How to Optimize Your Google Ad Grant Account in 6 Steps
You saw how valuable the Google Ad Grant could be for your nonprofit, you went through the application process, and you received the grant. Congratulations! Your nonprofit’s journey with the Google Ad Grant has just begun.
Now that you have the grant, it’s time to reach wider audiences and get the right kind of attention for your nonprofit. If you don’t know how to get started or you’re not seeing results from your ads yet, don’t worry. There’s plenty you can do to optimize your Google Ad Grant account and make it work for you.
Managing a Google Ad Grant can be complex, so we’ve compiled a list of six steps that make optimizing your Google Ad Grant account simple:
- Understand the basics of your Google Ad Grant account.
- Optimize your website and landing pages.
- Work with a professional to optimize your Google Ad Grant usage.
- Strategically choose the best keywords to bid on.
- Optimize your Google Ad Grant by improving the quality of your ads.
- Use metrics as a guide to continuously optimize your Google Ad Grant.
By following these steps, you’ll be in great shape to use your grant to acquire new donors, promote matching gifts, and spread awareness of your nonprofit’s work. Let’s get started!
1. Understand the basics of your Google Ad Grant account.
The first step to optimizing your Google Ad Grant account is to check your understanding of Google Ad Grant basics. If you don’t have a thorough grasp of how your account works and what you need to do to keep it running, you won’t be able to optimize it any further.
If you’re new to the Google Ad Grant, setting up your account can be confusing. What’s the difference between an ad group and a campaign? Do you have to create multiple ads for each one? Where do keywords fit in? What exactly is an ad campaign anyway?
Before we answer these questions, it’s helpful to take a step back and look at the full picture. You can visualize your account structure like this:
Multiple ads make up each ad group, and multiple ad groups make up each campaign. All of these segments are contained under the umbrella of your Google Ad Grant account. Here’s what each one looks like:
- Campaigns: A campaign is a collection of at least two ad groups centered around a general theme. For example, you might have one campaign centered around donor acquisition, another around events, and one more that focuses on volunteer recruitment. We recommend creating at least three campaigns to optimize your Google Ad Grant and reach the right audiences.
- Ad Groups: Within each campaign, you should have two or more ad groups that fit the campaign’s theme. These are groups of ads that target a more specific group of keywords. In your events campaign, you could have an ad group that targets auction-related keywords. Google will rotate through showing each of the ads in the group, so include three to five ads per group for best results.
- Ads: These are the individual ads Google will show at the top or bottom of the SERP for the keywords you bid on. Ads are made up of your copy, the landing page the ad links to, and any ad extensions. In your auction ad group, you might have three ads that promote your auction registration page in different ways.
Your campaigns, ad groups, and ads aren’t stagnant. To effectively optimize your Google Ad Grant, you need to frequently evaluate what’s working well and which ads or campaigns aren’t worthwhile to keep promoting.
Now that you understand how your Google Ad Grant account is set up, remind yourself of the program’s requirements. If you completed the application process, you should be familiar with these requirements already, but it’s important to keep them in mind as you start your Google Ad Grant optimization.
To retain eligibility and keep your account active, remember that you must stay compliant with these requirements at all times:
- Maintain at least a 5% click-through rate (CTR). CTR is the percentage of users who click on your ads out of everyone who sees them. Maintaining at least 5% overall shows Google that your ads are valuable to users and that you’re using the program effectively.
- Don’t use any single-word or overly-generic keywords. We’ll provide more keyword guidance below, but start by removing any one-word keywords from your list.
- Only choose keywords with a quality score of three or higher. Google shows a quality score for each keyword and considers scores below three to be low quality. Check your keyword lists to make sure all of your selected keywords sustain at least a three.
- Create at least two ads per ad group. We recommend three to five, but at least make sure your ad groups don’t drop below two to abide by the rules.
- Use at least two sitelink ad extensions. Sitelinks are additional links that appear below your ads and highlight other landing pages on your website. Below an auction ad, you could include sitelinks to your nonprofit’s about page and campaign page to give users more information about what auction proceeds will support.
