Small Charity Week

Using Google AdGrants: getting the most out of your free $10k

Blog post   •   Jun 28, 2018 16:32 BST

Over time, paid search results have occupied more and more of the search results page. This has meant that charities and non-profits often struggle for visibility against for-profit businesses with bigger advertising budgets and better SEO resource. As a concession to these organisations, Google makes available $10,000 worth of search advertising to eligible non-profits, “AdGrants”.

AdGrants come with terms and conditions, and more rigorous optimisation and quality standards to adhere to than standard paid search advertisers. The toughest limitation is needing to secure an average 5% click through rate to keep receiving the grant. But even with limitations like this, AdGrants can be an extremely valuable channel for building awareness of your campaign work, as well as recruiting new fundraisers and finding new donors.

$10,000 worth of advertising can go a long way if well spread over a strong campaign structure. Start with a brainstorm of all the types of people you might want to reach: donors, fundraisers, service users. Next, consider the reasons these audiences might want to hear from you – how can you add value to their lives?

Finding keywords

A great tool is AnswerThePublic. You can use this tool to enter a term that is relevant to your charity, such as anxiety or animal welfare. The tool will suggest a whole array of longer term keywords related to that search term. If you are using the Google Chrome browser, you can also install an add-on called KeyWord Anywhere. When this add-on is installed in your browser, all of the search results on AnswerThePublic (as well as on other sites) will be displayed with their monthly search volumes, so you can identify which queries will actually deliver traffic.

When reviewing these queries, sort them according to who might search for them, and what that searcher might be looking for. Structure your ad account in this way – always think about the intent behind the search, not just the search term itself.

Once you’ve built your campaigns, review your Search Query Reports regularly – if possible, at least weekly. Review on an ad-group level: which keywords are performing weakly (click through rates below 3%) and which are performing strongly (click through rates over 5-6%). Increase your bids on the strongest keywords, and pause the underperforming keywords.

Campaign structure

Each ad group requires a minimum of two ad copies to be eligible for an ad grant, but I would recommend three, or even four depending on how much spend is going through the ad group. Think about your key messages and try different ad copies with different messages – but always make them relevant to the intent, audience and search query. Pause ad copies that don’t do well. If AdWords is serving one ad much more than the others, you can change the settings in the ad group to “Rotate Evenly” to give the other ads a chance (AdWords will warn you not to do this, but go ahead, just remember to switch it back again when you’ve got some results to learn from!)

Make sure you have a Brand campaign set up, including every variation of your brand name you can think of, as well as mis-spells. This not only secures you a stronger presence in search results, but it also boosts your overall click through rate average for the account, as brand terms receive the highest rates.

Keyword strategy

If you’re not a full time AdWords manager, make sure you’re up to date with keyword match types. There are three main types of keyword match type: exact match, phrase match, and broad match. Using the wrong match type will significantly affect that target 5% click through rate.

  • An exact match does what it says on the tin – your ad will only show if a person searches for the exact search term in your account (or very similar). You set this match type by enclosing it in square brackets when adding the keyword to your account e.g. [rspca].
  • A phrase match keyword expands your potential reach – if a person searches for your search term with an extra word at the start or the end, an ad will show. E.g. if you have mental health charities as a keyword, ads will show for local mental health charities and mental health charities near me. It is denoted by adding speech marks around the search term when you add it, e.g. “mental health charities”.
  • Finally, broad match expands your reach even further. It allows for synonyms, as well as extra words in any order. So adult care could match how to make a grown up care package. As you can see, it’s easy for non-relevant search terms to start triggering your ads. It’s unlikely that a searcher would click on your ad, and so your click through rate will suffer. Broad match is the default option – if you don’t specify a match type by using the brackets or speech marks, the keyword will operate as broad match, and can significantly damage your account.

Broad match is a good way to find new keywords that you may wish to add and give you ideas – but set a low maximum bid, and ensure a higher bid for exact match keywords that you know are more relevant.

Finally – if you start to see irrelevant search terms in your search query report, add them in as negative keywords. For example, I’ve seen ads about tiger conservation being triggered by Tiger Woods searches! You can add in the irrelevant terms (i.e. Woods) as a negative keyword to stop this happening.

These basic tips will make a big difference on an AdWords account, but are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimisation! Start small, commit to just 15 minutes a week to see what improvements you can make, and good luck!

Author Bio:

Kayley Dempsey is a marketing strategist. In 2017 she founded Seedling Digital, providing digital marketing services and training for non-profits and ethical businesses.

The Google search results page is often the first step of research for a new service user, volunteer or donor. This makes Google AdGrants an essential acquisition tool for many small charities. This Small Charity Week, Kayley Dempsey of Seedling Digital suggests how you can make the most out of your AdGrants budget.