2020 Niche PK-12 Education Website Benchmarks

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Summary

  • Total website traffic dropped by 17% in 2020. Search traffic declined, but traffic from social media and digital marketing both increased. 
  • There was very little difference in performance between public and private institutions, they’re much more alike than often considered.
  • While social media traffic increased, the quality of traffic declined. Referral traffic continues to be the most valuable source of users to PK-12 websites.
  • The volume of paid traffic increased 72% in 2020; however, digital marketing could be significantly improved. Campaigns had high bounce rates, low pageviews, and low session duration. Google Ads performed slightly better than digital ads as a whole and private schools did a better job than public schools.

Results

A tactical difference is highlighted in the quality of referral traffic versus social or paid traffic. People who come to your site from referral sites, such as Niche and other school search platforms, are more likely to stay on your site as well as spend more time on the site and look at more pages. They also come back more often than people who come to your site through social media or digital marketing. Driven by a change in Google Ads, Niche now drives all digital marketing traffic through the platform first; essentially prequalifying and further improving the quality of referrals. 

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Methodology

These benchmarks are based upon website traffic data for the 2020 calendar year aggregated across 598 PK-12 schools. All institutions included use Google Analytics to track and report on their website traffic, and all granted Niche read-only access to their Google Analytics. In order to calculate industry benchmarks for key traffic metrics, the data across all institutions was pulled via the Google Analytics API and the median value among all institutions was calculated for each metric. 

The key traffic metrics benchmarked are: 

  • Total Sessions 
  • Percent New Sessions 
  • Bounce Rate 
  • Average Session Duration 
  • Pageviews per Session 
  • Sessions per User 
  • Average Page Load Time 

Additionally, for those with Google Ads connected Niche benchmarked:

  • 2020 ad spend
  • CPC
  • Clicks

Benchmarks were determined for traffic on a site-wide level, as well as for traffic across various search engines, social networks, and paid sources. Not all institutions had traffic from every source. The benchmark for traffic from a specific source is the median among all schools with traffic from that source. 

Will Patch

In addition to the Enrollment Insights blog, webinars, and podcast; Will is a frequent conference speaker and podcast guest. He has presented at NACAC, AACRAO-SEM, Indiana ACAC, CASE V, EduWeb, and EMA. Will's work has been featured in Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, CNBC, CNN, the LA Times, and The New York Times among other outlets.