- Fill out Google’s annual survey. Not only is it a requirement to provide feedback, but filling out the survey can make all nonprofits’ experience of the Google Ad Grant better!
Periodically, check the full list of requirements from Google to ensure you don’t miss any updates to the program’s policies.
2. Optimize your website and landing pages.
To qualify for the Google Ad Grant, you likely spent time improving your website and prioritizing user experience. Now that you’re using the grant, however, website and landing page optimization is even more important.
Keeping your landing pages up-date and high-quality can make a big difference in the results your nonprofit sees from your Google Ad Grant usage. But first, make sure you’re sending users to landing pages that will drive results.
Choosing the right landing pages
Choose a variety of landing pages for your ads based on the desired actions you want users to take. If one campaign’s goal is to get users to donate, create ads for your donation page. If you’re interested in promoting matching gifts, use your matching gifts information page as a landing page or add a sitelink.
When you select landing pages, check that they include clear, on-page calls to action (CTAs) that match the actions your ads promote. If an ad tells users to sign up to volunteer but how to sign up isn’t clear on the landing page, you’ll lose out on earning that support.
Optimizing page content
Once you’ve selected your landing pages, get to work making these pages the best they can be. Use this page optimization checklist for each page to cover all your bases:
- The page’s content is relevant and valuable for your audience. First, define your audience for each page. Then ensure the page provides new information that aligns with the audience’s interests, and check that all of the information is correct and up-to-date.
- The page is accessible. To increase accessibility, every image should have alternative text for screen readers. All text should be clear and easy to read, and the page should load quickly.
- The page is mobile-friendly. Check that the page loads quickly on mobile devices and that the text and images are appropriately sized. Make sure the CTA buttons are easy to click on small screens.
- The page prioritizes user experience. Make the page easy to navigate and provide clear pathways so users know where on your website they should go next. Also, ensure that each image serves a purpose and adds value for the user.
Following this guidance for each of your landing pages will ensure that they are valuable enough for users to stay on and take action. Without optimized landing pages, even the best ads won’t convert for your nonprofit.
3. Work with a professional to optimize your Google Ad Grant usage.
Before diving any deeper into Google Ad Grant optimization, consider partnering with a professional that can help you optimize your account. Taking these steps on your own can improve results, but getting professional help can boost all aspects of your Google Grant account and provide continuous improvement in the long run.
An expert Google Grant management agency will offer the following services to help optimize your Google Ad Grant:
- Keyword selection
- Ad creation
- Campaign management
- Landing page optimization
- General account hygiene
If you decide to go this route, start by scheduling a consultation with your Google Ad Grants manager to discuss your priorities, concerns, and history with your Google Ad Grant account. They’ll tailor their approach to your nonprofit’s goals and experience and work with you to create a comprehensive optimization plan.
A qualified Google Grants agency can even help you reactivate your account if it ever gets suspended. The right management specialist will be by your side throughout every stage of your nonprofit’s Google Ad Grant journey.
4. Strategically choose the best keywords to bid on.
Whether you work with an agency or not, the next step to optimize your Google Ad Grant account is knowing how to use keywords. Keywords are the search terms that your ads will appear for on Google. For example, let’s say you bid on “charity auctions near me” for one of your ad groups. When someone in your community searches that phrase, one of the ads in your ad group will appear at the top of the search engine results page.
While keywords may seem straightforward, there’s a lot of strategy that goes into selecting the right words and phrases for your ad groups. Let’s break down the basics.
You already know that per Google Ad Grant requirements, your keywords must be multiple words, not overly generic, and have a quality score of three or higher. But there’s more to consider to find keywords that will drive engagement with your ads and lead to conversions.
When you choose keywords to bid on, check that they align with each of these priorities:
- Specificity: The more specific your keywords are, the better. Short, generic keywords like “nonprofit auctions” have overpopulated search results pages and aren’t guaranteed to send interested users to your website. Instead, try long-tail keywords that add specificity, like “online sports silent auctions.”
- Audience and user intent: To find out who the audience is for a keyword, simply search it on Google and see what kind of results come up. The ads and pages that appear at the top will give you an idea of what kind of person searches that term and what results they’re looking for. Make sure that the audience and user intent for each keyword you choose line up with your ads and landing pages.
