Google Ad Grants New Policies Revisited

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It’s been a tough few months for many Google Ad Grants recipients. Struggling with the new, and admittedly strict, campaign performance guidelines Google imposed in January, scores of nonprofits’ AdWords accounts have recently received notice that their accounts have been suspended for failing to meet those guidelines.

If you’ve been hit by an account suspension, you can either throw in the towel (and give up $10,000 a month in free advertising), or see this time as an opportunity to make the kinds of improvements to your campaigns that will put you, and keep you, in Google’s good graces.

So let’s start with the good news: You can request to have your account reinstated after it’s been cancelled. But before you do, it’s vitally important that you learn what it will take from here on in to retain your Google Ad Grant.

Keep These New Rules in Mind

  • Geotargeting: Your Ad Grants account must have specific geo-targeting so that ads will be shown in the locations that matter most to your nonprofit.
  • Ad Groups: Your AdWords accounts must have at least 2 active ad groups per campaign, each containing a set of closely related keywords. Each ad group must feature 2 active text ads, and each ad must feature a minimum of 2 sitelink extensions.
  • All Ad Grants AdWords accounts must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month at the account level. If the CTR requirement isn’t met for 2 consecutive months, your account will be deactivated.
  • Single word keywords or overly generic terms that don’t include a sense of the user’s intent when they’re searching are prohibited.
  • Keywords must have a Quality Score of 3 or higher.

Follow These Guidelines for Campaign Success

Choose the Right Keywords.

Think about the keywords you would enter in Google’s search box to find your organization’s programs and services. You can use the AdWords Keyword Planner to find related keywords and place similar terms in ad groups.

Don’t Forget Match Types

If you add a keyword without any formatting (Broad Match), you may end up casting too wide a net. For example, if you’re a theater and are looking to promote a new play, you may choose a term like new plays as a keyword.  But if you do, people searching for new broadway plays will see your ad, as will those searching for new plays for children. Given that your theater is likely nowhere near Broadway, and the play you wish to promote is aimed at an adult audience, these Broad Match keywords will trigger ads that are not relevant to the searcher. The result? Lots of impressions but few clicks.

Focus, then, on phrase match and exact match keywords to ensure greater relevancy and higher clickthrough rates. And make sure to use negative keywords (e.g. free) to prevent your ads from showing to those with no interest in your offerings.

Create Relevant, Effective Ads

Write 3-5 ads for each ad group in your campaign. Make sure the wording of the ads is relevant to the keywords in each ad group. Use short sentences; be clear; use calls to action. Use sitelinks to direct people to other pages on your site that may be relevant.

Install Conversion Tracking

Can consumers make purchases on your website? Does your organization accept donations online? Do you have a newsletter you wish to promote?

With AdWords, you can track what customers do once they’ve landed on your website. Does your website track purchases, Adwords or Google Analytics can track what customers do once they’ve arrived at your site.

For example, let’s say some of your keywords lead to people browsing your website while others lead to people signing up for your newsletter or making a donation.  Knowing this would help you determine what types of keywords and ads to set up for future fundraising campaigns.

Stay in Touch with Your Account

Google’s new account maintenance requirements for Ad Grants recipients are certainly challenging; you simply can’t take your grant, well, for granted. From now on, watch your campaign closely; aim for constant improvement; and be sure to avail yourself of all the tools Google provides in its AdWords help pages and via the Ad Grants Community Forum.

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