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How To Set Up a Google Ad Grants Account

You may have applied for or been approved for a Google Ad Grant, but now that you have it you don’t know how best to use that Google Grant.  It can be a daunting task to set up a Google Ad Grants account.  Nonprofits in particular have additional considerations to focus on when they set up their Google Ads Account than businesses do.  This is primarily because for most nonprofits their Google Ads account is linked to their participation in the Google Ad Grants program which has many requirements and restrictions.

The requirements imposed by Google Ad Grants shape how a nonprofit’s Google Ads account is set up.  In addition, there are also best practices that charities should follow to get the best results from their Google Ads Account. Following the guidance in this article should help increase the overall effectiveness of these ads in spreading their message, attracting donors, and recruiting volunteers.

While this article is quite detailed, there are some things we are just not able to cover.  If you want more one-on-one help you can schedule a free consultation with us regarding your Google Ads and Google Grants accounts.  After all, we are experts and we specialize in Google Grants and Google Ads for nonprofits.

First, let’s start with the requirements for Google Ad Grants since so many nonprofit Google Ads accounts have this requirement and it is fundamental in that if the Google Ad Grants requirements are not met it can lead to a suspension of the nonprofit’s account.  Google lays out its requirements in the Google Ad Grants Policy Compliance Guide, but the most important rules to note are:


Google Grants Performance Requirements:

  • Accounts must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month. That is a high bar and requires you to continually optimize your account and monitor the click-through rates of each of your ads.
  • Your account needs to have at least one conversion every month.  That means that you will need to have conversion tracking set up correctly with at least one meaningful goal and that the conversion tracking gets triggered.  It is best to set up the conversion rules in Google Analytics and then reference it in Google Ads.

Google Grants Account Structure:

  • Your campaign must contain at least 2 ad groups.
  • Each ad group needs to have at least 2 ads in it.
  • Your account must have at least 2 sitelink ad extensions. Sitelink extensions appear in your ads as a hyperlink that directs users to specific pages of your website.

Google Grants Keywords Requirements:

  • Each Keyword in your account must have a quality score higher than 2.  Quality scores range from 1 to 10 and quality scores of 1 and 2 mean the landing pages and ads are not really relevant to what was being searched for.
  • With only a few exceptions, keywords that you set up must be composed of multiple words.

Google Grants Activity Requirements:

  • You must log in to the account at least monthly
  • You must implement changes to the account at least once every 90 days
  • You can only advertise domains that you own and that you submitted to Google. You cannot have ads that send people to third-party sites such as your social media pages.

While Google Grants has a lot of requirements and some such as the 5% click-through rate can be tough to meet, they are largely there to improve your Google Ads Account.  In most cases, it is in your best interest to go beyond the basic requirement that Google Grants requires.  So while Google Grants may require you to have 2 ads per ad group, your account will be even more successful if you increase the number of ads per ad group even higher.  Similarly, having more campaigns is also good practice.

Organizations should set up a campaign for each of the main goals that they are using their Google Ads account to try to accomplish.  For example, there could be one for increasing its mailing list, one for recruiting volunteers, one for informing the public about events they are having, and so forth. This is beneficial in that it will both make the campaign easier to manage and it will also cause your ads to be more tailored to the searches that you receive.

Each of the campaigns should have at least a few ad groups. Ad groups should be focused on a specific topic.  The keywords, ads, and ad extensions under that ad group should also be similarly focused. The more you can target your ads, the better results that you will have.

Each ad group should contain several ads. Google’s algorithm will make a determination of which would be most likely to be clicked in response to a specific web search.  By including more ads, you are giving Google more choices with which to pick and better meet the web searcher’s needs.  A similar technique for improving clickthrough rates is to have a Responsive Search Ad in each ad group.  Responsive Search Ads are a collection of ad headlines and ad text that allows Google to mix and match the headline and ad body that it thinks will be most effective.

While ads are very short pieces of text, it is important that they should be well-written by someone with some experience in that area.  You may want to include call-to-actions in your ads.  you will certainly want your ads to be engaging and grab a reader’s attention so spend time refining the wording of your ads and improving it over time.

