Many nonprofits are missing out on the great opportunities the Google Ad Grants program provides, which offers eligible nonprofits $10,000 per month in AdWords spending.
The steps taken after receiving a Google Ad Grant are just as important as the application process. Managing and maintaining an optimal account is essential to ensure your account is not suspended or revoked. This also helps you maximize your $10,000 budget and the number of conversions made in response to your ads.
At Getting Attention, we specialize in helping nonprofits optimize their Google Grant accounts. We’ve compiled our knowledge of Google Grant optimization into the following three points:
- Common Google Grant Management Mistakes
- How to Optimize a Google Grant Account: 7 Top Tips
- Google Grant Optimization Checklist
Ready to learn more about getting the most out of your Google Grant account? Let’s get started.
Common Google Grant Management Mistakes
Mistakes can happen, especially in the confusing world of Google Grant management.
Whether you are a seasoned Google Grant user or a beginner, there are many factors that can contribute to management mistakes. Confusion or unfamiliarity with Google’s Ad Grant policies can result in an unknowing violation of Google’s guidelines. Conversely, you may not be up to speed on the current, rapidly-evolving Google landscape.
Whatever the reason, management mistakes are bound to happen. What matters is that you are aware of them and strive for improvement. With that in mind, let’s cover the top management mistakes that you should aim to avoid.
1. Failing to Follow Google Ad Grant Policies
Google Ad Grants policies are a set of rules you must follow to maintain your status in the Google Ad Grant program. These policies include guidelines for your account as well as the ads you run. Following these rules is imperative, as failing to do so can result in suspension or loss of the grant.
Account requirements focus on the main parts of your account, such as how many ads are in each ad group. Ad requirements are more specific and dictate things like minimum monthly click-through rates or the types of keywords you can use. You could be jeopardizing your grant account by making a mistake as simple as using single-word keywords.
We’ll cover how to follow Google policies later in this guide.
2. Using Broad Keywords
Another common mistake in Google Grant management is relying on broad or generic keywords. A common misconception is that tracking broad keywords will yield better results. However, short, generic keywords like “fundraising” lack the specificity your ads need to be effective.
One of the challenges these keywords cause is a violation of Google’s Ad Grants policies. The guidelines specifically ban the use of single-word keywords and overly generic keywords. While it may be tempting to capitalize on a broad search term, the consequences of violating Google’s guidelines far outweigh the benefits of those keywords.
3. Using Dirty Keyword Data
Cleaning your keyword data is a process that involves pausing or removing irrelevant or low-quality keywords.
Some nonprofits fail to clean their keyword data. Cluttered or dirty keyword data can limit the efficiency and accuracy of your ad campaigns and hold you back from making important discoveries. For starters, some of the keywords you target will not be relevant year-round. Seasonal keywords or those related to specific events do not need to be tracked outside of those time frames.
Additionally, low-quality keywords may not be serving your campaign in a positive way, and they can add clutter to your data. Google assigns a quality score to keywords, and scores below 3 are considered poor quality. Not only is it against Google’s policies to use these keywords, but it is against your best interests. Targeting low quality keywords is a waste of your limited ad budget.
Using keywords with a quality score or 3 or more and removing irrelevant keywords helps your ads efficiently target supporters.
4. Featuring Just 1 Ad Per Group
Nonprofits often make the mistake of featuring only one ad in each ad group. Within Google Grants, individual ads are organized into groups that fall under broader campaigns.
Let’s say your nonprofit is running an ad campaign focused on increasing sign-ups for a newsletter. You target the appropriate keywords, follow all Google Grant policies, and create multiple ad groups, but the ad’s performance falls flat.
Even if you follow every other step, using only one ad per group is not a viable strategy for a successful ad campaign. Using one ad is a violation of Google Grant guidelines, so your account could be suspended or removed. Single ads also do not allow nonprofits to analyze performance across different ads. This can result in missing opportunities for growth and learning what works.
5. Providing a Poor User Experience
We have all had poor user experiences of some kind, so it is easy to know firsthand how frustrating they can be. In the context of Google Ads, a poor user experience means that your ads’ call to action and linked landing page do not align. It can be confusing for viewers when they click on an ad urging them to join an email list but instead are directed to an online donation page.
This is a mistake that can frustrate potential supporters and deter them from engaging in the behavior you want from them. This loss of potential conversions stems from a lack of clarity in your call to action.
Your supporters shouldn’t have a hard time doing what you are asking of them.
