EchoDitto Blog

Leave no Google Grants on the table

Google Grants for AdWords are one of the greatest gifts given to nonprofits by the great and powerful Google. Like so many equally useful sweaters from grandma, they are all too often ignored or not used to their potential. That doesn't have to be the case, and it doesn't have to take up hours every week.

If a donor walked in your door and handed your development manager ten thousand dollars ($10,000!!) just for being a nonprofit, your fundraiser would likely need a paper bag to keep from hyperventilating. That's Google Grants, and it happens once a month. The moral of the story is that it's not something to be ignored simply because you didn't have to write a proposal for it.

The main reasons AdWords are typically ignored by Google Grant recipients are an unfamiliarity with the system and a lack of expendable time. To rebut the latter reason, simply see the previous paragraph. Almost any team can find a few hours a month for ten grand. The first reason is legitimate, but not insurmountable. To that point, I present thee with some link bait I like to call...

5 ways to stop wasting your Google Grant

Before getting to that, I must emphasize that good use of AdWords involves much more than maxing out the grant. For readability and brevity's sake this will leave out a certain amount of Adwords 101 material. Contact us at to discuss how we can help you with that.

1. No favorite kids, no favorite pages

Your homepage may be your best looking or most comprehensive landing page on your website, but it isn't the only one. How about those issue pages that your field or program staff spent so much time writing? What about the campaign pages introducing the big priorities for the the month/season/year? Those are probably all better landing pages to build ad groups around. They will also work better with the keywords tool.

ACTION: Identify three to five pages that aren't your homepage that you can direct people to through ads.

2. Use the tools provided

The first among these is the keyword tool. You can preview this without even logging into an account. The beauty here is that you can get a slew of good ideas for keywords based on a word or phrase, website content, or some general categories. The first two fields are the most useful in my opinion. For example, I can enter this recent EchoDitto blog post in the website field and get 100 potential keywords. If logged in, I also see 10 separate Ad Group suggestions with that new feature. I'll often select all keywords, then deselect obviously bad ones. *

Once you have a list of good keywords, add them to a specified ad group with the "Add to account" drop down menu. Other tools include the Opportunities tab, Google Analytics, and the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool.

ACTION: Use the keyword tool to search for keywords based on your landing page URL or relevant phrase. Try a few different phrases related to the landing page and do this again during your next session.

3. Pause with extreme prejudice

Just as you shouldn't want to waste your grant, Google doesn't either. Their algorithm wizards created a great measure called Quality Score. You may have to add it to your keyword view through the Columns drop down menu. It is shorthand for how well a given keyword should work for a given ad. It (allegedly) takes your keyword, ad copy, and landing page all into account, then gives a number from one to ten. The short version? Pause anything given a two or less. Leaving crappy keywords in play tells Google that you're not managing things carefully and they'll prioritize your ads accordingly.

Note, I wrote pause, not delete. I'm as annoyed by excess information as anyone, and this will result in a good bit of extra information. Still, leaving those bad keywords there, but paused, will let the keyword tool tell you if you already have specific keywords in place, so you can avoid making mistakes again.

ACTION: Give your keywords some time to get some use. Then sort by Quality Score and pause all that are two or below (so, one).

4. Automatic keyword insertion

This is some internet magic. Catchy headlines are crucial, right? It's important to be thoughtful and creative right? Well, yes and no. The creative spirits weep that this method is so effective. By using {keyword: _____ }, with a popular search term in the ad group in place of the underscore, users will essentially write their own headlines. When the identified keyword is activated, the user's actual search term will be inserted as the ad headline. So if I search for "great web developers" and EchoDitto used the keyword "web developers," then you'd see "Great Web Developers" as the ad headline. If you ever do a search and are astonished at the ad giving you exactly what you're looking for, this is why.

ACTION: Use auto keyword insertion. I honestly don't like that this pure triumph of data over creativity works, but if you've taken care to choose keywords well, write a relevant ad, and send people to a good landing page, there's nothing wrong with it.

5. Roll the dice

If you were handed a $10,000 check, you might spend quite a bit of time figuring out exactly how it would best used, not wasting a cent. If you were assured that check once a month, you'd probably feel a bit more freedom to experiment on new digital or field programs. And that you should.

The worst thing you can do with your Google Grant is ignore it. The second worst is to leave some on the table for the sake of choosing "the perfect keywords" or by running every ad through several layers of approval. Whether you're an experienced digital content tester or only read a post or two about it, this is your chance.

ACTION: Experiment, check back on ad performance, revise, rinse, and repeat. Try things out, make mistakes, and have some fun with data. A half hour a week could mean $10,000 per month.

I left a lot out here, but those are five solid suggestions to get you going with Google Grants AdWords. Get in touch with us if you'd like help getting your AdWords grant going or refocused.

* It may seem like a good idea to include all suggested keywords, but if someone sees ads unrelated to what she's searching for, it's unlikely she'll click that ad. This helps no one and can hurt your Google ad ranking.