Google Grant Compliance: 5 Tips to Avoid Suspension

Grant Hensel • May 17, 2021

This article covers dos and don’ts for employing a Google Ad Grant at your nonprofit. As the CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone, Grant Hensel and the NPM team have helped more than 300 leading nonprofits worldwide with Google Grants, and Grant shares his expertise below.

Grant requirements and compliance standards are well-understood by many nonprofits. As a crucial source of funding, nonprofit organizations take great care to make sure they can acquire and maintain their grants.

The Google Ad Grant has emerged as a valuable resource for nonprofits looking to enhance their digital presence. The Grant is available exclusively to nonprofits and gives organizations up to $10,000 every month to spend on Google Ads. 

Google is one of the most popular search engines globally and buying space within Google Search gives your organization a chance to share your mission with a broad audience. As such, it’s a worthwhile investment for most nonprofits, as the costs of compliance are minimal.

The Google Ad Grant is an in-kind contribution, meaning that the money is allocated automatically based on your activity in the Google Ads interface. This means that the money never actually reaches your organization, making the accounting simple and easy. 

Further, the Grant does not have to be renewed. Instead, all you need to do is remain compliant, and you’ll continue to have access to the Grant funds.

But what does compliance entail? 

As experts in the Google Grant, Nonprofit Megaphone is here to guide you through some proven tips to ensure you stay compliant and maintain this valuable free ad space. Our tips include:

  1. Assign a Google Grant Manager
  2. Follow the Required Account Structure
  3. Choose the Right Keywords
  4. Maintain a 5% Click-Through-Rate
  5. Track Conversions

As long as your organization keeps up with these five tips, you’re sure to maintain the grant’s ad space and widen your nonprofit’s reach online. Let’s get started.

Write the Perfect Grant Proposal

Writing Grant proposals shouldn’t be so stressful. Use this toolkit to organize your application and write a compelling proposal.

Assign a Google Grant Manager

1. Assign a Google Grant Manager

As with most things, it’s essential to have a strategic plan before taking on the Google Ad Grant. It’s useful to have a specific individual or team responsible for implementing this plan. 

Even if they’re not yet an expert, assigning a Google Grant Manager will allow your organization to house the expertise and talents necessary for good Google Grant management in one person. The Google Ads interface is simple to use but has some more complex features that a specialized manager could take advantage of. 

Designating a specific person or team as your grant manager will allow them to learn these features and respond to the data generated by your Ad grant performance. As your Grant manager learns, they’ll be able to increase the value of the Google Ad Grant to your organization.

Simply assigning a grant manager and allowing them to learn the ins and outs of grant management lays a stable foundation for maintaining compliance for only a few hours a month. 

However, some organizations fear that they cannot allocate resources to this end. Others want more out of the Grant than just compliance. In either of these cases, it may be better to outsource grant management to an outside agency specializing in this specific grant.

Follow The Required Account Structure

2. Follow The Required Account Structure

Google’s compliance standards are designed to ensure that nonprofits are utilizing the Google Ad Grant to some degree of success. This gives organizations an incentive to use and maintain their Google Ads account. 

Maintaining compliance means building all of the necessary elements of a successful Google Ads account. With diligence and expertise, you can use this as a foundation for long-term marketing growth.

Google requires that all grantees have two ad groups for every campaign. Furthermore, every ad group needs to have at least two active ads. This structure ensures that your account has all of the necessary elements in place for success. Let’s break those down a little further. 

Campaigns are the largest building blocks of the Google Ads interface. They contain multiple ad groups and even more ads. Campaigns are themed around a particular goal or topic, allowing for easy organization for the ads within. Common campaigns include topics like “Volunteers”, “Donations”, or a specific event.

Ad Groups are housed within each campaign and therefore inherit their campaign’s theme. While campaigns are general, ad groups become more specific. Ad Groups are created around specific keywords that someone might search for. Therefore, the ad that appears in any given Google search depends on the keywords in the associated ad group.

Ads are the smallest element but arguably the most important. Each ad group has at least two ads within it. Two are required because Google automatically rotates between the two, giving you data on how they perform. This allows grant managers to evaluate their performance and make changes. For instance, if ad A performs much better than ad B, then you know that B could be tweaked to perform better.

While this is a required account structure, it’s also likely to yield the best results for your organization through the performance data such structure provides.

Choose The Right Keywords

3. Choose The Right Keywords 

As mentioned in the previous section, each ad group is associated with particular keywords that determine when and to whom your ads are shown on the Google results page. To prevent users from loading up their ad groups with every possible keyword, Google’s compliance standards ask that you be strategic in your keyword choices. There are even explicit bans on some types of keywords, for example: 

  1. No Single-Word Keywords
  2. No Generic Keywords
  3. No Keywords with A Quality Score Below 3

The first and second requirements ensure that your keywords are specific to the thing you’re trying to advertise. Allowing generic or single-word keywords could easily congest the Google Ads system, leading to ads that aren’t as relevant or useful to a searcher’s inquiry. 

The third requirement is based on Google’s quality score. This score is a number between 1 and 10 and is determined by an algorithm. In essence, the score reflects a keyword’s relevance to both the ad and the landing page attached to the ad. If they’re all in congruence, the score will be higher, and your ad is more likely to be shown. One of the keys to grant management is designing these elements in tandem to improve your quality scores.

Maintain A 5% Click-Through Rate

4. Maintain A 5% Click-Through Rate 

The Click-Through Rate (CTR) of an ad is an incredibly important metric. The CTR is calculated as the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. 

Clicks are fairly intuitive; they’re the number of times a user clicks on your ad. Impressions are the number times an ad appears to a user. Therefore, the CTR requirement sets the minimum benchmark for success. So long as 5 out of every 100 people presented with your ad click on it, you’ll remain compliant.

Google uses this metric to determine compliance because it easily reports whether an ad is relevant to a given search. A low CTR suggests that the ad isn’t appealing to the searcher.

Note that a 5% CTR is only a floor. Highly successful Google Ad accounts will have a rate that is higher than that. While the Google Ads interface can give you most of the necessary information to tweak and enhance your ads, using other tools like Google Analytics can help you gather the data you need.

Track Conversions

5. Track Conversions

Conversion tracking is the final compliance standard and is a big indicator of whether your Google Ad campaigns are successful.

 A conversion occurs when a user completes an action that is valuable to your organization. You are at complete liberty to determine what your conversions are. Common ones include donations, newsletter signups, or spending more than 5 minutes on your site. 

It’s important that these conversions are valuable and non-trivial. While trivial conversions may boost your stats, these conversions won’t actually create value for your organization and may mislead anyone using them in their decision-making.

Google requires that you track conversions and have at least one conversion every month. In order to track conversions, you must have Google Analytics installed on your website. Google Analytics easily integrates with Google Ads and gives you a full suite of other data that you can use to hone your digital presence.

Google logo to represent a nonprofit's Google Ads Grant

Don’t waste your Google Ads Grant!

Use this Free Campaign Planner to organize your nonprofit’s campaigns, plan keywords, and save valuable time.

Google’s compliance standards aren’t meant to be overly restrictive or burdensome. Instead, they’re designed to ensure that your Google Ads account is set up for success. By building your account for compliance, your organization will be able to lay a foundation for successful digital marketing with the Google Ad Grant.

Once you get the hang of being compliant, you’ll be equipped with all the tools necessary to take your Google Ads account to the next level. Over time, you’ll learn how to write better ads, create more focused keywords, and ultimately, boost conversion rates. With the affordable Google Ad Grant, your organization will be in a position to share your mission across the world.