6. Neglecting Your Webpage
Webpages play a key role in marketing your mission. You can use them to your organization’s advantage by compiling all of your resources, content, and marketing material in one convenient location. However, a neglected webpage could do more harm than good.
Here are a few of the most common webpage issues:
- Keywords are not featured on the landing page.
- The website is difficult to navigate.
- There is a lack of rich, engaging content.
- The branding is inconsistent.
- There are technological issues like broken links.
Issues like these can repel potential supporters by making it hard for them to figure out how to answer your call to action. For example, if users follow your ad and have a bad site experience, the ad does not result in conversions. Your nonprofit also loses a potential supporter to poor website performance.
7. Forgetting About Geography
Some organizations forget to target ads geographically. This refers to limiting where ads are displayed based on location. Typically, the location chosen depends on where supporters are likely to reside or where the nonprofit operates from.
Failing to target ads geographically can reduce the effectiveness of Google Grant ads. Targeting large areas that may or may not contain potential supporters is not the best way to optimize your $10,000 budget. There is no point in targeting people who live in Texas if your organization serves Oregon.
Selecting a geographically-relevant area to target your ads will boost meaningful conversions and increase local supporters.
How to Optimize a Google Grant Account: 7 Top Tips
Optimizing your Google Grant account should be at the top of your to-do list. Maintaining your account can help you get the most out of the program.
Using the allotted $10,000 efficiently can boost positive results by increasing high-quality traffic to your organization’s webpage. This traffic holds potential for fulfilling and meaningful conversions, like donations and event registrations.
If you’re struggling with any of the challenges from the previous section or are simply looking for ways to elevate your already-successful digital campaign higher, continue reading for our top optimization tips.
The Google Ad Grant Guidelines are an important resource to ensure your account isn’t suspended or removed from the program. Stay up-to-date with these requirements in case Google makes any important changes. Brushing up on the rules can also benefit you as Google drops a few helpful hints and tips along with the guidelines.
These rules are divided into two parts— account structure guidelines and ad guidelines.
Account structure guidelines apply to the overarching structures of your account, like your ad groups. To remain compliant, you must:
- Have 2 ads per group: You’ll want to sort targeted keywords into themed ad groups that fall under broader campaigns. If you create a campaign based on volunteering, the groups should be something more specific like “volunteering for animals”. Within the “volunteering for animals” group, there must be at least two ads.
- Have at least 2 ad groups per campaign: After creating ad groups, you will need to sort them into campaigns. Each campaign must feature at least two of these more specific ad groups. Google recommends that the ad groups relevant keywords that align with the ads and landing pages they are tied to.
- Have at least 2 sitelink ad extensions: Sitelinks are usually situated below ads, and they provide additional options for users to click. Typically, these include any other pages relevant to the ad and links to donate.
- Respond to program survey: The Google Grants program runs an annual survey each year. To remain in the program, all accounts are required to complete the survey. While Google should send an email about the survey when you create your account, it can be found online as well.
Ad guidelines dictate how you track your ads performance and define performance requirements. To remain compliant, you must:
- Avoid single-word keywords unless they are covered on this list. Google bans any single-word keywords that are not included on their list of exemptions. This means that targeting words like “fundraiser” is not allowed.
- Avoid generic keywords. Generic or broad keywords are also prohibited per Google Grant guidelines. Words like “books” or “current news” are too broad. Google recommends targeting words that are specific to your nonprofit’s mission.
- Avoid keywords with a quality score lower than 3. Google scores keywords on a scale of 1 to 10 based on their quality. Keywords that receive a score of 1 or 2 are considered very low quality and are not permitted for targeting. These keywords must be paused until their score increases or removed.
- Maintain a 5% click through rate each month. Click through rate (CTR) refers to how many users click on your ad to the linking landing page. Each month, at least 5% of users who view your ads must click through to the landing page.
- Employ accurate conversion tracking. Conversions are actions from users in response to your ad. This can include clicking the ad, signing up for an email list, or making a donation. Accurate conversion tracking means that your nonprofit should report at least 1 conversion per month. More instructions for setting up conversion tracking can be found here.
While this list is not exhaustive, it is a good starting point for maintaining compliance with Google’s guidelines. Reference the official guidelines when checking on your account.
2. Create a list of effective keywords.
To get the most out of your Google Ads account, you want a list of keywords that meet your nonprofit’s needs. Using keywords that are relevant and specific to your organization is a good place to start, but make sure you keep Google guidelines in mind.
