Google remains the primary means by which we all do research, compare products, get directions, and navigate the web—with over 99,000 search queries going through Google every second. While Google can yield a substantial amount of traffic for organizations, it can also be a long and expensive road to ranking #1 on Google’s search results. In this incredibly competitive landscape, many new and smaller nonprofits may find it difficult to even know where to begin with improving their presence on Google.
In an attempt to unlock the potential power of Google to as many meaningful businesses as possible, Google has introduced a few programs aimed at assisting nonprofits and charities with navigating Google and Google Advertising. One such program, known as the Google Ad Grant, has become one of the most beneficial resources in the nonprofit marketing world. It can significantly help level the playing field for nonprofits as they compete for attention within Google and help spread their mission to a much larger audience, for FREE.
What are Google Ad Grants?
The Google Ads Grant program affords eligible nonprofits $10,000 of free advertising credit to spend on Google Search Ads each month. Anyone who has ever Googled anything has likely seen and clicked on these Google Search Ads, which appear at the top of any search results page. These ads allow companies to essentially “jump the line” of the organic search results by paying to be placed at the top of the list.
The importance of ranking at the top of Google’s search results pages cannot be stressed enough. A survey earlier this year found that 90% of search users don’t make it to the second page of results and 60% of mobile users click on the first two or three results they see. For most searches, those top results are often ads and, as those placements are so valuable, it can oftentimes be quite expensive for organizations to advertise within Google’s search results.
The Google Ad Grant allows nonprofits to take advantage of that valuable internet real estate with $10,000 of free ad spend. This grant can go a long way in helping nonprofits to recruit volunteers and donors, promote their services and mission, reach the individuals they serve, and more.
Who is Eligible to Receive a Google Ad Grant?
Google has tried to make its grants as welcoming and easy to navigate as possible and are available to nearly all nonprofit organizations and charities in over 50 countries. The following eligibility requirements are all that is needed to apply for a Google Ad Grant:
- The organization must be filed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and cannot be a government agency, hospital, or school.
- The organization’s website must be hosted on its own unique domain and can’t function as a subdomain of a larger organization’s website.
- The organization’s website must have an SSL certificate, which ensures website security.
- The organization must agree to the Google Ads and Google for Nonprofits terms of service.
Any nonprofit, no matter how big or small, can potentially take advantage of these grants.
For more information on the eligibility requirements for Google Ad Grants, please visit Google’s Grant Eligibility webpage.
The Advantages of Google Ad Grants
In addition to getting free advertising capital, there are a number of tremendous benefits to taking advantage of the Google Ad Grants program:
- Expand Reach – For many of the nonprofits and charities we work with, one of their largest obstacles is simply getting in front of the individuals they serve. By targeting individuals searching for specific services, such as youth development, food banks, homeless services, financial assistance, or animal foster care, organizations can expand their reach and serve more people.
- Compliment SEO – Search engine optimization (SEO) is the ongoing process of trying to rank as highly within Google’s search results as possible for searches related to your website. It can take months and even years to slowly climb the rankings for certain keywords as organizations invest in developers and content creators to optimize their websites. Running Google Search Ads which instantly place an organization at the top of the results page can serve as a great compliment to ongoing SEO efforts to rank high, organically.
- Aid Recruitment – In addition to promoting core services related to a nonprofit, Google Ad Grant ads can be used to help recruit employees, volunteers, donors, and more. Many volunteers and potential donors will first turn to Google to find local nonprofits in their area, and search ads are a great way to ensure those individuals find your organization first.
- Compliment Other Marketing Campaigns – For organizations that are running multi-channel campaigns, Google Search Ads can serve as a useful addition. A very common scenario follows as such: An individual sees an ad on Facebook promoting a charity-sponsored walkathon. Then, they see a billboard promoting the same walkathon later that week. The weekend comes and they remember seeing something about a walkathon happening, so they open Google and search for walkathons in their area. If that charity is running Google Search Ads promoting the event, people are much more likely to find the information they were looking for and attend the walkathon.
- Take Advantage of Data – By running ads against keywords that users are searching for, organizations can learn a lot about the types of individuals that are seeking out their services. Google can report on a wide range of demographic and location information about users viewing and clicking on ads, which can help nonprofits better understand gaps in their messaging to areas they should focus more attention on.
- Stay Competitive – As more and more nonprofits and charities take advantage of the Google Ad Grant, those that do not will be at a disadvantage in competing for user attention, engagement, and dollars.
How to Get Started with Google Ad Grants
The first step in getting started with the Google Ad Grant program is by applying through Google’s nonprofit portal. To learn more about the process, you can view Google’s step-by-step instructions here.
Once approved, Google will assign an account to your organization and you’ll be able to start creating your campaigns and ads. You’ll need to install some tracking codes to your website and/or connect your Google Ads account to a Google Analytics account and set up some meaningful conversions to track (such as page views, lead form fills, phone calls, etc.). This will not only help you track how well your ads are performing but will also inform Google as to which audience members might be the most relevant to display ads to.
Once your ads are live, you’ll just want to monitor their performance and make adjustments and optimizations as needed. $10,000 is quite a lot to spend on ads each month and we’ve found that most small to medium-sized organizations do not end up spending all or even half of their grant each month.
Expert Tips for Managing Google Ad Grants
Here are some of the expert tips that we’ve picked up from working with successful Google Ad Grant accounts:
- Create Great Landing Pages – It truly doesn’t matter how well crafted or funded a Google Ads campaign is if the landing page that the ads direct users to isn’t well optimized. We want to ensure that we’re driving traffic to a web page that is not only well-designed, easy to navigate, and has clear calls to action, but which matches the content of the ads. If someone clicks on an ad that reads, “Save Big on Patio Furniture” and then lands on a page about gardening tools, they’re going to leave that website immediately. Matching the messaging of your landing pages to your Google Ad Grant ads is essential to improving conversion rates and reducing bounce rates.
- Focus on Core Services – With such a large ad budget, it can be enticing to try to start running ads targeting a wide spectrum of broad keywords related to your organization. Resist this. For any search query, there are a number of advertisers competing for the #1 ad placement. Google will take all of their bids into account and award the placement to the advertiser which not only has a high bid, but which also has the most relevant ad copy and landing page, most reputable website, most relevant conversion objectives, and a variety of other criteria. For this reason, it can be incredibly hard to advertise against keywords that aren’t directly related to your organization. We’ve found that the most effective use of time and resources is to focus on the core services related to any given charity or nonprofit and not try to overreach.
- Maintain Compliance – There are a number of performance metrics and setup requirements that Google insists Google Ad Grant advertisers adhere to in order to maintain their grant. These include everything from having a certain number of ad groups and ads per campaign to maintaining an average click-through rate of 5% or more. Advertisers who fail to meet compliance for a certain period of time are in jeopardy of losing their ad grant. For a complete list of compliance requirements, please visit Google’s Ad Grants Policy Compliance Guide.
- Consider Professional Ad Grant Management – From meeting ad grant compliance to navigating Google’s complicated advertising platform, managing a Google Ad Grant can demand a lot of time and attention. To save some peace of mind, consider outsourcing your Google Ad Grant account management to a professional management team who can help to advise on campaign and strategy development, monitor ads, make optimizations, and report on performance to ensure that your organization makes the most of this amazing program. As a certified Google Partner, we at Bloom Communications have an expert team with a proven track record of getting the most out of the Google Ad Grant program.
Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation and discuss if your organization might qualify for a Google Ad Grant.