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Google Made College Disclaimer Headline News

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Mitch Talenfeld

Starting today, consumer info statistics that colleges and universities typically reserve for the fine print are now getting top billing.

And all before a user even clicks on a college’s website.

In an article released today, The Verge noted that, when a user searches for a specific college or university, Google will pull specific data on that institution from the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard and post the data at the top of the search engine result page.

This includes graduation rates, the total cost of financial aid, acceptance rates, and tuition costs.

We have seen this before. Popular search query results being scraped by Google from relevant sources are now widely used as the top organic search result on Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs).

So it’s not specific to colleges and universities. Google is always trying to get more specific data directly to the end-user as fast as possible.

But, without context, can this operational data be misleading?

How does this search feature help or hurt MDT’s higher-ed clients?

Google may think that this feature helps the end-user, but it may not help the brand or publisher who owns the information which Google is scraping. Google’s information cards can take important information and present it away where it could be taken out of context when you relate it to the original search query. For example, let’s say a person’s intention is to search for a college’s stats in an effort to uncover average starting salaries for a specific program offered by the school. The results that are returned would be the school’s average but not the average for the specific program.

What is most important to take away from this new search feature is the confirmation that Google has identified the education vertical and its related search queries as another search engine result page that Google can hijack for its own profit. Stay tuned for more competition to vie for the top result after Google’s information cards and related searches for the sector.

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