Niche Data Dives
Enrollment Insights Blog

Data Dive: 2022 Expansion Page Interest

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For this analysis, we looked at anonymous user engagement on Niche’s college profile expansion pages between August 2021 and July 2022. Expansion pages are pages that are about a specific topic or type of content for a college and provide more depth and information than is presented on the initial profile (e.g. Reviews, Rankings, Admissions information, etc.). We were interested in understanding what content was most interesting to our users and what content was the most effective at bringing new users to the platform from search engines. To understand “interest,” we used the proportion of total pageviews each type of page was viewed. To understand what content was most effective at bringing new users from searches, we looked at what pages had the most session entrances, or the first page a user viewed when coming to the platform. 


Which pages were the most viewed? (Percentage is of total expansion pageviews, only showing > 5%)

4-year colleges: 

  • Reviews (43%)
  • Rankings (19%)
  • Admissions information (8%)
  • Student demographics (7%)
  • Campus life (6%)
  • Majors (6%)
  • Cost (5%)

2-year colleges:

  • Reviews (58%)
  • Cost (14%)
  • Majors (13%)
  • Rankings (5%)

Fully online colleges:

  • Reviews (84%)

Reviews are clearly very important to searchers regardless of the institution type they’re considering. To understand how other content was used we also looked at traffic to pages excluding review pages.

Non-review pageviews:

4-year colleges: 

  • Rankings (33%)
  • Admissions information (15%)
  • Student demographics (12%)
  • Campus life (12%)
  • Majors (11%)
  • Cost (9%)

2-year colleges:

  • Cost (33%)
  • Majors (30%)
  • Rankings (12%)
  • Student demographics (8%)
  • Academics (5%)
  • Scholarships and aid (5%)

Fully online colleges:

  • Cost (21%)
  • Majors (19%)
  • Rankings (17%)
  • Student loans (14%)
  • Academics (11%)
  • Scholarships and aid (7%)
  • After college (6%)

Which pages brought the most users to a college’s profile? (Percentage is of total expansion page entrances, only showing > 5%)

4-year colleges: 

  • Admissions information (26%)
  • Rankings (20%)
  • Reviews (18%)
  • Campus life (15%)
  • Majors (8%)
  • Student demographics (7%)

2-year colleges:

  • Reviews (38%)
  • Cost (28%)
  • Majors (12%)
  • Rankings (10%)

Fully online colleges:

  • Reviews (73%)
  • Cost (8%)
  • Student loans (8%)

Tactical Response to Trends

  • Reviews are obviously extremely important to students, so use them in your emails, print, website, and digital ads! Source them from Niche, Google, Facebook, and even on your own site. Make sure to occasionally ask current students, parents of current students, and young alumni to leave their own reviews and share their stories so you’re always showing fresh engagement to searchers.
  • For 4-year colleges: Students and parents clearly care about rankings as a way to narrow lists and compare colleges, but they’re not a be-all metric either. Where are your strengths highlighted? Tout those as differentiators and selling points. Are their low spots in your rankings? If they’re significant pain points address them, but otherwise know that these may not be the areas to share as pillars of why students should choose you. Admission information is another popular area, so think about how you’re messaging it and where it appears on your website. Diversity was the most desired element of a campus community according to students, so it’s not surprising that student demographics are getting traction with students. Share these with students and make it easy for visitors to your website to learn about your community demographics.
  • For 2-year colleges: Admission expansion pages aren’t included on 2-year profiles, so two things matter above all else—do you offer the major/program that they care about and can they afford it. Location is likely the first factor that narrows their list down, so when students come to you be sure to address these important factors. Rankings and demographics received a lower share of traffic than they did for 4-year college profiles but they should be used in the same way during recruitment.
  • For fully online colleges: User behavior looked very similar to 2-year colleges. Loan information was more important than for other profiles, so address the concerns about affordability, loans, and loan repayment in straightforward and honest ways.
  • While reviews made up 43% of expansion page views for 4-year colleges, they were not the leading entrance point. Make sure to speak to what matters most to students first and then back it up with reviews as proof points to gain their attention and earn their interest.
  • Page entrances should provide a window into what students are searching for when they’re researching colleges and don’t want to go directly to their website (or can’t easily find the information on the college website). How easily are these topics found on your site and in search engine results? On your site are they called out with headings and near the top of pages or are they buried in paragraphs?
Prior to coming to Niche in 2019 Will served 9 years at Manchester University in roles as an Admissions Counselor, Associate Director for Admissions Operations, Social Media Coordinator, and ultimately as Digital Strategist. Will surfaces tactical insights from user behavior and surveys to help higher ed build recruitment strategies. 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, AMA Higher Ed, 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.