How to Run International Paid Search Student Recruitment Campaigns

Having run international paid search student recruitment campaigns across all 5 continents in dozens of different languages we know a thing or two about how to make them successful.

Building and running international multilingual campaigns can be complex and having the right processes in place to translate and localize your ads and landing pages will be the key to success.

In this article, I’m going to share with you some of the processes that we have used that you can apply to your own multilingual campaigns.

We will cover everything from the different approaches you can take for translating your ads to tips and tricks that we have picked up along with way, such as translating the ad copy and keywords but keeping the ad group and campaigns in English we can easily see what is going on within the account at a glance.

We will also dig into the world of localization, an important but often overlooked step when running multilingual campaigns.

Here we will detail the process that we have found most useful for ensuring that ads make sense once they have been directly translated as well as looking at different platforms, such as Yandex and Baidu so that you can make infor,med decisions when running student recruitment campaigns in China and Russia for example where Google is not the most dominant search engine.

Translating your ads into the native language

When running ads in different territories it goes without saying that if you want the best results you need to run them in the native language of that country you are displaying them in and send people to landing pages in the native language too.

Don’t be tempted to cut corners here and simply use your English ads and Landing pages!

When it comes to the translation of the ads you have several different options and the one that you choose will depend on your resources:

Use an in-house translation resource

Some of our international clients have their own in-house translation resources in the form of a regional marketing manager.

This can be a cost-effective way to translate your ads but may be slow as they will have lots of other tasks to complete as part of their role.

Here we suggest sending ads, keywords, and extensions in a spreadsheet and have the native speaker translate the ads (but not the campaign names or the ad group names!).

Then use Adwords editor to import the translated campaigns into Adwords.

Bring in your own translators

If you don’t have an in-house resource to translate ads then using external support will be the only option. There are several options here, you could do one of the following:

1) Have freelance native speaking translators come and sit with you in the office.

This can be a great way to get your ads translated quickly and cost-effectively.

If a client doesn’t have their own in-house resource then this is the method that we use here at Clicteq which we have found to be an effective way of getting things done.

2) Use an external translation agency. 

There are plenty of external translation agencies that specialize in translating ad copy and landing pages.

If you’ve got a huge amount of translation to do in a lot of different languages in a short period of time this might be a better option than recruiting a number of freelancers but is likely to be less cost-efficient.

3) Have an external PPC agency with multilingual experience take care of it for you.

Another viable option is to use a remarkable PPC agency like Clicteq (apologies for the shameless plug) that has experience translating and running ads in other markets.

An external agency will also have the knowledge to advise you on of the most prominent platforms in the different countries such as Yandex or Baidu for example.

Top tips for managing international campaigns

1) Keep the ad group names and campaign names in English. 

Even though you will be translating the ad copy and the keywords into different languages it makes your life a lot easier if you’re an English speaking account manager if you can easily work out what keywords and ads are in the ad group.

2) Google Sheets and Google Docs translate is your friend. 

We certainly wouldn’t recommend using Google Translate to write ad copy or find new keywords, this needs to be done by a native speaking translator who can help you navigate the nuances of the language.

But it is a lifesaver if you want to quickly determine what the ad copy or the keyword means!

Localising your paid search ads

Translating your ads into the native language is not enough. If you want to get the best results, you need to localize them to.

Localisation ensures that words, dialects, cultural and social conventions and more – are all considered so that the message will resonate with the specific needs of a local audience or market.

Here is a great example of why translating word for word into another language can be risky!

In Spanish the word Carrera can as a noun relate to careers or a degree in higher education.

If you had translated directly from English to Spanish you would have likely missed this profitable keyword as ‘careers’ in English is not a relevant term for student recruitment and would not be in your campaigns.

Here are 5 suggested steps that you can take to localize your ads:

1) Use a native speaking translator 

This should really go without saying when you are looking to translate ads or landing pages into another language but you should always use a translator who is native to that language.

This will help avoid any issues with translation primarily but will also help with localization as things can be said differently in other languages.

2) Work closely with regional marketing managers

When it comes to localization regional marketing managers are your best friend!

Whenever you launch any new keywords or ad copy we would recommend running it past your regional marketing managers first as they will know the local market well and be able to point out any issues.

They should also be able to easily point out any terms that have been overlooked and suggest areas for expansion.

3) Conduct further keyword research 

This is probably the most overlooked step but will help you avoid issues like the example above where people search for ‘careers’ in Spanish when looking to study for university.

Whenever you translate ads into a new language have a native speaking translator use Google’s keyword planner to search for new relevant terms that exist in the language that you are translating your ads into that don’t exist in the language that you are translating from.

4) Localize your landing pages for the market

As well as translating the copy on your website you will likely need to make some structural changes to the landing pages and various calls to actions on the website to ensure that the user experience on the website is familiar in the market.

As with any changes, we would suggest that you A/b test your landing pages to determine which ones will be more appropriate for each market.

5) Consider which platform you will run your ads on

Another consideration when looking at localization is which platform you will run your ads on. In the UK Google is the most dominant player with over 89% market share.

In the US even though Google is still dominant there is now a significant portion of searches going through Bing.

There are however markets where Google is one of the smaller players:


  • Baidu has a 74.63% market share of the Chinese search market
  • Baidu is the first platform that advertisers looking to launch into the Chinese market should focus on.
  • Note that there is hower a fairly lengthy signing up process for Baidu but the interface is sophisticated.


  • Yandex is the largest search engine in Russia with a 50.27% market share compared to Google’s 45.94% share
  • If you’re running student recruitment campaigns in Russia we would suggest running both Google and Yandex


When it comes translation there are several different options, using in-house resources will likely be the most cost-effective way to translate your ads.

If you don’t have an in-house translation resource, don’t panic. Using external resources in the form of native speaking freelancers, specialist translation agencies or outsourcing the full process to an agency that has multilingual capability will provide the same outcomes

When looking at localisation, it’s essential that you use a native speaking translator and work closely with regional marketing managers that will understand the local market and be able to help you navigate the nuances of the local language.

Additional keyword research will also help you find keywords that might not exist in English or have a different meaning and will have been left out.

Finally, when running ads in China or Russia for example it’s key to consider which platform you will use.

In Russia, for example, Yandex has around the same market share as Google so to reach students you will need to run ads on both Yandex as well as Google.

China is another market where Google is not dominant with just a 2.03% market share. Here you should consider running ads on Baidu and Shenma that have around 90% of the Chinese search market.

wesley parker
About wesley parker

Wesley is Founder and CEO at Clicteq. He currently manages a £6 Mil Adwords portfolio across a range of different sectors. He regulally features in leading search publications such as Econsultancy, Campaign Magazine and Search Engine Land. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin

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