5. Use negative keywords

Example of negative keywords in Google Ads


If you don’t want your ads to show for specific search terms, you’ll want to set up some negative keywords.

Let’s say you’ve set up an enrollment campaign that is triggered by the search term’ local schools near me’. However, you’re finding some people are searching for ‘local school jobs near me’ and clicking on your ad – not the target audience you’re trying to appeal to.

With this functionality you can set ‘jobs’ as a negative keyword, meaning anyone who searches for ‘local school jobs near me’ won’t see your ad. Bear in mind though that your organic pages may still show up in the search results.

You can also use negative keywords on Performance Max and video campaigns, as well as display campaigns if you don’t want your ads to appear on certain websites. 

6. Add assets to your ads

Marketing is all about providing customers with additional value. The more benefits you can offer, the more likely they are to use your services.

A great way to offer additional value with your Google search ads is to take advantage of assets (previously known as Google Ad Extensions). These assets don’t just give your ad extra visibility but give prospective customers more reason to click.

Examples of assets you can use include:

  • A call button, meaning people can get in touch with just one click
  • A lead generation button, which is pre-populated with a customer’s contact details
  • Images and videos to provide additional information about your school
  • Links to helpful information and free resources on your website
  • Additional information about the services you offer (for example, a breakfast club, drama studio, or small class sizes)

You can use as many assets as you like – Google Ads will identify and use the ones it thinks search users are more likely to engage with.

7. Analyse your ad copy

Black glasses sitting on a number of open books

Writing Google Ads is a finely tuned balancing act. It’s important to be impactful and convincing, but you must do it all in under 30 characters!

Your ad copy is crucial as it tells customers what you offer and encourages them to take action. Think about what your target audience wants, and what you offer to fulfil that need. What words and phrases would inspire you to take action if you were a prospective customer?

While you can use dynamic search ads where Google Ads generates a copy on your behalf using the content on your website, we always recommend writing your own. That way, you have full control of the language used and can tweak your copy depending on what your customers like.

8. Improve your landing pages

When you’re looking to boost your ROAS, your advert is only part of the equation. You also need to consider the user journey on your website.

Let’s say you have a perfectly written and targeted Google search ad, but rather than developing a custom landing page, you just direct people to your home page. This can lead to a lot of confused customers and lose you potential conversions.

By developing a well-optimised page, you increase the chance of visitors converting on your site, whether that’s signing up for your school’s newsletter or enrolling on your latest open day.

Did you know a high-quality landing page can also make your Google Ads campaigns cheaper? A useful and relevant landing page can increase your Google Ads quality score, meaning lower cost per clicks!

9. Keep testing and monitoring your ad campaigns

Woman working on her laptop in a meeting room

Like all marketing metrics, ROAS can fluctuate a lot. A campaign that is giving you a very healthy 2,000% ROAS can turn to negative figures in a blink of an eye. By keeping an eye on your Google Ads campaigns and making tweaks as needed, you can spot any potential problems before they become major issues.

Get into the habit of checking your account at least twice a week, looking at your click-through and conversion rates. For example, if a search ad campaign is getting a lot of clicks, but hardly any conversions, it may be that your landing page needs to be reviewed.

10. Bring in a Google Ads specialist

The final tip for Google Ads for schools success? You can lower your ROAS significantly by outsourcing your campaigns to a PPC specialist like Bubblegum Search.

‘Hang on’, you might say, ‘Surely I’ll get a better ROAS by keeping Google Ads in-house, rather than paying someone to do it for me?’.

Imagine that you’re making a celebration cake for a party your school is holding. You want to make sure the cake is as delicious as possible, so you spend hours researching recipes. You then spend lots of cash on ingredients, and a whole day in the kitchen baking and decorating.

Alternatively, you can spend a fraction of the cash on a professional cake baker, who will whip up something that looks stunning and tastes fantastic. And bonus, you’ve freed up hours of your time.

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While we can’t promise you delicious cake, we can promise you cost-effective Google Ad campaigns that build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and, most importantly, bring you leads.

Whether you want to get started on Google Ads or give your existing campaigns a tune-up, we’re here to help. Get in touch with our team for your free digital marketing consultation today – all we need is 30 minutes of your time. 

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