An easy, and important, tip to remember is to avoid using generic or single-word keywords like “volunteers” or “animal shelter”. Not only is this banned by Google, but your nonprofit will probably not be the top bidder for broad search terms. Instead, try using long-tail keywords such as “volunteering at local animal shelters”. These keywords involve multi-word phrases and are more specific than the vague, single-word keywords.
Next, target keywords based on both time and geography. These keywords could relate to holidays like “Christmas gift drive” or to location-specific events like “clothing donation centers in Boston”. Some keywords are seasonal, so focus more attention on them when they are relevant. When dealing with different locations, try picking out regional differences in your keywords and target them accordingly.
Finally, remember to clean up your keyword list regularly. Pause any seasonal terms like “Thanksgiving food donations” when they are not relevant, and remove low-quality keywords that do not serve your account. Keeping your keyword lists free of clutter is a great way to ensure a faster and easier analysis.
3. Track your conversions.
For many nonprofits, conversions are the goal of their ads. Conversions are a measure of how many people take a desired action after seeing your ad, such as making a donation, registering for an event, or signing up to volunteer.
Here are a few best practices for conversion tracking:
- Track conversions that are meaningful to your organization. While Google analytics offers different options for conversion tracking, focus on those that meet your goals as a nonprofit. For example, you might track registrations for your upcoming annual gala or donations made during your year-end giving campaign.
- Set up goals in Google Analytics. Setting up goals in Google Analytics can help you see what impacts the conversion performance of your ads. In addition to enhancing conversion performance, Google Grants requires accounts to set up goals.
- Take note of which ads are best at leading to conversions. Experiment with the style and wording of your ads to analyze which ones yield the most conversions. From there, you can improve future ads to ensure the best performance from your campaigns.
Google requires Google Ad Grants accounts to track their conversions if applicable. To do so, set up an account within Google Analytics. Click here for instructions for setting up an account.
4. Keep your webpage up to date.
Because your Google Ads will be directing visitors to your nonprofit’s website, it is important to make it easy to use.
Like with most other aspects of the Google Ad Grants program, there are specific rules you should follow when it comes to running a website related to your campaign. Follow the rules below to ensure your website adheres to Google’s guidelines:
- Your nonprofit must own the domain. Your nonprofit must own the rights to landing pages linked in your ads. If this landing page is a donation hosting service, it must belong to one of these pre-approved sites.
- Your nonprofit must add any additional domains to your account. If you plan to link to other owned domains with Google Grant ads, add them to your account first. This way, Google is aware that your nonprofit owns these domains. Click here to add a new domain.
- Your organization must maintain the account. Any domains used must be high-quality webpages. Valuable webpages have several important factors that we’ll cover in the next section.
- Your organization should avoid any commercial activity that does not align with your mission. Commercial activity like selling products, services, or consultations is prohibited. Limited commercial activity is allowed provided it aligns with your mission. Acceptable forms of commercial activity include selling a product as a fundraising tool for a specific purpose.
Beyond those guidelines required by Google, you also want to ensure your webpages are valuable for the end user. Here are a few optimization tips for a valuable webpage:
- Include high search-volume keywords on the page. Search-volume is a metric used to measure how many searches certain keywords received. Those with a high-volume are searched often. Feature these keywords on your webpage to boost their SEO performance.
- Use only one focus per page. Avoid including multiple concepts on one page of your website. For example, there should be two separate pages for your nonprofit’s mission and volunteer opportunities.
- Feature content that is interesting and engaging. Highlight the most exciting aspects of your organization on its webpage. Interesting content makes users more inclined to stick around and even explore other pages on the site.
- Demonstrate a clear call to action. Showcase a clear call to action on your website. Whether it be making a donation or signing up to volunteer at an event, make the request loud and clear. Additionally, ensure that this call to action aligns with the ad the page is linked to.
- Make the website accessible for different devices. Your website should be both desktop and mobile friendly. You want users to be able to navigate your website no matter how they access it. You never know when someone may click an ad, and having a webpage that doesn’t function on a cell phone could be a turn off.
This guide can be a helpful tool as you begin your journey to maintaining a functional, updated website. Make sure to follow Google’s guidelines along with our top tips for a marketable website.
5. Produce high-quality ads.
It can be easy to get lost in all of the account optimization needs. But don’t forget the reason behind all of it— the ads!
There are several best practices to keep in mind when creating ads for your Google Ad Grants account. Here are a few to get you started:
- Have 3 – 5 ads per group. While Google only requires 2 ads per ad group, we recommend using at least 3. Try to create variety in these ads so that you can experiment with different targeting approaches.
