Firefly hears all the time from clients, “Our organization has a Google Ad Grant account, but no one has touched it in years.”
We totally get it—non-profits often lack the resources and bandwidth needed to manage ads long-term. But even if you’ve built a strong foundation of evergreen ads, the Google Ad Grant should never be a “set it and forget it” kind of thing.
In fact, Google has several requirements for Ad Grant accounts that can result in account suspension if you’re found to be out of compliance. And trust us, you do not want to deal with the time-suck that is waiting for Google Support to reinstate your ad account!
So, whether you’re just applying for the Google Ad Grant or digging up the credentials for the account that’s been collecting dust, here’s what you need to know about meeting Google Ad Grant requirements (and time-saving tips to help you do so)!
PS. If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide on how to get started with and make the most out of your Google Ad Grant, check out Firefly’s other resources on the topic.
Google requires Ad Grant accounts to follow its best practice structure when it comes to campaigns, ad groups, and ads. Essentially, your ad structure should look like this:
1 campaign –> 2+ ad groups –> 2+ ads –> 2+ sitelink extensions
Firefly Pro Tips:
- If you struggle to come up with more than one relevant ad group per campaign, we recommend approaching ad groups like you would email segmentation. For an event campaign, imagine which phrases different target audiences (general adults, individuals with families, etc.) might be searching for, and group keywords around that.
- Create variations of your ads to test different headlines, descriptions, and landing pages. While 2 ads per ad group is the requirement, 3-5 ads is even stronger!
- Utilize other types of ad extensions in addition to sitelink extensions where relevant, like callout extensions or call extensions.
Keywords are at the core of Google Search ads, so it’s no surprise that Google has several requirements in this area. These include:
- No single-word keywords (like “donate”). Note: there are exceptions to this, like if your organization’s name is one word.
- No overly generic keywords (like “free download”).
- Keywords must have a quality score of 3 or higher. This is Google’s way of ranking how relevant a keyword is to the ad group and landing page.
Firefly Pro Tips:
- You can set up account-level automated rules that will ensure no keywords slip through the cracks during your review. We recommend setting up rules to pause keywords when they don’t meet the above requirements and then having those rules run weekly.
- Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to discover keywords relevant to your landing page. Make sure keywords have a sizable number of monthly searches.
Click-through Rate (CTR)
Ad Grant accounts have 90 days from when ads are launched to reach a 5% overall click-through rate (CTR). However, there is a grace period for this requirement: accounts will only be flagged as non-compliant if ads fail to reach 5% CTR for two consecutive months.
Firefly’s tips to help increase CTR:
- Pause any keywords that have high impressions but low (< 2.5%) CTR. You can set up an account rule to manage this for you.
- Use the Search Terms report in the Ads platform to identify where your ads might be showing on irrelevant search queries, then add these as negative keywords to your account.
- Try to use keywords that are specific to your organization’s mission.
- Bid on your organization’s brand terms. These terms tend to have high CTR and are crucial to gaining more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP)!
- Group keywords by theme for ad groups, which ensures your headlines and descriptions use similar keywords. Bonus: this also helps improve the quality score of your ads.
- Use strong calls to action in your ad copy (“Sign Up Today,” “Take Action Now”).
Conversion tracking must be configured for Ad Grant accounts, and at least one meaningful conversion per month must be reported. For “meaningful” conversions, think: email signups, donations, advocacy actions, calls, or form submissions. Tracking actions like time spent on site as a conversion will falsely inflate your performance metrics.
You will need to first set up these website conversion events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)—at Firefly we recommend using Google Tag Manager to do so. If you have conversions setup in GA4, you now have the option to easily import those into your Google Ads account.
Firefly’s tips to help increase conversions:
- Prioritize Maximum Conversion bid strategy for at least one campaign. This should be for a campaign in which the CTA is to sign up, donate, or take another similar action.
- Increase bids on highly competitive keywords. You can use Google’s performance reports and Keyword Planner tool to identify keywords with high market competition.
- Send users to landing pages that are optimized for taking action, like a donation form, rather than your homepage or a blog post.
There is also a requirement to respond to Google’s annual program survey, which will be emailed to the administrator(s) on file in your Ad Grant account.
Though they may seem cumbersome to a team who has limited bandwidth, these requirements exist to help strengthen your ads so you can bring quality traffic to your organization’s website. And that quality traffic will help get you closer to those quarterly goals!
If you’re planning to take advantage of Ad Grant dollars (which we highly recommend you do), a team member will need to take ownership of and have sufficient time to dedicate to the account. That includes regularly monitoring ad performance and making optimizations where needed.
But if your Google Ad Grant ever does slip through the cracks and falls out of compliance, don’t panic! You can always request your account be reinstated once you’ve corrected the issue.
The Firefly team has worked with countless non-profits get their Ad Grant accounts back in fighting shape, and we’d love to help you too. Get in touch!