Google Wants to Help Students Make More Informed Decisions Regarding School Choice

How Will This Impact Your Institutions Marketing and Recruiting?

As Google continues to evolve to put information in the consumers hand earlier and easier, they have announced some new features around search results for 4-year schools and universities.  Beginning earlier this week, graduation rates, average cost after aid and admission rates will now be more prominently displayed in the knowledge graph when doing a branded search on Google for a 4-year school or university.  This information will be populated from College Scorecard ( and IPEDS (  The changes will be fully rolled out on mobile with similar features showing in the desktop results as well.

Here’s what the new results will look like:


So, why is Google doing this?  They are responding to feedback from the prospective student community citing the confusion and difficulty in finding objective stats about schools on the internet.  Per Google, this change should make information pertinent to making a college decision more readily available and easier to find for prospective students reducing some of the confusion around the college selection process.  Here is more from Google on the topic:

So, what does this mean for schools?  Likely, not much.  Education has a longer decision-making cycle and it’s unlikely that the ease of finding these stats will impact that decision directly.  A few things to remember:

  • These new stats will only show on branded searches
  • These stats were already displayed within the knowledge graph for branded searches just with a less prominent location
  • Paid ads will still display above this result within the search results
  • This will not impact organic rankings within the SERP
  • At this time, this only impacts 4-year colleges and universities, but could be rolled out to a broader audience later

Here’s a few things all institutions can do in light of these changes:

  1. Ensure your information is correct with IPEDS and CollegeScore Card. If your information is not correct, contact the Dept of Education to get these updated.
    a. For IPEDS, there is an easy survey you can submit to update your info found here:
    b. For CollegeScore Card, you can utilize the contact us link on the site (
  2. Make sure you are bidding on your name.  This will enable your branded paid ad to continue to populate at the top of the page before the knowledge graph.  This will ensure that you are controlling the first message users see about your school.
  3. Closely monitor the click through rates for your branded search via Google Search Console to see any impact (good or bad) from this latest Google change.
  4. Don’t panic.  It is highly unlikely this change will impact your overall results.

As Google continues to evolve their search product to better serve end users, Thruline will continue to monitor the changes and communicate with you any impacts we anticipate.  If you have specific questions regarding this change or any other Google change, you can always reach out to your Thruline Account Manager for more information.


Rebecca Streeter, VP of Integrated Marketing