- Use relevant keywords. It’s no mystery that you should choose keywords that are relevant, but make sure they are tailored to your nonprofit’s mission.
- Use short sentences with clear language. Try not to confuse viewers. Making your ads simple and scannable yields the best results.
- Highlight what is special about your nonprofit. Try to stand out in the sea of ads your viewers see each day. Avoid blending in by saying what is interesting about your organization.
Producing high-quality ads can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep these tips in mind as a way to steer the choices your nonprofit makes when creating ads.
6. Target ads based on location.
Targeting ads based on location helps you streamline your message to address smaller regions in which your supporters are most likely to reside.
Begin by narrowing down your target audience. Geo-targeting should be focused specifically in areas that your nonprofit serves. For example, if your nonprofit operates out of New York, ads that appear in Atlanta won’t be very effective.
Make your ads more effective by targeting them to locations where potential and current donors live. This is the most promising route for ads that yield high conversions.
7. Work with a Google Ad Grant agency.
Working with a Google Ad Grant agency can take some of the weight off of your shoulders when it comes to optimizing your account. These organizations are uniquely tailored to help you run your Google Ad Grants account as efficiently as possible.
Getting Attention is a great organization to consider for all of your Google Ad Grants needs. With our full range of services like Google Grant Application and Google Grant Hygiene, we can make the process simple and easy to understand. Our services include:
- Google Grant Applications: The Google Grant application process can be intimidating. The experts at Getting Attention are here to help guide you through the process and make sure your account is accepted.
- Google Grant Hygiene: Data is a crucial element of optimizing your Google Grant experience. Getting Attention is fully equipped to help you clean up your data and make analysis more efficient. Whether you need to remove irrelevant keywords or outdated information, our experts are ready to step in.
- Google Grant Reactivation: Suspensions can happen, and our team is the best place to turn to. While getting suspended is far from ideal, Getting Attention can help you get your account back up and running.
- Keyword Research: If you’re feeling lost when it comes to keyword tracking, consider this service. Keyword research can ensure that your account is tracking the most relevant and effective keywords to extend your ads’ reach.
To learn more, contact our team to request a free consultation today.
Google Grant Optimization Checklist
Now that you’ve learned some helpful tips for optimization, it’s time to put them to use. We’ve created a checklist to help narrow down the essentials to successful account optimization.
Use our checklist below below to make sure you don’t overlook anything when optimizing your Google Grant account:
- Google Ad Grants Guidelines
- Have 2 ads per group
- Have at least 2 ads per campaign
- Have at least 2 sitelink ad extensions
- Respond to program survey
- No single-word keywords unless they are covered on this list
- No generic keywords
- No keywords with a quality score lower than 3
- Maintain a 5% click through rate each month
- Have valid conversion tracking
- Only use keywords that meet Google’s guidelines
- Use keywords that are specific to your mission
- Create an effective list of keywords
- Regularly clean and adjust keyword data
- Track conversions in Google Analytics
- Set up conversion goals in Google Analytics
- Track conversions that are meaning to your organization
- Adjust ads based on which ones increase conversions
- Adhere to all guidelines
- Include high search-volume keywords on the page
- Limit to one focus per page
- Feature content that is interesting and engaging
- Use a clear call to action
- Ensure the website is accessible for mobile and desktop users
- Target ads geographically
- Have 3-5 ads per group
- Make ads that are relevant to keywords
- Use short sentences
- Use clear language
- Highlight what is special about your nonprofit
- Partner with a Google Ad Grants agency
Download a PDF version of this checklist here.
Getting accepted into the Google Ad Grants program is an exciting moment. Keeping up with the ins and outs of account management can be a challenge, but this streamlined checklist can help.
And, if you’re seeking more assistance with optimizing your Google Ad Grants account, reach out to the team at Getting Attention to set up a free consultation today. In the meantime, explore the following additional resources to continue learning about Google Ad Grants:
- The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Grants for Nonprofits: This resource contains anything you need to know about marketing grants for nonprofits. The guide discusses everything from why marketing grants are important to how you can find them.
- Take Your Nonprofit Branding Strategy to the Next Level: If you want to know more about nonprofit branding, this is a great place to start. This guide explains nonprofit branding and its key components and offers six branding best practices.
- Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits: Everything You Need to Know: Want to know more about Google Ad Grants? This comprehensive guide has everything from your nonprofit’s eligibility to working with an agency.