Google Ad Grants: Here What’s Working in 2023 [VIDEO]
Google Ad Grants: Here What’s Working in 2023 [VIDEO]

Google Ad Grants: Here What’s Working in 2023 [VIDEO]

Hello nonprofit friends!

Today, you’re going to learn strategies for maximising your Google Ad Grant so that it drives more quality clicks, conversions and impact.

For the last four months, we’ve done a ‘deep-dive’ analysis into the top performing Google Ad Grant accounts in our client portfolio, to really understand:

  • What’s working right now
  • Why
  • What are some of the mistakes that are happening, and
  • How do we fix or avoid them

In this post (and video), you’re going to get the key points of analysis and insight from that study, as well as the resulting recommendations to position you for maximum success with your Google Ad Grant in 2023.

So if that sounds good to you, let’s go!

P.S. if you’d like to chat about your Google Grant with us, get your free consultation

Keyword Strategy: How To Find Grant-Friendly Keywords

To succeed with Google Ad Grants, you need a keyword strategy that prioritises keywords you can show ads for.

It’s critical to understand that Google Ad Grant Ads appear underneath Paid Ads in the ad auction.

What this effectively means is that if a Grant advertiser is targeting a keyword and there are one, two, three, four, five paid advertisers also competing for ad space, then the Grant ad will be pushed down the page or onto page 2.

The consequences of an ad being pushed down the page or on to page 2 are:

  • Fewer clicks
  • Fewer conversions
  • Much less impact

If your Google Ad Grant is targeting keywords that aren’t spending, this is probably the reason why.

So… let’s fix it!

How do we do that?

We are going to change the way we choose keywords to target with your Google Grant. 

Specifically: let’s choose keywords that don’t have much Paid Advertiser competition. That way, your Grant Ads can appear at the top of the search result – which is the best place for them to be.

The good news is that there’s a really easy way to find these keywords, but before we cover that, let’s look at some real data:

Targeting Low Advertiser Competition Keywords will enable your Google Ad Grant to show more often

This graph shows you the distribution of clicks by advertiser competition level, for a selection of our Google Ad Grants clients.

You can see that the majority of clicks are coming from keywords with Low Advertiser competition levels, at 62%.

There are still clicks coming from the Medium and Higher Advertiser competition keywords, but they are rarer – more like a bonus. Perhaps one of the Paid Advertisers ran out of budget for the day which allowed the Grant Ad a limited chance to show higher on the page.

The takeaway here is: Your Grant will generate more impact when it targets keywords with Low Advertiser Competition, because your Ads will appear in prominent positions more often.

For additional context about these Google Grant accounts in this part of the study:

  • 5 are normal standard Google Grant accounts
  • 1 is a GrantsPro account. A GrantsPro account has a higher budget at $40k/m
  • Of the 5 standard accounts, one was awarded, temporarily, extra spend from Google

The takeaway here is: Your Grant will generate more impact when it targets keywords with Low Advertiser Competition, because your Ads will appear in prominent positions more often.

These Low Advertiser Competition Keywords are your ‘Grant-Friendly Keywords’

(LACK acronym)… Low Advertiser Competition Keywords… L.A.C.K… they LACK Paid Ad competitors… which gives your Grant Ads a chance to be at the top of the page!

(If this sounds good to you) If showing your Grant Ad at the top of the search results page more often sounds good to you, then let’s get into how you can discover these Grant-Friendly keywords for your organisation.

How to find Grant-Friendly Keywords using Google Keyword Planner

In Google Ads, please open Google Keyword Planner and generate a list of keyword ideas.

For example, let’s generate keyword ideas for ‘The Ocean Cleanup’

You can now view important information about the different keywords people search for, and how often, with average monthly search volume.

Now please navigate to Columns > Modify Columns > Competition

Yes! This is what we want. You can now see the competitive context – Low, Medium and High – for every keyword.

Your Grant Friendly Keywords are the Low Advertiser Competition Keywords, L.A.C.K., because they LACK paid competitors taking the top spots in the search result.

Informational intent keywords are valuable!

You may be wondering: why do advertisers gravitate so heavily towards some keywords and less so to others? Might it be that the ‘low advertiser competition keywords’ just aren’t worth targeting?

