Google AdWords and Google Grants for Nonprofits – An Introduction
Google provides an incredible, cost-free opportunity for nonprofit organizations to advertise their programs and services. Essentially, a qualifying nonprofit can conduct online marketing campaigns with the Google AdWords program for free. The monthly limit is actually $10,000 worth of advertising, but I’ve never seen a campaign come close to spending that much in a month.
There are several Google programs you'll have to navigate in order to launch your Google AdWords campaign.
- Google for Nonprofits
- Google Grants
- Google AdWords
The high-level steps are:
- Apply for Google Nonprofit status.
- Upon acceptance, create your Google AdWords account and your first AdWords campaign. Do NOT give your account a credit card, and do NOT attempt to activate the campaign yet.
- Apply for a Google Grant through your Google Nonprofit account. This will require a reference to your AdWords campaign.
- Upon award of the grant, update your AdWords account with the grant number and launch your campaign. Award of the Google Grant is a direct result of approval of the quality of your AdWords campaign.
Google for Nonprofits
The Google for Nonprofits program provides an amazing array of free services including Google Apps for Business, which provides free email hosting and email accounts, free Google Docs, and free basic website creation. Once your organization has been accepted into the Google for Nonprofits program you can also apply for a Google Grant.
Go to Google for Nonprofits Program to learn about eligibility and to apply for the program.
A Google Grant provides $10,000 per month to use for Google AdWords campaigns. It remains in effect for as long as you actively maintain one or more campaigns.
A Google Grant applies only to the Google AdWords program. It cannot be applied to a Google display ad campaign.
Your Google for Nonprofits account provides the information and ability to submit a grant request.
Note: Google’s awarding of the grant is dependent on the quality of your initial AdWords campaign and how well it conforms to Google AdWords campaign quality standards.
You’ll notice that a Google search results page usually contains text ads in the right sidebar. Above the search results, you’ll frequently see text ads, which—at a glance—can be mistaken for search results (I wonder if that’s intentional…). Those are all AdWords ads.
Google's selection of ads to be displayed in those locations is driven by the search terms you entered into your Google search. If you enter "plumbers los angeles", in addition to getting search results that list plumbers in Los Angeles, who'll see AdWords ads which are part of AdWords campaigns being run by plumbing companies in Los Angeles.
An AdWords ad consists of:
- A headline that links to a promotional page on your site (Destination URL)
- Two lines of promotional text--up to 35 characters, including spaces
- The URL for your site
- Optionally, up to four links to other important pages on your site
The AdWords Campaign Structure
The AdWords campaign structure is straightforward, although there are two terminology clarifications I like to make, which are:
- Ad groups => Think of these as sub-campaign themes within a larger campaign, each with the purpose of targeting a selected audience.
- Keyword => An AdWords keyword is never one word, so think “keyword phrase”.
Campaign: A campaign is one overall effort with a specific marketing purpose, probably reflected in the name you give it. At the campaign level, you'll set the duration for which your ads will run, and the geographic target range for your campaign.
Ad Groups: Google prefers that your initial campaign be developed with multiple ad groups, or sub-campaigns. The theme of a sub-campaign targets a special audience within the campaign. The sub-campaign will have its own set of ads (hence, “ad group”) which are directed to that audience.
One ad group should have at least three ads. As the campaign progresses, you’ll be able to track the performance of each ad, and replace or update ads to improve your results.
Keywords: Each ad group must be given a list of keyword phrases. You develop these lists based on keyword phrases you believe might be entered into Google search by someone who might be a part of the target audience for that ad group.
When someone types in one of those keyword phrases, Google looks to see what AdWords campaigns include that phrase. Then they look to see which ad buyer is bidding the most for those keywords. For each of the three-to-six highest bidders, one of their ads from their ad group with that phrase is displayed.
With a Google Grant, the maximum bid you can make for a keyword phrase is $1.00. Always set the default maximum bid for all of your keywords to $1.00.
Note: Each set of keywords should be exclusive to its ad group. This forces you to finely tune your keywords to each audience and thereby improve the quality of your campaign.
A Sample Campaign
A very simple campaign structure might look like this:
Campaign: Los Angeles art museum Picasso exhibition; will run from Feb 15 through June 1; will target Google search users within a 500 mile radius of Los Angeles.
Ad Groups/Sub-Campaigns: Three target audiences will be high school teachers, college-level art students, art lovers. Three ads should be written for each target audience for a total of nine ads.
The measure of a successful ad is one that impels users to click through to your site.
Keywords: Think of word combinations that—if someone were to type them into Google search—might make you think they might be a member of one of your target audiences. Try to come up with 30 to 50 keyword phrases.
Sample keywords could include:
Art lovers: art Los Angeles; Picasso Los Angeles; abstract art; cubism; Bracht
Teachers: teach art; teach Picasso; teaching abstract art; teach art Los Angeles; teach Bracht
Students: studying art; learn Picasso; Picasso biography; Picasso history; Picasso collection
Google provides a great utility called “Keyword Tools” which will generate additional keyword phrases for you to consider for an ad group. Paste your list of keyword phrases into the field provided in the Keyword Tool. Google will generate a list of categorized keyword phrases.
The measure of a successful keyword phrase is one that gets Google to frequently display an ad from that ad group.
As you monitor your campaign, check the “Opportunities” tab. Google will present a list of recommendations for enhancing your campaign including additional keyword phrases you might consider.