Along with the ads themselves, you should pay attention to your intended audience and make sure that your ads are getting to the appropriate eyeballs.  In Google Ads, you can specific geographic areas in which to show your ads.  You can also specify what days and times an ad is shown and in response to what searches and gets shown.  If one of your ads is repeatedly shown for a search that is not relevant you can either narrow your keyword or you can add a negative keyword that stops the ad from being shown if a certain word is included in the search.

Generally, for experienced individuals, it is best to control as many aspects of the account yourself rather than let Google control it so it is generally best to use manual bidding and phrase keywords rather than broad keywords.  However, for those who have a Google Grants account rather than a paid Google Ads account using Maximize Conversions for at least one Campaign may make sense.

Use as many Keywords as you can.  Keywords can be any word or phrase or other grouping of words that searchers may search on. Those searching for different keywords may be looking for different things and should receive tailored ads for what they are looking for.  You may have trouble appearing near the top of the page for certain popular keywords.  That is particularly true with Google Grants since ads from a Google Grants account are shown below all ads from paid Google ads accounts. Nonprofits thus will benefit from including long-tailed keywords that appear less often in searches but are still valuable.

Make significant use of Ad Extensions. Google Ad Extensions appear as part of the ad but provide extra information or capabilities to the individual searching the web. They can help increase the chance that an ad will get clicked on.  Ad extensions that you should think about using if appropriate are:

  • Call extensions that list the organization’s phone number in the ad so that people can easily call it.  these can be especially useful for those searching on a phone.
  • Location extensions which can show the organization’s address and can be valuable for organizations serving a specific geographic area.
  • Sitelink Extensions which provides links to specific pages of your website. Having 4 to 6 sitelinks is usually a good practice for improving the clickthrough rates of ads.
  • Callout extensions which are additional phrases included in an ad where an organization can include its pitch.
  • Message extensions can allow searchers to easily send a text message to your organization if your organization is able to respond effectively to text messages.

How to Track Google Ad Results and Google Grant Results

Now that you have set up your Google Ads account, you will want to continually improve it in order to get better results.  In order to know if you are improving things, you first need to have a baseline.  You should look intently at the information in Google Ads and in Google Analytics and make sure that clicks from ads and website traffic continues to be high or improve over time.  However, even more important is for you to focus on conversions.

You should set up conversion goals for any action that you want to track such as phone calls driven by ads, contact form submissions, donations, etc.  Conversions should be segmented out by type so you have more granular data.  Conversions are probably the most important metric to focus on to ensure your Google Ads account and your campaigns are achieving your organization’s goals.

How To Get Your Website Ready for Google Ads

Just as important as setting up your Google Ads account well, you should also look over your website and make sure that it is set up.  This will lead to better results for your Google Ads accounts and your Google Ad Grants ad allocation.  Google Grants only permit you to run ads that have a Quality Score of 2 or higher and having additional content or better-written pages can lead to better Quality Scores for ads.

Ensure your website is user-friendly and easy to use.  It is important that it works well and loads fast on mobile devices.  You should also strive to make sure it has a significant amount of content and that web pages on it are focused on one specific topic. Adding additional website pages and blog posts will often help attract visitors to your site.  It should have several authoritative and detailed pages that will be useful or informative to readers.

How To Effectively Use Google Ad Grants

You should go into the Google Ads management process with the mindset that you are going to continue to adjust and improve your account and over time you will increase the effectiveness of your ads.  To approach Google Ads management in a professional manner, you should systematically test the changes you make to ensure they are having the desired results.  This is typically done through A/B tests where you compare two options against each other to see which yields the best results. You can also use A/B tests to refine your website and landing page verbiage as well.

As you do periodic reviews of your Google Ad account, you should strive to use the full Google Grant amount. Most nonprofits do not use much of their allocation of free Google Ads and are effectively leaving money on the table. It takes a lot of time to get the most out of your Google Ads account, but it is a worthwhile investment. If your free time or expertise limits you from doing frequent, detailed analyses of your Google Ads account, please think about using our services to handle this process for you.  We are experts in Google Grants and Google Ads for nonprofits and can make your account much more powerful.  Contact us for a proposal or a free consultation.