The answer to this question is one of the keys to understanding the true value of your Google Ad Grant.

Paid Advertisers want a fast return on investment. That makes sense – I agree.

What this means is that Paid Advertisers put their budget into keywords where the intent of the search is strongly commercial or transactional.

For example: a keyword like ‘best charity to donate to’ will likely have ample paid advertiser competition.

Where paid advertisers don’t put their budget is for the more ‘Informational’ intent keywords. The keywords where the goal of the search is to learn more about a topic, but where there isn’t that commercial or transactional element.

The lightbulb moment is to understand that somebody who is searching for information today, can become that donor, or volunteer, or recipient of your services in the future. They’re just earlier in their journey.

Your Google Ad Grants provides you with $10k/m of spend to reach these Informational searchers and bring them to your website…before everybody else starts ferociously competing for them.

Also, keywords with Informational Intent get a lot of search volume. Most of the searches that happen are Informational, only a sliver are Commercial and Transactional, so you have a far bigger audience to show your Grant Ads to.

Finally, if someone discovers you from an Informational search… well now they know about you. Which means that in the future, they may never do that Commercial or Transactional search, ‘best charity to donate to’ for example. They wouldn’t need to search for that because they just go straight to you instead.

Landing Pages and Content

The second item for maximising your Google Ad Grant has to do with landing pages and content.

Specifically: if you want to target a keyword, your website must have a landing page with content about that keyword.

If an advertiser tries to target keywords that they do not have content and landing pages for, then they are going to be swimming uphill against the Google Ads system.

The opportunity, therefore, is to know that when you discover a Grant-friendly keyword you want to target, you can! By creating that content and landing page.

And you can do it with confidence because, using Google Keyword Planner…

  • You know what people are searching for
  • You know how often those searches are happening, and
  • You know the level of advertiser competition for those keywords, signaling whether or not you can target those searches immediately with your Google Ad Grant

This is fantastic data to have when it comes to launching and promoting content.

By adopting a proactive approach to identifying Grant-friendly keywords and then creating content and landing pages, you can…

  • Uplift your Grant performance and
  • Your site becomes a more desirable destination

And finally, many times your pages can also rank in Organic Search results, which is great. So you’re there, being found month after month in both parts of the search result.

When it comes to landing pages for your Grant, specifically for Informational intent searches, here is a checklist:

Checklist for effective Informational landing pages
  1. Reflect the keyword you’re targeting, so visitors know they’re in the right place and so Google Ads considers you closely relevant, for Ad Quality
  2. Produce content that satisfies the intent of the search, the searchers ‘job to be done’ – their motive for searching. One method for doing this is to examine what else is showing in the search result for that keyword, and aim to be the best result on the page.
  3. Invite the opt-in, which is the invitation to join your email list and social communities
  4. Make it easy for the person to find related content to encourage the visitor to explore more of your site, versus visiting a single page…by Sign Posting related content
  5. And if you have a budget for paid advertising, ensure your remarketing and retargeting pixels are building your audiences so that you can serve follow-up advertising in the future. With remarketing and retargeting, only people who have been to your website before see your ad, which can appear across websites that show ads by Google as well as on popular social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Dynamic Search Ads *which are awesome*

If you are new to Dynamic Search Ads, you will love this.

In your Google Ads account, there are campaigns, ad groups, ads and keywords.

This hierarchy is your ‘Account Structure’. Your Account Structure is essentially how you ‘program’ the system to serve your ads.

Top performing Google Ad Grant accounts have an Account Structure, in my experience, with campaigns serving three purposes:

  • The first are Campaigns targeting your Brand keywords, which are searches for your organisation by name
  • The second are Campaigns targeting Generic keywords, which are keywords about your topic that do not contain a brand preference
  • The third are Campaigns for Dynamic Search Ads

This “Trio” of Campaigns for Brand, Generic and Dynamic, is a powerhouse for giving your Ad Grant maximum reach.

