Eight Valuable Lessons For a Successful Google Grants Account
28 November 2018 at 5:31 pm
Almost a year on from the changes made to Google Grants, ntegrity CEO Richenda Vermeulen offers her tips to help not for profits run a successful account.
It’s been nearly a full year since Google announced changes to its Google Grants policy in December 2017 with the intention “to add clarity and raise standards of quality” for the free advertising grants.
We remain convinced the changes have been a great thing for NFPs. It has made accounts more targeted and has resulted in higher quality traffic and results due to the five per cent click through rate (CTR) rule.
However, now that NFPs must treat their accounts like a business would – through great account management, strategic keyword selection, targeting and great copy – it means NFPs can no longer set and forget, and they often require a dedicated and technical resource to manage and optimise the account on a weekly basis to avoid losing the account.
But while the risk of non-compliance is more real than ever before, it is avoidable!
Having spent hundreds of hours helping NFPs get their grants accounts back from the brink of disaster, and optimising them to become their highest-converting digital channel, we’ve got a few lessons and tips to share.
What we’ve learnt
- Relevant and specific keywords are king
You must select keywords that are relevant to the service that you’re driving traffic to and ensure your landing pages and ad copy are all relevant to your user’s search. If you’re running an appeal, bid on keywords specific to the appeal. Instead of bidding on “appeals”, bid on “winter appeals in Melbourne” and “donate to christmas appeal”.
Specific and relevant keywords plus specific and relevant ads equals highly qualified traffic.
- The lift on the $2 bid limit is beneficial to those who know how to harness it
While the maximum keyword bid is capped at $2 for most bidding strategies, the “maximise conversions” bidding strategy allows you to bid above the $2 limit. So ensure your accounts have conversion tracking set up to take advantage of this change.
- Stay on top of the changes to be competitive
Google Ads is a continuously changing platform and it’s important to keep at the forefront of changes to remain competitive. Most recently Google introduced three headlines and two descriptions, giving Ads more real estate. Although not directly a new policy, the more real estate you have, the more likely someone will click your ad!
- Regularly audit your account to make sure it’s compliant
Review your account to ensure it is compliant with Google’s policy. This includes:
- Keep ads above the minimum five per cent CTR;
- Use geo-targeting;
- Campaigns must have a minimum of two ad groups and two ads with a minimum of two sitelink extensions; and
- Ensure you are not bidding on singular or generic keywords.
We recommend using a specially built script designed to identify any compliance issues and pausing anything that doesn’t meet the criteria immediately.
- Start slow and stay on top of optimisations
Large accounts are harder to manage and can spiral out of compliance very quickly. Go back to basics to ensure you can control what happens within your account, and work up to a larger capacity.
We recommend taking a “test and learn” approach to your optimisations. Changing too many things at once is confusing, and makes it hard to identify what works and what doesn’t. Ads groups and keywords should be individually assessed for how they perform.
If you are short on time, we recommend pausing all non-compliant campaigns. Then focus on one or two ad groups compliant each week and slowly work your way through the rest of your account. It might be a slow process, but it means you’ll know you’re still getting high-quality traffic while you work on those trickier ad groups.
- Use automated rules
We recommend using automated rules such as auto-pausing keywords with a quality score of two or lower, as well as pausing keywords with consistently low click-through-rates.
- Join the Ad Grants Community
Come up against an issue? Trust us, you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last. You can connect with other NFPs and people trying to achieve goals just like yours, and talk to people who’ve been there, done that through the Ad Grants Community.
- If all else fails, ask for help earlier rather than later
If you’re struggling, don’t wait until you’re non-compliant and pulled offline – ask for immediate support from a grants specialist (like ntegrity!) before it’s too late.
While Google will identify the reason your account is non-compliant, it is closed-lipped about how long it will take to reactivate your account once you’ve fixed the outstanding issues. This can take anywhere from a few days, to a few weeks, which is wasted money of free advertising spend you could be using.
But ultimately, the Google Grant changes are a great thing for NFPs and we’ve seen exceptional results and growth for our NFP clients because of them, but Google is certainly making NFPs work for their free US$120,000 (A$170,000) advertising spend.
About the author: Richenda Vermeulen is the founder and CEO of ntegrity, a digital consultancy that helps For Purpose Companies and NFPs implement innovative solutions to improve fundraising and communications. Prior to ntegrity, Vermeulen spent 12 years in the Not for Profit sector, from frontline social work to launching social media marketing at World Vision Australia and World Vision USA.