- Time and location: Don’t write off seasonal and location-specific keywords. While they may mean you have to update your keyword list more often, these keywords can have more qualified, interested audiences. Someone searching “spring auctions near me” in your area will be much more likely to click on your ad than someone across the country.
Along with these priorities, pay attention to quality scores and bid estimates. Each keyword has a different “price,” so you’ll have to determine how to allocate your $10,000 in grant money across keywords for your various campaigns.
Using Keyword Planner
To help you select keywords that meet these criteria, take advantage of Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Keyword Planner shows you the search volume and bid estimate for each keyword, and it makes suggestions based on relevance.
Use this tool for research and feel free to explore its suggestions, but make sure to manually choose the keywords that make sense for your strategy, keeping in mind the priorities we already covered. Ideally, you want to select around 25 related keywords for each ad group. Don’t forget to update your keyword lists often, too. Remove any keywords that have lost relevance or declined in quality or search volume over time.
5. Optimize your Google Ad Grant by improving the quality of your ads.
Relevant keywords and optimized ads work together to lead users to click through and take action on your website. To improve your ads themselves, optimize the text, or copy, then use the tools Google gives you to set them up for success.
You only have a few sentences to convince readers your ad is worth clicking on. Whether they do or not depends on a variety of individual factors, but you can increase the chances they click through by using these tips:
- Align copy with user intent. Refer back to the audience research you did when selecting keywords, and let the user’s goals guide your writing. Based on the most popular pages, does the user want information? Or are they ready to volunteer or donate and want to be convinced your cause is worth supporting?
- Tell your nonprofit’s story. Even though you have limited space, you should still use storytelling strategies to show users your nonprofit is unique. For example, you could frame a donation ad around a specific beneficiary in need of urgent support. Or, use details that prove impact, like “A $20 donation keeps 3 pets warm while they wait to find a home.”
- Use keywords in the copy. Since each ad group targets around 25 keywords, you can’t feature the exact keyword in your ad copy every time, but you should do it when possible to make your ad stand out to users.
- Try A/B testing. A/B testing involves testing two similar ads to determine which performs better. If you choose the “Do not optimize” ad rotation setting (which we recommend!), Google will automatically rotate ads in your ad groups to test their performance. Setting ad rotation to “Do not optimize” will help you see which phrases or tones appeal most to your audience.
Then, set your ads up for success by using ad extensions to provide users with more valuable information underneath each ad and turning on geotargeting. The geotargeting feature restricts who Google shows your ads to based on location, meaning that those who do see your ads will find them more relevant.
6. Use metrics as a guide to continuously optimize your Google Ad Grant.
Lastly, update your strategy frequently based on engagement data to ensure you’re always improving. Specifically, pay attention to CTR and conversion rates. CTR measures the percentage of users who click on your ad, and conversion rate measures how many users take your desired action, such as donating or registering for an event.
Use tools like Google Analytics to track the actions users take once they click through to your site. From here, you can also see your landing page’s bounce rates, which measure how many people leave your site without taking any action. A high bounce rate could indicate that your landing page isn’t aligned with user intent or that the page loads too slowly.
Be sure to prioritize, improve, and tailor your ads based on the insights you learn from this data. If one ad has a low CTR, for example, remove it from the rotation and create new ads based on the ones that perform better. Keep your data clean and updated regularly to ensure you gain the most accurate insights.
With these tips, you’ll be on your way to creating ads that convert people’s attention into valuable support for your nonprofit. Plus, with the room you save in your marketing budget, you can allocate funds to other worthwhile initiatives, like launching a matching gift campaign!
If you want more information as you begin your Google Ad Grant optimization efforts, check out these additional resources to continue learning:
- Nonprofit Basics: Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits. Get a refresher on more of the basics before diving into your Google Ad Grant optimization.
- Google Ad Grants Agencies: The Basics and 5 Top Options. Read more about connecting with a Google Ad Grants management agency and check out our top recommendations.
- How to Promote Matching Gifts with the Google Ad Grant. Learn how to use your Google Ad Grant to spread awareness of corporate matching gift programs that can increase donations to your nonprofit.