For many organizations, Google’s grant for nonprofits serves as a strong foundation for website acquisition. In the world of nonprofits, it’s no surprise that having extra budget for advertising spend is sometimes out of scope. Google bridges this gap.
Organizations that are eligible receive 10,000 USD a month in free credit.
501c3 organizations rejoice! Some accounts used to get 40,000 USD a month through Google's GrantsPro, but that program has been put on hold.
It's no surprise that with over 35,000 organizations impacted by the Google grant for nonprofit organizations program, Google cracked down on grant accounts to increase the quality of the ads in January of 2018.
To explore these changes, it is necessary to examine what changed and discover more about how to make sure your grant maintains compliance, before finally discussing strategies to get the most out of your advertising credit without risking the quality of that advertising.
What Changed With the Google Ad for Nonprofits Grant?
Previously, there were little rules on the quality of the ads for a nonprofit. The grant works specifically for paid search, text-only ads. The first restriction that advertisers faced in the past system were the maximum bid limit. The maximum bid limit for any keyword used to cap at $2.00. This cap was a huge barrier for advertisers, as their non-grant competitor counterparts dominated the keyword auctions.
With the new changes, this bid cap has been lifted (sort of). Let's explore the full list of changes and then discuss each one briefly so as to understand exactly why Google has made such a difference.
In January 2018, Google specified new rules for all nonprofits with a Google Ad grant:
- Automated bidding strategies (like Maximize Conversions or Cost Per Acquisition) can break the $2.00 bid maximum.
- The entire account must maintain a click-through rate of 5% or more.
- Campaigns must have geotargeting enabled.
- All campaigns must have at least 2 ad groups, and all ad groups must have at least 2 ads.
- You cannot use single-word keywords, except for those on this list. You also cannot use overly generic words. Another one-word keyword exception is your own branded keywords, but you are forbidden from using competitors' branded keywords!
- You cannot use keywords that have a quality score of 1 or 2. You will need to reassign these to different ad groups or pause/remove them entirely.
Breaking the Cap
First, breaking the $2.00 bid maximum is a huge step toward being able to outrank competitive keywords. We have witnessed some keywords that run from $50-$75 per click! Being stuck with a $2.00 maximum is a considerable hindrance to campaign performance.
Because of this cap, many nonprofits flood their account with every keyword imaginable. This resulted in low quality and low performance by exhausting the available spend of these accounts quickly.
Long Tail Keywords
Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) put all of the keyword restrictions in place to prevent this from happening. Additionally, the standard of always maintaining a 5% CTR can be challenging. This shifts the focus from quantity to quality. You’ll want to be using long tail keywords in your strategy!
If you have an existing Google AdWords grant account you maintain, it’s time to clean up that keyword list! But if you are new to Google AdWords for Nonprofits, this is an exciting time to get in on the ground floor with running a fully compliant Google Ad grant account! Read more about applying for a generous grant from Google now.
Now that we understand the changes, let's move forward with maintaining compliance.
How Do I Maintain My Ad Grants Program for Compliance?
There are some ways you can ensure your account never falls out of compliance. By keeping a close eye on the report, you will have ample time to correct errors before Google suspends your account. Note: If your account does happen to get delayed, you can always fix the report and resubmit your account for review. There are two things you can do immediately to improve your mind.
First, the most effective strategy is to use automated rules to maintain a higher quality standard. You can set two regulations to clean up your account quickly:
- Set a Keyword Rule to Pause if the Quality Score Drops to 1 or 2.
- Set a Keyword Rule to Pause if the CTR drops below 5%.
Pause when the Quality Score Drops
Rule 1 helps to maintain the keyword quality score rule directly, while Rule 2 helps keep the average CTR of the account over 5%. If you have keywords that continuously get paused, but you know you want to use, change the ad group they’re in or try switching up your landing pages. A little copy goes a long way!
Pause when the CTR drops
Second, you can also run a script to create an automated spreadsheet which points out all compliance elements in the account. Search Engine Journalpublished this fantastic script to help generate reports on what you need to fix on your account to maintain compliance specifically.
Clearly, maintaining compliance is a job of its own, but what about maximizing the account for results? Next, we'll explore how to get the most out of your grant.
How Do I Optimize My Grant for Maximum Results?
If you manage to maintain compliance, you may find that your spend is extremely low compared to what's available. This is common. Once you have achieved this compliance, you can utilize two common strategies to make higher metrics.
First, you must use automated bidding. If you don't have conversion tracking set up through Google Ads, you need to take the time to do this small step. Define your conversions/goals broadly (they don't always have to be direction conversions; think more actions you want users to follow through with).
Before switching to automated bidding, it is always recommended that a campaign have at least 50 conversions within the last 30 days. If they do not, campaigns that switch to automated bidding rarely have the data necessary to excite the machine learning.
Within the realm of maintaining compliance, this is the one type of account wherein your goal should always be to increase your cost per click, because that is the benefit of using automated bidding. Raising the minimum CPC means that you are beating your competition out in keyword auctions and appearing higher in results.
Second, create highly tailored, specifics-based campaigns with a clear landing page in mind. Because so much of the Quality Score and CTR are determined by the relationship between targeted keywords, ad copy, and the content on the landing page, it's essential to create highly specific campaigns that utilize long tail keywords.
The simple fact of the matter is, you cannot make people search more for a certain topic, but you can connect what people are already searching for with relevant content.
Find these opportunities. It won’t happen all overnight, but if you aim for creating a new ad, ad group, or even campaign on a consistent, frequent basis, your account will achieve results.
All in all, the changes to the program are not so bad when you consider the trade-off: the lift on the $2.00 maximum bid limit. While compliance may be a challenge at first, once you get in the mindset of this new policy, you will quickly catch on.