Google Grant Policy Changes: How to Keep Your Account Compliant

December 21, 2017

Huge news is rocking the nonprofit world! On December 14th, Google announced they were changing policies relating to Google Adwords Grant, effective January 1st. Over 35,000 nonprofits make use of Google’s free advertising accounts. For some, there are reasons to celebrate but for many, there are reasons to break a sweat. But this shake up should be seized on as an opportunity to streamline your marketing and make it as impactful as ever. Let’s go through a quick breakdown of the key changes and follow them with tips to optimize your Grants accounts to stay active.

The $2 bid cap has been lifted
The restriction to bid above $2.00 USD cost-per-click is no more and is very welcomed news! Unlike the other policy changes listed, this is effective immediately so your organization can put it to use now. This applies to the ‘Maximize Conversions’ bidding strategy so make sure it’s enable to see the fruits of this change.

All Grant accounts must keep a 5% click-through-rate minimum every month
This is the biggest threat that will negatively impact numerous nonprofits. The rationale for this is to shed low quality and vague keywords from your strategy. If you drop below this minimum for two months in a row, your Grant account will be suspended. Google will contact at risk accounts via the Adwords notifications with some suggestions on how to raise it before swinging the axe.

Single word keywords drastically reduced
If you think single word keywords work great for you, the following will be painful reading. Google is banning using these with a few exceptions including your branded words and approved medical conditions. This is supposed to ensure nonprofits utilize appropriate and defined keywords. Bear in mind that Google doesn’t consider terms such as dashes, periods or other special characters as single word keywords.

Other policy changes

  • You can’t use branded keywords that your nonprofit doesn’t own, for instance: Youtube, Facebook, Google etc.
  • Generic keywords, such as ‘free videos’, ‘today’s news’ and ‘download games’ are banned for being vague. The names of places and historical people/events are also forbidden.
  • All campaigns need at least two ad groups and there must be at least two ads in each ad group.
  • All accounts must use geotargeting relevant to you.
  • All keywords are required to have a Quality Score of 2 or above.
  • Tips to manage changes
    These changes may seem threating for lots of nonprofits but with the right strategy, these changes could actually improve your organization’s performance. Here are some suggestions you can adopt to help mitigate the damaging effects and capitalize on your success.

  • 5% CTR
  • Ensure your keywords are themed or reflect your ads accurate.
  • Optimize your ads until they can’t be optimized any further.
  • Make sure your ads meet the needs of a potential lead.
  • Optimize your ad extensions as much as possible.
  • Exclude any possible irrelevant search terms.
  • Have you excluded any possible irrelevant search terms.
  • Make use of single keyword ad groups (SKAGs).
  • Single word keyword restrictions
  • Go through all your single word keywords and expand on it with variations with more than one word that you aren’t bidding on.
  • Get rid of those that are too vague or unnecessary.
  • Quality Score
  • Look at all of your keywords’ Quality Scores. Ideally, a score above 6 should not be problematic and 7 or above is a sign you’re doing excellently. Any scores below 6 should be a cause for concern and you should consider removing it from your strategy.
  • Keywords you don’t own
  • Don’t bid on competitor keywords that your nonprofit doesn’t own.
  • Pause any keywords that fall under this category.
  • $2 max CPC
  • The ‘Maximize Conversions’ strategy is best practice so make sure this is enabled and the $2 cap will be lifted.
  • As this strategy works off conversion data, ensure your conversions have been set up correctly and have enough data to pull from.
  • You may start seeing the average CPC rise above $2 for some keywords and this will improve your visibility and conversions in the process.
  • Google Grant’s policy changes could spell the end of some nonprofits incorporating this service in their marketing. The best way to evade this fate for your organization is to make sure you know these changes entail and have done all you can to update your Grant strategy accordingly.

    About the Author

    Elena is a Digital Marketing Account Executive in the hjc Marketing and fundraising team. She liaises closely with clients to define campaign objectives then produces comprehensive marketing strategies and execution to drive conversions and brand building efforts. Her marketing skills are well-rounded with specialisms in SEO, email, paid search, content, analytics, strategy, design theory, social media and more.