Here’s how:

When people search for your Brand, your Brand ads show. These ads can announce an appeal that’s happening now, or other special initiative like an event, and will have a high click-through rate. The Google Ad Grants program asks you to maintain an average account wide CTR of 5% or more, (with some exceptions), and Brand campaigns will help you much more easily reach that. An ad when somebody searches for your Brand will have a CTR of 20, 30, 40% plus, and so that really raises your account wide average.

After Brand, you have your Generic campaigns. These are the campaigns that trigger for your Grant-Friendly Keywords, which are those low advertiser competition keywords we talked about. You can also target some Medium to High Advertiser Competition keywords if you are feeling lucky because you can get clicks for those as well, just less often and you know why.

Which brings us to Dynamic Search Ads.

You’ve got campaigns for Brand, 

You’ve got campaigns for Generic. 

Now you’re going to have campaigns for Dynamic.

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic Search Ads are a bit different than “normal” Search Ads.

In normal Search advertising, the process is something like:

  • You pick the keywords
  • You pick the landing page
  • You write the ad

With Dynamic Search Ads:

  • You don’t pick the keywords… Google does
  • Your job is to specify the landing pages you want to send visitors to
  • Any time that someone does a search relevant to those landing pages, your ad can show

In practice:

Let’s say that you have a ‘Resources’ section of your site. In that Resources section are hundreds of articles.

With Dynamic Search Ads, you can say, “Hey Grant Account, whenever a person searches for a keyword relevant to any one of these articles in the Resources section, go ahead and:

  • show my Google Grant Ad
  • customise the ad copy for me
  • and send that person to the best page

This is a really terrific way of expanding the coverage of your Google Ad Grant, to target as many keywords as possible.

What is also good is that if new articles get uploaded to your Resources section, those automatically become eligible to start receiving Grants visitors.

To put some data to this, examining 5 of our clients Grant’s accounts for the month of January 2023, DSA’s drove a lot of impact:

Dynamic Search Ads drove a lot of impact

Of these 5 clients:

  • 3 are ‘Standard’ Grants with the $10k/m spend
  • 1 is a ‘Standard’ Grant that was temporarily awarded extra spend by Google
  • 1 is a ‘GrantsPro’, which has a $40k/m spend

We can see that DSAs are driving 75% of total spend in the case of Grant Advertiser 1, which is the high end of the range. The low end of the range is 18% for Grant Advertiser 5. In both cases DSAs are worthwhile.

But please note:

In order for Dynamic Search Ads to work their best, you need plenty of content for Google to send traffic to.

The more content you have, the wider your relevance to what people are searching for, the bigger the potential with Dynamic Search Ads.

If you have a small website, say 10 or 15 pages total, Dynamic Search Ads will have limited value to you.

When it comes to setting up a Dynamic Search Ad campaign, the process is similar to creating a normal Search campaign. When you create your Ad Group, you’ll see the option to create a Standard Ad Group or a Dynamic Ad Group. If you select Dynamic Ad Group, that starts the process.

To recap:

  • Brand campaigns, Generic campaigns, Dynamic Search Ad campaigns
  • These are the three types that you definitely want to explore

How to drive more high-intent conversions with your Google Grant

Last item is to use your Grant as part of a bigger channel strategy.

Many people who see your Grant Ads will be discovering you for the first time, particularly those doing Informational searches.

Because this is their first visit with you, these new visitors are less likely to be ready to take a high-commitment conversion action in most cases, such as becoming a donor, a volunteer, or even signing up for your services. They just found you, afterall.

Some visitors may convert, which is great and what we want! But most probably won’t.

So what can we do about it?

Putting ourselves in the visitors shoes for a moment…

In order to move from ‘I just got here as a first time visitor’ to ‘I am ready to take a high-commitment action’, we are going to need a substantial amount of information.

Information about:

  • The problems your organisation solves, and for who
  • Why those problems are so important, and worth solving now
  • Why your solutions to those problems are the right approach versus alternatives
  • Clarification of myths and misconceptions that may be holding us back
  • And why do you care? Who are the people behind your organisation?

Therefore, there’s a lot to communicate.

And we have to be realistic. A first time visitor isn’t likely to be ready to absorb all of this information. As a proof point, if we, for example, look at analytics to see what first time visitors do, chances are that their session will be quite short – maybe a minute or two – and they’ll only browse a handful of pages before departing.

