For non-profit organisations looking to reach new audiences, Google grants non-profit advertisers up to $10,000 per month to help their cause. This works out to a daily spend of $333 (based on a 30 day month) which many charities and other organisations find very helpful.
You’re probably already aware who is eligible for an account e.g. the grant is not designed for educational organisations such as universities, governmental or political organisations or hospitals. If you’re setting up an account or running campaigns for a Google Ads Grant account you may have noticed that you have some more stringent requirements to keep your ads running.
These rules are designed to keep ads useful to Google’s users and breaking these rules could land you with the dreaded account deactivation.
Read on to find out more about Google’s Ads Grant rules (as of 2020) and tips on staying compliant.
Be mindful of Google’s mission-based policy
When running a Google Ads Charity account, Google’s rules for the account more or less reflect their mission-based policy.
What does this mean? Essentially, relevance. Google wants to see that the ads and keywords you are using in your account are relevant to your organisation. This may not be such an alien concept to those of you who run regular Google Ads accounts already. You may be familiar with the quality-score being based on the relevance between your keywords, ads and landing pages. It’s pretty much the same concept in a non-profit account but a little stricter compared with running a paid account.
The easiest way to stay in line with Google’s mission-based policy is to think about the user, ask yourself, ‘are people searching for my keywords going to find the organisations website helpful?’ and ‘is my ad relevant to what the user is looking for?’.
Avoid “overly generic” keywords
In line with Google’s mission-based policy, ‘overly-generic’ keywords are not accepted in an Ads Grant account. Again, Google wants to ensure that your ads are being shown to the most relevant audience. This might seem like an obvious point, however, paid accounts are often prioritiesd over grants accounts making it harder to spend the entire budget allowance. With up to $10,000 a month, it can be very tempting to run ads for keywords that are somewhat broader just to make the most out of your budget and reach as many people as possible. Try to bear in mind that quality is usually better than quantity when it comes to driving traffic.
Avoid single-word keywords
In the same vein as the point above, single-word keywords are also considered against Google’s mission policy. Those of you who run Google Ads accounts already may already be in the mindset of avoiding single-word keywords already as they’re typically pretty broad and can drive a fair amount of irrelevant traffic. This is not only bad for the quality of traffic you’re driving, it’s also likely to get you in trouble with Google.
If you are currently running an Ad Grants account with single-word keywords, you’ll want to go ahead and pause these.
A quick way to do this is to filter your keywords list to exclude any keywords with a space in the keyword text, highlight all terms in the list and pause them all.
There is a list of keywords that are excluded from the single-keyword rule. This list can be found on Google’s support. Just remember that if you do want to use these keywords in your account, they need to be relevant.
You need a CTR of at least 5%
To clarify, this is an account-wide CTR (click-through-rate) of 5%. For example, if you have an ad that is getting a CTR of 2% but it’s balanced out by ads achieving CTRs of 8% you won’t necessarily be penalised – although you may want to address the ad that isn’t performing too well.
Again, you may want to look at scripts or rules to pause these automatically. However, you may find that running rules based on CTR doesn’t really give any new ads and keywords a fair chance. It’s probably better to manually look at your ads and keywords and address any low CTRs.
Get rid of quality scores of 2 or under
Hopefully, if you have been running Google Ads accounts already, you’ll be very used to working on your quality scores. With the Ads Grant, you need to ensure that your keywords have a quality score of at least 3, otherwise you could face your ads being deactivated.
In an ideal world, quality scores of 2 or less will not be an issue in your account but sometimes it can happen for a whole host of reasons. With that in mind, it can be helpful to apply an auto-rule or script to automatically pause any keywords that fall below a quality score of 3 – heck, it’s better than an account being deactivated.
This can be done by highlighting all of your current keywords, creating an automated rule and setting it to pause keywords if the quality score becomes lower than 3.
Of course, the issue with this is that it doesn’t cover you if you add new keywords to the account (unless you recreate the rule every time you add new keywords). It may be worth considering adding in a script to help you. If you’re not sure on how to make a script, a quick Google will help you find premade scripts by others who are willing to share. Such scripts to consider include; a script that alerts you when quality scores drop below 3 or a script that automatically pauses them for you.
You need 1 conversion a month
Google Ads wants to see 1 conversion a month to be sure the conversion tracking is working. If you find your conversions are dropping below the 1 a month threshold you may want to try the following:
- If your conversions are low because traffic to the site is low, research further relevant keywords to add into your account to help boost these numbers. Remember that it can be hard to spend on an Ads Grant account so you may find you have quite a lot of keywords.
- Where applicable, look at adding further conversion goals. For example, track phone calls, install Google Tag Manager and begin tracking email link clicks, etc.
There are exceptions to this rule; if your account was set up prior to January 2018 and you’re not using smart bidding strategies you won’t get an account deactivation for having less than 1 conversion a month. Either way, you should be tracking conversions and the chances are, you’ll be aiming for more than one a month anyway.
Create at least 2 Sitelink extensions
You’ll want to highlight relevant and useful pages in your sitelink extensions anyway but the Ads Grant policies require at least 2. Again, it may be better to create more of these where possible to test which ones people are clicking on and finding the most useful.
You need 2 ads per ad group and 2 ad groups per campaign
This rule shouldn’t need too much clarification as the chances are, you’ll be used to creating ad groups with more than one ad (ideally 3+) for the purposes of split testing. Naturally, be careful to not add too many into your ad group otherwise you could find yourself struggling to manage your split tests.
Again, having multiple ad groups per campaign will likely be a common practice for you already to ensure your keywords are relevant to the ad. For the Ads Grant, you must ensure there are more than 2 per campaign.
Annual programme survey responses
Google requires anyone with an Ads Grant account to respond to their programme survey at least once a year. The survey can be found here and it doesn’t take too long to complete. It’s not exactly a grievance considering your organisation is getting free ads. Just try not to forget about it. Adding a recurring annual reminder in your calendar could help.
So there you have it, the current list of rules for a Google Ads Grant in 2020. It is worth keeping your ear to the ground for further updates too. The rules have changed over the years (anyone remember needing to achieve 1% CTR? Or bidding only up to $2 when you could only bid manually?). For the most part, the rules reflect the work you’d usually be focussing on anyway; relevancy, useful to people searching for your keywords and aiming to drive good quality conversions.