+1 (978) 744-8828 Email Us  

Recruiting Intelligence

SUNY Is Doing Something Right in India

Source: Google Trends - search analysis September 2012

This week, we look at Google Trends - a free research tool that compares your activity along side your competitors. This is the second part of our Intead Insights covering Google services.

Last week we looked at the Google Reserach service (see link below). As we mentioned last week, search is a great indicator of trends since the majority of internet users are starting their activity with search. Interestingly, Google was able to predict flu trends in the US based on user search volume. Online trend analysis has been getting significant and deserved attention.

We looked at the Google Trends tool to see how we could apply it to our work on international university branding. Google relaunched this service last month with improvements worth evaluating. With the new service, you can enter any search term and learn about the search volume trends. You can look specifically at trends worldwide or within narrow geographic regions. You can look at specific industries and define time frame. And you can compare search volume of related search terms, i.e., your competitors. Google even allows you to overlay news headlines during the time frame of your analysis. Picture the traffic spike of searches about Penn State this year. The limits of this trend analysis tool are that if your paramaters are too narrow or obscure, there won't be enough search volume to identify a trend.
Let's go to an example. We thought that it could be interesting to compare a few high profile universities and we picked Harvard University, Columbia University and SUNY.

We entered the three university brands as a worldwide search. First we were surprised that Columbia and SUNY showed a relatively higher search volume than Harvard for the index. We presumed that the Harvard brand would be overpowering. Not so in terms of searches. Obviously, the relative size of the universities will matter for the number of searches. For example, SUNY with 600,000 students has a built-in audience that exceeds Harvard and Columbia signficantly.

But let's look at an interesting trend. When we analyzed the search volume by region, we found that the US, India and Pakistan accounted for majority of searches for SUNY. Narrowing the US geography showed that New York state accounted for the majority of search -- no surprise there. Then we looked at the search trends in India (Graph 1) for all three university brands. We found a dramatic uptick of searches for SUNY in India starting at the end of last year. We double checked by searching SUNY on Google in India to see if perhaps there was a new Bollywood star with the same accronym. Not at all, all search results referred to the various SUNY programs in New York State. As outsiders, we don't know what caused this trend, but it appears that the SUNY brand is drawing attention in India. Perhaps they started a new marketing initiative using social media, travel or enhanced relationships with agents.

We looked further, using the Google Trends tool, to find additional data points.

If your marketing department is deploying and analyzing Google Analytics on your own website, you will have a great deal of insight and deep knowledge of user sources and behavior on your site. Google Trends is an easy to use tool to research macro trends and compare your own brand reach against competitors. The regional analyses provide fantastic insights to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing activities around the world.

Topics: Insights