A short first session means they’re not going to be with us long enough to get this information, and as a result, less conversions.

Therefore, if our goal is to generate conversions, we need a way to get these messages to these visitors, even if they leave the site after just viewing a page or two.

That way… is your Re-Engagement strategy.

The job of your Re-Engagement strategy is to: 

  • Deliver the messages needed to move the audience forward towards the high commitment action (if it makes sense for them)
  • Keep you top of mind over time

And the ‘art’  of your re-engagement strategy is to do this in a way that respects and strengthens the relationship between you and the audience member – not annoys them.

The channels you can use effectively for Re-Engagement are:

  • Email
  • Social
  • Retargeting ads

Email and Social depend on your visitor ‘opting in’ – joining your list and following you on social.

The classic approach to building email subscribers is to offer value in exchange for joining the list.

And there are so many opportunities to do this. For example:

  • If you are a service provider and you want more people to use your organisation’s services, you could offer a downloadable guide covering all the ways you help, how to navigate funding, and step-by-step instructions for signing up
  • If your organisation provides information about a medical condition, you could offer a guide about what to do if you or a family member has just been diagnosed. ‘Diagnosed with this condition? Here’s what to know and do next.’
  • Or if you are looking to uplift donations, you could offer a guide about the problem you solve, the impact donors have, and the stories of the people whose lives are affected. E.g. “Ending the Problem of ‘This Condition’: How $100 Can Save A Family”

Once your audience joins your email list, a new stage in the relationship begins and you can serve your messages over time.

And similarly, with social: having prominent calls to action throughout your site encouraging people to join your community and connect with others, will be terrific for opt-ins.

Which brings us to retargeting ads – a very impactful Re-Engagement channel.

To clarify how retargeting ads work:

  • A person visits your website
  • Ad platforms track that visit
  • After the person departs your website, they can be ‘retargeted’ with your ads as they browse the rest of the internet

The main benefits of retargeting ads are:

  • There’s less friction: your visitor doesn’t need to enter their email address or follow you on social. They just have to consent to tracking cookies.
  • It’s a high value audience: the only people who see these ads are people who have already been to your website, so they’ve signaled an interest in your topic and your organisation.
  • A small budget goes a long way: Because this audience is only past website visitors, you don’t need a massive budget. Chances are that under a few hundred dollars per month will suffice unless you have a high traffic website.

The downsides of retargeting ads is:

  • People may not consent to cookies so you can’t use it
  • The $10k/m of Google Grants budget can’t be used for this type of campaign because your Google Grant is for Search Ads only. You need a separate budget.

In terms of how you can use Re-Engagement Ads, you can use them alongside email and social to:

  • Show the messages we spoke about earlier, in terms of the problems that your organization solves and who for, and
  • If you have an appeal, for example at tax time, you can use retargeting ads to announce it to your past website visitors. That’s going to give you additional reach. 

For example: if someone visits your website in January, you can serve them a retargeting ad many months later, in May, if you were doing an appeal. And perhaps again in December.

When you combine your Google Ad Grant with a Re-Engagement strategy spanning email, social and retargeting ads, you’re using channels strategically, together, one thing helping another, like an ecosystem… or, if you will, a Reef. And that is going to help you get the best results.

Everything you’ve learned about maximising your Google Ad Grant in 2023

Which brings us to the end of today’s session! You are now in a terrific position to maximise your Google Ad Grant in 2023 because….

  • You know about Grant-Friendly keywords
    • Low Advertiser Competition as the priority
    • Why Informational keywords are so valuable – the person is earlier in the journey
  • You know about having landing pages reflecting those keywords, which helps your visitors and the Google Ads system
  • You know about Dynamic Search Ads, and how your Grant can have campaigns for:
    • Brand keywords
    • Generic keywords
    • Dynamic
  • You know about using your Google Grant as part of a bigger channel strategy, where everything works together

Now, over to you. Which one of these strategies do you like the most? Please let me know in the comments below.

And if you want more videos and posts like this, please subscribe to the Reef YouTube channel.

Thank you for your time and for the great work you do!

P.S. if you’d like to have a chat about your Google Ad Grant, get your free consultation

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